Technology has made it easier than ever to prepare for emergencies, but it can be unreliable during emergency circumstances if you haven't planned to keep your gadgets protected and powered up.
Here are some tips to make sure you are tech-ready.
- Receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States by downloading the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) app.
- Sign up for FEMA text messages. Use your cell phone's text messaging capability to receive text message updates from FEMA.
- Text PREPARE to 43362
- Text SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362
- List of all keywords you can subscribe to: text LIST to 43362
- Unsubscribe anytime: text STOP to 43362
- Sign up for local emergency alerts at Alert Iowa
Make a Plan
- Have an emergency charging option for your phone and other mobile devices. Smartphones are a vital tool to receive emergency alerts so it's important to keep them charged.
- Home: Prior to severe weather, make sure that all of your electronic devices are fully charged.
- Vehicle: Keep a portable phone charger in your vehicle at all times.
- Minimize device usage by changing to low power mode or placing it on airplane mode.
- Store important documents in a secure, password-protected jump drive or on the cloud.
- Use your phone's camera as a scanning device. Capture electronic versions of important documents; insurance policies, identification documents, medical records, and your pet's information.
- Scan old photos to protect them from loss.
- Back up your computer to protect photos and other personal information.
- Keep your contacts updated/synced including phone, email, and social media to make it easier to reach out quickly for information and to supply updates.
- Create a group chat for family to communicate during a disaster.
- Sign up for direct deposit and electronic banking so you can access your funds wherever you are.
- Federal benefit recipients can sign up by calling 800-333-1795 or at the Go Direct website.
During an Emergency
- Use text messages, social media, or email to connect with family during emergencies.
- Mobile networks can become overwhelmed during emergencies, making it difficult to call. Text messages require less bandwidth and are transmitted more reliably when many people are using their phones.
- Social media, Facebook/Twitter, can be an effective way to update family
- Register with American Red Cross's Safe and Well site to let family know you're okay. After registering, you can select a message to let family know you are okay. Family can search this list to find their loved one's first name, last name, an "as of date" and the "safe and well" message.