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Where’s the Storm and Are You Safe?

Stay Connected. Stay Safe.

Did you know that you carry a life saving device in your pocket?  Your smartphone is potentially the item that can save your life and the lives of loved ones in an emergency.  Taking a few moments to download these could be the difference between safety and catastrophe for you and your family.  Preparedness brings peace of mind.

Red Cross Emergency App
We’ve been testing this app for several months and discovered that it performed well during the late February tornado and severe storm we experienced locally.  It doesn’t bombard the user with unwanted notifications but did emit a powerful siren alarm when the area storm watch was issued.  The timing and information were accurate and useful.  Locations are customizable to include family members in your immediate area and beyond, giving you alerts to emergency events where your loved ones live, work, or attend school.

This is the comprehensive app in the Red Cross suite of emergency apps.  It includes a valuable toolbox – many features are available offline – necessary if cell service is unreliable during an emergency.  Valuable features include first aid tips, maps, a handy “what to do before, during, and after emergencies” guide, flashlight, and strobe light.  We also liked the quizzes and preparedness planning tools and especially appreciate the Family Safe feature.

Speaking of Family Safe, do you know about Facebook Safety Check?  This automatic feature of Facebook is activated by a number of Facebook users posting about an emergency situation whether an act of terrorism or a natural disaster.  Facebook then issues a prompt for all users in the affected area to check in to let loved ones know they are safe.  There is also opportunity to give help or indicate need for assistance.  As with all things Facebook, the good is in the power and innovation, while the not-so-good is the changeability of its features and deployment.  Best practice is to be aware of this feature and educate your loved ones on use.

The power of community on Facebook cannot be overstated.  In the event of an emergency, valuable communication is available through area groups.  During our Hurricane Matthew work in Hilton Head, we saw the effectiveness of Facebook Groups in action as victims reached out to one another and shared resources.  A good place to start is by following the pages of local responders.  Take time now to follow your local fire and police Facebook pages, such as our friends in Ephrata and York.

First responders and emergency management professionals also recommended apps for you.  Many of these are tailored to specific and unique user needs.  View the comprehensive list at US Department of Health and Human Services.

You have the technology at your fingertips.  We urge you to become familiar with it and share with your family and friends.  Stay connected.  Stay safe.