Seeing the images of destruction and grief in Japan is a reminder to the international community about the importance of disaster preparation.
Trying to cover all your basis — from earthquakes to fires to floods — can be daunting. But there are dozens of handy iPhone apps that can help put your anxiety to rest. With information readily available, there is no excuse for being the dark. So check out the following apps, and get to work ensuring that you, your family and your friends remain safe.
In order to keep up with natural disasters around the globe, check out the Disaster Radar app (free). It provides a world map with pinpoints for the hundreds of disasters occurring at any given time. Each one comes with additional details, such as the level of emergency and the local affected community.
To monitor events a little closer to home, we recommend the Alerts4Me app ($0.99). You have to create an account, but it only takes a minute and is worth the effort. Taking into account your location, the app provides you with real-time warnings and advisories. Nasty winter storm heading your way? This app will let you know. In addition, the Alerts4Me app has a topnotch list of emergency-response resources, including FEMA, the Red Cross and the State Department.
If you live in an area prone to specific types of disasters, there are numerous apps that can help. For earthquakes, check out the Earthquakes app ($1.99) by Hamway. It monitors all seismic activity around the globe, and then automatically connects you to the U.S. Geological Survey website. For tsunamis, there is the iTsunami ($0.99) app, which tracks all tsunami warnings, notifying you even before the sirens go off.
Concerned about radiation, such as that currently threatening Japan? Invest in the Mobile REMM — Radiation Emergency Medical Management app (free). Produced by the Department of Health and Human Services, the app provides guidance for first responders for appropriate treatments and antidotes.
Information and alerts are important, but so is preparation. Public safety officials recommend that all families have enough food, water and other supplies on hand to survive independently for at least 72 hours. The Disaster Survival Guide ($0.99) is a great starting point for planning. It gives a complete rundown on what you can expect about everything from evacuations to cleared-out grocery-store shelves.
The Survival Kit app ($3.99) is another useful app for disaster preparation. What makes it stand apart is that it really goes into specifics, right down to precise products. For example, when thinking of water supplies, the app recommends three liters of water per person, plus rainwater-collection equipment and a seawater desalination kit. There are tips on emergency kits for home, car and on-the-go.
You might already have emergency supplies stowed away, but food expires. You certainly don't want to be forced to eat things that might make you sick. The Home Food Storage app (free) will help you calculate the appropriate amount of food your household will need in case of emergency, as well as track expiration dates, etc. The app includes an easy-to-use barcode scanner, so you don't have to add things manually.