the past 20 years have seen an increase in the amount of climate-related disasters and the destruction they cause. It’s become increasingly crucial to prepare for natural disasters, including ones you don’t expect. For example, in February 2021, Texas experienced its worst winter storm in decades, resulting in power outages across the state. A growing number of apps on the market give detailed instructions on how to prepare for natural disasters in the months beforehand, and what to do during an emergency.
As the person responsible for my family’s emergency planning since fourth grade, I’ve been using Red Cross checklists for years, learned to pack solid emergency kits, and recently included apps in my preparation. To get an expert opinion about the best (and worst) app features out there, I spoke to two experts, Caela O’Connell, assistant professor at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Anthology, and Mitch Stripling, national director for Emergency Preparedness and Response at Planned Parenthood.
Here’s what I learned, and the apps the experts recommend.
FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) is known to help Americans during natural disasters, but did you know they also have an app to help prepare before, during, and after an event? Information about over 20 emergencies, from avalanches to winter weather, is available. O’Connell advises you to take screenshots of these tips to conserve phone battery in a real emergency.
The app also links to key numbers like 911 and FEMA, so whether you’re preparing just in case or are in danger, you’re able to get help all one in one place. In the aftermath of a flood, instructions about starting your flood insurance claim are also available, keeping you safe and more financially viable.