When most people prepare for an emergency, they assume they won’t be able to use technology as a resource; the power will probably be out, so technology won’t be able to help. With effective planning, it’s possible to take advantage of technology before, during and after a crisis to communicate with loved ones, manage your financial affairs, and get important information.
“Information and communication are two of the most important aspects of successfully getting through an emergency,” said Regional Administrator MaryAnn Tierney. “They can get you in touch with loved ones, alert you to where resources are, and let you know when it’s safe to be outside. By using technology as a resource, you can improve your ability to communicate and receive information.”
Getting tech-ready means not only preparing your devices to be easy access resources for you and your family, but also planning for ways to keep your devices powered. Get a solar-powered or hand crank charger and a car charger for your phone to keep it powered throughout the emergency.
Follow important officials and organizations on social media channels. Doing so will help you receive important information if you can’t access television or radio. By identifying these accounts now, you won’t have to search for them in the middle of an emergency or drain your battery during the search.
Key accounts include emergency management agencies, governors, local officials, and local media. Another good way to keep in touch with officials is to see if they offer text message updates; FEMA has a text message program which includes preparedness tips and other resources. Get more information by texting INFO to 43362 (4FEMA) or visiting fema.gov/text-messages.
Synchronize your contacts across all your devices and all your channels so that way you have many ways to get in touch with people. By having access phone numbers, social media accounts, and e-mail addresses, you can get in touch with your loved ones even if one system or channel is down. Often when phone calls are difficult to make, you can send text messages, social media messages, or e-mails to pass along important information.
Make sure you program “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) contacts into your cell phone so emergency personnel can contact those people for you if you’re unable to use your phone. Let your ICE contacts know that they’re programmed into your phone and inform them of any medical issues or other special needs you may have. If something should happen to you, that action will help you receive the care you need and let your loved ones know where you are.
Download resource apps for your smartphone; they often have important information like phone numbers, first aid tips, and other resources. The FEMA App contains disaster safety tips, an interactive emergency kit list, emergency meeting location information, and a map with open shelters and open FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs). There may be other apps available from your state or local emergency management agency; ask them to see what resources you can access.
While these are just a few examples of how you can turn technology into a valuable resource during an emergency, visit ready.gov/get-tech-ready to get more tips.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at fema.gov/medialibrary and youtube.com/fema. Follow FEMA on Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion3.