5 Must-Have Disaster Apps

TheStreet.com

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—From severe weather emergencies like twisters that ravaged Oklahoma yesterday to Black Swan disasters, it seems our world is filled with threats. With a smartphone in hand, we can be better prepared when bad things happen and work more efficiently to make the best of the situation.

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First Aid App

This app, provided by the American Red Cross, gives you step-by-step instructions in order to provide emergency first aid. Videos, interactive quizzes and how-to guides are preloaded for instant access, without requiring an Internet connection or cell service. The app is also fully integrated with 911 so that you can call emergency medical services. Plan-ahead safety tips are included for severe weather situations, including tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes.

Lost Person Finder

For post-disaster assistance, this web service and associated ReUnite app enables you to report and search for found or missing persons. Integrated with the U.S. National Library of Medicine's People Locator website, the searchable database is updated with the latest disasters to assist in the location of missing people. Data is gathered from citizens, disaster relief organizations, hospitals, triage areas and social networks. The service also posts pictures and other information on missing persons on monitors placed at key disaster-adjacent public locations.

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iMap Weather Radio

Automatically pinpointing your location, the iMap Weather Radio will provide instant notification of severe weather alerts wherever you go. Powered by the National Weather Service's NOAA Weather Radio, you can listen to severe weather updates, as well as local weather forecasts. Customized alerts are triggered by the service, and the "follow me" feature constantly updates your location, providing relevant weather information. You can also save five fixed locations to keep tabs on friends and family in other areas. When severe weather triggers the app, you hear a series of beeps and an audio description of the weather emergency. Streaming video of severe weather coverage is also available in markets that include local media partners.

Scanner Radio

Allowing you to get live streaming audio feeds from over 4,000 police and fire scanners, weather radios, and amateur radio repeaters from around the nation, this app locates feeds that are located nearest to you, sorted by distance. It also features a list, updated every five minutes, of the top 50 scanners in the nation with the most listeners, including public safety, air traffic, weather and more. It will also notify you of the location of high-volume scanner listening, possibly alerting you to an emergency.

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Shelter View

Another app provided by the Red Cross, this service provides real-time, continuously updated information on when and where emergency shelters have been established. Information includes location, capacity and the current number of shelter residents. The app shows were shelters have been created and zoom to a local view to assist in identify the exact location. It also provides the latest disaster information via the Disaster Online Newsroom. The application contains information on 60,000 potential disaster facilities.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

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