Prepare for Disasters with these Mobile Apps

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Smartphone users are accustomed to texting, emailing, surfing the internet, playing games and using a wide variety of apps. They may not be aware that there are apps available to help keep them safe during natural disasters and other emergencies. Organizations such as the American Red Cross, the National Weather Service, and The Weather Channel are just a few of the developers offering apps to alert you of pending trouble. Whether you have an iPhone or an Android, you can find an app on this list to help you weather the storm.

NOAA Weather Alerts - Severe Weather

This app from the National Weather Service's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sounds alerts for all kinds of weather events - tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, fires, snow storms, frost advisories, and more. When the NWS issues a weather alert, the app makes a distinct sound. The alert sounds even if the phone is in sleep mode.

American Red Cross

The Red Cross covers the spectrum of emergencies with its apps. There are apps for tornadoes; wildfires; earthquakes; hurricanes; and floods. First aid apps provide instructions, videos and quizzes to help people perform basic first aid on humans and pets during common emergencies. The shelter finder app helps users find open Red Cross shelters after a disaster. The Monster Guard app teaches kids aged 7 to 11 how to prepare for emergencies both at and away from home. The emergency alert apps provide detailed instructions on what to do, even when the device cannot connect to the Internet. They also provide "I'm safe" alerts for family members and advice for building emergency kits.

Alert FM

This app sends a unique-sounding alert when the weather service issues a warning for your area. It can bookmark up to five locations. Alerts are provided in both written and spoken word versions, which can be helpful for the visually impaired.

StormEye

StormEye tracks storms and overlays radar images on top of Google Maps. It automatically chooses the radar station nearest the device, but the user can switch to any of 156 NWS radar stations to check on other locations. The user can tap a storm marker on the screen to find out the storm's distance and direction from the location; the heading direction and speed; and the estimated time of arrival.

The Weather Channel

The cable TV source for all things weather has a general purpose weather app. In addition to forecasts and basic weather information during normal times, this app also transmits NWS advisories and warnings.

It comes as news to no one that the weather has grown increasingly volatile in recent years. Heavy snow storms in the mid-Atlantic and northeast, tornadoes and hail storms in the Midwest, dry conditions in the west, and the ever-present threat of hurricanes in the southeast mean that the next weather emergency may be right around the corner. When it comes, these apps will help ensure that you are ready for it.