Newspaper article International New York Times

Tools to Help Users Cope in a Disaster

Newspaper article International New York Times

Tools to Help Users Cope in a Disaster

Article excerpt

Disaster Alert from the Pacific Disaster Center pulls together warnings and advisories from around the world.

The deadly earthquake in Nepal serves as a reminder that natural disasters can strike at any time. But being prepared and informed can help, and a smartphone can be a vital tool for that.

Disaster Alert from the Pacific Disaster Center pulls together warnings and advisories from around the world, alerting users to earthquakes, approaching hurricanes and cyclones, and floods and wildfires.

Disaster Alert's main interface is a map that shows where disasters either have happened or are threatening. Users can also choose to see the alerts in list form. Tapping on an alert brings up more detailed information, like the exact area affected and when the alert was issued. Free for iOS and Android, Disaster Alert is easy to use and informative. But the free version simply presents all alerts as they happen; filtering the list by location or severity costs up to $10 a year.

In the United States, the FEMA app, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, can help before, during and after a disaster. It has several important sections, beginning with its "prepare" menu. This area includes clearly written advice on how to prepare for many different kinds of natural catastrophes, including drought, earthquakes and even volcanic eruptions. It also has advice on how to assemble emergency kits to keep in the home for different types of disasters.

In addition, there is a section for keeping notes on emergency meeting locations that users can prearrange with their families. This is information that could be easily forgotten in the event of a disaster.

FEMA offers weather alerts for up to five locations in the United States, and will send notifications if severe weather threatens any of them. There is a section for finding out where official shelters are, and it even helps in application for postdisaster financial assistance. …

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