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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

What Apps and Gadgets Do You Need To Help You Get Through a Natural Disaster​?

Since 2004, September has been recognized by the Department of Homeland Security as 'National Preparedness Month'. If you’ve been paying attention to natural disasters around the globe, you can see why it’s important to have a game plan in place to protect your family and business when disaster strikes. Different types of disasters and emergencies can happen at any time, but there are steps that you can take to be better prepared for them. If you do nothing else this month, take a look at the following apps and gadgets that can help you in an event of a disaster.

1. The FEMA App: The Federal Emergency Management Agency's app brings together weather data and what to do before, during, and after different types of disasters. It also provides information on shelters and how to contact FEMA if you need help.

2. BioLite CampStove: This awesome device allows you to heat up your soup and recharge your smartphone. What makes this device so special is the fact it burns wood — sticks, twigs, whatever — and uses the waste heat from the fire to create electricity.

3. The Red Cross Apps: The Red Cross has a list of different apps designed to help you in a disaster. For example, there are apps on how to provide first aid, where to find shelters, and even how to provide first aid to your pet.

4. Facebook Safety Check: This allows Facebook users in the path of a disaster or emergency to indicate if they need help and enables users to check on friends' and relatives’ status.

5. Goal Zero Multi-Tool Kit: This handy kit uses solar power to help when you need to charge your devices and the power is out. It includes a solar panel, flashlight, fan, and battery to store all that power. It can recharge your smartphone or any USB device. 6.

6. Zello: A digital walkie-talkie app has become the top downloaded app, especially during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The app allows you to communicate with search and rescue if you ever become stranded during a disaster.

7. The Blackout Buddy: No more groping around in the dark when the power goes off. The Blackout Buddy is a flashlight that plugs into an outlet so it’s charged and ready when the power goes out. When the power switches off, use it as a flashlight with four hours of power.

8. The Weather Channel: Along with normal weather coverage, this app provides up-to-date weather information and a link to information about current weather emergencies on its front page. You can also modify the app to alert you when bad weather is headed your way.

9: Carbonite: This #1 rated cloud backup service automatically saves & protects your important documents, photos, and videos. If something catastrophic happens to your computer, laptop, or smart device, your information will be safe in the cloud.

10. Jackery: Check out Jackery's line of battery-powered products that you can use doing power outages. The bonus is you can add solar panels to many of their generators that will help you and your family power most of your tech while waiting for power to be restored.

Other things to remember:

Your smartphone can be your lifeline during a major weather incident so don't forget to keep it charged and ready at hand. Most smartphones can withstand moderate stress. If you have an older smartphone that isn’t waterproof, consider putting it in a couple of thick plastic zip lock bags in your emergency toolkit to protect it from damage.

It's a good idea to have a solar-powered battery back to charge your devices as well as a power bank attached to your phone. If you have no power, these devices go a long way to help keep you connected to emergency services.

I hope you can use these tips to help you become prepared if a natural disaster strikes in your area. What plan does your family have in the case of an emergency? If you don't, this month is a great time to get one in place. What do you think of the technology featured? Drop me a line and let me know! If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help!

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