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Preparing in the Digital World

We live in a mobile digital world these days. According to the Pew Research Center, a 2016 study found most of us have at least one smartphone (if not two), plus computers and tablets, in our households.

When we live much of our lives online (or in a digital cloud), it makes sense to utilize our technology tools before, during and after a crises to:

  • Prepare for real-world emergencies.
  • Access recovery information.
  • Communicate with loved ones.
  • Manage financial affairs.

In addition to documenting your family's emergency plan on paper, you can also plug that same information into the electronic devices of every family member so it's at your fingertips when you need it most.

Smartphones

  • Program "in case of emergency" (ICE) contacts into your cell phone.
  • Make sure you receive alerts and warnings and ensure the notifications are turned on. In an emergency, authorities may use the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to send Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs). The notification will sound just like Amber Alerts.
  • Save your family's emergency meeting spot in your cell phone's map app as a favorite location.
  • Download the FEMA app to access disaster preparedness tips, look for open shelters and Disaster Recovery Centers, and report damages.
  • In an emergency, keep phone calls brief to help reduce network congestion.
  • Conserve your battery by reducing screen brightness, placing your phone in airplane mode, and closing unused apps.

Tablets/Computers

Text Messaging, Email and Social Media

  • Receive text message updates from FEMA. Receive monthly preparedness tips by texting PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA).
  • Text messaging and the internet often work when voice service isn't available. By the end of 2017, Minnesota will have Text-to-911 service statewide, so that will be an option to request help.
  • Subscribe to email alerts from your local National Weather Service office for the latest advisories, watches and warnings.
  • Follow public safety agencies and organizations on social media. They will communicate life-saving information in an emergency.
  • During a disaster, pay attention to the hashtags that public safety agencies and organizations use in social media posts. Use those same hashtags so public safety can respond accordingly.
  • Use social media channels to let family and friends know you are safe.

Other Considerations

  • Keep contacts updated across all channels, including phone, email and social media.
  • Keep extra batteries for your phone and any other electronic devices in a safe and accessible place.
  • Make sure you have a backup power source (like generators, solar and hand crank chargers) for when the utilities go down.
  • Prepare a family contact sheet and keep it in multiple locations like your emergency kit at home and your emergency kit in your vehicle. This will be helpful when all battery power is lost.
  • If you have a traditional landline phone, keep at least one non-cordless receiver in your home. It will work even if you lose power.
  • Following a disaster, resist using your mobile device to watch streaming videos, download music or play games. Doing so will help emergency calls get through to 911. Remember, public safety is using that same network to communicate information back and forth.
For additional information and more digital preparedness tips, visit the Get Tech Ready website.