Tech, Gadgets and Apps to Get You Through a Hurricane

September 8, 2017

11:30 am

Talk about a nasty hurricane season, not only do we have the remnants of Harvey, Irma (and possibly Jose) is posing a very serious risks to the east coast, and has already done a tremendous amount of damage to Barbuda and Saint Martin. While many of us are choosing to evacuate, the reality is that many will bunker in place and wait the storm out. Regardless of the choices each of us will have to make, there are numerous items that should be on hand, followed by other tech, necessities, and gadgets to make things a bit more comfortable.

Weather systems like these are no joke, and there’s a reason why government officials and first responders give explicit recommendations to evacuate, stay indoors, avoid flooded roads, and adhere to curfews. During such events, we strive to stay informed, keep our devices powered, and be able to communicate with those around us, and this list may help you identify some gap areas.

The Basics

According to Ready.gov, the following are basic supplies that should be in your disaster prep kit:

  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

You should also have a gallon per water, per person, per day; at least three day’s worth of non-perishable food, buy your fresh foods like avocados and tomatoes closer to when you need to lockdown, and layoff the booze (keep your head straight). For tips on what to do after a hurricane, follow these NOAA suggestions and your local and state officials.

Comfort and Communication

While the basics are helpful, they are still the basics for a reason. They will help keep you informed on the latest updates from the likes of NOAA, but the less-basic things will help get you through the worst of it. And then, of course, there are the things to help us out after disaster strikes.

Hydration and Storage

Potable water is important and bathing doesn’t hurt either. If you have tupperware or really anything with a lid, fill it with water now. Here are a few things you can buy, and a few reminders of what you may have sitting around.

Acquapod – Turn your bathtub into a 100 gallon water storage tank

LifeStraw – In the event water becomes non potable, you can drink it with this

Coolers – You probably have these around, fill them up with water or ice

Growlers – You can put water in this, we know it’s not beer, but that mantel piece is useful

Communication and Power

Even though Hurricane Matthew wasn’t all that intense in Charleston, it was not something I’d classify as enjoyable either. The biggest things that kept me busy during the windiest parts and rising floods was my smartphone, a wind up radio, and an emergency radio. Here are a few examples, backup chargers, and communication devices to help keep you informed.

Solar Chargers – These may not be the most effective things, and certainly won’t help until after the storm; however, when power is out and the sun is shining again, this will help.

Backup Batteries – You never know how quickly you burn through power until you have none at all. Backup batteries will certainly help, but after day one of four without power, I was using the car. The bigger the better.

Windup Radio – Even with power out, these radios allow you to wind them up and get access to local and NOAA alerts. Some have flashlights and other features.

Motorola TALKABOUT T480 – This little emergency radio has a bit of everything from a flashlight to automatic NOAA alerts. Since last year it has not left my bedside.  If you get two, it’s your standard walkie talkie too.

GoTenna – Using mesh networks, GoTenna will allow you to use two smartphones or tablets to ping each other with locations and text messages.

Goal Zero Yeti 400 – If you don’t have room for a full generator or don’t have access to fuel, a device like Goal Zero’s Yeti will allow you to charge it up prior to a storm and keep many of your devices juice.

Portable Generator – These come in all shapes and sizes, and either use standard fuel or propane.

Water Sensor – For those of us evacuating from a potential flood zone, it never hurts to put water sensors down. Many of these are dependent on WiFi and power though, but if that remains you’ll at least know what you’re coming home to.

Whistle Dog Tracker – During natural disasters more pets go missing than any other time. I personally have a Whistle on my dog, and it allows me to track her down if she gets out using a cell signal.

Security, Prevention, and Cleanup

Generac Semi-Trash Water Pump – Hopefully you won’t need it, but if your place floods, a water pump will help.

Water Dams – Once water touches them they will activate and create a barrier against water. While some may still get in, this will reduce it.

Canary Security Camera – If your power and internet doesn’t go down, this will allow you to keep an eye on your place. They are also offering 3 months free service, free overnight shipping, and a discount for those being impacted by Irma.

Flashlight – You can get these anywhere, but have extra batteries on hand. USB rechargeable ones are not ideal.

Headlamp – Keep your hands free by using a headlamp.

Related Apps

Regardless of the situation, there are numerous apps to help keep you informed and alerted. The following are focused specifically on weather related emergencies:

FEMA

Like the various Red Cross apps, FEMA’s official app focuses on both emergency preparation and alerts.

Storm

From Weather Underground, this app is both visually impressive and as helpful as the NOAA app, but is designed to simply track storms.

Red Cross Apps

For hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, floods, and wildfire, Red Cross has an app for each. These will help you prepare before, during, and after a situation occurs, while alerting you to the nearest shelter and updates.

NOAA Weather Radar & Alerts

This free app will show you the latest path of a hurricane, flood warnings, and other weather related warnings. This unofficial NOAA app is available on iOS and Android.

Notes – Home Inventory

Use your built in notes app to record serial numbers, take photos of your items, and record other important information. Camscanner is also great if you need to scan important documents and just have your smartphone camera.

Read more about how to help the victims of these hurricanes on TechCo

Image via U.S. Navy

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Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world and is often digging into emerging technology and data. When not writing, he's likely either running or training for a triathlon. You can contact him by email at elliot(@)elliotvolkman.com or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.

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