Summer is now in full swing, but along with holiday travel, camping and lazy days, extreme weather has arrived for many parts of the country. If you live in an area that is prone to such conditions, it helps to be prepared. Here are some tips to help you use your technology through major weather moments — sometimes, even when power and cell service are spotty.
Getting accurate local weather information helps you stay ahead of nearby threats like hurricanes, flash floods, tornadoes or wildfires. Setting up alerts in the default Apple Weather app, the Google app, or a dedicated weather app keeps you informed. Bookmark government web pages in your browser — such as those for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationthe National Hurricane Center or the US Air Quality Index — good for manual checks of current conditions.
Your phone can also receive wireless emergency alerts by authorized federal, state, local, tribal and territorial authorities. Check your notification settings to make sure these are enabled.
The American Red Cross also has a free one Crisis app that lets you track 40 types of hazards, including earthquakes, tornadoes, extreme heat, hurricanes and wildfires — with alerts in English and Spanish. Crisis, which consolidates information from older Red Cross apps, also offers checklists, first aid tips, information on nearby shelters and downloadable guides that work offline.
If the power goes out, you’ll need alternative ways to charge your phone – like a solar panel, a power cable for your car’s 12-volt panel outlet, or a handheld charger. Wirecutter, a product review site owned by The New York Times, has guides for alternative chargers, emergency radios and other equipment to get you through hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes.
Top Up Your Digital Wallet
Losing your physical wallet in a disaster can be very disruptive, but if you have credit or debit cards saved to the digital wallet on your phone, you have a backup for businesses with contactless payment terminals. Digital versions of your health cards and driver’s license may also be options. (Four states now offer official digital driver’s licenses or state ID cards for the an apple and Google wallets, but more to come, including New York; some states also have their own digital ID apps.)
Almost every major insurance company has its own mobile app that you can use to file a claim, get roadside assistance and check policy documents. If you haven’t installed your provider’s app and set up your account on your phone, do it before you need to use it.
And if you’re mired in air travel disruptions, your airline’s app helps with rebooking.
Make Cloud Copies
Sealed plastic boxes and fireproof boxes can help protect important documents and photos from the elements. However, digitizing the material – and storing it in the cloud on a secure server – gives you a virtual backup out of nature’s reach. Many multifunction printers include a scanner, but you can also scan files quite well with a smartphone.
Large storms often disrupt gasoline deliveries and other items on the supply chain. With its price maps and downtime tracker characteristics, the GasBuddy site and apps can help you find working gas stations.
Know how to SOS
Apple’s iPhonesGoogle Pixel phones, Samsung galaxy devices and other phones have shortcuts to call emergency services and indicate your location. Apple’s iPhone 14 models also include a satellite SOS feature because when you’re out of cell range, and Google has a Personal Security App for Android. Make sure you know how everything works in your model so you can get help quickly if needed.
If you’re stuck with a fast-draining phone battery and no power, consider this common trick if you still have cell service: Change your voicemail greeting to state your location and situation. Even if your phone battery dies, loved ones trying to reach you will get the information.
Protect Your Phone
Of course, there can be situations so extreme that your phone is lost or damaged. Turning on the “Find my phone” feature in your device’s settings before the bad weather arrives offers electronic hope of finding it later.
To recover faster from a destroyed phone, back it up online so its contents are safe and ready to download to a replacement device. Your phone manufacturer will be happy to sell you additional online storage space for a few dollars a month if you need it, but just make sure you have time to do a full cloud backup before those storms. clouds hit.