Is Your Phone Prepared for a Weather Emergency?

September is National Preparedness Month, and storms along the East Coast can be extremely dangerous as air temperatures drop faster than water temperatures. We all remember Sandy, too, which wreaked havoc in our entire region in October 2012. Now might be a good time to think about apps for smart phones to give you adequate warnings.

Look first to your city, township or county. Morris County, for example, has a web page where you can register for alerts that you can receive as a text message or phone call on your cell phone. The service will also call you on a landline. It’s not a personal call. Rather it’s one generated as a mass robo call to phone numbers registered for specific locations, such as your home or office. Some communities also use social media channels to notify “friends and followers” about weather emergencies.

The federal government makes weather emergency information available to cell phones through Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).  The system allows customers who own certain wireless phones and other enabled mobile devices to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. The technology ensures that emergency alerts will not get stuck in highly congested areas, which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services. Governments can target specific areas through cell towers in cooperation with wireless carriers.

Alerts are broadcast only from cell towers whose coverage areas best match the zone of an emergency. That means that if your phone is WEA-enabled, you can receive a warning from a tower in the alert zone if your carrier is participating in the program in that area.

With more of us traveling and reifying on our smart phones for driving directions, Google Public Alerts is a good option. It’s Google’s platform for disseminating emergency messages such as evacuation notices for hurricanes, and everyday alerts such as storm warnings. It’s worldwide through Google Search, Google Maps, and when you activate Google Now on your Android device. Google publishes information in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Colombia, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, India, New Zealand, and Brazil. While Google can’t guarantee that you’ll see every alert, they’re using feedback mechanisms to increase its capabilities. You can learn more from their FAQ page.

If you’re a Twitter user, you can sign up for Twitter Alerts and then manage your alerts.

Your App Store or Google Play has way too many apps available. Some are free, including those from our metro area TV stations, and some require a purchase. We are more than happy to talk to you about the best app for your needs, and we can help you configure apps for your families and employees so that they can all be safe when severe weather strikes. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us with any questions you may have.