How Natural Disaster Alerts Can Help You Be Prepared

Written by | Updated March 10, 2014

Even though you might not see or feel the effects of them, natural disasters are happening around the world quite frequently. Just within the past few weeks, there was a storm with 80-mph winds that surfaced in southern England and Wales and, on the other side of the world, an avalanche cut off the only road into Alaska City. Additionally, 11 of the 50 states were declared natural disaster areas because of draught, meaning they are prime places for wildfires come summer.

Nature can surprise us. Fortunately, today’s technology helps predict potential disasters and alert people who could be in danger. It’s important that you are set up to receive those alerts so you can respond quickly to help keep you and your family safe.

Before looking at what natural disaster alerts you should have, you must decide what disasters your area is prone to. If you are on a coast, consider floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis. If you’re near a fault line, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are potential hazards. If you’re inland, remember tornadoes and floods. In a dry area, fires are a definite hazard. Landslides and avalanches are other dangers to be aware of.

Now is the time to sign up for natural disaster alerts. These disaster alerts can come via text, Twitter, and email, but the most common are through smartphone apps. Here are some popular apps that have worldwide coverage.

  • Google Public Alerts is available when you activate Google Now on an Android device. It notifies users of weather, earthquake, and public safety notices.
  • The Emergency and Disaster Information Service (EDIS) Notifier is operated by the National Association of Radio Distress-Signaling and Infocommunications (RSOI). It is an app that offers leveled warnings, level 1 being the least severe and level 5 being the most.
  • The Disaster Alert app, created by the Pacific Disaster Center, is available for iOS and Android phones. It alerts users of hazards globally that may be harmful to people or property.
  • Disaster Warning Network, Inc., distributes early disaster warning signals to any type of wireless consumer device, like laptops, cell phones, pagers, and TVs.
  • Tsunami Alert is an Android app that provides localized information when a tsunami has occurred. Settings can be adjusted so the user receives warnings for one of five main regions.
  • Early Alert uses email, SMS, and similar avenues to provide real-time weather and extreme hazard updates.

These alerts are global and national in scope. Perhaps more important, however, is to utilize your local resources, too. For example, if you live in a state prone to wildfires, it’s likely an organization has at least created a Twitter account to update locals on the fire status. Or, if you are affiliated with a campus or another large local organization, it may have a system to distribute warnings via SMS. Visit your state and city websites to investigate all alert options available through your local government.

As technology improves and the need becomes more imminent, these notification methods are constantly changing and improving. Stay up-to-date on the disasters that may affect you, and be prepared so you can keep yourself and the people you care about safe if and when the time comes.

Written by Hillary Johnston

A proud mother of four, Hillary is passionate about safety education. She holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management. Learn more

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