Prepping for storms and hurricanes with technology

While Hurricane Dorian makes its way up the Atlantic coast after causing devastation in the Bahamas and continuing to impact the United States, many Atlantic Canadians are stocking up on essentials.When hurricane season hits, many Atlantic Canadians stock up on essentials, put away patio furniture and prepare for a significant storms that could bring flooding as well as power outages to the region. In this digital age, there are many tech tools available to not only help you stay on top of the storm updates, but also to help you prepare and safely weather the storms.

Apps and tools

Before the storm hits, download and get familiar with relevant applications, including the Weather Network app, local radio and news apps, as well as messaging and social media apps. You should also enable notifications and alerts on these apps to get the latest information, including important warnings for your area. 
And don’t forget to also download episodes of your favourite shows or children’s programs and music to your tablet or smartphone, in case power (and Wi-Fi) goes out and you need some entertainment.
You can also bookmark websites such as the Canadian Hurricane Centre and your power company’s outage map for quick reference.
You can also use your smartphone to take photographs of any damage to your property caused by a storm and to keep an electronic record of important papers such as your insurance policy, phone numbers, and a list of medications.

Charging up

Your mobile phone is an important tool in your emergency kit. It can help you stay in contact with family and friends, help you reach emergency assistance (911 in most areas) or contact your municipality or community leadership to advise them of infrastructure damage after the storm (311 in some municipalities). Your smartphone also doubles as a flashlight, radio and more.
Keeping your phone fully charged during a power outage is important. Some tips to stay charged up:
  • Enable some battery saving measures such as disabling automatic app updates and reduce screen brightness. Search for “tips to save battery life” online for Android and iPhone for some helpful suggestions.
  • Invest in a crank or solar powered charger.
  • Charge your extra battery pack(s) and have one for each of your devices.
  • Limit the use of your phone during power outages to conserve your battery.
As flooding is a concern with hurricanes and tropical storms, do not keep any electronics on the floor, particularly in flood-prone basements. This includes your wireless router as well as any other device that will keep you connected to the outside world.
If you are using a generator during power outages, always remember to use it only in a well-ventilated area. Find more tips on generator safety.

Low-tech tools

If you don’t normally listen to your local radio broadcast, now is the time to tune in. Ensure you have a crank or battery-operated radio in your emergency kit. Other things to consider doing ahead of the storm is to gas your car and get cash. Power outages can disrupt access to these essentials.
Check out this short video for more tips on what to include in your emergency kit. Remember to have enough supplies to keep you and your family safe for at least 3 days. Also, check out these hurricane planning tips. Stay connected, and stay safe out there!

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