Bad Weather? How to get survival-ready in any storm

Bad Weather? How to get survival-ready in any storm

Critical apps and tech you never imagined could save your life when bad weather hits

by Kurt Knutsson

Knowing how to turn tech into a lifeline in a storm can make every bit of difference.  I learned most of what I’m sharing with you from being trapped myself in Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans for days.  I wish I had this advice then.

Here’s the simple gear, downloadable tech, and emergency tools that can save your life in a disastrous weather event.

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Know your GPS Coordinates

Store your home’s Latitude/Longitude coordinates in your phone contacts. Flooding prevents common street signs and hides landmarks. First responders may be unfamiliar with your neighborhood. It’s easier for helicopter or rescue units to locate you with solid GPS coordinates.

When I was trapped in Hurricane Katrina, it took nearly two days to determine my GPS coordinates without electricity so that a helicopter could rescue us.

Since then, a newer emergency location standard is emerging called What Three Words.  The idea is that three simple words can define the exact location of anything including your front door.   Those three words are also a lot easier to remember and share than a series of complicated numbers related to latitude/longitude coordinates.   Know both by doing this:

What 3 Words lets you put in your address and to get three word location where you may need help from first responders.

Look up your address now to identify the three words and text them to yourself.  Do the same for your GPS coordinates by following the step-by-step instructions below.

Here’s how to get your lat/long coordinates so that you can save them in your contacts and share with loved ones in advance of a storm.

By having them in your text history, you can relay them to emergency services in time of need.


Gather Simple Tech Gear and keep in one place

Keep extra USB chargers handy. Leave some in your car. If your power goes out, you can recharge your device from your car. Never operate the engine with garage closed.  My picks here.

Keep keys with you at all times during storm and keep a USB charging cable in your pocket. Put out all batteries in one place with any other alternative power sources. Backup to a portable drive or email it to yourself.

Use Ziploc bags to hold essential tech that you keep within reach.  Know how to get to life-saving tools in the dark or urgent moment by keeping everything you need in one place.


If you think you could be exposed to flooding or blowing rain through a broken window, seal delicate valuables in ziploc bags and store in the dishwasher.  Many storm victims have said the dishwasher can keep many items dry when a storm gets inside your home.

If you evacuate, take video tour of your home recording contents as you describe it for insurance company.  Email or text the video to yourself in case your phone is lost or damaged.


Download Life-Saving Apps

Download important life-saving apps before the storm hits including bookmarking the official national hurricane center mobile site on your phone and tablet.

 Reliable tool like Fox Weather app to stay informed 24/7

Whether its a battery, hand-crank powered emergency radio to a weather app like Fox Weather.  You need to be able to hear a trusted voice from the outside world during and after a storm.   If all power goes out, local cellular towers can remain powered for hours and sometimes days keeping you connected to vital information.  Put your phone in low-power mode during these times to conserve battery power for critical communications.  Reduce screen brightness to a tolerable yet reduced level for extra power savings.


Bookmark the National Hurricane Center mobile site

NOAA National Hurricane Center mobile site should be bookmarked on your phone. It is the source of all official hurricane data.


Zello Walkie Talkie app turns your phone into a walkie talkie in a pinch

Zello walkie-talkie app to coordinate family response and communications. These will work while there is still active cell phone towers or wifi.  Many times, cell phone towers backup power lasts for hours and sometimes days when the power goes out.  Wireless companies are also part of emergency response after the storm bringing in emergency mobile cell towers to get your connected again.


Waze app is best if you need to evacuate and for post storm damage

Waze app is the best for navigation during evac and after storm to route you around trouble spots.


Red Cross Emergency Alerts app

Red Cross Emergency Alerts app

Follow your local police and fire departments on Twitter and Facebook. Newly announced official push alerts will be available for your local community.


Best Storm Tracking Map – Ventusky app

The Ventusky app. shows storm tracking maps like nobody else.  This is also a website if you want to dial in from the web.  You can easily click to filter the interactive weather maps to see when wind and rain will be impacting you and to what degree.


Local utilities app and power notifications

Lookup your local power utility company in the app store or in Google Play Store and download.   It often connects you with the most current and accurate outages and timeline for restoring power.

You can also report an outage on many power company apps.  While using the app, signup to receive text message alerts for power outages and emergency warnings.  If you have any trouble finding the official power company app, then go to their website and see if they have a trusted link to the app store from there.


Bonus Tip: Storm Safety Strategy

Place a frozen cup with a quarter atop in your freezer before evacuating. It’s a simple indicator of whether your food stayed frozen or thawed during a power outage. Quarter on top? Your food is fine. Quarter in the middle? Check each item, as partial thawing may have occurred. Quarter at the bottom? It’s best to discard the food to avoid potential food poisoning. A practical tip, proving useful during any power loss situation.


Sharing is caring

Aside from the recommended first aid and emergency gear, this tech guidance in an emergency can make an enormous difference.  If you find this helpful, please share with people you love.


Storm survival essentials: Your ultimate gadget guide





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