5 apps to help you survive an earthquake

If you live in an earthquake zone like California or, now, Boston, these apps can help keep you safe if and when the big one hits

npr_ds_emergency-600x450_0.jpgITworld/Phil Johnson
In case of earthquake, put on a bright, reflective vest and head outside

I’ve lived in the Boston area since 1987 and one thing about New England that I’ve always appreciated is the distinct lack of natural disasters (aside from the occasional Red Sox meltdown). However, in the last year or so, things have been getting a little weird, as we’ve seen tornadoes, a hurricane and even an earthquake. Well, last night it happened again: while relaxing on my couch digesting a tasty plate of meatloaf, the house began shaking and rattling (luckily, no rolling), the result of an earthquake centered in Maine. After going through 41 years and change of life without ever feeling the ground move, twice, now, in the last 14 months a building I was in began to shake noticeably. 

Needless to say, Mother Nature’s new interest in shifting the ground under my feet is making me nervous. At the moment, moving isn’t an option. However, thanks to technology, there are a number of earthquake related apps out there that might help the next time the house begins to rumble.

1. Earthquake - May as well start with the leaders in helping those affected by natural disasters, with the Red Cross Earthquake app. This app includes lots of features, such as instructions for what to do in a earthquake, notifications from the US Geological Survey when one occurs, the ability to send out “I’m safe” messages to friends and family via Twitter, Facebook, email, and text and a toolkit including a strobe light, flashlight and audible alerts. The Earthquake app is available for iOS and Android devices.

2. First Aid - While we’re at it, the Red Cross also offers a First Aid app, containing instructions for dealing with basic first aid issues, and integration with EMS so you can contact 911 via the app. I don’t care how many episodes of MASH, ER or Dr Quinn Medicine Woman you’ve seen; unless you’re a trained nurse or physician, this kind of app could be quite handy. Available for iOS and Android.

3. QuakeWatch - Whether you live in the US or abroad, you may want to get QuakeWatch, which provides information and reports on the latest earthquakes around the globe. View quake hotspots on a map, sort quakes by magnitude, location or date of occurrence. Also, if you live near the Pacific Ocean, this app will give you the latest information on tsunamis. Available for iOS.

4. myFault - Do you live in California? Then you know about earthquakes. But do you know if your home, school or workplace is located in a liquefaction zone? Well, the myFault app can tell you. It can also tell you if your location is susceptible to landslides and other seismic hazards you could face during an earthquake. Available for iOS.

5. Doom - This version of the classic video game won’t tell you anything about surviving an earthquake, but it will help you practice for surviving the inevtiable breakdown in society when and if the really big one ever hits. It doesn’t hurt to keep your hand-eye coordination sharp. Available for iOS and Android.

I figure these apps should tide me over until I can move the family to somewhere safe from such disasters (but where I can also still get the NFL Network).

This really just scratches the surface of earthquake and disaster-preparedness apps out there. Do you have any that you particularly like or recommend? Please share.

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