Last-minute tech checklist for emergencies
Use technology to stay safe and informed no matter what Hurricane Sandy brings
You've got the food and water, the batteries and candles. Don't forget your digital emergency preparation as well. Here's a checklist and some recommended apps to keep you safe and prepared during Hurricane Sandy or any other emergency event.
1. Make sure your data backups are up to date. If you use an online backup service, check that they're 100% complete; if not, force them to finish backing up. It's also a good idea to backup your most important documents to an external hard drive and/or a USB thumb drive. If forced to evacuate, you can grab it and go.
2. Charge all your devices. If the power goes out, you'll want your phone, laptop, tablet, and any other device to work as long as possible. If you have backup batteries for any of these devices, charge them as well.
Some power companies are warning customers a power outage could last as long as 10 days (yikes!). If that happens, turn your devices off and use them only when necessary.
3. Look up all the emergency information you need to know, before the power goes out. Just in case, now's the time to get the addresses of emergency shelters (including ones for your pets).
4. Make backup internet access plans. If your internet connection goes out, but you still have power and cellular data, you can keep your computer connected. Download PDANet, a tethering app that shares your smartphone's data connection with your computer.
5. Use apps or SMS to stay up to date. Many communities have notification alerts. NYC, for example, is relaying important information on Twitter. Even if you lose internet connection, you can access important alerts on Twitter via SMS. Useful Twitter accounts to follow are @RedCross, @FEMA, and @twc_hurricane.
Finally, you should have a whistle and a flashlight for emergency purposes. If you don't, you can download free apps that serve as these items for either the iPhone or Android. There are also SOS apps available to sound alerts.
6. Include in your go bag tech necessities. Your go bag--the bag filled with emergency supplies in case you have to quickly leave your house--should include things that might come in handy for your gadgets. In case you have to leave the house, remember to take these essentials: any backup batteries, USB cables for your phone and external drive, your phone's charger and car charger for your phone (if you have one), and USB thumb drive.
Hopefully the storm will pass right by you. Get your tech prepared just in case and consider this checklist for future emergencies of any kind. (For low-tech hurricane preparation, see FEMA's guide).