TechBits: Be prepared for the next natural disaster with a useful app from FEMA

fema
For the next natural disaster

Washington may have been spared the worst of Hurricane Sandy, but it certainly was a reminder to be prepared for the next one. So take a look at this app from the Federal Emergency Management Agency; it’s done a lot better than most government agencies, whose apps tend to be buggy, difficult to navigate and just generally difficult to use. The FEMA app is comprehensive without being flashy, a point in its favor. It includes tips for disaster preparation, a checklist for an emergency kit and a place to put a reminder of the best places to meet your family and friends should the worst happen. Links give you maps of disaster centers and shelters, plus ways to get updates from FEMA through social networks and text messages. For the aftermath, the app also has instructions on how to apply for assistance.

A final good point: While you’ll need service to get the maps and other features, the list and tip features work when not connected to the Internet. That means using it won’t eat up too much precious battery life. Free, for Android, iOS and BlackBerry devices.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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