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Every time there’s an emergency, I’m surprised by the number of people who head to social media for assistance. With both Mother Nature and man-made disasters happening all over the U.S., help is needed, but crowdsourced assistance isn’t the quickest and most reliable way. Now there’s a free smartphone app developed by FEMA that’s designed to support you before, during, and after disasters.

Creating a smartphone app that helps you before, during and after an emergency makes sense. We’re using smartphones for breaking news and alerts so combining emergency alerts just smartphones for breaking news and alerts so combining emergency alerts just makes sense. Having one app that combines planning, tracking, information on shelters, and how to apply for disaster relief just makes sense.

Download this new app now and use the planning features to set-up your emergency kit with their simple check-list plus add your own necessities. Then set a reminder to check your kit every six months to make sure it’s ready to go. You can also set reminders to check your smoke detectors monthly as well as change their batteries every six months.

You can also create severe weather alerts via the National Weather Service for up to five locations so you’ll know if you family in Texas is dealing with flooding while you’re enjoying sunny days in Seattle.  Add your travel destination to your alerts to be sent severe weather alerts near you as well as driving directions to disaster assistance shelters and disaster recovery centers ( Maps of Disaster Resources) plus tips on what to avoid during an emergency in an area you’re not familiar with.

You can also opt in to be sent safety tips to help you keep your family safe during 20 different types of hazards including floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes.

The service is available in both English and Spanish. While I hope you never need it, it’s comforting to know it’s there. I’ve gotta run; I just got the alert that it’s time to check my emergency supply kit. Have you checked yours?

The latest version of the FEMA app is available for free in the App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices.  For more information visit https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app

  EMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.