From fires and thunderstorms to earthquakes and floods to major safety events that hit the news, you need easy access to emergency information to remain informed and prepared 🙂
I’ve spent quite some time trying to figure out the handiest apps and, between all of these, all types of events and notifications tend to get covered. Install these, set up location settings, and what type of magnitude an event has to be for you get a notification and then just leave the apps on your phone.
The list with links to free downloads is below. These can also be found directly in Google Play and the iPhone App store on your phone. For website links, you can also click the 3 dots on the top right and press “add to home screen” on your phone so you’ll have a shortcut.
- CALFIRE: I highly suggest downloading their app or following them on Social Media if you don’t already. They will be the first to share wildfire information and evacuation alerts in the event of fire.
- Twitter is great for any cal fire updates: Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, Santa Cruz County, Alameda County, Monterey County, Contra Costa County, and San Francisco County
- Infrared satellite imagery of where the actual fire is; there’s usually a delay for a couple of hours vs. looking at it real-time. Many evacuations happen due to smoke yet this shows where structures might be affected
- This is a map that overlays fire and wind speed and direction – #1 go-to for fires
- smco.community.zonehaven.com has evacuation information, and locations of fires all nicely mapped out for a quick view. Probably #1 for fires. Each county is different and the source is the same.
- State / world wide view of where lightning strikes in real-time. When air quality permits, this is how the fire department dispatches helicopters to check if a fire has struck although most fires from lightning take 1-2 days to appear (the brush just heats up and turns into fire over time once lightning strikes). The red dots are where lightning strikes and the green beams on the map in the link above are the towers with cameras that record it, based on the time difference of when the light flashes at different towers, the exact location is calculated.
- Cutter Law P.C has a thorough Wildfire Safety Guide that lists essential supplies that you should have in case of emergency. You will also find some helpful tips to track and prevent the occurrence of wildfires.
- PulsePoint Respond: Probably the #1 go to app to see everything. There’s a map view of all major emergencies (from serious car accidents to fires). This app will also alert you if someone nearby is in need of emergency CPR services / first response.
- ScannerRadio: Very useful, generic app. It allows you to listen in on any long-range radio broadcasts that someone with equipment is capturing to steam for others (police, fire). You can set it up to notify you when over 10,000 people are listening in to capture only major US incidents. If there’s a huge influx of people listening, that’s when something is happening like a plane being stolen from an airport 🙂 They talk in code sometimes and the legend can be googled.
- PGE Outage Map: Updated every 15 minutes, shows power outages, what’s forecasted to be shut off, grid capacity, shows the peak electricity usage. Click on Today’s Outlook. You can also click the 3 dots on the top right and press “add to home screen” on your phone so you’ll have a shortcut.
- MyShake: This app allows you to see earthquake reporting in real-time. The developers are working on a warning feature that will be able to alert you of an earthquake before the ground starts shaking. You can set it up to alert you for anything above a certain magnitude earthquake and modify the location.
- Google rolled out its own earthquake notification that will be pushed automatically to all Android devices in Aug’20. There’s also Earthquake many folks like
- FEMA app: pushes federal emergency alerts to your phone, including evacuation alerts
- QuickMap: Great fast way to find out what’s really going on with the traffic as you are in it. It shows road closures / accidents / whatever is going on and quick descriptions of what happened with a direct feed from the police department so you can take a detour before traffic builds up.
- Airwyn is a free air quality map that uses Purple Air, a website map without notifications, data sensors to notify people of the current air quality conditions. With Airwyn, you’ll find your location and click on the closest sensor, select “monitor” to follow it, and you never have to open the app again – your phone will automatically have it in notifications. It’s a good app to have handy with air quality being affected so much by the annual fires.
- AlertSCC: This program sends free texts / emails to your phone about Santa Clara County emergencies, including fire, earthquake, severe weather, and instructions during a disaster. Yes this is county-specific 🙂 You can also click the 3 dots on the top right and press “add to home screen” on your phone so you’ll have a shortcut.
- CA-17.com: If you find yourself commuting up and down hwy17 often, this will be handy. This gives you access to real time traffic cameras and delay info across 17- also great if you are planning a beach day 🙂 You can also click the 3 dots on the top right and press “add to home screen” on your phone so you’ll have a shortcut.
Handy FYI apps:
Many of us don’t have house phones anymore. You can always register for a reverse 911 call so that when police tries to evacuate, you’d be notified. Google “register for reverse 911 call” for your county and sign up there. Santa Clara for example is here.
Hope you find this helpful! Please fwd this to your friends to help keep everyone safe