Communication, Social Media, Technology, and Apps

Disaster Apps for your Digital Go-Bag
The tools on this page are designed to provide mobile device users access to Web-based content. They are developed to run on specific mobile platforms, such as iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android, or Blackberry.

Teach Kids to Cope with Severe Weather
Developed by the Ozark Center in cooperation with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the Missouri Foundation for Health, Help Kids Cope, an app by the University of California-Los Angeles, provides age-appropriate communication prompts for parents and guardians to talk with their children about the natural disasters they may face, from earthquakes and extreme heat to floods, landslides, and windstorms, among others. The app helps parents and guardians know how best to support their children throughout a disaster—whether sheltering in place or evacuating to a designated shelter—and how to help the family to heal after reuniting.
The app is currently available for free download to Apple devices in the app store.

FEMA App Takes on Preparedness
As FEMA Deputy Administrator of Protection and National Preparedness Tim Manning put it, “our lives are increasingly busy and on-the-go.” The FEMA mobile application now makes it easier to prepare for emergencies even for those with busy schedules.

FEMA launched a reminder feature to its free mobile application that will enable users to receive push notifications to their devices to remind them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters. The reminder feature allows mobile users to receive pre-scheduled safety and preparedness tips, including testing smoking alarms, practicing a fire escape plan, updating emergency kits, and replacing smoke alarm batteries.

The FEMA mobile application can be downloaded for free in the Apple App Store and Android Google Play Store.

How to Add an Emergency Contact to Your Phone's Lock Screen,2817,2489237,00.asp

ICE (In Case of Emergency) - Full Functionality Application: Recommended by Emergency Responders: $1.99

ICE Standard ER with Smart911™ - The Official In Case of Emergency Standard Card App for iPhone: Free
The #1 App Recommended by Doctors, Nurses, EMTs, Police, Fireman and First Responders

Discover Six of the Government's Best Mobile Apps
Did you know that the government has applications (apps) you can download to your phone? From safe travel to food safety, don't miss out on timely information! Check out some of the best apps the government has to offer.

The “Last House Standing”
What can you do with three minutes and $100,000? According to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), you could have the “last house standing.”

“Last House Standing” is FLASH’s exciting new mobile gaming application (app) that provides the ultimate design and disaster challenge! To begin, players are given three minutes and $100,000 to build a stylish and durable home in a virtual community. At the end of the challenge, a natural disaster strikes the neighborhood and the home is scored for flair and survivability. High scores are displayed on the Master Builder Board.

Get in the game! Download the app today and compete with friends to become a master builder and have the “last house standing.” It’s available for free on Apple and Android devices.

To learn more about “Last House Standing,” take a look at this video clip from FLASH.

This game is also a great way to start the preparedness conversation with your family! Visit America’s PrepareAthon for valuable information about earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and winter storms.

Apps for your Smart Phone
When cell towers cease to function after a disaster, those who rely so heavily on these devices still could utilize their cellphones beyond the traditional method. There are now applications (apps) on the market that do not require a cellular connection and can provide the owner with useful information and even connectivity to emergency and community services.

People, Pets & Emergency Response The first app to consider allows chatting with those who are in the immediate area. This app is particularly valuable after a disaster if the cell towers are down, overloaded, or an Internet/Wi-Fi connection is not available. One app to consider for this purpose is FireChat, which works off a peer-to-peer mesh network that is formed when devices are within 200 feet of each other. With Bluetooth enabled, the cellphone can connect to other people who also have the app open. The more people with the app operating on their phones, the further the communication can reach. Each added device becomes a link in the chain to build a robust communication network. Another feature of this app is that, if any device in the chain has Internet access, the communication can be shared online. This is a great way to share shelter locations and other critical information after a disaster. A recent use of this app occurred in the 2014 Hong Kong protests when the government shut down the Internet and cell towers. Protestors were able to coordinate the protest movement through FireChat.


Following a disaster, children are among the most vulnerable, especially when separated from their guardians. In one case, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it took nearly seven months to reunite the last child with her guardians. To aid law enforcement when a child goes missing, parents and guardians should consider the FBI id Child app, which allows a parent or guardian to add a photo of the child, identifying characteristics, as well as guardian name and contact information. If cell towers are working, FBI id Child has the added feature of easily emailing the child’s information to the law enforcement officer working on the case.


Other vulnerable members of the family are pets, which can become scared and break out of their yards or cages. In addition, when time is of the essence to evacuate a disaster area, sometimes pets cannot be located quickly, which means they may be left behind. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has developed a free mobile app to help locate lost pets. The ASPCA app works similarly to the FBI id Child app, but is designed specifically for pets. The app allows users to add a photo as well as information such as name, breed, color, weight, and microchip number – a unique way to identify an animal and return it to its owner. The app also allows pet owners to store vital medical records, receive guidance on how to locate a lost pet, and other tasks that can be performed before, during, and after a disaster.


After a disaster, there is a possibility that 911 may not work. Therefore, access to medical assistance may be unavailable. At these times, basic first aid may be necessary to help family and friends. Even when community members receive training through the Red Cross, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), or any other nationally recognized program, this knowledge may be forgotten during a disaster. The Red Cross has developed a free app, First Aid by American Red Cross, to provide step-by-step instructions for the most common first aid emergencies. The Red Cross app also includes videos to show many of the procedures.


Many Apps, With Many More Possibilities These four apps are only a few of the resources that can help community members in the aftermath of a disaster. On a final note, although these apps work without cell service, they still require a charged cellphone battery. Each disaster kit should include a charging device, such as a small solar panel charger, a hand-crank flashlight that the charger cable can plug into, or even a camping stove equipped with USB ports. These stoves convert heat to electricity through a thermoelectric generator. To ensure that an app will work during a power outage or disruption in cellular service, community members should carefully plan, evaluate, and test the various options available.

Facebook to Facilitate Disaster Updates
Social media often takes on a special importance in the aftermath of an emergency or disaster, as individuals in affected areas seek to reassure friends and relatives that they are safe—and those friends and relatives wait anxiously for word from their loved ones.
In recognition of this key role, Facebook has announced the development of a Safety Check feature that will allow Facebook users in disaster-affected areas to easily notify their friends that they are safe. More information about this exciting new feature can be found in the Facebook newsroom.

Remarkable Preparedness in the Nation: Map Your Neighborhood
After a disaster, the key to a speedy recovery is often unity and resilience within a community. Partners in forty-three states have found Map Your Neighborhood (MYN) to be a cost effective and time efficient approach to neighborhood preparedness.

Communities of all sizes, from cities to neighborhoods, should know how to work together for the common goals of adequately preparing before an emergency and recovering after one.
Map Your Neighborhood (MYN) is a program developed by the Washington State Emergency Management Division and is intended to help neighborhoods prepare for disasters. The program features the following:
  • The "9 Steps to Take Immediately Following A Disaster" to effectively secure your home and protect your neighborhood
  • Identifying the skills and equipment that each neighbor has and could be put to use in the event of a disaster
  • Creating a neighborhood map identifying the locations of useful items such as propane tanks for quick response
  • A contact list to help identify people with specific needs such as the elderly, handicapped, and children
  • The instructions needed to work as a team and evaluate the needs of your neighborhood immediately following a disaster

For more information on MYN, check out the MYN overview!

What can IPAWS do for you?
Receiving timely information about weather conditions or other emergency events can make all the difference in knowing when to take action to be safe. FEMA, private industry and other local, state and federal partners are working together to make sure you can receive alerts and warnings quickly through several different technologies no matter where you are.

Organized by FEMA, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is the Nation’s alert and warning infrastructure. It provides an effective way to alert and warn the public about emergencies using the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, and other public alerting systems from a single interface.

For those with access and functional needs, many messages are TTY/TDD compatible and many devices have accessible accommodations. Review this alerts and warnings fact sheet created by America’s PrepareAthon! to make sure you will receive critical information as soon as possible so you can take action to be safe.

For more information on IPAWS, EAS, and WEA, visit Additionally you can check out FEMA’s online training course for IPAWS:

Red Cross Blog: How to: Take Care of Yourself Before and After a Disaster
Disasters generate intense print, radio, TV and social media coverage that exposes all of us to traumatic sights and sounds. Even when we are not directly involved in the events, following the media coverage often triggers strong emotional reactions in us and this is a perfectly normal reaction.

Get Tech Ready
When most people prepare for an emergency, they assume they won’t be able to use technology as a resource; the power will probably be out, so technology won’t be able to help. With effective planning, it’s possible to take advantage of technology before, during and after a crisis to communicate with loved ones, manage your financial affairs, and get important information.

Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts available at and, follow FEMA on Twitter at and on Facebook at

Dancing for Preparedness? Flash Mob Spreads the Message
"The community preparedness manager for Austin, Texas’ Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) got creative by incorporating a song and dance to teach citizens about personal preparedness."

Promoting Emergency Preparedness Awareness through Soul & Hip Hop Music: