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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

How Your Tech Devices Can Help You Stay Safe in Extreme Summer Weather

We're well into Summer which means many of you are involved with vacation trips, camp, and leisure days. Unfortunately, extreme weather is probably part of your summer plans which means you need to have a plan in place to stay safe from excessive heat, violent storms, and hazardous smoke from forest fires. Even when your power and cell service are uncertain, your smartphone and other tech devices can help you avoid those uncertain times. Check out some tips to help you use your tech through major meteorological moments. Here's what you need to know:

1. Get a Digital Antenna. Digital Antennas equal free TV. Your local channels such as PBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox were meant to be free. Think about it. How many times has a storm knocked out your cable or satellite service? With an antenna, you can keep safe if your internet service goes out. Your local channels will still be able to get you the information you need to keep your home and family safe in the event of an emergency. When you get a digital antenna, make sure you re-scan for channels occasionally which will help you stay on top of emergency updates.

2. Download a weather app on your smart devices. It's rare that your cellular service will go out in extreme weather which is why it's a good idea to download and set up alerts on Apple’s Weather app, the Google app or a specialized weather app to keep you notified. Bookmarking web pages in your browser — like those for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Hurricane Center, or the U.S. Air Quality Index — is good for manual checks of current conditions. Also, your smartphone can also receive wireless emergency alerts from authorized federal, state, local, and tribal, authorities. Make sure these settings are enabled on your smartphone or tablet.

3. Get an Amazon Echo Show or a Google Home Hub. If you currently have an Echo or Google Home and you've cut the cord, it's time to upgrade. If you aren't familiar, the Echo Show and the Google Home Hub both have screens that are constantly showing news and other alerts. When there is severe weather in your area, these smart-home devices will show you what's going on. You can even take it a step further by programming the function into these devices to give you verbal alerts in the case of extreme weather.

4. Save Important items to Your Digital Wallet. Keeping track of all of your important documents is the last thing you want to do in extreme weather. If you can, upload your credit and debit cards to your digital wallet app on your phone. Also, make sure you have photos or pdfs of your health care cards and driver’s license. Just about every major insurance company has its own mobile app that you can use for filing a claim, getting roadside assistance, and checking documents that are part of your policy. If you have not installed your provider’s app and set up your account on your phone, do it before you need to use it.

5. Stock Up on Power Sources. If the power goes out, you will need alternative ways to charge your phone. Technology like solar panel battery packs, a power cable for your car’s 12-volt dashboard outlet, or hand-cranked chargers. These tech items can keep your tech devices charged and ready to help you out.

6. Check out Gas Buddy and Google Maps. Extreme weather can often disrupt gasoline delivery and other items on the supply chain. Gas Buddy will not only help you find the cheapest gas prices, it also has an outage tracker feature, that can help you find working gas stations. Google Maps also you to keep track of Air quality as well as wildfires. It will also help you navigate the roads and alert you of closures if you have to evacuate during extreme weather.

7. Get a Weather Radio. In times of extreme weather, you can never predict what services you will lose. TV, Internet, and cellular signals can all fall victim to storms in your area. To keep everyone safe in extreme weather, the National Weather Service has a dedicated radio station that transmits around the country. A weather radio can help you get this important information. Also, most weather radios do not require charging and will work in all weather conditions.

Hopefully, this post has given you the information you need to keep yourself safe from extreme summer weather. If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help!

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