Back in 1996, I read Bill Gates’s book, The Road Ahead. For those of us who can remember back that far, computers were fairly commonplace and the internet was just coming into its own. Cell phones were just that, phones. No texting, no cameras, no online capability. Just phones. Mr. Gates made a prediction that one day we would all carry around computers that would easily fit into our shirt pockets. I remember wondering how that keyboard was going to fit.
Today, so far, I’ve used my phone to send and receive emails, text messages and checked the weather, the news and my appointments for the evening. Oh yes, and I have actually made several telephone calls. Bill Gates’s prophecy has come true. It even fits neatly in my shirt pocket, keyboard and all.
One of the features about smart phones that everyone seems to like is the capability to run various applications (Apps for short). Kids load games on their phones and we grown-ups, well we load games also, but we have grown-up Apps.
No matter your area of interest, there’s an App for that. Some are even helpful with disaster preparedness. I have an App that notifies me immediately of an earthquake anywhere on the planet. Location, intensity and whether or not a tsunami is a factor. It’s called Earthquake Alert and is free (as are all the apps mentioned in this column).
Another is called “iTriage.” This App is designed by emergency room doctors and is very extensive. You enter symptoms, the part of the body affected and you get a list of possible ailments. It also has locations of medical facilities in the area and directions to them. In fact, it will use your phone’s built-in GPS to direct you to your facility of choice. First aid and trauma care are also features of this App.
Then there’s the Military Survival Guide. Designed after the U.S. Army Field Manual FM-21-76. Survival in various climates, conditions and circumstances are covered in detail. How to build shelter, fire, make simple weapons and find food. Which plants to eat, which to avoid. Weather prognostication by observing clouds, complete with color photos of different kinds of cloud formations.
I use my Weather Channel App every day. Keeping abreast of the weather is all part of the “Be Informed” motto of disaster preparedness. Another App tracks tide information, handy for those of us living on the coast.
One I learned of a few months back was designed by the North Dakota State University Extension Service, called “Winter Survival Kit.” It’s designed for those who travel in blizzard conditions. If you should become stranded, it will calculate how many hours you can run your car’s heater before you’re out of gas. There is a list of emergency equipment you should carry in your car and a place to enter your insurance information, auto club and phone numbers of persons to contact in case of emergency.
All-in-all, just more examples of how we can use technology to our advantage. As always, send your questions and comments to email@example.com. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.diasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us”.