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Tips for Using Technology to Prepare for Disasters

With the recent destruc­tion across the North­east and Mid-Atlantic as a result of Hur­ri­cane Sandy, we’re reminded of how impor­tant it is to be pre­pared for a dis­as­ter. As of Octo­ber 31, it is esti­mated that this storm claimed at least 51 lives and caused nearly $20 bil­lion in dam­age. Accord­ing to Huff Post Tech, “Hur­ri­cane Sandy power out­ages have hit mil­lions of peo­ple and busi­nesses along the East Coast.”  Many peo­ple will be fac­ing chal­lenges dur­ing the next few weeks as they attempt to resume busi­ness, recover losses, and recon­nect with friends, col­leagues, and family.

Protect your Home

This dis­as­ter prompted us to write this post to help you under­stand how the Life­Topix app and other tools can be very use­ful for dis­as­ter prepa­ra­tion and recov­ery. Our advice is to be proac­tive, not reac­tive. You shouldn’t wait until the last minute to find impor­tant doc­u­ments and stock up on sup­plies. Dis­as­ters, such as earth­quakes, fire, or tor­na­does can be unpre­dictable, and sup­plies can run out quickly when bad weather is predicted.

Make Sure Your Devices Have Power

When dis­as­ter strikes, wide­spread power out­ages nor­mally occur. It is essen­tial that you have backup power for your smart­phones and tablets. One way to ensure your mobile device is pow­ered up is through the Mophie Juice Pack. Mophie includes sev­eral mod­els that also act as pro­tec­tive cov­ers. Some have even been tested using inter­na­tional stan­dards for water resis­tance and dust. Of course, you will need power to charge the Juice Pack, but your bat­tery life will be extended. There are also solar-powered charg­ers avail­able from other man­u­fac­tur­ers in case no power can be found. In addi­tion, nor­mally you would be able to charge your devices via your car charger so it’s impor­tant to keep one on hand if you own a vehi­cle. You can also con­serve your bat­tery by putting your smart­phone into air­plane mode, shut­ting it down when not in use, and clos­ing apps that you aren’t using.

Go Paper­less — Keep Emer­gency Infor­ma­tion in the Cloud

Cloud-based ser­vices such as Ever­note, Drop­box, and Google Drive allow you to store doc­u­ments, pho­tos, videos, and other files. When data is stored “in the cloud,” it means that it’s man­aged and backed up remotely and made avail­able over the Inter­net, instead of locally on your com­puter. If you’ve been dis­placed or your prop­erty has been destroyed, all this vital infor­ma­tion is backed up else­where so you don’t need to worry about its loss.

You can also scan doc­u­ments directly to the cloud for soft­ware such as Ever­note, Google Docs, Sales­force Chat­ter, Sug­ar­Sync, and Share­point by using a com­pat­i­ble scan­ner. Also, keep in mind that Life­Topix works with Ever­note, Google Docs, and Drop­box so all files are eas­ily acces­si­ble — directly through Life­Topix — within con­text of the topic to which they’re associated.

For exam­ple, you might want to store files such as:

  • insur­ance poli­cies and cards
  • tax returns
  • war­ranties
  • children’s art­work
  • pho­tos
  • wills
  • prop­erty deeds and titles to cars, boats, and trailers
  • account num­bers
  • id cards, pass­ports, and dri­vers licenses
  • social secu­rity cards
  • credit card numbers
  • mar­riage licenses and certificates
  • pre­scrip­tions
  • receipts
  • col­lege tran­scripts and report cards
  • addresses and phone num­bers of friends and family

If you’re con­cerned about the secu­rity of these sys­tems, refer to their web­sites to learn about how secu­rity is han­dled. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of stor­ing this infor­ma­tion in the cloud.

Take an Inven­tory of Assets

Keep­ing track of what you own is very impor­tant in order for you to file insur­ance claims and recover losses from your insur­ance com­pany. It’s also help­ful to under­stand the total replace­ment cost for your assets. With Life­Topix, you can track the descrip­tion, seller, pur­chase date, cost, cur­rent value, man­u­fac­turer, model, SKU, and ser­ial or VIN num­bers for each asset. In addi­tion, you should take video or pho­tos of the item or prop­erty. By using the Home + Assets topic in Life­Topix, you can track these pur­chases and assets, as shown in the fol­low­ing screenshot.

It’s a good idea to keep your list up-to-date and occa­sion­ally add new items, re-evaluate, and delete items that you no longer own. Take new pho­tos and videos, and keep val­ues up to date as items depreciate.

Cre­ate “In Case of Emer­gency” Checklists

In case of an emer­gency, you should cre­ate a check­list of items that you would need when dis­as­ter strikes. FEMA is a good resource when cre­at­ing a mas­ter list of these items. By using Life­Topix, you can man­age check­lists as part of a project or shop­ping list. For exam­ple, you could cre­ate a Project called “In Case of Emer­gency” and cre­ate an asso­ci­ated check­list that includes the sup­plies that you believe are essen­tial. You can see an exam­ple in the fol­low­ing screenshot.

If you live in areas prone to earth­quakes, tor­na­does, fire, and hur­ri­canes it is imper­a­tive that you pre­pare, early and often. And lessons have been learned by those who were not fully pre­pared for the Hur­ri­cane Sandy super­storm. No mat­ter where you live, being pre­pared can be cru­cial for your future, and in some cases — your survival.

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