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The information presented on this page was originally released on May 31, 2012. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Include technology in preparedness plans
Technology can play a role in all four seasons recognized by Mississippians – hunting, athletic, farming and hurricane. June 1 is the official start of hurricane season, so now is a good time to figure out how to protect and use electronics if a major storm threatens our coast.
Before the storm…
Take steps to prepare for your and your loved ones’ safety in the event of a disaster or evacuation, which can occur without warning in cases such as toxic chemical spills. You want to be ready to grab important items and head for a safer location. Checklists for emergency supply kits are available on many websites, such as http://www.ready.gov.
If there is time to evacuate personal belongings during an emergency, take back-up devices and laptops or desktop computers. Take digital cameras as well as chargers for cameras and phones. Computer equipment, such as monitors, keyboards and mice, are easier to replace and can be left for last.
One of the quickest, simplest methods to protect important documents or photos is to email files to yourself as soon as they become irreplaceable.
Practice regular back-up procedures, regardless of the season. Computer disasters can happen anytime and can include household catastrophes, such as theft or fires. If your precious photos and other important data are stored in alternate locations, they should be safe.
Some people use external hard drives or storage devices, such as thumb drives or compact discs, to save duplicate copies of photos or work. A growing trend, especially for larger files, is cloud storage, where data is stored remotely and available to users over the Internet. One advantage of a cloud storage system is that you will be able to retrieve your data from any location that has Internet access. Be sure to read the terms of service for the cloud storage system you use. Make sure you understand who owns that data once it is posted to the company’s server and what measures will be taken if the company goes out of business. Find out who can access that information if something happens to you.
Backing up your data will reduce headaches and heartaches after a disaster and enable a quicker return to normalcy, especially when there could be so many other issues demanding attention.
During the storm…
Keep up with news and information about approaching storms and other disasters. Weather radios and television and radio reports are good sources for warnings before storms arrive and notifications when the danger has passed. Several storm-tracking apps also are available for smartphones. Twitter feeds from local news and weather channels can help. The key is finding the best source for your area and one or two alternatives in case your preferred devices fail.
After the storm…
Texting short messages is the best way to communicate with loved ones in or out of a disaster area. If cellphone towers are overloaded, a short text has a better chance of getting through than a phone call. Four letters – IMOK -- will tell people the most important message, that you are OK.
Be sure to invest in either a solar charger or a battery-operated charger so you can keep your devices powered up if no electricity is available.
This hurricane season, make sure you and your electronics are ready for evacuation and recovery.