Stay informed: Apps, sites alert community to severe weather
Story by: Julie Fiedler
1ST INF. DIV. POST
Editor's note: During the month of March, Fort Riley will observe Severe Weather Awareness Month. This article marks the third in a series devoted to educating area residents about the dangers of severe weather, as well as safety precautions they can take in the event of severe weather at Fort Riley and in the surrounding communities.
Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.
The Ready Army motto helps instill preparedness in Soldiers, Families and community members.
In this modern age, there are more ways than ever to be informed by connecting with various organizations online and on mobile devices.
Here is a round up of various safety apps, sites and suggestions to be better informed in the event of severe weather or other disaster.
ON FORT RILEY
Severe Weather AtHoc Sign Up - Ensure you and your Family are notified of Severe Weather notifications while you are deployed or at work. For notification by email, text message, or automated phone call, visit https://www.riley.army.mil/documents/DPTMS.FROCDocuments/121022141525.pdf for sign-up instructions.
In addition to Fort Riley's AtHoc messaging, consider signing up for Immediate Response Information System, or IRIS, alerts. IRIS is like a weather radio for cell phone users. People can sign up to receive voice messages, text messages or emails for a variety of local alerts, like tornado and flash flood warnings. Sign-up pages are specific to county, including Geary County at www.irisdispatch.com/users/enroll/dsp_enroll.cfm?org_id=995 and Riley County at www.irisdispatch.com/users/enroll/dsp_enroll.cfm?org_id=1000. For more information about IRIS alerts, call their helpline at 866-894-5474.
Most people have got an arsenal of games on their mobile device, but what about apps for emergencies? Take a break from Angry Birds to devote some time to reviewing the information before severe weather strikes and consider downloading some of these apps to be better equipped in the event of severe weather.
Tornado by American Red Cross is a free app for Apple and Android devices that provides real time alerts, shelter locations and more. It also includes tips and views of past tornadic activity by area.
The Federal Emergency Management Association has a free app that provides tips for preparation, as well as recovery in the event of a disaster. Search "FEMA" in the Apple or Android store.
The American Red Cross also has a free First Aid app that guides users through basic care of non-critical conditions.
Another helpful first aid app is the American Heart Association's Hands-Free CPR app. Free for Android and Apple devices, the app walks users through what to do after calling 911.
Weather apps, like free Intellicast, provide severe weather notifications in addition to forecasts. A person can program multiple locations to keep track of the weather in different areas around the globe.
In the event of a power loss, most people probably won't want to run down their mobile device's battery, but having a flashlight app that turns a smart phone or tablet into a light source can be handy. Apple and Android both have a selection of free flashlight apps.
Also, one might consider downloading his or her insurance company's app as a means to stay connected, make insurance claims or perform other transactions if need be.
Hopefully, Fort Riley residents have already liked the Facebook pages for Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division. USO Fort Riley also does a great job of linking to relevant sources during severe weather and other key local events.
For more local resources in the event of severe weather, connect with the U.S. National Weather Service Topeka, Kan., and Kansas Division of Emergency Management pages. For general tips, FEMA also has a Facebook page.
For more information about local schools, search USD 475 for a list of school pages within the district. Select the child's school to get pertinent information.
The following local organizations point to helpful resources and information for the area: U.S. Army Fort Riley @FortRiley, 1st InfantryDivision @FightingFirst, USO Fort Riley @USOFtRiley and KDEM @KansasEmergency.
The following national organizations also offer helpful tips: American Red Cross @redcross, FEMA @fema and ReadydotGov @ReadydotGov.
It's a good idea to bookmark a local emergency management website for information specific to an area. The following links direct to county offices around Fort Riley:
Geary County Emergency Management: www.geary.kansasgov.com
Riley County Emergency Management: www.rileycountyks.gov/index.aspx?NID=207
Dickinson County Emergency Management: www.dkcoks.org/Index.aspx?NID=62
Pottawatomie County Emergency Management: www.pottcounty.org/EmergencyMngt/2010/EmgtServ.html
Wabaunsee County Emergency Management: www.wabaunsee.kansasgov.com. Click on County Offices, then Emergency Management.
Morris County Emergency Management: www.morriscountyks.org/CountyOffices/EmergencyManagement/tabid/8525/Default.aspx
Clay County Emergency Management: www.claycountykansas.org/government/county-emergencymanagement.
The following national websites provide helpful information on what to do before, during and after severe weather and other disasters: www.cdc.gov, www.ready.gov, www.ready.gov/kids, www.fema.gov/plan-prepare-mitigate, www.redcross.org/prepare and www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy.
Last but not least, visit Fort Riley's own Ready Army webpage for more information specific to Fort Riley: www.riley.army.mil/UnitPage.aspx?unit=ReadyArmy.