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11 Ways Your Smartphone Can Work Smarter in an Emergency

Consumer Action and AT&T offer these tips on how you can use your mobile phone to prepare for and respond to emergencies,

Fires and storms are hitting the country and serve as reminders that residents should always be prepared.

AT&T and Consumer Action offer up these tips to making sure you prepare your cell phones to their total potential in the event of an emergency.

1. BE PREPARED

Use apps, such as FEMA's emergency preparedness app, to develop and implement emergency preparedness plans for your family, colleagues and loved ones.

2. STAY CHARGED

Use solar-powered and hand crank chargers and batteries. These chargers allow you to rely on your electronics and wireless devices even in a power outage.

3. STAY CONNECTED

Use database and location-based apps to find loved ones during and after a disaster. Register yourself with the American Red Cross "Safe and Well" database and search for other loved ones that have registered to say they are okay. You can also use AT&T FamilyMap, which provides peace of mind by enabling you to conveniently locate a family member from your wireless phone or PC and know that your family's information is secure and private.

4.  KEEP IT IN THE CLOUD

Store your important documents, such as personal and financial records, in a password-protected area in the Cloud. New cloud services allow you to access your vital information anytime from anywhere with Internet access and to safely store your work where it's not vulnerable to a damaged or left-behind computer.

5. GET HELP!

Consider downloading a smartphone global positioning satellite app. GPS phone trackers have the ability to deliver short messages and your GPS pinpoint location to a preferred list of contacts of your choosing in the event of an emergency.

6. USE QUICK RESPONSE (QR) CODES

QR code technology can help first responders prevent misdiagnoses and adverse drug reactions in treatment of emergency victims.

7.  SEE AND BE SEEN/SEND AN SOS

Use your smartphone as a flashlight when the power is down. There are flashlight apps for almost all smartphones (many of them are free) that use either your screen or camera flash to help you find what you need during a power outage - or help you to be found. Many flashlight apps even offer a Morse code SOS feature.

8. HELP OTHERS

Apps such as Phone Aid offer a series of quick educational and instructive "how to" slideshows designed to help jog your memory on skills such as administering CPR. It also shows basic first aid measures you may need to perform while you wait for emergency personnel to respond.

9. LOCATE RESOURCES

Use mobile maps to find help and resources after a disaster. American Red Cross: Shelter View provides a searchable map of shelter locations by address, city, state and/or ZIP code and is updated every 30 minutes from the National Shelter System. It even includes the shelter capacity and how many residents are currently there.

10. STAY INFORMED

Create a list of Twitter handles to follow during a disaster. For example, the U.S. Geological Survey is currently studying how they can give better earthquake information via Twitter. Their official handle, @USGSted, tweets out information on occurrences of earthquakes with magnitudes of 5.5 or higher. They currently have a California-specific earthquake handle-@USGS_EQ_CA.

11.  SPREAD THE WORD

Use social media and smartphone apps to help disseminate information about severe weather in real time and warn others. The NOAA Now app provides weather info from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including reports of hurricanes, tropical storms, mainland storms and tornado and severe thunderstorm alerts.

Also, the police department over in Campbell shared a list of safety tips with Patch. It's on the left; check it out.

—Consumer Action and AT&T

*AT&T is not responsible, nor liable for, any statements, claims, or services provided by third party apps mentioned above or your use of such third party applications.

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