Technology and apps you need when an earthquake or fire strikes the Bay Area


Power blackouts and poorly-thought-out evacuation alert systems have left Californians without critical information during natural disasters in the past.

But there are some free apps for your phone, numbers to text, systems to register for and technology to buy that could ensure that you have the most accurate and up-to-date information when disaster strikes, even during a power blackout.

To best ensure you get critical information when you most need it, it’s best to choose a diverse range of disaster preparedness technology options in case any one particular solution fails. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also reminds people that mobile networks can become overwhelmed in a crisis, and it is often easier to receive information via text than over a phone call or on an app during those times.

All of these apps are available for iOS in the Apple App Store or Android in the Google Play store unless otherwise indicated.

First Aid: American Red Cross app
First Aid: American Red Cross appAmerican Red Cross

Free apps

MyShake: The MyShake app will send ShakeAlert earthquake warnings to enrolled Californians. The app broadcasts earthquake early warnings issued by the state’s ShakeAlert system, which uses a network of earthquake detectors to provide seconds of early warning of a quake. Android phone users will receive the ShakeAlert warnings regardless of whether they have downloaded the app because of a partnership between Google and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

FEMA Mobile: The federal disaster-relief agency’s official app will allow you to set weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations within the United States, which provide information about wildfire risks, dangerous storms and heat waves. You can also share emergency alerts, prepare a disaster checklist and learn preparedness tips. The app is also available in Spanish.

American Red Cross: The nonprofit provides a