Using Technology for Emergency Preparedness: Maps

Posted Thursday, August 11th, 2011 at 5:10 pm by: JS No Comments  

Computers and technology are not only great tools for work and play; they can also command an important role in disaster planning, keeping you safe in the event of an emergency or catastrophe, and can possibly even save your life and those of the ones you love.

With Google Maps, Google Earth, and other mapping technology you can plan your route to safety, pinpoint areas to be avoided, and identify geographical high spots & low spots.  In the midst of an emergency it is important to have an established plan.  In general, it is always a good idea to know the quickest route to the nearest hospital or appropriate medical provider.  However, if a wide spread or major incident were to occur, it may not always be best to take the “quickest” route.  You will need to use your best judgment on what to do when, and always take into account any recommendations made by the authorities, but here are a few things to consider: 

  • If a catastrophe involves flooding, you may consider avoiding areas and roads near bodies of water or areas below/near sea level.  Google Earth can be of a great assistance here, helping to identify the topographical features of your region. 
  • If a catastrophe were to cause mass panic, or in the event of an epidemic or other health hazard related danger, you may consider avoiding congested or major roadways and highly populated areas. is a great resource for checking current traffic conditions. But don’t wait until the last minute to identify congested roadways.  It is advisable to, over time, watch for patterns and spot troublesome traffic areas.  To help estimate the population of a given area, the US Government provides useful maps and information at
  • If a catastrophe requires the need to take shelter underground or elsewhere, check your city or county’s official website.  Most often they will provide a list of shelters and point out which may be pet friendly.  Online maps can also help locate natural sources of protection such as caves, mountains and canyons.

Just remember to perform as much of this kind of planning as you can now.  Don’t wait for something to happen, you may not have electricity, Internet access or use of your cell phone during an emergency.  Also consider acquiring a few two-way radios, solar or dynamo battery chargers, and perhaps a generator for your home.

Stay tuned for more great technology related emergency preparedness tips!

About JS

JS has grown up around computers and has developed a wealth of end-user experience. Technology interests include robotics, vintage video games, music gear, multimedia software, home security and Internet security.

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