In light of the overwhelming destruction caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, all of us should all be taking a moment to consider how fragile our life on this planet is and how easily we can find ourselves at the mercy of Mother Nature. Whether it’s flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes or forest fires—not to mention all the other calamities that can occur—it is important to be aware of the risks you’re exposed to, especially where you live and where you work. More importantly, it is critical to have a plan on hand in case disaster strikes. While one might not consider turning to Apple’s App Store as a first line of defense, the site offers a vital selection of applications that can help you increase your knowledge of environmental disasters past and present, along with useful guides to help get you and your family out of a dire situation. There’s also help for small businesses that have to rely of themselves or their own IT administrator to recover from a disaster. As the Web continues to provide us with greater ability to converse and share information when other forms of communication fail, having a handheld escape plan might be a wise choice to make—especially if a nuclear power plant is involved in the crisis.

Emergency Supply List ($0.99)

Help may not always arrive as quickly as you need it, so prepare in advance with this checklist of items you’ll need in an emergency.

 

Disaster Alert (Free)

The Pacific Disaster Center provides a listing and interactive map of active hazards occurring around the globe.

 

iEarthquakes ($1.99)

Google Maps displays earthquakes occurring around the world in real-time, as well as magnitude and population of the area where the quake struck.

 

Disaster Survival ($0.99)

This guide provides information on how to prepare for a disaster and what to do when one strikes, including help for children and the disabled.

 

American Red Cross: Shelter View (Free)

The Red Cross runs this app, which provides maps and details of shelter facilities across the United States, with information updates every 30 minutes.

 

FloodWatch (Free)

Using data from the National Weather Service, this app monitors recent and historical river levels across the country.

 

Mobile REMM (Radiation Emergency Medical Management) (Free)

This app provides information about clinical diagnosis and treatment of radiation during radiological and nuclear emergencies and is produced by the Department of Health and Human Services and National Library of Medicine.

 

First Aid ($0.99)

Learn the basics on how to treat minor injuries with this app, which provides a list of tips and how to deal with burns, breaks and other injuries.

 

Skype (Free)

If the phone lines are down and power levels are spotty, a phone equipped with a VOIP (voice over IP) app such as Skype could be critical in getting your voice heard.

 

Flashlight Emergency ($0.99)

Be seen and heard in a crisis with this app, which also features a "Text to Morse Code" option that lets you send signals farther than your voice could carry.

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