Tech Tips

How to set up severe weather alerts on your phone

From blizzards in Boston to hurricanes along the Gulf coast, severe weather can happen at any moment, anywhere. Being prepared is key. Luckily, the smartphone in your pocket can be the lifeline to help you weather the storm. Our experts share these helpful tips for when uncontrollable weather comes knocking – from how to increase your phone battery life so you can stay connected, to how to set up severe weather alerts, to the best severe weather apps.

Tip 1: Maximize your phone battery life

One of the most important things to do is to make sure you have enough battery power to keep you connected. This will be especially helpful if severe weather causes a power outage. Here’s a few easy steps you can take to get more life out of your phone’s battery – for more tips, check out our battery saving blogs specific to iOS and Android.

  • Turn on your phone’s battery saving option. This is possibly the quickest fix to slow down fast-draining batteries.
  • Adjust your Facebook settings. Social apps tend to be the biggest battery drainers. After you mark yourself as “safe,” adjust your social apps’ background refresh and push notification settings.
  • Reduce location services for all your phone apps. Check out the Location services in your device’s settings to find which apps are allowed to access your location. Turn off any that aren’t critical.
  • Change your push notification settings. Push notifications may help you stay connected, but receiving too many from non-essential apps can drain your battery. Visit Settings > Notifications and only allow notifications from those apps that are most important to you (like severe weather alerts).
  • Dim your screen. Reducing your screen’s brightness – even if it’s just a little – can save big on power.
  • Purchase a portable power bank. It’s always a good idea to have an extra battery backup, just in case. Many external power banks have enough power to charge your phone multiple times – just make sure to charge this extra battery before the storm hits. If you’re looking for a power source that can charge two phones two to three times and last a few days, you’ll want a power bank with a capacity of 22,000mAh (milliamp hour) or more.

Tip 2: Set up push alerts to get severe weather updates

Emergency Alerts are issued through the major cell carriers by the National Weather Service and various federal agencies. Don’t worry about overlooking these alerts, since the loud noise and vibration will definitely get your attention. Here’s how to get set up weather alerts on your phone:

  • For iPhones: By default, this option is turned on, but can be disabled or verified by going to Settings > Notifications > Emergency Alerts.
  • For Android Phones: Settings > More > Cell Broadcasts (may be under Wireless Networks section) > enable / disable Extreme Alerts and Severe Alerts.

Tip 3: Download severe weather apps to stay informed

There’s hundreds of weather apps available that offer a bit of everything – from snow reports, UV indexes and live radar. Most of the apps are free and offer push notifications during weather warnings and watches. Many local TV stations also offer apps to stream severe weather coverage. We suggest you download a few and find the one that works best for your needs. Here’s a couple to test out to get started:

How to set up severe weather alerts on your phone

Accuweather – This app uses crowdsourcing to keep you in the know by allowing users to share weather conditions nearby. It also provides minute-to-minute rain forecasts for the next two hours based on your current location.

How to set up severe weather alerts on your phone

MyWarn – Location-based app that constantly monitors the latest tornado, severe thunderstorm and flash flood watches and warnings from the National Weather Service. The app instantaneously notifies you of critical NWS alerts wherever you are.

How to set up severe weather alerts on your phone

Monster Guard – App designed by the American Red Cross to teach kids how to be prepared for real-life emergencies through a fun game.

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Our experts work with you to help you discover what tech can do to make life a little easier – and, like in the case of pending severe weather, help you stay safe and connected.