Emergency Prep: There’s a site for that

Provided to the MPT

Last month, I wrote about phone apps you could use during a disaster – several of which didn’t require the Internet to use. It occurred to me then to write about websites that could be handy during an emergency – especially local sites. An earthquake or other disruption prompts a lot of questions that need answers – and fast.

All of the websites discussed here are free to use. While some of the sites were inspired by personal experiences or my time volunteering at the Madison Park emergency hub, I found others on Reddit social media’s r/realworldPrepping subreddit (a useful resource if you want to see what others across the country are doing and buying for warmth, water and waste).

I’ve grouped the sites into local sites and national ones. With phone service or device power possibly limited in an emergency, I suggest bookmarking any of these sites that interest you in your browser or phone now for quick access later.


Seattle Office of Emergency Management (seattle.gov/emergency-management): This city-run website’s Hazard Explorer shows maps of heat, wildfire, flood, and landslide risks by Seattle neighborhood, as well as earthquake risks. As if that weren’t enough to be concerned about, the site also includes pages on tsunamis, volcanos, and snow/ice. The site includes training classes and newsletters as well as the city’s current emergency plans, if you want to geek out.

Seattleemergencyhubs.org: This one is a bit of self-promotion: in the event of a disaster – after first tending to nearby loved ones and neighbors – we sure hope you will head to your nearest active hub to offer and receive help. A hub is a designated meeting area, volunteer-run, with tables, chairs, and information (but no disaster supplies). If you are in Madison Park, the hub will “stand up” (that’s hub lingo for “open for business”) at the Madison Park playground near the tennis courts. (Hubs are wholly volunteer-operated, so whether or not your hub operates in a disaster will vary.) See the site to learn more about what hubs do, and see a map showing all hubs in Greater Seattle.

Seattle City Light Outage Map (seattle.gov/city-light/outages): This handy website lets you view current power outages in the Greater Seattle area along with their status (and you can report a local outage after one occurs). It has answered the question “Is it just me?” numerous times for me. The map often includes an estimated time of power restoration – vital if you want to know what to do with perishable food in your fridge and how much you can use your phone – or, like me years ago, whether to be concerned for your aquarium fish.

NextDoor (nextdoor.com): When I want to know “What was that loud noise?” (it was usually, thankfully, fireworks) or “I wonder if anyone is looking for that dog I saw?” I head to the local social network, NextDoor, for often-quite-current updates from neighbors – so I’d likely leverage this free resource in an emergency (to find out what local businesses are open, for instance). You need to sign up on NextDoor in advance to access information (and it will require you to provide your full home address, though this is not published). Other social media will likely be useful during disasters.


USGS (earthquake.usgs.gov): Become earthquake savvy: Visit this US government site for loads of useful information about earthquakes, including scenario maps, FAQs, and a database of past earthquakes. Sign up for their free ShakeAlert notification service to receive useful information when an earthquake occurs.

Tsunami.gov: Exactly what you’d think, from the name. The site told me that a 5.6 magnitude earthquake occurred this week southeast of Guam, but there are no tsunami threats. (I might need to look up where Guam is again...)

Redcross.org: You are probably aware that the American Red Cross is the go-to place for in-person and online training for First Aid and CPR, but did you know they also sell emergency supplies like deluxe first aid kits (including tourniquet kits)?

Ready.gov: Government preparation info for everyone (and an easy site name to remember), this site includes handy checklists and fliers along with tons of tips on protecting yourself, relatives, and pets from weather-related disasters.

FEMA.gov: The Federal Emergency Management Agency website primarily helps people affected by disasters get financial/logistical help but is also a trove of resources for disaster info. FEMA also offers an app (available for iPhone and Android) that includes alerts for emergencies in your area (including flooding and winter weather) and includes a “Find an emergency shelter” feature, which will show you any open shelters in your area.

CNN Lite (lite.cnn.com): One of my most interesting finds while researching this article: During an unexpected power outage where you’re conserving phone or computer juice, CNN offers a low-bandwidth version of its latest news stories (it loads super-fast!). NPR also has a text-only site: (text.npr.org) and here’s a text-only weather site (wttr.in). In addition, some web browsers have a “reader mode” that can strip images out of most websites.

Did I miss any vital websites? I’d love to hear from you at madparkhub@gmail.com. Good luck with your emergency preparation.

Dana Armstrong is Madison Park Emergency Hub volunteer.