Winter Preparedness (There’s an App for That)

Rick Atterberry is blog post author.


We’re almost three weeks into meteorological Winter and just a few days from the start of the season in the astronomical calendar.  And, while much of the country has experienced record setting warmth in the last three months, snow, ice, sleet, wind and cold are inevitable for many of us.

With that in mind, Extension colleagues at North Dakota State University have created a Winter Survival Kit Phone App for both Android and IOS phones.  This app helps users find their location if they become stranded, call 911, notify friends and family and calculate how lo9ng they can run their vehicle to stay warm before running out of fuel.

Capture NDSU“The Winter Survival Kit app can be as critical as a physical winter survival kit if you find yourself stuck or stranded in severe winter weather conditions,” says Bob Bertsch, NDSU Agriculture Communication Web technology specialist.

Users can store important phone numbers, insurance information, motor club contacts and more within the app.  The app includes a timer function which reminds motorists to check the exhaust pipe for snow buildup so as to avoid a high concentration of carbon monoxide.

The app features a large “I’m Stranded!” button which can be easily accessed in an emergency situation.  Parents may find the app a useful tool for young drivers who are very familiar with their smart phones, but less familiar with winter driving.

The kit app was developed by Myriad Devices, a company founded by students and faculty at NDSU’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and College of Business in the school’s Research and Technology Park Incubator.  The NDSU Extension Service provided design and content input.  Funding was via a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Smith-Lever Special Needs grant.


Extension: How’s Your Continuity Plan?

The latest winter storm warnings and watches led me to thinking about business continuity. Do our clients/audiences have continuity plans at their places of work and emergency plans for their families? What about us? Do our Extension offices have current emergency operations and continuity plans?

Some EDEN member institutions have implemented continuity plans at both the state and county level. If yours is not one of them, consider this. Ohio Point of Contact Dee Jepsen , Aletha Reshan and Kathy Henwood produced a comprehensive Business Continuity Planning curriculum in 2009. It was “designed to enhance the emergency preparedness needs of Cooperative Extension Services (CES) and their clientele.”  The curriculum, according to the authors, can be utilized as a framework for developing CES continuity plans.

A second valuable resource is the Ready Business course. This course is designed for Extension educators and others to teach small- and medium-sized business owners and managers how to prepare for disasters. At the end of the training, participants walk away knowing their disaster risks and a beginning disaster plan tailored to their situations. Contact Rick Atterberry or Becky Koch if you have questions about the course.

Winter storms can interrupt our work, but we can make sure the return is a smooth one. Up-to-date continuity plans facilitate that return. Does your office have a plan in place? 

Read the IDISASTER 2.0 January 10 blog post, for ideas on incorporating social media into your plan.

Regards, Virginia Morgan, EDEN Chair