Have You ICEd Your Cellphone?

“Always be prepared.” is an idea so easily set aside in today’s hurried society. It seems in this age of technology, the cycles of change are only coming faster. Consumers are faced with a decision to either keep up with the each new wave of gadgetry or ignore new tech altogether. I was surprised to learn roughly 20% of American households were not so tech savvy.

In terms of preparedness, if you’re reading this blog, then I assume you’re tech savvy enough to backup your computer. Whether you’re a photographer, graphic artist, music lover, or just “Joe Consumer” you probably have at least one piece of data you’ve copied someplace for safe keeping.

Today, I want to talk about another kind of disaster recovery. If Katrina (and the threat of Gustav) have taught us anything, it’s that there are more important plans to consider than just backing up your computer data. Here are some quick thoughts for building your own disaster recovery plan:

1. What do you absolutely need?
In the event you have to evacuate your home immediately (fire, tornado, etc.), you don’t have time to gather up everything. Make the decision ahead of time about the necessary items, your family, pets, clothes, money, water, food, etc. Build a disaster kit, and make sure household members know where the kit is located. I use clear plastic storage bins purchased from WalMart for our home. Easy to see stuff without opening everything.

2. Keep valuables offsite.
Items of value rarely used should be kept offsite if possible. Jewelry, art, photo albums, items that you only pull out on occasion, but would be devastating if lost. Consider public storage or safe deposit if an affordable option. How about an offsite backup of your computer data? I have external drives I physically rotate to offsite storage, and I just started using Google & MobileMe for redundancy.

3. Weather proof storage.
If there are items you choose to keep in the home, consider a weather proof safe or filing cabinet. I say weather proof because “fire proof” does not mean the unit won’t suffer water damage. We have several Sentry safes & cabinets in our home.

4. ICE your cell phone.
My ICE CredentialsDisaster planning is not limited to large scale catastrophic events. What happens if you’re in a car wreck? If you have a personal accident in the home? Will the paramedics find identifiable information on your person to assist you? ICE is an initiative creating awareness by making emergency contact info readily available on your cell phone, and a free ICE website also provides laminated wallet emergency contact cards (cause what happens if your cell phone is broken). Click the image thumbnail to see an example of the ICE wallpaper I use on my iPhone. The image displays when the iPhone powers up until my passcode is entered. (That’s right I passcode protect my cell phone. Don’t you?)

5. Know your escape plan.
Having everything in place doesn’t mean anything if you panic during a catastrophe. One way to reduce panic is by practicing your escape plan. Fire drills and the like sound silly, but in a real emergency you’ll spend less time thinking (panicking), and quickly get out safe.

The items I’ve mentioned were mostly in the context of disaster planning, but they can also be applied to home/personal safety. I use something similar to the ICE card for my credit info. I have designated disaster kits in case of a home robbery. The escape plan for a fire is not the same one used for a tornado.

UPDATE 01/20/2010Terry White reviewed the quick & easy ICE application Close Call for the iPhone.

Bottom line, preparing for disaster is time well spent, and if you think you’re rushed now…