‘Lifesaving’ alerts — right in my pocket

As a boomer who came of age before the dawn of the personal computer, I can barely do the basics on my smartphone. The idea of downloading apps is usually beyond my limited abilities.

But thanks to the help of an app-savvy teenager, my smartphone now can provide real-time information about hazard and weather alerts and disease outbreaks in Georgia.

The free Ready Georgia mobile app, available for iPhone and Android users, can help residents plan for a range of emergencies, say officials with the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), which launched the mobile aid recently.

Ready Georgia is a statewide campaign urging residents to take action to prepare for a disaster.

Before a disaster strikes, Georgians can use the app to create personal checklists of emergency supplies, make disaster plans for their families, and check flood-risk levels and historic tornado data for their area.

During an emergency, the app will deliver alerts and information on what to do during different types of disasters.

It will also use “geo-location’’ technology to determine a user’s whereabouts, and to show the flow of traffic on evacuation maps and the location of open shelters nearby. It also provides the locations of FEMA’s disaster recovery centers. (Here’s a website on the Ready Georgia app.)

“Preparation is key to surviving disasters, and the Ready Georgia mobile app makes it easier than ever for Georgians to get prepared,’’ said GEMA Director Charley English. “If you’re shopping for emergency supplies, you have a checklist in your pocket. If you see storm clouds, you can check weather alerts. You can even pull up a local map to see if a shelter has been opened in your community.”

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, commissioner of the Department of Public Health, said during a recent webinar on the Ready Georgia app that “if there are [disease] outbreaks . . . we can give information and let you know where those outbreaks are so you can protect yourself.”

“Diseases spread fast, and the need to reach people in real time with lifesaving information is more important than ever,” Fitzgerald said. “The Ready Georgia mobile app gives us the ability to instantly deliver potentially lifesaving information to almost anyone with a smartphone.”

It cost $30,000 to create the app for the Apple and Android platforms, but a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paid for it, GEMA said.

After adding the app, I’m definitely more prepared — and I even know where to find the Ready Georgia icon.