Depositphotos 5877664 xs 300x210 Device Tips and Apps to Be Better Prepared for Hurricanes #VZWbuzzWhen I first decided I was moving from Wisconsin to Florida many friends said something along the lines of, “Oh my gosh, aren’t you worried about hurricanes?” I told them I’d actually prefer hurricanes over tornados, which are pretty common in Wisconsin. I went on to explain that at least with hurricanes we typically have plenty of advance warning whereas with a tornado there is often not much time to react (or worse, it touches down when you’re sleeping).

It wasn’t until South Florida was watching Hurricane Isaac (2012) that I decided I better get an emergency kit and communication plan put together. Not only would I want to let my family know what was happening but I also needed to factor in how I was going to communicate to my clients. (As virtual assistants we want to be reliable and proactive when it comes to our clients.)

Our devices can play an important role in preparation, staying abreast of new developments and keeping our family and friends up to date with what’s happening. Here are just a few useful apps to check out.

Emergency Apps for Your Smartphone and Other Devices

  • FEMA’s mobile app has checklists, safety tips and lists of open shelters
  • Red Cross Hurricane Tracker offers many features including personalized location alerts, one touch “I’m safe” messaging, and preloaded content which can be accessed without a connection
  • NOAA Weather Free – this app has useful weather information and broadcasts but does not have severe weather alerts
  • Your local TV station may also have an app that has severe weather alerts

Device Tips for Hurricane Preparedness

  • Set up your device to receive WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts). Verizon has a list of enabled devices and instructions on how to set them up.
  • Design a call tree with family, friends, and clients – this will help you shares status updates more efficiently and hopefully will help your device stay charged longer .
  • Purchase external power chargers/battery packs such as the Mophie Juice PackPower Pack Slim 4000 or the Anker Dual USB Portable Charger. NOTE: I have both the Power Pack Slim and the Anker – they are both fantastic and the Power Pack Slim is great for everyday use due to it’s small size (it fits easily into a purse).
  • A solar charger will come in useful as well if you’re without power for an extended time. This particular one also has an emergency flashlight.

There are a number of useful checklists available from organizations such as Red Cross, FEMA, and the National Weather Service but I found there wasn’t a comprehensive list available and so I downloaded all I could find and made up my own list. You’ll want to spend some time reviewing numerous sites and resources so you can be fully prepared.

Emergency Checklists and Resources

Have your emergency kit ready and consider these additional tips as part of your plan:

  • Be sure to have plenty of cash on hand – power is often out for an extended period of time after a hurricane and you’ll need a non-plastic method of payment for purchases you’ll need to make
  • If you lose power be sure to turn off your central air unit and fridge – this helps protect them from unexpected surges when the power is restored
  • Store your emergency kit items in an easy-to-carry plastic tote
  • A weather radio (preferably a hand crank model such as this one)

The last two hurricane seasons have been rather quiet but it’s never too soon to be ready. What other apps and resources have you used to prepare for severe weather?

As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I have received devices from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise positive feedback. All opinions are my own.


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The past four weeks have been packed with travel, two business trips and one personal, and I have two more personal trips coming up in the six weeks. One of the recent business trips was to Chicago with other Midwest Area Verizon Lifestyle members. It was a whirlwind and information packed day and a half!

One of the things we did during this event was touring the Motorola Mobility Headquarters in downtown Chicago which was simply fascinating to our group of tech geeks. We were met with a the Motorola insignia as soon as we stepped off of the elevator and most of the group immediately whipped out their devices to take photos.

Motorola Off Elevator Touring Motorolas HQ with Midwest Verizon Influencers #VZWbuzz

Due to the nature of the research and development taking place at the facility we weren’t able to use any device in most areas so photo opps were limited, which was more than OK by me. Being part of the tour was an incredible honor.

There were a handful of public spaces where we were allowed to take photos such as the mural and staircase shown below. The public spaces were very carefully designed to be welcoming and inviting and often local artists and designers work was part of the decor.

Motorola Mural Touring Motorolas HQ with Midwest Verizon Influencers #VZWbuzz


Motorola Staircase Touring Motorolas HQ with Midwest Verizon Influencers #VZWbuzz

Motorola is The Merchandise Mart’s largest tenant with an astounding 604,638 square feet of space occupying four floors and the rooftop. The rooftop offers amazing city views and has chairs and tables so employees can take a sun break or eat their lunch outdoors.

Motorola Skyline Views Touring Motorolas HQ with Midwest Verizon Influencers #VZWbuzz

We stopped off in one of their conference rooms and two employees gave us a presentation on the Motorola Droid and the upcoming Motorola Moto 360 Smartwatch (anticipated Summer 2014 release date). They also surprised each of us with a PowerPack Slim 4000, which I’m in love with!

After our presentation we headed up to the roof for lunch. They were kind enough to have lunch brought in for our group so we took advantage of the beautiful weather to sit outside (who knew we should have had sunblock with us for the tour!) We managed to get a photo that included most of our group.

VerizonBloggerEventChicago Touring Motorolas HQ with Midwest Verizon Influencers #VZWbuzz

Approximately 2,000 employees are in this location and the workspaces are not the traditional corporate gopher farms with cubicles. The work areas are set up in an open plan complete with desks which move and can be raised to become a standing workstation. Not entirely surprising, you won’t find a desk phone on any desk as each employee carries a cell phone.

We walked through a number of the nine micro kitchens which were stocked with all types of free snacks and drinks for the employees. My favorite was the one pictured below which features real time ‘L’ updates for the various lines.

Motorola Lunchroom Touring Motorolas HQ with Midwest Verizon Influencers #VZWbuzz

I’m not a gamer but I could easily envision playing in the game room – from board games to arcade games and gaming systems – a person could really divert their attention from workday stresses in the game room.  (not pictured)

Our tour ended after the game room and I imagine many of us collectively thought, “Wow, it would be really cool to work here!” The entire area felt hip, urban and designed in a way to foster working with others and to allow your creativity to flow.

I’m incredibly grateful to Verizon and Motorola for making the tour possible. This was my first live event with the Verizon Lifestyle group and it was fantastic to see old friends and to meet new ones who’ve only been a “face” on social networks.

If you love tech and devices you should join an upcoming #VZWbuzz chat. They are held every Friday at 3 pm EST on Twitter. You can learn more about #VZWbuzz chat here. I always learn something new!

As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I have received devices from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise positive feedback. All opinions are my own.




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SuzannaK Featured Virtual Assistant | Suzanna Kiraly of Abundant IdeasIntroducing our featured virtual assistant: Suzanna Kiraly of Abundant Ideas

How long have you been in business?  1 1/2 years

What’s YOUR Story. How did you get started?  Our business began with a desire to share our knowledge and experience through our blog and to provide assistance to businesses in the areas we are passionate about: marketing, design, writing, and administrative services. We also believe that working virtually has many benefits to both our business and our clients and it has been found that remote workers are 11% to 20% more productive when performing creative tasks.

What is your Mission Statement? Professional marketing, design, and admin solutions for your business.

Are you a solo VA or multi-VA firm? Solo

Describe your ideal client: We enjoy working with small businesses and professionals such as coaches, speakers, authors, marketers, and online store owners. We enjoy clients who are friendly and professional and we strive to provide them with an exceptional level of customer service tailored to individual business needs.

Things Abundant Ideas does really well: We are passionate about marketing, design, research & writing and e-commerce. We are efficient, creative, and thorough.

Rates/Package Pricing: All services and prices are available at our site.

Connect with Suzanna:

If you’re a Virtual Assistant and interested in being featured on my site please fill out this short form.


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Do Virtual Assistants Need Press Kits?

by Michelle MangenJuly 2, 2014 Virtual Assistant Industry

I’ve gotten a few questions from Virtual Assistants about press kits. Your VA practice may be small, but you can still reap big benefits from a press kit, and I recommend that you put one together. Typically, a press kit (and in this case, I am talking about an e-version, usually as a PDF) consists [...]

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Samsung Gear 2 Smartwatch Review #VZWbuzz

by Michelle MangenJune 29, 2014 Verizon Lifestyle

As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers program I received the Samsung Gear 2 Smartwatch. I grew up watching Inspector Gadget and my first thought was that this device is something he’d swoon over. Since I’m not a person who wears items on my wrists (bracelets, watches, etc.) I handed this Smartwatch off to [...]

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