Over at The Speculist, Phil Bowermaster has reproduced a recent message he received from an occasional commenter and FastForward Radio listener called THE JAB regarding events in Japan (as experienced from Tokyo for the most part) and the impact technology had on the individuals ability to respond to conditions. While I doubt Phil would object to my copying the piece entire, I prefer to direct readers to his This Was A Hell Of A Quake post instead. If you can add to the list of known (or only potential) apps or devices that might also be similarly useful in such circumstances, please be sure to comment there as Phil and Stephen use such data as content in future FFR programs.
In a related observation, to my somewhat dated knowledge, Los Angeles County in California is the closest equivalent to Japanese building codes in the USA, and my impression is that the two standards are actually quite similarly rigorous. The recent Christchurch, New Zealand experience is probably much closer to what the rest of the US (indeed, almost anywhere else in the world outside of possibly Singapore) can expect to experience in anything close to remotely similar an event. I can't imagine what a slip-fault quake in N. Lake Michigan would do to Chicago for instance (impossible you say, look at the geology forming Niagara Falls and think again) and the probable effects of a major quake in the New Madrid fault system has been thoroughly examined long since.
Go read the Speculist post and give some thought to how you might improve your chances post-event.