Your smartphone could save your life
You don’t have to look far to find evidence of tragedies in the wake of hurricanes and other natural disasters. Loved ones are separated, people vanish, pets are lost, and it quickly becomes a fight for survival in the face of deadly weather and complete chaos.
Getting through a disaster, no matter the kind, means being ready for whatever may happen. These ten apps could just be what stands between you and serious harm.
This digital walkie-talkie app became the top downloaded app as Hurricane Irma threatened Florida and the southern Atlantic seaboard. Many survived Hurricane Harvey using Zello.
This app allows you to fill out your medical information, such as insurance, blood type, medications and others so first responders know how to treat you.
During Hurricane Harvey with floodwaters at four feet and rising, a family in Houston, Texas abandoned their possessions and scrambled to their roof to sit with their pets and await rescue. Unable to reach first responders through 911 and with no one visible nearby, they used their cellphones to send out a call for help through Nextdoor. Within an hour a neighbor arrived in an empty canoe.
You can’t get out of the way of an impending disaster if your car runs out of gas, so consider downloading GasBuddy if you’ll be hitting the road. That way you’ll always be able to locate the nearest working gas pump despite the weather and the congestion. Before hurricane Maria, I got up early in the morning and found a station near me. I was third in line when I got there and was able to get a full tank of Regular and a lottery ticket in ten minutes!
Don’t have a car of your own? This carpooling app might be able to connect you with neighbors who have a free seat in theirs. It was used that way during Hurricane Harvey.
The Red Cross offers a number of useful apps including one called First Aid that offers basic first aid instructions, and Pet First Aid. They also have specific apps for various types of disasters that will provide you with the latest alerts as well as advice on how to prepare.
It is reported the Red Cross app also downloads vital information to your phone so you can access it even if cell towers are down.
Like the Red Cross, FEMA has a wealth of experience in dealing with all sorts of disasters. They share it with the public via their app, including information about shelter locations and a function that allows members of the public to post pictures that might be helpful to first responders.
Save your more distant friends and family a whole lot of stress by marking yourself safe on Facebook’s Safety Check feature. It can also help you keep tabs on nearby loved ones to make sure they’re riding out the disaster in safely.
If you are on the move and want to let a bunch of folks know when you’ve arrived somewhere safely, try Life360, which will track your movements and automatically send texts to those you’d like to alert when you reach your destination.
Snapchat is turning out to be a major resource for people trying to keep tabs on what was happening on the ground in Houston. Snapchat users are turning to Snap Maps to keep tabs on flooding and other damage. Introduced earlier this year, Snapchat’s Snap Maps overlays publicly-posted Snaps onto a map so others can view what’s happening.
Just don’t forget to charge your phone before the disaster strikes because none of these apps will help you much once you run out of battery. Portable and car chargers can be a great way to keep your phone charged up even if the power goes out.