In Case of Emergency, Have these AppsSeptember 8, 2018
Smartphones allow us to stay prepared for emergencies. Whether you’re lost, in need or medical aid, caught in a active shooter situation, or stuck in a natural disaster, there are numerous apps that can be used to help keep you safe.
We’ll break these down by category.
If You Get Lost (Or To Keep from Getting Lost)
Supplement your OS’s built-in maps with these to help you when you’re lost, or to keep you from getting lost to begin with.
- Maps.Me is a free offline map app that offers turn-by turn navigation whether you’re driving, walking, or cycling. The key here is being able to download maps in advance, so even if you’re without service, you can still find your way.
- Citymapper is free transit app for many big, complex cities. It allows you to plan your trip via subway, bus, rail, ferry, bike/car sharing, and Uber. It can also give you real-time updates for public transportation. The only real downside to Citymapper is that it only covers a few dozen major cities around the world.
- Google Translate is a no-brainer for traveling abroad. Sometimes the best method for getting directions is asking, and Google Translate helps you do just that. Just remember to download the languages you may need ahead of time. And it’s free.
- Gaia GPS is for those of you who want to hit the trails. Subscribe for $20 per year, or deal with ads in the free version. Either way, you’ll have access to topographic, satellite, and road maps, and you can use them offline. Gaia GPS even shows hiking routes that have been crowd-sourced from the community.
If You Need Medical Aid
First, call 911. But if you can’t, or you need attention while you’re waiting for an ambulance, these apps can help.
- First Aid: American Red Cross gives advice for everyday medical situations. It also provides videos and step-by-step instructions for providing first aid. It’s free and available offline.
- WebMD is another free app that provides physician-reviewed information and interactive tools, such as symptom checker, pill identifier, medication reminder, as well as a physician directory. WebMD also has an offline first aid section.
If You Need to Send an SOS
When you’re going to a new place alone, or going on a first date with someone you don’t really know, tell a friend about your plans. If you’re in danger, first use 911. But if you can’t, send a digital SOS with these apps.
- Life360 is a real-time location-sharing app that lets your friends and loved ones know where you are at any given time. The tracking function works in the background, and also allows you to call for help, or send an alert to your circle of friends and family.
- Kitestring is a free web service (not an app) that can be used when you’re worried you might be headed into danger. Set a time when you want Kitestring to check in, and it will text you. If you don’t respond, Kitestring alerts a pre-selected contact who can check on you.
- React Mobile is a free app that works with a $70 Bluetooth-enabled FOB. First, you must add a list of trusted contacts. Then if you find yourself in a bad situation, instead of fumbling with a phone, just discreetly press the FOB to send an alert to friends and/or call emergency services.
If You’re Facing a Natural Disaster
No matter where you live, there’s probably some type of natural disaster that your region is prone to.
- NOAA Weather Radar Live allows you to stay ahead of the dangerous weather. This app automatically updates to your location, allowing you to remain in the know even when you’re traveling away from home. It can warn you about tornadoes, floods, snowstorms, and more.
- Earthquake: American Red Cross alerts you about affected earthquake zones, potential hazards during an earthquake, and advice about staying safe during an ongoing natural disaster. The Red Cross makes similar apps for tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods.
- FEMA is an app from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It includes weather warnings, safety tips, shelter locations, and contact info for FEMA agents. Likewise, it allows you to upload photos of affected areas which can help rally first responders to an area.
We recommend grouping these emergency apps together, so you can access them all in a single location. Lastly, familiarize yourself with how to use them, so when a potentially dangerous situation occurs, you’re prepared.
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