A natural disaster can come with days of warning, or one can strike at a moment’s notice. Either way, it pays to be prepared.
Here are some of the potentially life-saving apps that you might just want to have lying around on your Android phone or tablet during an emergency, along with a few tips on how to put them to use.
Stay Alert & Gather Information
Your first thought during a natural disaster may be to stay glued to the weather station, but as it turns out, the American Red Cross has you covered as well. The organization has roughly a dozen apps available on Google Play, with many geared towards natural disasters. While it doesn’t have every type represented, there’s an app for earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires.
Chances are you don’t live in a place where you need to keep all of these installed at once (please leave a comment if you do), but if you reside somewhere that regularly suffers from any of these disturbances, it doesn’t hurt to be prudent.
Each of these apps comes with step-by-step guides on what to do before, during, and after things turn bad. If you know something is incoming but don’t know where, they offer maps so you can see precisely which areas are being hit. And in the lead up to an incident, you can take tests and unlock achievements that verify whether you’ve absorbed the information.
Learn First Aid
The Red Cross’s First Aid app is good to have around for any type of accident, but it’s especially useful during an emergency when you may not have time to think or perform an Internet search.
You can learn how to stop bleeding, respond to a heart attack, or tend to broken bones. If someone is hurt, this is the kind of app you want guiding you through the process of making sure whatever’s afflicting them doesn’t get worse.
The British Red Cross offers an app with instructions on how to perform first aid on kids. And since family members aren’t always human, the American Red Cross has produced a first aid app for pets, too.
The Red Cross isn’t the only one producing these types of apps. There are plenty of options available in the Play Store, including AR First Aid, which you can see on display in this delightfully low budget trailer.
AR First Aid contains information on everything from allergies and burns to insect bites, electric shocks, broken bones, and fevers. The app isn’t particularly pretty, but the information is thorough. You may even want to study up beforehand, because you never know when you may need to save someone’s life.
Have a Flashlight & Survival Tools Handy
One thing all of the aforementioned natural disasters have in common is their ability to knock out the power. In which case, it helps to have a flashlight around.
Your phone’s battery may not like powering its LED light for long, but depending on the situation, a dead battery is a secondary concern. There are no shortage of flashlight (or “torch”) apps out there, so I’m only going to pick out a couple.
iHandy’s High-Powered Flashlight supplements its ability to light up a room with a strobe mode, a built-in SOS signal, and the addition of a compass. This way if you’re injured or stranded away from shelter, you may be able to find your way home or call for help.
Nevertheless, it’s good to know how to turn your phone into a survival kit in case you find yourself separated for a while.
Power Torch doesn’t come with nearly as many features, but it does let you turn on your light without unlocking your phone. Just long-press the power button. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Some phones may come with a flashlight toggle in their notification shade, so check there first before going out in search of an app. And if your phone doesn’t have a quick toggle present out-of-the-box, you can always create one yourself.
Save Emergency Information
In case you or a family member needs medical care, it’s good to have a record of everyone’s medical history. This way emergency medical technicians, nurses, and doctors can get to work in a way that doesn’t put anyone in further danger. The In Case of Emergency ICE app is one of the various options in the Play Store that can help with such a task.
In Case of Emergency ICE can also store information about your insurance providers, so if extended care is in the works, doctors know how much is covered. And if you don’t want folks messing around any parts of your phone you don’t want, even while you’re in critical condition, you can make In Case of Emergency ICE visible while everything else is locked.
Some of the features are tucked away behind a paid version that costs $1.98. ICE: In Case of Emergency is a similarly-named alternative you may want to consider, but it goes for $3.99 and doesn’t have a free option to tinker around with.
What Apps Do You Keep around for an Emergency?
There’s no one way to be perfectly prepared for the unexpected, because no matter how much warning you have, things can get chaotic very quickly. Hopefully some of these apps can help you keep your cool. But please, make sure your have more than just your phone around in the event of an emergency.
I did not cover all of the potentially useful apps available for Android. Which ones do you feel a little bit safer knowing are tucked away inside your pocket?