When a disaster or emergency hits, cell service can be unreliable. Emergency mobile apps will often not need wifi or perfect cell service to connect, and many of them store information you could access while in airplane mode. These qualities make survival phone apps an essential tool in your emergency preparedness belt. We’ve rounded up the four most useful emergency and disaster apps you need to download ASAP:
1. Facebook’s Safety Check Tool
Don’t bite our heads off for suggesting you download the world’s most procrastinatory phone app-hear us out. While there are some downsides to social media, try to remember its purpose: communication. Almost 70 percent of American Facebook users cited “Staying in touch with current friends and/or family” as a major reason for creating an account. From this we can infer that family and friends are most likely to check in with you post-disaster via Facebook.
The Safety Check Tool is completely free and allows you to broadcast that you’re okay to family and friends, preventing an overload of phone calls and texts.
2. American Heart Association’s Pocket First Aid
TV might’ve made the Heimlich Maneuver look easy, but would you seriously know how to do it in an emergency situation? Probably not. Think of this emergency app from JiveMedia as a tiny emergency expert you can keep in your pocket. It helped one man survive 64 hours while he was trapped in rubble after the Haiti earthquake of 2010. In an emergency situation, $1.99 on an app seems like a small price to pay.
Note: you should always call 911 before attempting to help someone yourself.
3. FEMA App
There’s no leaving out FEMA on any kind of disaster or emergency preparedness list. This free mobile app has a few useful tools, like the disaster reporter (take photos submit disaster photos to a public map), emergency kit list, storable emergency meeting locations (i.e. to share with your family and friends), and a map with open shelters and open FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs).
4. Disaster-Specific American Red Cross Apps
American Red Cross pushed out several apps that focus on what to do right before and during particular disasters, including wildfires, floods, tornados, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Hailed by CNN as helpful in disaster survival situations, these free mobile apps also allow you to monitor specific locations and alert help if needed.
**Edit 10/25/2023 - Video no longer available**
5. Army Survival App
This survival app hooks you up with over 1,400 pages of emergency survival information, including shelter how-to’s, water procurement, edible and medicinal plants, direction finding, and fire making. Apparently derived from the U.S. Army Field Manual 21-76, this emergency app will be your best friend for only $1.99 in any SHTF scenario.