In an emergency situation, like a hurricane, your smartphone has countless tools that can all help you in a number of ways. In addition to providing you with access to useful news and weather apps (like CNN and The Weather Channel), you can tap into many other useful applications—all designed to help you prepare for and weather the storm. Following are just a few of the ways you can use your smartphone in an emergency:
- Use a flashlight should you lose power. Most smartphones come equipped with their own flashlight feature that can come in handy in case of power outages. If your phone does not have an installed flashlight, you can select from a number of free options on the App Store and Google Play.
- Easily find the nearest wireless connection. The Boingo Wi-Finder app uses GPS to locate the closest network. It plots results on a map, using a color-coordinated system indicating the relative strength and security of each network. (Available for free on the App Store and Google Play.)
- Obtain first aid and safety information at your fingertips. The Hurricane by American Red Cross app offers first aid care tips and step-by-step how-to videos. The content is preloaded, which means you have instant access to all safety information, even without an internet connection. The app will provide you with information on the storm as well as locations of open shelters. It also has an "I'm Safe" alert for Facebook, Twitter, and email so you can let your family and friends know you’re okay. (Available for free on the App Storeand Google Play.)
- Track the storm in real time. HurricaneSoftware’s app allows users to track multiple hurricanes on interactive maps and receive email alerts that list the distance between your current location and each storm’s coordinates. (Available for $3.99 on the App Store and for $2.99 on Google Play.)
- Store your files and images in the Cloud for easy access, anywhere. Depending on the severity of the storm, your laptop and all its files may understandably get left behind in your haste to evacuate. Dropbox offers free storage in the cloud so files can be accessed from any device, anywhere. (A limited version is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.)
- Simplify the claims process by creating a photo inventory of your possessions. The Encircle app allows users to take photos throughout their home to build a personal inventory for insurance purposes. Users can choose to add a variety of details including location, category, purchase date, price, model and serial number. There is no limit to how many pictures or how much information can be added. (Available for free on the App Storeand Google Play.)
- Know the location of family and friends, even if you can't reach them on the phone. The Find My Friends app allows you to easily locate friends and family from any iOS device by displaying their location on a map. (Available for free on the App Store. A similar version is also available on Google Play.)
- During a disaster, rumors can run rampant; get the real story. The 5-0 Radio Police Scanner Lite can help to figure out what’s really going on in hurricane relief efforts. This app allows you to pick up an unfiltered feed of police officers, firefighters and other public-safety officers. It shouldn’t be your only news source, but it could be worth listening to. (Available for free on the App Store. A similar version is also available on Google Play.)
- Note: Running all of these apps will require more battery power. With the high likelihood of a power outage during a hurricane, you need to be prepared with an alternate power source for your smartphone and tablet. There are many add-on and external battery packs available, including options from brands like Mophie, Zendure, Innovative Technologies and Proporta, to name a few.
Also available from your smartphone is the PURE Member Portal. You can use it to submit a claim or access policy documents and other important claim information should they be required during an emergency situation.