In an emergency situation, like a hurricane, your smartphone has countless tools and tricks that can help you in a number of ways. In addition to providing you access to useful news and weather apps (like CNN and The Weather Channel), you can tap into countless other useful applications - all designed to help you prepare for and weather the storm. Following are just a few of the ways your smartphone can help.
A flashlight should you lose power. Most smartphones come equipped with their own flashlight feature that can come in handy in case of any power outages. If your phone does not have an installed flashlight, you can select from a number of options from the app store.
Easily find the nearest wirless connection. The Boingo Wi-Finder app uses GPS to locate the closest network. The app also plots results on a map, using a color-coordinated system indicating the relative strength and security of each network. (Available for free to iPhone and Android users.)
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 Hurricane American Red Cross will provide you with information on the storm as well as locations of open shelters. The app also has an "I'm Safe" alert for Facebook, Twitter, and email so you can tell your family and friends that you are safe.(Available for free to iPhone and Android users.)
Track the storm in real time. The iHurricane HD 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 to iPhone users.)
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 get left behind in a haste to evacuate. Dropbox offers free storage in the cloud which means files can be accessed from any device, anywhere. (The limited version is available for free to iPhone and Android users.)
Simplify the claims process by creating a photo inventory of your possessions. The Home Inventory Photo Remote app allows users to walk around their homes and build an outline of a personal inventory to compile for insurance purposes. The details can be filled in later. Users can create items, locations, collections and categories for their personal property. The app can also scan the bar code from an item or its packaging to add to users' inventory automatically. (Available for free to iPhone users. The Android equivalent: MyHomePro: Home Inventory is $3.99.)
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 your any iOS device by displaying their location on a map. (Available for free to iPhone users.)
During a disaster, rumors can run rampant; get the real story. The 5-0 Radio Police Scanner Lite to help figure out what really is going on in hurricane relief efforts, the answer might be found on police band radio. This app allows you to pick up an unfiltered feed of cops, firefighters and other public-safety officers. It shouldn’t be your only news source, but it could be worth listening in. Available for free to iPhone users. The Android equivalent is the free Scanner Radio app.)
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 today including options from brands like Nextek, Mophie, Zendure, Innovative Technology, Anker Astro, Proporta USB to name just a few.