Android, iOS mobile apps to download before disaster strikes
Red Panic Button
Time and time again, we are surprised by children's abilities to help their parents when in need. An immediate call to 911 (in UK 999) can save a life but with today's access protocols on mobile devices, it may not always be easy to get past the lockscreen.
The Red Panic Button app can not only display a recognizable button on the homescreen to press when time is of the essence, but can be used to automatically call emergency services or send SMS messages to key contacts in case of emergency.
ICE, or In Case of Emergency, is a very useful app for anyone to have on their mobile device. Without the need for a passcode or biometrics -- at least in the Android version -- the app can store vital medical information for first responders to access in case of emergency, such as allergies, prescriptions, and next of kin.
The iOS version, however, does appear to be having some issues with the latest OS updates, and so will display information as wallpaper.
First Aid, American Red Cross
An app developed by the American Red Cross called First Aid contains a wealth of useful features to help in crisis or disaster.
The app contains step-by-step guides for accident and first aid scenarios, tests to help you cement this knowledge, safety tips for natural disasters, a direct call to emergency services feature, and other useful information such as the names, addresses, and distance of nearby hospitals.
If you are in the area when a situation calls for evidence -- such as in the case of dubious behavior or crimes -- Mobile Witness can provide a way to record audio and video.
Rather than store this footage on your mobile device, which may be lost, taken, or stolen, recordings can automatically be sent to third-party cloud storage providers including Dropbox and Google Drive.
Via: Google Play
Walking at night or down unfamiliar streets can feel dangerous and SafeTrek was created to help mitigate the fear.
When opened, the app asks that users hold down the large "safe" button until they feel they are out of danger. When safe, users then release the button and enter a four-digit pin. However, if no pin is entered, the app automatically contacts local law enforcement with your coordinates.
Natural disasters, especially in today's climate, are a concern worldwide. If you live in an area particularly prone to earthquakes, such as Japan, the QuakeFeed app is worth downloading.
QuakeFeed collates reports and alerts of seismic activity worldwide and includes maps, local alerts, news, and also allows users to create custom regional activity feeds.
Nextdoor was created to bring local communities closer together, and as such, is a valuable resource when disasters occur.
Floods, accidents, crime, and more can impact locals, and as such, this app can be used to bring people together.
Over the course of recent severe weather in the UK, for example, the app was used for everything from finding locals able to pick up those stranded and unable to drive, local plumbers able to fix broken heating systems, to organize help for the homeless, and more.
An app for US residents is from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The app brings together highly useful information from sources including the National Weather Service and crisis services to keep users informed of weather events and disaster relief efforts.
You can use the app to track weather events, view and upload footage, locate disaster relief shelters, and apply for federal assistance.
Waze may seem like an odd choice for emergencies and disaster relief, but the community-based traffic and road reporting app can be extremely useful.
As the cold spread across Europe last week and caused transport chaos, the app was very useful in finding roads which were not closed and to monitor accidents and traffic movements.
If you are in an emergency situation and need to reach a destination quickly, the traffic reports and suggested routes can be crucial.
When transport problems occur, Waze assists you in reaching your destination quickly and safely -- but you may also need to know where you can find fuel for the journey. That's where GasBuddy comes in.
GasBuddy is also community-based and so provides real-time updates on where you can fill up, and for what price.
Safe & Found
Safe & Found not only provides peace of mind for families who want to keep track of where their family members are, but can also prove invaluable in times of crisis. The app can be used to monitor the location of mobile devices and implement automatic messages when a child, for example, gets home from school -- but if something happens, you also have information at your disposal to find a missing family member.
If you need a more fine-tuned alternative to keep an eye on local weather events, the NOAA weather radar app is a good choice. Rather than simply issuing state-wide alerts, the app hones in on your location and other custom locations to provide detailed weather information including emergency alerts, pressure, precipitation, and more.
Facebook Crisis response
While not strictly a mobile app, thousands of us have picked up our smartphones and tablets and marked ourselves as "safe" in times of natural disaster and during terrorist incidents.
The Facebook Crisis response service and Safety Check has become a key communication point for locals embroiled in these kinds of situations. You can tick yourself as safe to prevent friends and family worrying -- especially if phone lines are clogged or down -- and can also check that your contacts are safe, too.