Friday, July 17, 2015

30 Survival Uses for Your Smart Phone

These days, your smartphone is more like an appendage than a random piece of technology.  You are more likely to have your phone on you than most any other item you own, so I figured I would make a list of the many ways a smartphone can be used in survival situations...

  1. Emergency alerts to warn you of local dangers (these warnings are often automatic through your cell service while other alerts need to be signed up for via Twitter and other social media apps).
  2. To call for help (obviously, by calling 911)
  3. To text for help (sometimes when a phone call won't go through a text will, either to friends and family or directly to your local 911 service if they have text-receiving technology)
  4. To use as a flashlight (there are a number of powerful flashlight apps available)
  5. To get the latest on breaking local news (via local news apps and Twitter accounts)
  6. To listen to breaking news (the scanner radio app lets you listen live to many emergency service radio bands; other radio apps will allow you to listen to news programs)
  7. To find your way with a compass app
  8. To find your way with downloadable maps
  9. To find your way via GPS (when you have cell reception)
  10. To access emergency/survival information (emergency medical treatment info, the SAS Survival Handbook app, download the Army Survival Manual, etc)
  11. To photograph information you can use later (everything from building evacuation diagrams to making videos of the route you are taking, etc)
  12. To take a photo of a medical symptom and email it to your medical provider for appropriate information or assistance
  13. Even a broken smartphone has many survival uses (examples here)
  14. To find food (there are a number of apps that will help you track animals, identify wild edibles, and find local fishing areas, etc)
  15. Set an ICE (in case of emergency) contact (there are a number of apps to alert loved ones that you need help and/or allow law enforcement or medical personnel to contact them through your phone)
  16. To help if you get in a car accident (many insurance companies have apps that remind you what to do, what to photograph, and what information to collect if you get in an accident)
  17. To locate loved ones (there are apps that allow you to track the location of a loved one's cell phone and vice versa)
  18. To use as a panic button (again, there are apps that turn your phone into an audio--and email/phone call--emergency alert device)
  19. To allow others to see what you see (Meerkat and Periscope are two streaming services that allow people to see everything you are seeing)
  20. To receive alerts for natural disasters that are common in your area (there are apps for everything from tsunami warnings to earthquake alerts to hurricane warnings)
  21. To check your medical condition (there are apps for everything from checking your blood pressure, relaying cardiac info to your doctor to determining if you are too drunk to drive)
  22. For saving important documents that you may need in the future (ie: take photos of your passport, DD214, driver's license, etc)
  23. To find loved ones after a disaster (and/or allow them to find you) via Google People Finder or the Red Cross Safe and Well websites
  24. To record messages or reminders for yourself or others (via your phone's voice recorder, video recorder, or note taking app)
  25. To take photos or videos after a disaster (for everything from insurance claims to assisting authorities after an event)
  26. To find help (by calling 211 for social service help, by checking for a place to crash, by catching an Uber ride if you can't afford a taxi)
  27. To survive in other cities (find medical services, download the local transit app, etc)
  28. As a rescue beacon (authorities can 'ping' your phone to find out where it/you are)
  29. To help you prepare in advance for disasters (there are apps for everything from building a first aid kit, to wilderness check off sheets, to "know before you go" information)
  30. To call/text for help if you are having a personal crisis (such as the Suicide Helpline, the Rape Crisis Center, the PTSD Hotline, etc)
Obviously the big caveat with all of the above information is that, in most cases, you smartphone needs to be working and have enough power to be usable.  For this it is always a good idea to keep you phone fully charged and have alternative methods for charging your phone in case you do not have access to electricity (such as having a car charger, a solar cell charger, and/or a power bank on hand)

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