Recent Hurricane Florence should be taken as a reminder to always keep yourself prepared for the inevitable natural disasters. Living in a flood and earthquake-prone area myself, I am always prepared for natural disasters. And as surprising as it may be, my smartphone is the most helpful device for preparing for a natural disaster.
With a combination of few simple apps, I am able to keep strict tabs on natural disasters near me, and keep my family secure and connected if the inevitable happens. And so in this post, I’m going to share with you some handy apps that can immensely help you before, during, and after a natural disaster. Let’s check them out in detail.
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1. Trusted Contacts
Created by Google, Trusted Contacts performs a single job of ensuring your friends and family are safe. You can add people you care about as your trusted contacts and they will be able to track your location in case of an emergency (like a natural disaster).
Any of your trusted contacts can ask for your location and you can deny it if you don’t want to share or if you are safe. If you will not reply within a specified time frame, then the location will be automatically provided. Best of all, the app even works if your phone is dead or it doesn’t have an internet connection. Your last known location will be given to your trusted contacts in that case.
- Integrates well with Google Maps’ share your location feature.
- Real-time location tracking.
- Works offline as well.
- Doesn’t have a quick panic button to immediately alert your contacts that you are in trouble.
2. Offline Survival Manual
A survival manual is a must to survive any emergency situation. And in a natural disaster, you never know what kind of situation you may get stuck in with limited resources. Although there are many survival apps for smartphones, but I found Offline Survival Manual to be the most comprehensive.
The manual is completely free and can be used offline. Some of the popular survival topics it covers include, food, psychology, medicine, shelter, fire, use of plants, animals, cold weather, weapons, directions and many more. The app is only available for Android, but iOS users can try Survival Guide which is just as comprehensive.
- Available for offline use.
- Comprehensive knowledge on a variety of disaster situations.
- Doesn’t directly focus on natural disasters and difficult situations created by them. It’s all about surviving with minimal resources in any situation.
3. Disaster Alert
The best safety against natural disasters is to keep a tab on disaster activity beforehand. You’ll have more time to react if you know a natural disaster is on its way to your location. Disaster Alert keeps you updated with multiple types of disasters happening all over the world in real-time.
List of disaster tracking includes earthquakes, hurricanes, flood, storm, tsunami, and volcano etc. Wildfire is also on its way and will be supported soon. You can get notification of natural disasters near your area, view disasters on an interactive map, and learn more about an active hazard.
- Real-time disaster tracking.
- Notification of disasters near your area.
- Easy to use interface.
- Lacks community interaction, all the updates are taken from official sources.
4. Disaster Management
Another guide app, Disaster Management only focuses on minimizing the impact of a disaster. It offers invaluable information regarding disasters and covers all aspects, including management before, during and after the disaster.
Some of the topics it covers include disaster prevention, disaster relief, disaster recovery, disaster prevention organizations, donations, aftershocks, immediate safety, types of disasters, and structural damage.
- Covers all aspects of disaster management.
- Simple interface.
- The explanations provided are quite basic.
5. Zello PTT Walkie Talkie
During disasters, communication is the key to survival and ensuring your friends and family are safe, and Zello does just that. During emergencies it providing a low latency audio communication like walkie-talkies through which you can talk to up to 2500 people in private and public channels just by tapping and talking.
Zello does require an internet connection, but it can easily work on a slower internet connection – even 2G network. You can also check status and availability of your friends and track voice history. Best of all, it’s completely free for personal use.
- Quick communication.
- Can talk to up to 2500 contacts.
- It’s useless without an internet connection.
- Directly plays newly received audio messages in a conversation without notifying or offering control.
6. Earthquake Alert
Disaster Alert app does a fine job of keeping you aware of natural disasters near your area. However, an earthquake is a type of a natural disaster that can only be tracked when it actually hits.
If you are not in the epicenter of the earthquake, then it may take 20-60 seconds for the earthquake to reach you. This is where Earthquake Alert! app will help you.
Earthquake Alert! uses official sources and community power to send real-time alerts of earthquakes near your area. Many times, it’s quick enough to alert you 10-20 seconds before the earthquake hits you. And those few seconds are usually enough to run towards a safe place.
You can also track earthquakes all over the world and create custom notifications for specific areas (where your loved ones may reside).
- Capable of alerting before the earthquake hits
- Lets you set up custom notifications
- Won’t always alert you before the earthquake hits, and it sometimes gets delayed as well (up to 5-8 minutes).
7. Disaster Prediction App
Alerts about disasters in progress can be handy, but getting a prediction before the disaster happens is much safer. Disaster Prediction App is made by a group of observers who observe solar activity and geographical activity to predict solar based natural disasters and earthquakes.
Of course, not all of their predictions come true, but many are quite accurate and good enough to help you take safety measures beforehand. It’s a paid app costing $2.99, but for an app that is being powered by knowledge of actual humans, it isn’t much.
- Provides prediction of a disaster before it strikes.
- Easy to use interface with dedicated tabs for earthquake and solar activity.
- Earthquake predictions are mostly vague and some parts of the world aren’t covered.
Just like friends and family, there is a chance your furry little friend may get lost as well during a natural disaster. If this happens to you, then PawBoost may be able to help. It’s a community-driven lost and found pets app that helps pet owners find their lost pets.
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If someone has lost their pet, they can provide images and details of the pet and the all the users of PawBoost will be notified. Once found, a user can report back with the picture of the pet found.
- Makes Both posting and pet recovery process smooth.
- Completely free to use without any ads.
- The user base is still quite low, so the chance of PawBoost user meeting your pet is low.
9. Bull Horns Panic Button
Whenever you are in trouble, Bull Horns Panic Button offers reliable features to send the help to your location. The app has a big panic button that will alert your contacts that you are in trouble along with your current location.
You can add a list of people you trust and official security departments that will come to your rescue when in trouble.
You can also notify app community in hope of some help or help someone in need. If you have already signed up with a security company, then Bull Horns Panic Button developers can also directly work with them to offer real-time tracking of your location.
Just set up the app right, and when a natural disaster hits a simple tap is all you need to get help.
- Multiple ways to get help.
- Has built-in emergency numbers of over 150 countries.
- You can communicate over both WiFi and SMS.
- Could have integrated a loud alarm to alert nearby people.
10. Life360 Family Locator
Probably the best app to keep your family safe and connected. Life360 helps you create groups of people you care about, like your family or friends. You can easily track the location of people in the groups and even communicate with them right from the app through a custom map that will help you track your family in real-time.
The app also keeps completely history of all the people in the group. Even if you lose connection to someone, you can still track their last available location. Best of all, the tracking and communication features are completely free.
- Offers all the features you need to keep the family connected.
- Most required features are available for free.
- Offers the best tracking when connected to WiFi (confirmed by developers), the mobile data connection may show inaccurate information.
In a natural disaster, you may have to travel to safety and a good offline GPS maps app will be your best friend when the internet quits on you. Although there are many, but I recommend HERE WeGo for Android and iOS as it allows you to download the map of a whole country along with complete navigational.