How to Turn your SmartPhone into a “Digital Swiss Army Knife” for Emergency Preparation and Survival
These days just about everyone has a smartphone. Whether you’re 18 or 80 odds are it’s something you almost always have on you. So it makes sense to consider in advance how your mobile phone could be beneficial in an emergency or survival situation.
Now while at first consideration you may think a smartphone won’t be much use to you in an emergency situation or natural disaster, if you need to know how to do something nowadays the answer is “There’s an app for that”.
We’d agree if a solar flare / EMP hits and fries the electrical grid or another disaster takes out the cell phone towers, then you won’t be making any phone calls or getting “online”.
However there are a multitude of Apps that would still be useable in emergency situations where the electrical supply and mobile networks are still in operation.
On top of this there are many Apps that don’t require you to be “online” to still work. They can act as a “survival encyclopedia” carrying volumes of information just in case.
But My Smartphone Battery Won’t Last Long in an Emergency?
Well, there are hand crank and solar chargers that will let you charge a mobile phone if the power grid is down or if you’re away from a power supply. Check out these 2 multifunction solar and hand crank radios for example. They both charge cell phones via USB:
Anyway onto our list of 10 smartphone Apps for emergency preparation and survival.
1. Smartphone Apps for Illumination: Flashlight
The latest version Android 5.0 and iOS (iPhone) both have flashlights built right into them using the flash of the camera. If you’ve got an older phone there are other free Apps available that will help you out in a power cut or if you’re stuck somewhere without electricity or a torch.
Even if you phone doesn’t have a flash, these 2 apps will allow you to use the light of the screen for illumination. Flashlight for iPhone also gives you the option of a strobe light you could use in the case of a car accident to warn oncoming traffic.
2. Smartphone Apps for Navigation: Compass
If you’re lost whether it be in a strange city or the bush a compass is invaluable. And thanks to the magnetometer built into all smartphones these days all you need to do is download a compass app to point you in the right direction. For Android we like the simple to use Smart Compass.
On iPhone there is also a multitude of options. If you want simple then try Compass°
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/compass/id520985073?mt=8 Or if you want full featured check out Commander Compass Lite. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/commander-compass-lite/id340268949?mt=8
Especially For our New Zealand Readers…
We’ve also put together a short report highlighting our top 7 Free Emergency Preparation/Survival Apps Specifically for New Zealanders.
So if you’d like to learn how to turn your smartphone into a “digital swiss army knife” with New Zealand based Apps then you can download our report for free here:
You’ll learn about apps that will help you with First Aid, Emergency and Disaster Planning. As well as Evacuation, how to use your phone as a GPS unit without cell phone reception, and severe weather reports and warnings. All specifically for New Zealand residents and available on Android or iPhone.
3. Smartphone Apps for Navigation: Google Maps
A map is top of the list when heading to anywhere you don’t know well. But many navigation and map apps require you to have data available to operate. Google Maps actually has a little known feature that allows you to download map areas to your phone so you can view them without data or GPS for that matter.
Just go to the Menu within the Google Maps Apps. Select “Your places” and scroll down to “SAVE A NEW OFFLINE APP”. Then zoom in or out to the area you want to save.
Also check out our Free report that shows you the App that lets you use your phone as a GPS unit and download a full NZ Map for free. 7 Free Emergency Preparation/Survival Apps Specifically for New Zealanders
4. Smartphone Apps for the Wild: Bear Grylls – Bear Essentials
No list of survival Apps would be complete without one by the man who made survivalism mainstream, Bear Grylls.
“There’s everything you need to know from packing the right equipment, preparing yourself mentally and physically through Bear’s own fitness program, to learning how to navigate, observe, track, snare and trap wild animals. Learn the basics for using tools and knives in the field as well as administer emergency first aid. Find out how to set up shelter, make fire, tie knots and find water – with the ‘bear’ minimum. “
A survivor of the Haitian earthquake credits this app with helping him stay alive while trapped in the rubble according to this article.
5. Knot Tying Apps: What Knot to Do in the Great Outdoors
The Columbia Sportswear Co brings this excellent (and free) app showing how to tie 70 knots with quality drawings for each knot: What Knot to Do in the Great Outdoors:
While the Columbia App isn’t available on Android here is a free alternative app showing you how to tie 92 different knots:
6. Smartphone App to Keep Your Documents Safe: DropBox
The always full of cool ideas lifehacker.com reminds us about teh importance of having a copy of your most important documents like birth certificates, passports, insurance documents, and emergency plans and escape routes…
“While you want to keep those physical copies, you also want to keep a digital backup. If you want to store those files in the cloud, we’d recommend doing so with an encrypted Dropbox folder. Then, just grab a copy of the Dropbox mobile app so you’ll have access to them from anywhere, even if you can’t get to you computer. Likewise, you can keep a hard copy of those documents on your phone as well. Just make sure you have something to view them with (a free e-reader app like Kindle will do the trick).”
7. Smartphone App for Navigation by Night: Skymap
This app could help you negotiate your way at night if you know what stars point to where. (although you could actually just use one of the compass apps mentioned earlier!). So really we’re mentioning it as it’s just plain cool and a great one to show kids and get them interested in astronomy.
It lets you identify constellations, planets and more using the screen of your phone. You simply rotate around and the App displays and labels the stars you should be able to see at that location. Very cool to learn about the night sky.
While Skymap is Android only, there is a similar app on itunes for iPad and iPhone called Star Chart.
8. Survival SmartPhone Charger: Biolite Camp Stove
This isn’t an App but rather a camp stove that also produces electricity to charge your phone just from burning wood! This definitely fits in the “What will they think of next?” category!
An alternative to the crank handle or solar chargers mentioned earlier.
9. Smartphone Prepper News App: Proclivus
Care of thesurvivalmom.com we learnt about this one – a prepper news agregator…
“Proclivus is a clever new app that aggregates the best prepper and survival information from across the internet and puts it all in one place, your iPhone or iPad. It’s far handier than using your phone’s browser to check out one site after another. Why bother with all that browsing when everything is right there on Proclivus, and it’s free?”
10. Smartphone App for Eye First Aid: Mirror
Ever need to replace a contact lens when out in the great outdoors but don’t have a mirror? Or get a piece of dirt or bark out of your eye? This app uses the front camera to produce a mirror like image that is zoomable for a close up. It also shines a light for use at night.
So go check out these Apps now. Got any other favourite apps yourself for outdoors, emergencies or survival? Or have any better suggestions than these? Leave us a comment below!