According to some recent estimates, out of the approximately 7 billion people in the world, 44% of them own a smartphone.
That percentage is expected to increase to 59% by 2022. That means that 4.1 billion people will have one of the most powerful tools for finding and storing information at their disposal.
Today we are going to discuss how your smartphone can be a great instrument for surviving a disaster.
How does Smartphone help You during Emergency?
Power and Protection
First things first. A phone is an electrical appliance. It’s not going to do you much good if the battery runs out. Keep a charging cable handy on the chance you have access to a functioning power grid.
You may also want a charging port adapter that can fit many different models of phones, just in case you have to use a found phone.
If the grid is down, you should have an alternate method of charging your phone, whether that is carrying a spare battery or two (some models don’t allow you to swap out batteries) or using a generator.
This may be a home model, run off of fuel and designed to power appliances, or a personal model, such as a hand-cranked flywheel, small solar panels, or portable wind turbines. There are even some generators built into cooking pots, which use thermoelectric principles to generate power as your water heats up!
Even a fully charged smartphone can’t help you if you drop it and break it. Invest in a protective case.
There are cases manufactured to fit just about every model of phone, and they can guard against drops, impacts, scratches, and even total immersion. Handy for everyday accidents, but especially practical if you’re scrambling through debris.
If the communications grid is functioning, the obvious use of a smartphone is to be able to make and receive calls and texts. This allows you to coordinate with family and friends, request emergency services, etc.
NOTE: In the United States, every cell phone, by law, must be able to connect to the 911 system, even if that phone is not currently on a calling plan. That means that if you find an old phone, you can use it to call for help (assuming you have a signal, of course).
This is why having a charging adapter is a good idea.
How to turn your smartphone into survival tool?
There are many apps that allow two-way communication. Most are social media apps, such as Twitter, Kik, and Facebook, but there are also specialized apps for shortwave or ham radio bands, which may come in more clearly depending on where you are located.
E-mail isn’t instant communication, but it will still allow you to send and receive messages. Most e-mail platforms will hold any messages sent in a queue until the signal is robust enough to carry them to the recipient, which is handy if your signal is spotty.
Fun Fact: In August 2011, an earthquake struck Virginia. Net-traffic analysis showed that tweets about the earthquake spread faster than the actual tremors.
Even if you are unable to get any information out, you still may be able to receive it. GPS programs triangulate location using satellites for example so you can find your way.
And there are numerous apps that provide access to various wireless frequencies, so you could still receive emergency bulletins. These may be general band access, such as an FM app that allows you to scan for strong signals across the entire band, or dedicated apps from particular radio, television, or internet stations.
Many companies and governmental institutions have dedicated apps, as well. A weather app can keep you updated about potential storms, while the app from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will deliver important information about disaster recovery efforts.
There are apps that can also deliver police scanner traffic in real time.
A Life Hacking Truth: Smartphone is the Best Survival Tool
No Communication Does NOT Mean No Information
Even if you do not have an active data connection, your smartphone can still be a valuable resource.
Purchasing phones with large memory capacity, and/or the ability to add extra memory cards, will give you plenty of space to download useful apps, which can then be used offline.
Please Note: many apps rely on the features and functions of specific phone models in order to work correctly. Research carefully!
How is smartphone becoming the best survival tool?
There are apps that do nothing but provide tools. A flashlight app, for example, can control the LED your phone’s camera uses as the flash, allowing you to turn it on steadily, adjust the brightness, flash in an S.O.S Morse code pattern, etc.
There are compass apps available to assist with orienteering, ruler apps to measure distance, leveling and magnification apps, and so much more.
The Best Smartphone Survival App for Preppers
If you search the app stores for “survival app,” you will turn up dozens, if not hundreds of choices. It is very important to read the reviews of these and see what other people have to say about their usefulness, reliability, and “user-friendliness.”
Apps such as the American Red Cross’ “First Aid” provide videos, animations, step-by-step instructions, and more, allowing you to quickly and effectively treat ailments and injuries.
Other apps may provide checklists, or “if-this-then-this” user guides. One very popular survival app offers three-dimensional illustrations on how to tie various knots, as well as a menu that sorts each knot into different categories, according to its purpose.
In addition to the apps built towards a specific application or goal, there are several general task apps that you may find useful in an emergency situation. You can use your photo app to document the path you are taking, or locations and signs you want to remember or keep copies of important personal documents handy.
Note-taking apps allow you to make your own checklists and reference material. If you don’t have a note-taking app, you can use your email or texting functions as a substitute. Drafts are saved on your phone.
E-readers such as Kindle and Nook are particularly useful. These apps allow you to store and read books on your phone without requiring a data connection. Many books formatted for e-readers have internal hyperlinks that allow you to quickly move to a specific chapter, or the ability to search within the entire book for certain words or phrases.
You can also highlight passages and make your own notes, which can be accessed separately. You can get military survival manuals and field guides in these formats, as well as most any other book sold through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
And you are not limited to their e-reader’s proprietary format, either. Most e-readers will also open documents in the pdf format (and there are many pdf reader apps available, as well).
This function allows you to download any pdf document onto your phone, and be able to open and read it offline. Basically, you can carry an entire survival library around with you, depending on your memory capacity, of course.
Even then, carrying a few separate memory cards is a lot easier than carrying the same number of books (but admittedly, a lot easier to lose, too).
The Bottom Line
Online or offline, bars or no bars, a smartphone can be a fantastic multi-tool to have in your survival kit
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this post, and found the information to be useful. Next week, we will be discussing the Rules of Three (a great reference to guide your survival prep), reviewing first aid supplies and procedures, and talk about how to survive a tornado. See you then!