I’ve posted in the past here on the blog about the many creative ways you can utilize your smartphone besides making phone calls, including ways to use your smartphone’s camera, and using your phone as a “wallet”. Today I’m sharing yet another way to utilize your smartphone, and it may be the most important one yet: using your smartphone in an emergency!
By taking a few preliminary steps (and making sure your phone is always charged,) your smartphone can become an important survival tool.
In case of a medical emergency, it is critical for emergency responders to know of any allergies you may have, or medicines you may be taking. In cases where you can’t tell them that information, they will often turn to your personal effects, such as your wallet or phone, to find the answers. The makers of iPhones have made it easy to create a Medical ID for yourself that is accessible from your lock screen. So even if they don’t have your passcode, an emergency responder can pull up your Medical ID, and read what you’ve written about medications and allergies.
To create your Medical ID on an iPhone, open the Health app (included on all recent editions of iOS), and select the Medical ID option in the bottom right corner. For Android phones, there are several similar apps available in the Google Play store.
In cases where you may be lost or trapped, and need to alert someone to where you are, your phone’s flashlight can be a useful tool. Waving your phone around with the light turned on can help alert people to your presence. There are also many apps available that can give you additional control over the light settings, such as enabling a strobe light mode. The flashing light will help make you more visible as well.
In addition to light cues, noise cues are also an effective way to alert someone to where you are. While having an app that plays air horn noises may seem silly, using that air horn sound could help save you if you’ve got someone looking for you! A search in your app store for “loud noises” will show you a variety of options for noise-making apps you can use in an emergency.
Another handy tool that most smartphones have is a built-in compass app. If you get lost on a hike or while skiing or snowboarding, utilizing the compass can help get you back to where you need to go.
Emergency responders know that 911 calls can often be chaotic, and that getting information from the caller can often be difficult. But with the help of Smart911, your 911 call can tell them everything they need to know. When you register your phone number with Smart911, you can upload important information to your account, such as your home address, members of your household, medical information and more. Then if you have an emergency in the future, that information will be automatically transmitted to emergency responders. Registering with Smart911 is free, and you can check if safety agencies in your area are utilizing Smart911 data on their website.
Sometimes a situation isn’t an active emergency, but it feels potentially unsafe, like walking home alone in the dark. In these situations, it would be reassuring to know that you have a quick way to alert authorities of your location if things take a turn for the worse. That is the purpose of an app called SafeTrek, which passively connects you to the police when you hold the button in the app. When you’re out of the situation, or you feel that any threat has passed, you simply release the button and enter a unique 4-digit code to “disarm,” or to prevent an alert from being sent to the police. If you don’t enter your code, the police will be alerted and your location will be sent to them. The service is $3 per month to use, which seems like a bargain compared to the peace of mind you’ll have in return.