Sometimes, the unthinkable happens. And while you may not be able to prevent or predict emergencies like natural disasters, severe weather events or car accidents, you can prepare for them — and your iPhone can help.
Apple has even noted the emergency aid capabilities of its devices in a recent Bloomberg piece, particularly as severe weather events become more frequent due to climate change. While your iPhone shouldn’t be your only disaster-related preparation, here are a few tips that could increase your device’s ability to help out in a pinch. Continue reading to learn 7 Ways to Prepare Your iPhone for a Disaster or Emergency.
Use Disaster-Related Apps
Knowledge is power, or so the old saying goes. That may be especially true in trying times and emergency scenarios. And while your iPhone is a link to the world’s knowledge as it is, it can be helpful to download apps with easily accessible and critical information before disaster strikes.
The Center for Disease Control and the American Red Cross both have excellent resource apps for emergencies. The latter organization also has a first aid app, which is also an excellent idea (don’t forget first aid for your pet, either). You may even want to download apps aimed at survival skills, like the SAS Survival Guide and Knots Guide.
Download Offline Maps of Safe Zones and Routes
Being able to navigate around your area in an emergency situation is incredibly important. But most mapping and navigation apps will rely on a cellular connection or GPS — two things that may not be reliable in some cases. That’s where offline maps can come in.
The best option for this is Google Maps, which lets users download maps and directions ahead of time for offline use.
- Just tap the search bar menu icon in the app and tap Offline Maps.
- Tap Custom map, and you’ll be able to download a map of the selected area for use even without an internet connection.
Know What's Happening
Of all the things that modern smartphones can do, keeping us connected, informed and in touch with the outside world is one of their most important features. In a disaster or emergency scenario, your iPhone can also be priceless for getting the latest news and updates.
For example, you can subscribe to weather alerts from the National Weather Service at this link. There are also numerous free apps that can access AM, FM or satellite radio over a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. It may also be a good idea to download apps for your local news stations and keep an eye on first-hand reports via social media in your area.
Invest in an Impact Resistant / Waterproof Case
Your iPhone is only going to be useful in an emergency if it’s functioning properly. And, as many of us know, keeping our devices safe during our day-to-day routines is hard enough. That’s why a good shock-, water- and weather-resistant case is a good idea.
Consider third-party options like Otterbox or Lifeproof. Many of the bulkier cases can withstand a lot more abuse and severe weather than your iPhone would be able to on its own. If those cases are too cumbersome for daily use, just keep them in an accessible place so you can put them on your device during an emergency.
Have a Reliable Way to Charge It
On a similar note to keeping your device protected, you’ll also need to keep it charged to get to its features. But you may not have access to wall outlets during some emergencies or disasters — and even if you do, it’s certainly possible for the power to be out.
Because of that, a good reliable way of charging your device is invaluable. An external battery like this durable Nomad PowerPack can provide more several hours worth of juice. For a longer-term solution, you may want to consider a solar charger (especially if you live in a sunny region).
Don't Forget Entertainment
An often-overlooked part of disaster preparedness is entertainment. As many survival experts know, anything that can stave away boredom and boost your morale is worth its weight in gold. Luckily, your iPhone is already tailor-made for that.
Downloading music, movies, podcasts and games that can be accessed offline are all great ideas.
You may even want to consider some reading material, like an offline version of Wikipedia or the Kindle app. Just be mindful of your battery usage (hopefully, you’ll have a reliable way of keeping it charged).
Know What It's Already Capable Of
Even without third-party apps, your iPhone has a few things that can come in handy in an emergency. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the flashlight and Emergency SOS. It may also be a good idea to set up your emergency contacts via the Health app — these can be accessed by first responders if you aren’t able to unlock your device.
In the event of a natural disaster, it’s also a good idea to keep your SMS texting and internet-based communication apps in mind. The phone lines may be overloaded or down in an emergency, leaving you unable to call your friends and loved ones. So sending a text may be the most reliable way of getting in contact with them.