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Published On: Wed, May 17th, 2017

The Power of Mobile Phones During an Emergency

In the event of an emergency, a functioning mobile phone could easily be the tool which saves your life. Whether the emergency is local, regional, national, or global it is important to remain conscious of our dependence on smartphones and the ways in which they can be useful during an emergency.

Maintain Functionality

To ensure a smartphone is useful during an emergency it is necessary for it to be physically protected and powered. The physical protection of the phone can be ensured by keeping it in a protective case at all times. BodyGuardz cases can help reduce damage from falls or other forms of impact by distributing the force. If your phone is not waterproof directly from the manufacturer you may also want to consider a case that offers this type of protection.

Keeping your phone fully charged should be a regular practice. Keep a charger in your home, car, and work space so you can charge it whenever it is not in use. A dead phone is of no use to anyone.

It is possible you will not have access to a reliable source of power during an emergency, which is why alternative methods should be available.  These can include keeping battery power packs stashed at home or in your office, solar powered rechargers, or even camping equipment that transforms heat from a fire into power for your phone. Even dedicated urbanites need to keep alternative power methods easily accessible in case of an emergency.

photo Oregon Department of Transportation

Information and Connection

One of the ways in which a mobile phone is immediately valuable in an emergency situation is in the areas of information gathering and connectivity. If you are hurt, witness a crime in progress, spot a tornado, or realize the dam is about to break and want to warn the townsfolk it will be far more efficient to call or text someone than to walk, bike, or drive to those who may render assistance. They can also help connect friends and family members via text during a crisis when making a phone call is simply not possible due to an overuse of the service, such as what happened during Hurricane Sandy.

A mobile phone can also provide information to those who are removed or otherwise cutoff from their typical news media. Even if the power has gone out and local radio and television service has been interrupted, it is possible to reach out and use a mobile phone to access national or international news sources to monitor a situation. If a hurricane shuts down an entire area and residents are unaware that power will not be restored for weeks or that the area is under a flood watch, they may wait in place due to a lack of information placing themselves in greater danger.

Location and Native Resources

Some people mistakenly believe they need to have access to data or a cell signal for their smartphone to be useful. This is simply not true. The GPS chip in a smartphone does not require cell service to work. The difficulty in the past has been that the maps which are used to display the location have required a signal in order to function optimally. In many newer phones this has been remedied. It is easy to test how effective your phone is at determining your location and providing directions without a signal by simply turning the service off with airplane mode and conducting a few experiments. If you find your phone does not have maps stored, there are numerous apps from which to choose that will allow you to download maps of specific areas to use even if you are not connected. This can be invaluable in finding your way to designated areas during an emergency.

There are numerous apps that can be used without a connection which can literally be lifesaving during an emergency situation. Survival applications provide real life support during an information to help explain first-aid techniques, anatomy and health, plant and animal identification guides, astronomy guides, and basic survival methodology. There are even several guides which have been published in app format from the American Red Cross and FEMA.

Mobile phones have developed far beyond the basic communication devices they once were. You can manage your own home security remotely, consult a library of knowledge, or plot your destination all with the same device. Make sure you know how to optimize, protect, and power this useful miracle machine so these tools are available in the event of an emergency.

Author: Jimmy Simond

Photo/Ed Brown via wikimedia commons

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