Forest fires, tornadoes, floods, invaders: 4 ways your phone can save you in an emergency

Your phone is a vital and potential life-saving tool that you can always have with you.

Angela Lang / LOVEBYLIFE

Our phones are the center of our social life, however they can also help save lives in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency. Do you have to stay on the side of the road, trapped in the roof or when faced with an attacker who is unable to dial 911, an Android phone or iPhone in your hand is a potential life-saving tool.

In 2019, the life of a young man was saved after that started an asthma attack and dialed 911 from an Android phone. Although he was unable to contact the operator, his whereabouts were sent to a call center and he arrived on time for assistance. In 2017, The 4-year-old saved his mother’s life just asking Siri for help. And puzzle calls to order pizza can help victims of domestic violence warn police.

These extreme examples highlight how phones can play a role in preventing people from losing their lives when situations get out of control. Now this fire season and stormy season here, more importantly be prepared for the unexpected. Police departments and first aid workers also understand that our phones are an important tool in emergencies.

We talked Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office To get advice and tips on how a phone in Colorado can literally be your life support.

Read more: Emergency Preparedness: 3 Tips for Recovering Important Documents After a Natural Disaster

Natural disasters

Forest fires, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes can destroy buildings and important utilities in minutes. The damage can last for days and weeks, during which power lines and cell towers are down.

Whether this is an unexpected event or you have time to prepare, here are some tips on getting help:

  • Send text messages instead of making phone calls: With damage to cell towers and power lines, the voltage in the network is so difficult or lost that it is difficult to make a phone call because it primarily draws the attention of respondents somewhere. However, text messaging requires very few network resources and is more usable.
  • Disaster programs and services: There is a program to help you during any natural disaster, from storm surveillance to reuniting you with friends and family.
  • SOS applications: The Apple App Store and Google Play Store have a wide range of options that use the flash signal from your phone’s camera to send SOS for free in the Morse Code. Lamp and other utilities for iPhone and Super-Bright LED Lamp For Android.

Storms can take out power lines and cell towers in seconds.

Ricky Arnold / NASA

He was left in the desert

To save your phone’s battery as much as possible, turn off apps and services that you can’t find help with, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. When cell phone is not available, Airplane mode keeps your phone from constantly searching for signals, which saves valuable battery reserves.

GPS works offline to find you

  • Importantly, you can also use your phone using the GPS function airplane mode.
  • Similar apps if you plan on hiking GAIA GPS let you download the offline map Use your phone’s GPS to identify yourself after the area you’re in. I tried the app iPhone XS Max and Pixel 3 XL and sometimes it took 30 seconds or so to find me, but in the end it worked very well without a cell phone connection.

Take many precautions in the desert.

Picture alliance

Learn the facts about edible plants

If you don’t know much about plants, you may not know what is safe if you are so desperate for food. You have several options:

  • Download the Wikipedia app and save Poisonous plants wiki for offline viewing. This is not the best solution, but the list includes photos and brief descriptions of plants that can be harmful.
  • On Android phones, Google Lens if you’re in a wireless reception area, it can help identify unknown plants, but pay attention to the toxic appearance – the lens is not a certified tool for botany and should not be trusted. We are especially careful not to eat wild mushrooms or berries.
  • However, an application like a lens can be useful for a common plant, such as what part of a common plant can be digested – and internal links lead to more information. Keep in mind that Google Lens can dry out your battery.
  • Download a regional applicationFor example, “Travel and Plants in Colorado” to give more specific information about native plants.
Send an SMS to 911

Sending an SMS to 911 is an option to keep in mind.

Jason Cipriani / LOVEBYLIFE

Break-in or active shooter

Once you realize that someone has entered your home or that there has been an active shooting recently, the first thing to do is to hide and turn off all the sounds on your phone. Turn off the lights or switch to dark mode. Android users can quickly mute their phones in the quick settings panel, and iPhone users can use the mute button.

Also, go to your phone’s settings app and turn off all vibrations, including keyboard and touch vibrations – vibrations can be heard, especially if the phone is lying on the surface.

Rely on text messages to alert the outside world of what is happening. has more suggestions to help you prepare for the active state of the shooter.

Depending on where you live, sending an SMS to 911 may be an additional option. The FCC will update the spreadsheet Cities that support SMS-to-911. The list is updated once a month. I suggest looking for a spreadsheet (Cmd + F on a Mac or Control + F on a computer) to find the city or county you’re visiting to see if they support texting to 911.

If you want to use a text message to 911 and it is not supported in your area, you will be notified that no one has received your message and you need to call. If it is dangerous to do so, send reliable and fast contacts via SMS so they can call on your behalf.

23-iOS-13 beta

Your phone’s voice assistant can call for help, even if your phone is on the other side of the room.


If you can’t call for physical help

  • IPhone users can say “Hey, Siri, call 911,” while Android users should say “OK, Google, call 911.”
  • Make sure you have it Hey Siri is on Go to iPhone Settings > Siri > Hey listen to Siri. If you’re using Android, long-press the home button, launch Google Assistant and “Set up Voice Match. “
  • And if you are at home Amazon Echo close as well Echo Connect, which allows you to call your Echo, you can call 911 from Alexa.
  • An Apple Watch Series 4 or a new device allows you adjust the set fall detection if it detects a crash and the user does not respond, it calls for help.

Only share your location with those you fully trust.

Jason Cipriani / LOVEBYLIFE

Other methods of preparation: Shared location, emergency contacts, battery packs

  • Consider sharing your location with trusted emergency contacts. Use a built-in device for the iPhone Find my app. Use it on Android Google Maps location sharing feature. Third party Glimse the application does the same.
  • Establish contacts and medical information in emergencies. Use the Health app on your iPhone. Consider adding your name or medical information as a contact on your Android phone or download the SOS emergency app. Use the built-in device on the Pixel 4 Personal security software.
  • If you are lost, emergency services can use nearby cell towers to triangulate your location, so a portable battery pack or power bank convenient to charge your phone – store it in a bag, car or other device. Your phone will last longer when you are standing turn off the features that dry out your battery.

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