Your cellphone is an important and probably life-saving software you probably have with you always.

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Our telephones are the middle of our social lives, however they may additionally assist save lives in a pure catastrophe or different emergency. Must you wind up stranded on the aspect of the highway, trapped inside your private home or confronted with an intruder that makes it unimaginable to dial 911, the Android cellphone or iPhone in your hand is a probably life-saving software. 

In 2019, a younger man’s life was saved after he started having an bronchial asthma assault and dialed 911 from his Android cellphone. Regardless of his not with the ability to talk with the operator, his location was despatched to the decision heart and assist arrived in time. In 2017, a 4-year-old saved his mother’s life simply by asking Siri to name for assist. And phony calls to order pizza may help victims of home violence alert the police.

These excessive examples underscore the function that telephones can play in stopping lack of life when conditions spin uncontrolled. Now that wildfire season and hurricane season are right here, it is much more essential to put together for the surprising. Police departments and first responders additionally notice our telephones are an important software throughout emergency conditions.

We talked to the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Workplace in Colorado for recommendation and ideas in regards to the some ways a cellphone can actually be your lifeline.

Learn extra: Emergency prep: 3 tricks to get well essential paperwork after a pure catastrophe

Pure disasters

Wildfires, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes can devastate buildings and demanding utilities in only a few minutes. The injury can final for days and weeks, taking down electrical grids and cell towers within the course of.

Whether or not it is an surprising occasion or one you have had time to arrange for, listed below are some tips about getting assist:

  • Ship textual content messages as an alternative of attempting to put cellphone calls: Between injury to cell towers and energy traces, and the pressure that might be placed on the community as first responders deal with an space, getting a cellphone name to undergo goes to be hit and miss. Textual content messages, nonetheless, require far fewer community assets and have a greater probability of going via.
  • Apps and providers for pure disasters: From hurricane monitoring to reuniting you with family and friends members, there’s an app that will help you with nearly any pure catastrophe.
  • SOS apps: The Apple App Retailer and Google Play Retailer have a variety of choices that use your cellphone’s digital camera flash sign to ship an SOS in Morse Code, just like the free Flashlight & Extra Utility for iPhone and Tremendous-Brilliant LED Flashlight for Android.

Storms can take out electrical grids and cell towers in only a few seconds.

Ricky Arnold/NASA

Stranded within the wilderness

To preserve your cellphone’s battery as a lot as potential, disable apps and providers that will not discover you assist, like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. When there is no mobile protection, airplane mode will preserve your cellphone from consistently trying to find sign, which saves valuable battery reserves.

GPS works offline to seek out you

  • Importantly, you’ll be able to nonetheless use your cellphone’s GPS performance even when it is in airplane mode.
  • When you’re planning a hike, apps like GAIA GPS allow you to obtain an offline map of the world you may be in, after which use your cellphone’s GPS to find your self. I’ve examined the app on an iPhone XS Max and Pixel 3 XL and at instances it took 30 seconds or so to find me, however in the end it labored simply effective with out mobile protection. 

Within the wilderness, take loads of precautions.

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Discover out information about edible vegetation

Until you already know so much about vegetation, odds are you are not going to know what’s fit for human consumption in the event you’re in dire want of diet. You could have just a few choices:

  • Obtain the Wikipedia app and save the toxic vegetation Wiki for offline viewing. It is not one of the best resolution, however the checklist has photographs and temporary descriptions of vegetation that would trigger hurt.
  • On Android telephones, Google Lens may help determine unknown vegetation in the event you’re in an space with wi-fi reception, however be careful for toxic lookalikes — Lens just isn’t a licensed botany software and shouldn’t be relied upon. We particularly warning in opposition to consuming wild mushrooms or berries. 
  • Nonetheless, an app like Lens could be useful for basic data, reminiscent of which a part of a typical plant is digestible — and inside hyperlinks result in extra data. Be aware that Google Lens can drain your battery.
  • Obtain a regionally particular app, e.g. “Colorado mountaineering and vegetation,” to offer extra particular details about native vegetation.

Texting to 911 is an choice to bear in mind.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Break-in or lively shooter

The very first thing it’s good to do after you notice somebody has damaged into your own home or there’s an lively shooter close by is to cover and switch off all sounds in your cellphone. Dim its lights or change into darkish mode. Android customers can rapidly mute their cellphone within the quick-settings panel, and iPhone customers can use the mute change.

Moreover, go into your cellphone’s settings app and disable all vibration, together with keyboard and contact vibration — vibration could be audible, particularly if the cellphone is resting on a floor. 

Depend on textual content messaging to alert somebody on the surface what is going on on. has extra ideas that will help you put together for an lively shooter state of affairs.

Relying on the place you reside, texting 911 could also be an extra choice. The FCC retains an up-to-date spreadsheet of cities that help text-to-911. The checklist is up to date as soon as a month. I counsel looking the spreadsheet (Cmd+F on Mac, or Management+F on a PC) to seek out the town or county you are in, or might be visiting, to see in the event that they help text-to-911. 

When you try to make use of text-to-911 and it isn’t supported in your space, you’ll obtain a message again letting you already know nobody obtained your message and it’s good to place a name. If it is unsafe to take action, textual content trusted and responsive contacts to allow them to place a name in your behalf.


Your cellphone’s voice assistant can name for assist, even when your cellphone is on the opposite aspect of the room.

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When you’ll be able to’t bodily name for assist

  • iPhone customers can say, “Hey, Siri, name 911,” whereas Android customers ought to be capable to say, “OK, Google, name 911.”
  • Be sure you have Hey Siri enabled in your iPhone by going to Settings > Siri > Hear for Hey Siri. When you use Android, long-press on the house button to carry up Google Assistant and say, “Arrange Voice Match.”
  • When you’re residence and have an Amazon Echo close by in addition to an Echo Join, which permits your Echo to make cellphone requires you, you should use Alexa to name 911.
  • An Apple Watch Collection 4 or newer machine enables you to arrange built-in fall detection that can name for assist when it detects a fall and the wearer is unresponsive.

Share your location with solely those that you utterly belief. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Different methods to be ready: Shared location, emergency contacts, battery packs

  • Contemplate sharing your location with trusted emergency contacts. For an iPhone, use the built-in Discover My app. On Android, use this Google Maps location-sharing function. The third-party Glympse app will do the identical.
  • Arrange emergency contacts and medical data. On the iPhone, use the Well being app. On an Android cellphone, think about including your individual title or medical particulars as a contact, or obtain an SOS emergency app. On the Pixel 4, use the built-in Private Security app.
  • When you’re misplaced, emergency providers can use close by mobile towers to triangulate your location, so preserve a transportable battery pack or energy financial institution useful to cost your cellphone — retailer it in your backpack, automotive or different gear. Your cellphone will last more once you flip off options that drain your battery.

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