High-Tech Tips for Disasters and Emergencies

It’s always smart to be prepared for sticky situations, and technology can help. Equip yourself with these tools and apps in case of emergencies.

Hi-Tech Products for Disasters 02:02

Carley presents three hi-tech tools that are handy during an emergency.

Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes … not to be macabre, but it’s scary out there! And of course disasters happen when you least expect them (that’s what makes them disastrous!) so it’s tough to feel prepared. Fortunately, aside from having plenty of drinking water and on hand, there are lots of high-tech gadgets that can offer you some comfort and help when disaster strikes.  Have these around and make those unexpected bumps go a bit smoother.

8 Apps for Emergencies

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Red Cross

The American Red Cross responds to 70,000 emergencies in the U.S. each year, so it knows what to do when catastrophe strikes. The nonprofit has a suite of free mobile apps that teach safety skills and first aid, as well as how to deal with disasters like a wildfire or tornado. 

Photo By: Red Cross


Get severe weather updates, checklists for emergencies, locations of shelters and apply for federal disaster relief aid using FEMA’s free app.

Photo By: FEMA

Red Cross Hurricane

If you or a loved one lives in a hurricane-prone part of the country, download the hurricane app from the American Red Cross. It tracks hurricane watches and warnings, lists Red Cross shelters and lets you create an “I’m Safe” alert for Facebook, Twitter, email and text. 

Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/ChiehCheng

Red Cross Earthquake

When the shaking starts, you’ll be glad to have the American Red Cross’s earthquake app. It uses USGS data so you can see the intensity of the quake, and gives instructions on what to do before, during and after a quake. A Toolkit function includes a strobe light, flashlight and audible alert functions.

Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/hepatus


Your family is your treasure, so keep track of them on a private map. See where everyone is — and avoid text message fees — with the free Life360 app. If anyone runs into trouble, they can send an instant alert that goes to your voicemail, email and smartphone.

Photo By: Life360

ICE Standard With Smart911

Put lifesaving medical information up front where first responders can see it: On your smartphone’s lock screen with the ICE Standard with Smart911 app. If you call within a Smart911-enabled area, your essential medical contacts and details of any medical conditions, such as diabetes, can be provided to the 911 operators and police. 

Photo By: ICE Standard

The Weather Channel

Find out what Mother Nature has in store via The Weather Channel app. Now you’ll be ready for high snowdrifts, high surf and everything in between. The apps are free for basic; fees apply for Weather Channel Max. 

Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/shaunl

Red Cross First Aid

If your CPR skills are rusty, brush up with American Red Cross First Aid. It has videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice, preparing you to do CPR or handle other first aid issues as they happen. Fully integrated with 9-1-1, too, so you can call an EMS at any time.  

Photo By: Red Cross

In an emergency, communication is critical — especially if you need medical assistance, or want to let loved ones know where you are, and that you’re safe and sound. But when cell towers go down, your smartphone turns into a fancy paperweight. An innovative solution from SpareOne saves the day: It’s an emergency cellphone that works on a single AA battery, which means you can store it for years in a glove box or emergency bag in the garage, and it will work when you’re ready to use it. It also doesn’t require a cell plan, so you can use it to call 911 or emergency services, even without a SIM card. And, the help doesn’t quit there: It also has a panic siren and a flashing light that can alert someone nearby that you need help.

Disaster Preparedness: 8 Gadgets You Need

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Water is essential to life, but it’s hard to store enough bottled water for a whole family. SteriPEN makes a line of handheld water purifiers that use UV light to wipe out 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Some models use lithium batteries; others are charged with a USB cable or portable solar panel. 

Photo By: SteriPEN

Goal Zero Multi-Tool Kit

This Goal Zero Multi-Tool kit gets the sun’s help when you need to charge your devices and the power is out. It includes a solar panel, flashlight, fan and battery to store all that solar power. It can recharge your smartphone or any USB device.

Photo By: Goal Zero

The Blackout Buddy

No more groping around in the dark when the power goes off. The Blackout Buddy plugs into an outlet so it’s continuously charged and ready. When the power switches off, an LED light automatically turns on. Fold up the prong to use it as a flashlight with four hours of power. 

Photo By: Amazon

Battery Storage Rack

One cannot have too many batteries during an emergency. One can, however, have too many batteries, of undetermined age, rolling around loose. Try a battery storage rack like this one from Range Kleen, which neatly holds 64 batteries of all shapes and sizes. A built-in battery tester lets you check the charge levels. Mount the rack to a wall or place it flat inside a drawer. 

Photo By: Radio Shack

Landline Phone

During an emergency, the infrastructure for cellular service gets overwhelmed. Having a corded landline phone is a worthy backup, even if you wince to pay a monthly charge for just-in-case use.

Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/Pali Rao

BioLite CampStove

Heat up your soup and recharge your smartphone, in one go. The 2-pound BioLite CampStove cleanly burns wood — sticks, twigs, whatever — and uses the waste heat from the fire to create electricity via a thermoelectric generator. It can power up most USB-chargeable devices. 

Photo By: BioLite

First Aid Kit

Store a first aid kit at home and in your car. Containing 108 pieces, the Deluxe Family First Aid Kit has everything you’ll need to treat minor medical problems. The case is clearly marked and compartmentalized for easy access to bandages, thermometers, tape, gauze and the like. 

Photo By: Amazon


Superlight SpareOne is an emergency mobile phone that never needs charging. It’s powered by a single AA battery and holds a charge for 15 years. A large button allows for one-touch dialing to 911, while a panic siren and SOS torchlight can help rescuers find you. 

Photo By: SpareOne

What about those other devices that connect to the Internet, which could become a lifeline in an emergency? Look up for the solution: The sun can help out, powering a solar battery, which, in turn, can power all your smartphones, tablets or any USB device. It stores enough energy to charge several devices several times, and will even store energy on a cloudy day. It comes with a USB fan and flashlight, ready to help out until those air conditioners and lighting systems kick in again.

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Finding your family members and letting people know that you’re safe is one of the first things you think about doing when disaster strikes. An app called Life360 can help you locate everyone immediately, and chat with them through a special network that isn’t likely to go down. Inside the app, designate a safe meeting place for all family members, and in the event of an emergency, everyone will get customized directions to that place. Then know you’ve got one more level of peace of mind when it comes to disaster preparedness. 

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