Emergency Preparedness and Response Apps

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Hands hold a smart phone displaying the words “Emergency”, a 24/7 logo and a call button. Under the Where it's AT logo, the text reads Emergency Preparedness and Response Apps - abilitytools.org

Phone related tips and tricks

  • Enable battery saver when you are not actively using your phone. Turning off your phone is a great way to save battery, but this could be dangerous if you need to be contacted. If you are with multiple people, you might manage battery life by only having one phone on at a time, while everyone keeps their phone on each other in case you are separated, and letting any support team you may be staying in contact with know which phone is in use.
  • Take screenshots of maps and download routes to conserve battery life or avoid losing signal in the middle of your journey.
  • Keep power banks charged at all times and make sure you have one that has the capacity to charge phones multiple times. There are even great disposable charger options that you can just keep in your emergency kit.
  • Having cell phone alternatives are a great way to mitigate gaps in your communication needs. Things like cbs or long range walkie talkies that you disperse to people within range, and you are planning with (many have Weather Alert functions built in), and/or having a corded phone that you can plug into a phone jack, because typically even when emergencies are happening and electricity is out, a landline will still be operational. If you do this, please also pack a phone book, or sharpie directly on the phone, relevent contacts you likely no longer have memorized in the era of cell phone autodial.
  • Add your emergency information to your phone’s lock screen, so anyone who encounters you can easily know about your medical conditions, medications you are taking or may be allergic to and who they should contact on your behalf. PC Magazine has a great article on how to add emergency info to your lock screen for both Android and iOS.
  • If you use AAC apps to communicate, consider always keeping a spare set of communication boards in your emergency kit, that way, your phone is not using up valuable battery life for basic communication. You can still utilize your devices for your preferred AAC apps, but having the flexibility to save battery life for less complex communication needs could be very valuable, and if your battery does eventually run out, those boards could be invaluable. You can even create emergency specific boards to add to the basic boards in your kit.

10 Useful Emergency Apps

1. AccuWeather

The World Meteorological Organization has presented AccuWeather with “Best User Interface and Data Representation”, “Best Weather Warnings”, and “Best Design and Presentation of Information, User-Friendliness; Access and Customization” awards, so you know this is a great app.
This all-purpose weather app includes air quality reports, storm trackers, local weather forecasts and much more, making ensuring that you are up to date with all of the information you need. You can even keep tabs on your location and the locations of loved ones in different areas.

You can install AccuWeather for free on Android  
You can install AccuWeather for free on iOS

2. Disaster Alert

With Disaster Alert you can receive notifications regarding a wide range of disaster events like earthquakes, wildfires, and floods. You can receive real-time alerts regarding disaster events occurring anywhere in the world, so you can monitor not only your safety, but anyone in the world you care about.

You can install Disaster Alert for free on Android  
You can install Disaster Alert for free on iOS

3. Emergency: Alerts

Emergency Alerts is developed by the American Red Cross and provides real-time updates on locations you are monitoring. The app is available in English and Spanish and has a live map to help you navigate impacted areas more safely.

You can install Emergency: Alerts for free on Android  
You can install Emergency: Alerts for free on iOS


This official FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) app provides personalized disaster resources to help you establish a family emergency communication plan, pack an emergency kit, and know what to do immediately after a disaster. It provides real-time weather and emergency alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide and find nearby shelters if you need to evacuate to a safe space It also can tell you is your location is eligible for FEMA assistance, lists Disaster Recovery Centers in order to assist you not only in preparing, managing and recovering from an emergency.

You can install FEMA for free on Android  
You can install FEMA for free on iOS

5. First Aid: American Red Cross

The First Aid app, developed by the American Red Cross, can help you manage minor injuries that may occur in the event of an emergency. There are step-by-step tutorials supported with videos and animations, and even quizzes that award badges, incentivizing the learning experience.  All of the content is preloaded onto the app, so even if you have no service, you always have access to the resources. This app is in English but has a Spanish language toggle tool to switch between English and Spanish directly in the app and 911 is fully integrated into the app so you have the ability to escalate more serious injuries to professionals right in the app with a list of hospitals near you with their locations and contact information.

You can install First Aid: American Red Cross for free on Android  
You can install First Aid: American Red Cross for free on iOS

Another first aid resource app developed by the American Red Cross, is Pet First Aid. This app is great for anyone but could be vital for anyone with services animals or emotional support animals.  This app provides potentially crucial pet health information in the palm of your hand so that, in the event of an emergency, you are prepared to support everyone’s needs, including your animal loved ones. You can easily toggle between cat and dog information, add your family veterinarians contact information, and learn first aid for over 25 pet health conditions through text images and videos. There is even an emergency vet locater, if the situation at hand is more complicated than you are able to safely handle independently.  

You can install Pet First Aid: American Red Cross for free on Android  
You can install Pet First Aid: American Red Cross for free on iOS

6. GasBuddy: Gas Station Locator

GasBuddy is designed to facilitate people with finding cheap gas, which really is very likely the last concern you will have in an emergency, but the probably unintended feature of this app that could be invaluable when caught in the midst of attempting to escape an impacted area is the ability to locate gas stations in areas unfamiliar. This crowdsourced app allows you to search by fuel type and distance and there is even information about restrooms, payphones, and food.

You can install GasBuddy for free on Android  
You can install GasBuddy for free on iOS

7. Life360: Find Family & Friends

Life 360 uses the GPS on your loved one’s phones to enable you to know where everyone in your circle is at any given time, as long as their phones are on and sending out their location. You can track were people are and how they are moving and even send out check-in requests. Knowing where everyone is in the midst of an emergency so you can gather to coordinate and remain safe, know where to go to collect someone or get emergency services to a person in need is a vital tool in order for your circle to remain as safe as possible.

You can install Life360: Find Family & Friends for free on Android  
You can install Life360: Find Family & Friends for free on iOS

8. MyRadar Weather Radar 

The MyRadar app displays animated weather radar around your location so that you can move accordingly in the event of an emergency, allowing you to not only escape adverse conditions you are already in the midst of, but also avoid inadvertently entering more adverse weather conditions. This app would be great for those managing wildfires as it even has a layer that can be applied that shows wind movement.  

You can install MyRadar Weather Radar for free on Android  
You can install MyRadar Weather Radar for free on iOS

9. Nextdoor: Neighborhood Network

The Nextdoor app allows you to stay in contact with your neighbors at any time. Using Nextdoor can be a great resource for communities to support one another through an emergency event. You can create neighborhood emergency preparedness plans, communicate during active events to make sure people are safe, and post needs and offers for supplies to help get everyone through the emergency in good form. You can create a buddy system, ensuring that during power outages people are staying cool, and have their medication at a safe temperature, that during an evacuation, you can check up on each other to be sure that everyone got out alright, and tell emergency response teams when a household need to be attended to.   

You can install Nextdoor: Neighborhood Network for free on Android  
You can install Nextdoor: Neighborhood Network for free on iOS

10. Survival Manuals

When an emergency occurs, you need to be resourceful, as you may find yourself needing to tie a proper knot, start a fire or filter water. These skills can be invaluable in an emergency situation. Android’s Offline Survival Manual and Apple’s Survival Manual For Wilderness offers information of basic medicine, shelter, water and food procurement and information on hazardous plants and animals in most any type of terrain you may find yourself in.

You can install Offline Survival Manual for free on Android  
You can install Survival Manual For Wilderness for free on iOS