Earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, tsunamis, and family tragedies are all stressful events, but you can keep the stress at a minimum with the help of your iPhone and iPad. Here we'll look at some apps and features you can take advantage of when life gets very difficult.
Notifying your loved ones
When a tragedy occurs, the first thing most people want to do is contact loved ones. In addition to using your device as a phone, there are several other options available:
- Mayday Light ($.99, app2.me/3918): This neat little app will store five emergency e-mail addresses and send a pre-written text when the app detects, through sophisticated GPS speed and location algorithms, that you've been in a car accident.
- Skype (Free, app2.me/2378): Allows you to video, voice, or text chat with others on Skype at no cost via Wi-Fi or 3G. For a small fee, you have the ability to dial any phone number.
- Twitter (twitter.com): Tweet your family and friends any situation updates.
- Facebook (Free, app2.me/260): Post your current status and relevant photos of your situation to your Facebook friends and family. Important reminder—do not jump the gun and post RIP messages until you are POSITIVE all family and close friends have been notified.
- SMS: Texting will let your loved ones know instantly what's going on. Use the group messaging feature to text multiple people at once. Beware—if anyone directly replies to your group message, all members in that group will receive the replied comment (just like the "reply all" feature in e-mail).
- Mail: Send a detailed e-mail message that is not limited to 140 characters. Camera and video
By using the iPhone's built-in camera (or the camera on the newer iPad 2 and iPod touch gen 4), you can document any accidents or emergency situations. They will be useful later if you need to make insurance claims.
Handling paperwork and logistics
All tragedies end up with lots of red-tape involving insurance companies, lawyers, or in the case of destruction, somebody to clean up the mess. Here are some apps that can help:
- Evernote (Free, app2.me/130): Use Evernote to store all insurance information, medical records, pertinent photos, and any other important documentation. You can copy and paste, e-mail, and scan or type information right into the Evernote app. You can also use the iPhone's camera as a portable scanner. All information is stored in the cloud and accessible from anywhere in the world.
- Efax (Free one-month trial; $16.95 monthly, app2.me/3247): With the eFax app and a monthly subscription, you can create, send, and receive faxes using your camera as a document scanner.
- iBooks (Free, app2.me/2403): The ability to view and store .PDF files when there is no Wi-Fi or cellular connection is available through iBooks by opening the .pdf in your e-mail or syncing it in iTunes.
- Tripit (Free, app2.me/287): If travel will be necessary, using Tripit to store your itinerary and share it with all of those that need to know is quick and easy. With a free Tripit account, forward your hotel, airline, or car rental confirmations to plans@Tripit.com. Tripit will consolidate all your information and share it with whomever you choose. Multiple travelers can post their information to have everyone's details in one place. Updates or changes will automatically post, and alerts can be sent via text or e-mail.
If your situation prevents you from having a power source, having a backup battery is crucial. Many battery "bricks" are affordable and hold up to 30 hours of power. Usually you can charge multiple items at one time via USB connections. I recommend using iSound DGIPAD-4544 ($70-$129, Amazon.com).
Surviving a disaster K
The last issue had an excellent article on how one reader from New Zealand used her iPhone to help out during and after the devastating earthquakes in that country. You can read about it online (iphonelife.com/issues/2011July-August/HTSurviveAnEarthquake).
Whether you encounter a personal or natural disaster, having an iPhone or an iPad can make any tragedy a little less tragic.