In times of crisis, it is important to keep in touch with loved ones. Often our technology fails us in emergencies, but we can always take precautions to minimise damages. Here are a few free tools that can prove helpful with early warnings of disasters and information on disaster management. Even if you find yourself in danger, these apps can notify family and friends to help you out.
- Disaster Alert/DisasterAWARE®
Functions: Early warning; real-time coverage
With Disaster Alert, you get early warnings of disasters. It is created by the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), which is a 20-year-old applied research centre. Their app Disaster Alert is available on iOS and Android. It has an expanded desktop version as well. The app provides early alerts for 18 different hazards from a global, scientifically verified geospatial database. They use modelling tools to predict the path of disasters like cyclones and hurricanes, eruption timing of volcanoes and other natural disasters.
Functions: Safety Status Communication; GPS Tracking
Life360 is an app for you to check up on family members and keep them informed about your status. The app uses GPS tracking to alert members during emergencies and even calls for help from emergency services. The app shows all family members on a map, which makes it easy to track someone in an emergency. The app also allows users to create different groups for family, friends, colleagues etc. With a chat function, members can each other know what they are up to. The app sends push notifications to alert family members of when you will reach your destination.
- Facebook Crisis Response
Functions: Safety Status marking; Sending/Receiving support
A built-in function of popular social networking app, Facebook's Crisis Response is a tool that informs users about disasters around them. This function relies on the community-building capabilities of people and spreads awareness among the masses. It lets users mark themselves safe during disasters and provide resources (food, transportation, supplies) in disaster-struck areas. It also enables users to request help from the community. Facebook allows people to create posts and let the public know if they need help or are capable of helping.
- ICE – In Case of Emergency
Functions: Display details in the notification tab
ICE is a simple app ideated by a (now retired) paramedic. He attended to countless accidents and would often find himself scrolling through injured patients' contacts to find who to call. Often in critical states, it would take a lot of time for paramedics to identify the victims, their blood type and their next of kin. The app asks users for their name, emergency contacts, blood group, and any other vital information. It also has an optional "if found" message in case you lose your phone. There are also identification tags, cards and keyrings available from ICE in case your phone breaks or gets powered off.
- Red Panic Button
Functions: One-button alert when you're in danger
Pressing the red panic button sends the users' location to emergency contacts via Google Maps. You can add as many contacts as you like. The app can help you by sending SMS messages, emails and Tweets describing the location and local time. The paid version of the app features additional tools like a voice recording feature, enabling users to record and send a 10-second distress message. The app can pair with specific wearables - Apple Watch, Android Wear and Pebble – allowing users to discreetly send distress messages to contacts.
Staying safe is your own responsibility.
The upshot is that safety is a rising concern for people. You never know when a natural calamity may strike or when harm may reach those close to you. These apps can keep you informed and provide you with the means to act. The action must be initiated by you, though. Keeping yourself safe is your own responsibility before anyone else's.
In view of Cyclone Fani, travellers should be careful about their routes and modes of transport, especially while using aviation. A travel advisory issued today by GoAir stated that passengers travelling to and from Bhubaneswar, Kolkata and Ranchi might be inconvenienced due to the cyclone. GoAir is waiving cancellation and change fees for Bhubaneswar, Kolkata and Ranchi flights from 2nd to 5th of May. Passengers can re-book their flights within a week of scheduled departure. Customers may contact GoAir's airport ticketing offices or call their customer service centre at 18602 100 999.