Prior to 1992 when the first smartphone was invented – 15 years before the iPhone – the only survival usage for a phone was calling for help.
We can still do that, of course. And the process has been made much simpler in recent years, with 911 emergency operators ready to take calls 24/7.
But today’s smartphones offer much more when it comes to survival. In fact, there are a variety of survival apps you can download on your phone. And then refer to them quickly if you need to.
Today we’re going to discuss a few of those apps and how they might be able to help you in a crisis. First we’ll talk about apps you can download for free. Most are available for both iOS and Android, but some for only one or the other.
Free for the taking
Scanner Radio is an app that lets you listen in to chatter over thousands of emergency fire and police services. You also get weather radio broadcasts. It could help you find out what’s going on in your area during a crisis.
Compass Steel 3D will help you find your way, and give you sunset and sunrise times in your area. There’s also a sun and moon direction indicator.
ViewRanger GPS – Maps, navigation abilities and trail information make this a popular app for survivalists and outdoor lovers. Some features require a payment.
First Aid by the American Red Cross gives detailed first-aid instructions for a variety of injuries. It even includes videos and animations, as well as a hospital locator.
Bug-Out Bag Checklist is just what it sounds like. If you need help building a bug-out bag, or just want to see if they list anything you haven’t thought of, check it out.
Here WeGo is a navigation tool and a Google Maps competitor. Downloaded maps can be used even if you have no Internet connection.
Emergency by the American Red Cross lets families and individuals keep track of disasters. You can monitor emergency conditions in a certain area. As well as check on the status of family members to make sure they are safe.
SAS Survival Guide – Lite brings a popular survival guidebook to your smartphone. You can search for subjects, where you’ll find both text and photos.
Offline Survival Manual includes the basics – how to build a fire, how to find food, etc. – and deals with the psychological impact of a survival situation.
Comes at a cost
Wild Edibles ($4.99-$5.99) helps you determine which of the plants around you are edible and which ones are dangerous. It lists more than 200 edible plants and includes high-resolution images to help identify them.
MotionX GPS ($1.99) can download maps anywhere around the globe without a connection to a mobile network. It also has a tracking feature.
Knots 3D ($1.99) shows you how to tie more than 100 knots. Once it’s downloaded, no Internet connection is needed to use it.
Smart Tools ($2.99) includes a compass, unit converter, ruler, distance measurement tool, sound meter and a light tool.
Bootprint Pocket Survival ($0.99) is convenient if you’ve gotten lost. This app will guide you back to the nearest cell tower.
US Topo Maps Pro ($11.17) features high-quality topographic maps of the United States. A free version requires an Internet connection.
Simon says flashback
Earlier I mentioned that the first smartphone came out in 1992. It was created by IBM and was called the Simon Personal Computer.
Selling for about $900, it had a monochrome LCD touchscreen and came with a stylus.
You could use it to make phone calls, and to send and receive emails, faxes and pages. (No texting at this point.)
It also featured a calendar, world clock, an address book and a way to schedule appointments. Approximately 50,000 units were sold. It looks archaic now compared to smartphones, but the Simon was way ahead of its time.
When you’re in a survival situation, you probably won’t want to lug a bunch of survival books around with you, and the number of tools you’ll have access to could be limited. Having survival information on your smartphone could be a lifesaver.