The 7 Best Emergency Alert Apps of 2019

The disaster readiness tools you don't want to be without

People walking on the street after Hurricane Irma.

@jeinhard via Twenty20

If you’re stuck in an emergency or would like to prepare for an impending disaster, below are the apps you need on your phone or tablet. Whether it be a flood, hurricane, fire, earthquake, tornado, etc., you need the right tools on hand to deal with what’s happening.

Emergencies are often entirely unexpected and life-threatening. Grab the apps listed here (each are available on Android and iOS) as soon as you can so you’ve got what you need to weather the storm.

01
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AccuWeather: Alerts for All Weather Types

AccuWeather Android app

What We Like

  • Tracks lots of threats.

  • Includes severe weather alerts.

  • Extremely detailed.

What We Don't Like

  • Not all features are free.

  • Lots of options; can become overwhelming.

Most disasters are weather related, and AccuWeather is one of the best all-purpose weather apps. It provides timely emergency alerts for all sorts of events, making it a great hurricane tracker app and a general weather app for showing when it will snow, rain, flood, etc.

You can monitor multiple locations at once, see the weather as it stands right now, and view the hourly forecast or extended forecast for the week and month. The radar map is extremely detailed and supports lots of overlays, like for the past or future radar, temperature, dangerous thunderstorms, tropical storms, snowfall, and more.

Staying updated on the most recent weather news is also possible with the AccuWeather app.

Android and iOS users can install AccuWeather.

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02
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Life360: Family Location Tracker

Life360 Android app

What We Like

  • Easy to use for most ages.

  • Can call family automatically during emergencies.

What We Don't Like

  • Free version has limited place alerts.

  • Isn't always as accurate as desired.

Location tracking is essential during any emergency, and Life360 is one of the best ways to do it. You can use it to monitor the whereabouts of your friends and family and even get alerts when they leave and arrive at certain locations that you set up.

Constant location monitoring might seem excessive for some people, but you’ll be happy you installed it when an emergency strikes. For example, if you hear about a school emergency or a storm in the town where your daughter lives, anybody in the group can pull up the app to see where everybody else is located.

If there's a storm brewing where a loved one lives or will be visiting, you can even make a new place alert right there so that you'll know the second he or she crosses that path.

There’s also messaging built-in to Life360 to text everyone in the private circle, plus a Help Alert feature that calls, texts, and emails the group members when you enable it.

Life360 is free for both Android and iOS users.

There are several other phone tracker apps that you might prefer instead of Life360.

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03
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First Aid: Disaster Readiness App From American Red Cross

First Aid app for Android from Red Cross

What We Like

  • Lots of helpful information.

  • Free from clutter.

  • Can check for updates every hour.

What We Don't Like

  • Some information is extremely basic and obvious.

The Red Cross First Aid app is one of the best emergency apps for clear health-related instructions. It’s important for situations where you can’t necessarily access a hospital right away. You can use the app to learn how to control bleeding, treat a broken bone, perform CPR, etc.

One part of this app is for learning about these things and others like allergies, asthma attacks, burns, choking, distress, heat strokes, stings and bites, meningitis, and more.

Another section of this emergency app from Red Cross is for learning how to prepare for things like an earthquake, drought, flooding, landslides, tsunamis, volcanoes, and more.

The Emergency section has detailed information and checklists on what to do before, during, and after everything from an allergy issue or head injury to a heart attack, diabetic emergency, and hypothermia.

Quizzes are available to test your knowledge over these things. There’s also a list of hospitals near you with easy access to directions, the facility's phone number, and their website.

First Aid runs on Android and iOS devices.

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04
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Zello: Walkie-Talkie App for Quick Calls

Zello Android app

What We Like

  • Lots of public channels.

  • Ideal for all ages.

  • Some channels are built specifically for disasters.

What We Don't Like

  • The service is sometimes offline and unreachable.

  • Too easy to drain your battery.

Zello is a walkie-talkie app that makes staying in contact with individuals and groups of people really easy. It’s also helpful for facilitating communication between kids and the elderly who might know how to use a phone properly.

You can create private channels so that only certain people can access the messages, but there are also public channels anybody can join. Just search for something general like weather, or anything specific like a hurricane name or city to see if there are public Zello channels for them.

When you're actively connected to a Zello channel, you can lock your phone and still hear it when someone talks, which makes this especially helpful during emergencies.

iPhone and Android mobile devices can run Zello.

Although they function similarly, Zello doesn't serve as a police scanner app.

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05
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FEMA: The Best Disaster Alert App

FEMA Android app

What We Like

  • Unique emergency alert types.

  • One of the most thorough emergency apps.

What We Don't Like

  • Stale user interface.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is an agency in the US that's part of the Department of Homeland Security. The mobile app from FEMA lets you get real time alerts concerning all sorts of disasters.

When you add a new location to get alerts, you have full control over what alert types to monitor: flooding, coastal and lakeshore flooding, severe weather (thunderstorms and tornadoes), tropical weather (hurricanes and typhoons), winter weather (snow, ice, freezing rain), avalanches, fire, extreme temperatures, marine weather, public hazard alerts, and more.

Unlike most similar apps, FEMA also delivers emergency alerts regarding evacuations, civil danger, child abductions, hazardous materials, nuclear power plants, radiological hazards, 911 phone outages, riots, explosions, and more.

FEMA is also a disaster readiness app in that here are emergency safety tips, reminder alerts for testing smoke alarms and updating emergency kits, disaster resources like shelters, and more.

The FEMA disaster alert app is available for Android and iOS devices.

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06
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Nextdoor: Location-Based Social Network

Nextdoor Android app

What We Like

  • It's easy to communicate with neighbors you might not know.

  • Anybody can post emergency alerts.

What We Don't Like

  • Usefulness is limited in some areas due to lack of use and small populations.

  • Isn't primarily an emergency alert or preparedness app.

Community is important during an emergency. Nextdoor is a social network for your community that can also serve as an emergency broadcast alert app. If someone in your area reports an emergency through the app, you’ll be the first to know about it. 

Once you’ve connected with your neighborhood through Nextdoor, you can communicate with people to find shelter, organize the sharing of food and water, get updates on the emergency, etc.

Nextdoor runs on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.

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07
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GasBuddy: Gas Station Locator

GasBuddy Android app

What We Like

  • Several filtering options for finding stations.

  • Find locations with a phone and food.

  • Get cheaper gas with GasBack rewards.

What We Don't Like

  • Gas price updates aren't live, but rely on the community.

  • The app includes advertisements.

Shopping for the cheapest gas station isn’t something you have time to do during an emergency, but you still need gas. GasBuddy is the easiest way to find the cheapest gas pumps around where you are or where you’re headed, and you can even save money each time you fill up.

You can sort the gas stations by not only price and distance, and filter by fuel type, but also locate stations that have amenities like a car wash, propane, truck stop, restroom, 24/7 access, ATM, payphone, restaurant, and more.

There's an Android app and one for iPad and iPhone (it works on Apple Watch, too).

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