10 Smartphone Apps That Can Help You in an Emergency


They say there's an app for everything, but the best ones are the apps that'll get you out of a bind when emergency strikes. From video doctors that can diagnose a condition over the phone, to help finding a bathroom when you've really gotta go, these 10 apps have your back in your time of need. (See also: Organize 8 Key Areas of Your Life With These 17 Smart Apps)

1. First Opinion

If you have a medical condition that needs an expert opinion but doesn't necessarily warrant a visit to your primary care physician or a trip to the hospital, First Opinion can help. This chat app allows you to talk to a doctor and send photos for free — with no insurance required. In some states, an extended plan is available for $39/month that provides prescriptions, labs, diagnoses, and doctor's notes.

"There have been many times over my three years using the app that it has come in clutch, but none more so than after I developed acid reflux and started having chest pain," said one user. "I was able to message my doctor within minutes and get triage that helped me make decisions about whether the pain required the ER, urgent care, or just some R&R. There have been several occasions where this app has saved me money and guided me towards healthier options."

2. Keeper Security

This password manager app can ease the stress of your incapacitation or death by allowing a trusted friend and/or family member access to your important digital information — should it be required — by providing them the passwords to your important accounts. With Keeper Security's Emergency Access feature, you can add or remove anyone at any time and adjust the waiting period for access to the vault (you'll probably want to make sure you're not coming back any time soon before you let someone rummage through your online life; just my humble opinion), all while maintaining the highest level of privacy and encryption.

3. LifeSite Vault

You'll have all your important documents at your fingertips — insurance policies, health information, and more — via the LifeSite Vault app, which features categorization, collaboration, and document scanning functionality. Just point and shoot to capture, organize, store, and share your important info. Like Keeper Security, users can grant access to people they trust in case they need to access information on your behalf.

LifeSite founder and CEO put it to practice when his own dad suffered a heart attack and the hospital needed medical information in the ER. He was able to access it immediately, which saved a ton of time — and his father's life.

4. Visual 911+

Juan Cienfuegos invented Visual 911+ after witnessing Katrina survivors signaling for help from their rooftops and wondering how anyone would see them at night.

At its most basic, this free app serves as a flashing-light device that is not dependent on network connectivity or power from the grid. If power/networks are up, however, it will transmit an email to your "lifelines" — people you designate to alert when you're in peril — letting them know you are in alert status. The email includes a link to Google Maps showing your general GPS location along with instructions to hone in on you by searching for the visual signal coming from your phone. Visual 911+ features several different color-coded emergency modes for various situations, like red for children, green for people with special needs, blue for adults, yellow for pets, and white for general help.

5. OrthoNOW

Got a bum foot that renders you unable to drive yourself to the orthopedist? OrthoNOW, the nation's only orthopedic urgent care franchise, launched an update to its free mobile app last year which included a partnership with Uber, so patients who couldn't drive themselves to the care centers could order a ride. The feature works as an added value to the original On My Way NOW feature that lets patients notify the center that they are en route, the reason for their visit, and expected arrival time. Patients can also send photos of their injury before arrival, so doctors at the center will be prepared when they get there. They currently have centers in Florida and Georgia and soon will be expanding to new states.

6. Manything

If you can't afford an expensive home security system, Manything might solve your problem. This app turns any old recycled smartphone with Wi-Fi capabilities and a working camera into a security device with motion detectors that will alert you via text if anything is amiss at your residence. The basic plan is free, and Cloud Recording plans start at $2.99 for two days, perfect for when you leave town for a weekend. Monthly plans are $5.99 for one camera, and $9.99 for two cameras.

7. Avenza Maps

Have you heard those stories about travelers taking wrong turns in their vehicles in national parks or the desert and getting lost for days on end before being rescued? Avenza Maps doesn't want that to happen to you. The app uploads high-quality maps to your phone, which rely on your phone's GPS signal instead of data or Wi-Fi, so you can access them wherever you are, regardless of signal strength. Some maps are free, while others are typically less than $5, and they're specialized for hiking, recreation, national parks, tourists, transit, and more. Once the map is on your phone, you can drop place markers, record GPS tracks, and find specific coordinates — like the nearest ranger station or hospital in an emergency.

8. iPee Address

We've all been there before: having to pee so bad it hurts, when there's no public restroom in sight. Instead of getting turned down by every store in the vicinity whose owners have zero compassion for much-needed bathroom breaks, check out the cleverly named iPee Address. For a 99-cent download fee, the app will locate the nearest available restrooms — virtually anywhere you are in the world — so you can relieve yourself in a toilet instead of the sidewalk.

9. Shortcut

"Emergency" is a relative concept, and I often have haircut emergencies. Like, I need to get one now. If you drive by a Great Clips and it's closed hours before you're serving as best man in a wedding, never fear. The Shortcut on-demand haircut app connects you with a barber with the flick of a finger so you can get a shape-up lickety-split.

10. EFynch.com

Many home improvement and handyman projects can wait until you identify the right contractor for the job at the right price. Sometimes, however, you need help in a jif — like when you need a hornet's nest removed or help boarding windows before a big storm.

"We have a unique system that not only seeks to find someone that is already working in your neighborhood to provide fast and efficient service, but we have developed a way to contact several available guys and obtain competitive pricing so the homeowner can hire someone who is 'happy to have the work' instead of 'eager to charge an emergency fee,'" says Efynch.com founder Teris Pantazes.

The app launched in October 2016 and has completed nearly 1,000 projects to date.

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