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Be Prepared: Everyone Should Know These 16 Disaster And Crisis Apps Or Extensions

Be Prepared: Everyone Should Know These 16 Disaster And Crisis Apps Or Extensions

Despite growing technological advances, leaps forward in technology, caution, and medical professions, disasters and crises still happen every day. Whether you are facing hazards from the environment or dangerous people, the most important thing in any disaster is contacting emergency services and loved ones quickly and effectively. The following 16 apps and services are utterly indispensable for those in precarious conditions, including situations of extreme weather, man-made disasters, unsafe situations, and even domestic violence.

Aspire News

Our first disaster and crisis app comes from Robin McGraw, wife of TV personality Dr. Phil. Designed for users who need help out of treacherous domestic abuse situations, this clever app disguises itself as a common mobile app. The front page of the app functions just like a news aggregator, so potentially violent partners don’t suspect a thing. In reality, users need only tap the help section to bring up a page listing local domestic violence resources. Not only that, tapping the top bar three times activates a “Go Button”. Users assign chosen emergency contacts to this panic button, so when pressed contacts are instantly alerted of a violent situation. The app’s creators state that this app is not a replacement for dialing 911, but it may be an effective way to contact supportive people in situations where you are at greater risk by contacting emergency personnel. It’s a good idea to speak to your emergency contacts before hand about the app, so you can ask them to call 911 for you any time you activate the panic button.

Circle of Six

Circle of Six is another effective disaster and crisis app. Designed for college students, this app lets users who need help promptly and discreetly contact six predetermined people. Available for both iPhone and Android, the app relies on visual buttons that send instructions to your contacts so others don’t know what you’re doing. Circle of Six lets you tell your contacts a variety of things including if you need a ride home, need an interruption, or are in the potentially dangerous situation. This app is exceptionally helpful for situations where you need help, but does not let users contact emergency services directly.

Panic Button

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Another disaster and crisis app for both iPhone and Android is Panic Button. This app allows you to quickly and easily send panic messages via text message, Twitter, Facebook, or even email. This is a spectacular app for getting a hold of friends and family if you are in distress, but also neglects to provide users a direct link to emergency services.

Disaster Alert

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    This global disaster and crisis app for iPhone alerts users to active hazards around the world. This app helps users monitor hazards as well as alert users to early warnings for a variety of events. Events you can monitor include hurricanes, tropical storms, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, floods, storms, wildfires, man-made disasters, as well as National Weather Service alerts in Hawaii. This streamlined, efficient way to see what areas are affected by a disaster also aims to add other hazards in the future. In addition, you can enable push notifications to automatically receive updates for hazards in your area. Such an involved, far-reaching app is supremely helpful for users looking to monitor hazards nearby or near loved ones.

    Hurricane Tracker

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      Similarly, Hurricane Tracker alerts users to developing hurricanes throughout the Caribbean, the Atlantic Ocean, the eastern Pacific, as well as the Gulf of Mexico and Hawaii. This app uses original maps and graphics to keep you up-to-date on a storms progression. This is another crisis and disaster app that users can opt for push notifications, to be automatically notified if the storm intensifies or change of course. This app is only available for iOS and costs $2.99. This app presents users with a highly accessible way to track hurricanes, but does not offer information on other types of natural disasters.

      Emergency Radio

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        Emergency Radio is another disaster and crisis app that stands to be extremely useful during times of hazards or disasters. This award-winning police scanner app allows you to listen to live feeds from police, fire, railroad, air traffic, train, EMS, Coast Guard, as well as NOAA weather information. The app features thousands of live radio streams, with new locations added every day. Currently, the app includes feeds from most United States locations, as well as several locations in Canada and Europe. This app is only for iOS and costs $1.99, but is useful in a variety of disasters.

        FEMA

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          The federal emergency management agency’s official app is another brilliant safety app. Tailored mainly to the United States, this disaster and crisis app includes information on how to stay safe or recover from disasters, as well as a live map of FEMA disaster recovery shelters. However, this app is also helpful for those outside of the United States because it includes important information on how to prepare for various types of disasters, as well as interactive checklists for emergency kits. An uncommonly broad tool, The FEMA app is sensational for both preparing for and surviving a disaster, and is available for free on iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

          First Aid By American Red Cross

          The First Aid App from the American Red Cross is another extremely helpful free disaster and crisis app for Apple and Android devices. Mainly geared towards every day emergencies, this app provides interactive videos and step-by-step advice for first aid. Not only that, the app includes interactive quizzes for those looking to learn first aid before disaster strikes. The app also includes safety tips for severe weather, earthquakes, and other emergencies, as well as a simple way to call 911 directly from the app. Most impressively, because the app relies on pre-loaded content, you can access all the features of the app (besides contacting 911) even without signal or Internet connection. This makes the app extremely useful any time you need first aid advice, plus the app includes an easy way to toggle between English and Spanish instructions.

          Gaurdly

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          This impressive multitasking disaster and crisis app is helpful for users in all types of situations. Gaurdly let’s you program numbers into different groups, allowing you to contact exactly the group you need in different situations. For example, Gaurdly includes an easy way to contact 911, but also allows you to program in services like campus police or local security. Not only that, this app lets users discreetly contact emergency services via messaging for situations where calling emergency services would put you in jeopardy. Additionally, this app includes a emergency beacon that when activated plays a repeating whistle sound at full volume. Finally, this app integrates impressive collaboration with your emergency contacts. You can configure the app so that contacts closest to you are notified by email, telephone call, and text message should you enlist emergency help through the app. Plus, the app pairs with the Gaurdly online emergency response page, so emergency contacts and response personnel can track where you are. The app also notifies you of where your emergency contacts are located in case you need to find your nearest friend. This heavyweight app brings heaps of practical crisis features to the table and is free for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone.

          bSafe

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            bSafe is a recent app that also hosts a multitude of useful features. Simply add friend’s contact details to this disaster and crisis app who you need in case of emergency. You can add multiple friends, or just keep it to a few close contacts. You also choose one emergency contact as your primary contact. When this app is open, the screen stays on regardless of your power saving features. Simply hit the alarm button if you are in a dangerous situation. Friends added to the app receive a text message, but your primary contact will receive a text as well as a call. Not only that, this app immediately begins recording video, audio, and broadcasting your location to your emergency contacts when the panic button is pressed. The app also includes two more helpful features. The first is a timer mode, perfect for jogs or quick errands. If you do not shut off the app before the timer goes off, your friends are alerted that you’re in a potentially dangerous situation. Second, bSafe allows you to program a fake call from contacts in your phone. You can set up a call on a timer to get you out of bad or awkward situations. The app also allows you to broadcast your location at any time making meet ups with friends easy, but you can also hide your location if you prefer.

            OnWatchOnCampus

            This simple app boils down the most important features for a disaster or crisis app. Created to help prevent sexual assault on college campuses, this app allows you to instantly call 911, call campus police, or call both 911 and your emergency contacts. should you alert emergency responders that you need help, the app instantly shares your GPS location. Additionally, this app lets you broadcast your current location to friends, as well as alert friends when you have safely arrived at your destination. The app is free to install and comes with a 30 day free trial. After your free trial, “Call 911” and “Call Campus Police” features are free and active forever. To also alert your emergency contacts and activate the “Arrived Safe” button, this app requires a $9.99 yearly subscription or a $.99 monthly subscription.

            MyForce

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            Another impressive personal safety app is my force. Like other safety apps, this app allows you to send an alert anytime you feel unsafe. Unlike other safety apps, myForce connects you to a live security professional who is informed of your location, instead of contacting friends or family. Your phone automatically records and broadcasts audio, video, and GPS information to this security agent. The person on the other end then notifies the appropriate authorities in your area to ensure you receive the help you need. Connecting users in distress to a human with access to your phones GPS data allows you a personalized response to any situation.

            Hollaback!

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              Hollaback is a unique app that strives to end street harassment. Users can submit times and locations where they were harassed, as well as upload a photo of the harasser. Though the app does not connect users with emergency services, it does provide users a way to draw attention to potentially chronic harassers, as well as avoid areas where harassment is common. The app is a part of the nonprofit group Hollaback’s efforts to end street harassment through greater awareness, as well as showing others how harmful offhand comments can be. 

              Safety Check

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                One incredibly helpful fresh tool for natural disasters is Safety Check, a new feature from Facebook. This new way to communicate with loved ones during major catastrophes activates automatically and does not require any additional downloads. Should a natural disaster strike, you will automatically receive a Facebook notification asking if you are okay. Facebook determines whether you are near a disaster based on the city listed in your profile, where are you are using the Internet from, or your last location if you use nearby location awareness tools. When prompted, you can select the “I’m safe” button to generate a newsfeed story that lets your friends and family know you’re okay. This new feature also includes an option to let others know you are outside the area affected by the disaster. Additionally, should your friends be affected by a disaster, you can click on their safety update to access the Safety Check bookmark and see a list of updates from friends who are safe. 

                Kitestring

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                  Finally, Kitestring is a free service worth mentioning, despite the fact that it works even if you don’t have a smart phone. Simply provide your phone number and name to the Kitestring website, which generates a unique Kitestring contact address just for you. Add this number to your phone to seamlessly access the safety service from anywhere. To set an alert anytime you are in an unsure situation, send a text with how many minutes later the service should check up on you. Kitestring will then send you a text asking if you’re okay that many minutes later. If you do not respond, Kitestring sends a personalized alert message to your emergency contacts. Not only is this service free, all it requires is an online sign-up so you don’t need to download any additional software.

                  Featured photo credit: DVIDSHUB via flickr.com

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                  Alicia Prince

                  A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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                  Published on September 25, 2020

                  10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

                  10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

                  When it comes to digital security, public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe enough, making it much easier for hackers to access your personal data. Whether you are studying in a library or scrolling through Facebook in a coffeehouse, it is vital to have a VPN installed on your device.

                  VPNs work wonders when it comes to securing your internet connection. By creating an encrypted tunnel between a remote server run by the VPN service, they protect your personal data from prying eyes. There is a variety of VPNs available on the web, and we have collated a list of the best VPNs that stand out from the rest.

                  How to Choose a VPN

                  • Free trial period – Free trials allow you to try the product risk-free. The same idea technically applies to those with 30-day full refunds as well.
                  • Speed – You want your VPN to be just as fast as the internet speed at home. Good quality VPNs are ones where you see little difference between those speeds.
                  • Device connection – Of course, the more devices that can connect to VPNs, the better. It increases the customers’ coverage and the product’s value. You also want to consider compatibility since fewer VPNs may work for Mac or Windows only.
                  • Number of servers – The number of servers determines how much capacity a VPN can handle while you are connected. The more servers there are, the more users it can handle without running into potential disconnections or slow speeds.
                  • Kill switch feature – Having this feature means that your IP address isn’t exposed if the VPN disconnects for some reason. A lack of this feature is a big deal since the whole reason why you’re paying for a VPN is to hide your IP address, among other things. (Find out how to avoid getting tracked online here: Big Brother Is Watching You Online: How To Avoid Being Tracked)

                  Why You Should Trust Us

                  Our hand-picked VPNs are incredibly efficient and offer such distinctive features that grant you safe browsing. They outperform many VPNs in terms of both speed and security. Their primary aim is to provide you the utmost security, thus enabling you to surf the web safely and prevent any potential threat from causing harm.

                  Among the best VPNs’ many unique features include split tunneling, strict logging policies, high encryption level, and availability of international servers. We have gathered them in this article to enlighten our readers and offer the best pieces of advice before you get one. Therefore, take our word for it, and if you go for a VPN mentioned below, you’d be fully appeased.

                  1. NordVPN

                  The most popular VPN on the market these days is NordVPN, and it’s easy to see why. It has widespread coverage, offering a selection of over 5,000 servers spanning across 59 countries.[1] Due to the high number of servers, its speed is similar to your Wi-Fi at home.

                  Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, has been using NordVPN for many years and wants to recommend it for its remarkable server count in different locations with no-logs policy. The VPN perfectly works with Netflix and Fire TV stick, too.

                  NordVPN is also compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can download the app onto Chrome, Firefox, Android, and Mac OS. Thanks to its massive coverage, it’s easy to connect multiple devices onto these servers.

                  In terms of pricing, while NordVPN doesn’t have a free trial period, they argue that their plans are considerably cheaper than those of their competitors. For example, a one-year plan for ExpressVPN costs $8.32 per month, but NordVPN only charges $6.99 monthly.

                  NordVPN has a new protocol called NordLynx that is based on WireGuard with speed benefits, though it’s still under development.[2] If you’re looking for general quality and affordability, this is one of the best VPNs around.

                  Buy this VPN.

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                  2. ExpressVPN

                  ExpressVPN is the second-best option out there for keeping your privacy while browsing the internet. Like many other VPNs here, they will encrypt your IP address, offer vast coverage, and can have multiple devices connected to their servers.

                  Compared to NordVPN, while the pricing point is higher, ExpressVPN’s biggest selling point is the number of countries that their connection covers. Depending on where you are in the world, this may be the only option you have. They have fewer servers — 160, to be precise — but they make up for the low server count by covering 94 countries.[3]

                  Cost-wise, your best bet is to go with the yearly plan where they charge $8.32 a month. They also have one- and six-month plans.

                  Buy this VPN.

                  3. Surf Shark

                  With regards to Surf Shark, you can connect multiple devices to its servers, and it’s compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is also available on Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and FireTV.

                  Furthermore, Surf Shark can whitelist apps and sites, letting them bypass the VPN. This, along with the lines of split-tunneling, is another feature that many VPNs offer. The difference is that Surf Shark allows you to whitelist specific apps or any website, while most VPNs will whitelist all sites or none at all.

                  The other consideration for this app is the price. While lower-tier plans are more expensive compared to others, Surf Shark’s 24-month plan is priced at $2.69 a month, so it’s cheaper than even NordVPN’s equivalent plan!

                  Buy this VPN.

                  4. CyberGhost

                  Another top-reviewed VPN is CyberGhost. They’ve been around for 15 years and have fine-tuned their offers and features to stay competitive. They provide the standard package of browsing the web and logging into accounts safely and give you access to regionally blocked content.

                  The network also maintains security from hackers, malware, and phishing. Aside from that, you can connect multiple devices, and it’s compatible with all kinds of platforms.

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                  What separates CyberGhost from the others is their extensive coverage. They have multiple servers, and the pricing point is still very low. It covers over 88 countries and has roughly 6200 servers for you to choose from, all while charging $2.75 for their 18-month plan.

                  Buy this VPN.

                  5. IPVanish

                  IPVanish’s prime purpose is to give users online freedom by providing fast speeds and private connections. It’s clear that they can meet that promise as they provide many of the features that have been listed previously from their competitors.

                  IPVanish is a part of SugarSync now. What is that, you may ask? It’s a cloud-based service that syncs files across devices and computers for sharing, backup, and many more. What this means is that other devices can access various files and videos so long as they are connected to your specific VPN. Furthermore, it can serve as a backup plan if you get hacked or lose your device for some reason.

                  Buy this VPN.

                  6. Private Internet Access

                  Private Internet Access (PIA) is a remarkably generous company in many ways. Aside from the obvious features, they offer great incentives and discounts for people to try out their products. They claim to be the most trustworthy and reliable VPN around, and we believe that.

                  One notable thing is that PIA offers a free two-month trial. Compared to other VPNs to this point, none have provided free trials (though all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee). On top of that, small businesses can avail of their VPN at a discounted rate. There is also the fact that their pricing plans go as low as $2.69 a month for two years, and they let you pay with gift cards.

                  In terms of specs, PIA has over 2695 servers that cover 47 countries right now.

                  These particular aspects make PIA unique and one of the best VPNs to consider.

                  Buy this VPN.

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                  7. Hotspot Shield

                  Hotspot Shield is all about offering protection while you’re browsing the internet or using streaming services like Netflix. The encryption is military-grade, and its speed is ultra-fast. In truth, it is even marketed as one of the fastest VPNs.

                  Hotspot Shield offers a plan that only costs  $7.99 a month; however, it’s one of the few in this list to provide its services for free. Like other Freemium apps, the free version comes with limited features. That said, it gives you a much better feel for the VPN.

                  Also, take note that the encryption feature is still there, though the limitations in the free plan include connecting to one location in the US and having limited streaming options and speed.

                  Buy this VPN.

                  8. TunnelBear

                  As unusual as a name choice for an online security protection service can be, TunnelBear is nothing short of incredible. It makes our list of the best VPNs for various reasons.

                  The biggest one is that the company goes through a yearly security audit. This is notable because many VPNs don’t bother about independent audits to ensure their systems are secure and safe from any issues. This is critical as VPNs have gotten some bad reputation over the years, as TunnelBear has noted in their post about their security audit.[4] The fact that they are doing this annually ensures that nothing is being compromised.

                  Furthermore, TunnelBear offers limited services for free, but even their paid plans are pretty cheap. For individuals, you’re merely paying $3.33 per month. The only catch is that you can connect five devices regardless of which paid plan you pick.

                  Buy this VPN.

                  9. Norton

                  Norton has been on the security scene for some time, and it’s actually one of the founders of the internet security industry. It started with virus and malware protection in 1991 and has since branched off to other sectors as the industry has shifted.

                  As you might expect from a company that’s been around for a long time, Norton provides excellent services, and a few of their other services have gone into the VPN package. In reality, Norton is the only one thus far to offer a password manager with their VPN services. They provide 50GB of cloud storage as well.

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                  Norton has one of the cheapest VPNs, considering you can get their deluxe plan at $49.99 per year. That comes up to roughly $4.17 a month. It might be slightly higher than other equivalent plans, but you get a lot of extra value that makes it worth the price.

                  Buy this VPN.

                  10. StrongVPN

                  The final VPN we want to cover is StrongVPN. Like many others, it’s great at blocking unnecessary web traffic and providing a fast and simple solution to navigating the internet without any hindrance.

                  StrongVPN has over 900 servers. It is available in more than 30 countries and compatible with all devices. Beyond that, the only notable selling point it has compared to others is that it also offers Sugarsync services and 250GB of storage, irrespective of your chosen plan.

                  As for the pricing, their year-long plan costs $5.83 a month, while their month-long one is $10.

                  Buy this VPN.

                  Bottom Line

                  Getting online protection is important these days, and companies recognize this.

                  With more hacks and breaches occurring every single day, the best VPNs can provide an excellent haven for many people who value their security and privacy.

                  We hope that by putting together this list, you’ll be able to find the best VPN that you can trust and enjoy using. As you can see, there are several great options with no real wrong one out there. Pick the VPN that’s best for you.

                  Featured photo credit: Petter Lagson via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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