It’s rare that any of us know when we’re going to be thrown into a survival situation. That’s why we always need to be prepared. On the most basic level, that means that every time we leave out homes, we should have some sort of survival kit with us. While the possibility of a disaster striking while we are at work or school seems slim, many people have experienced just that.
Let’s say that you’re at your job, putting in a normal day’s work, when a disaster strikes. It could be a tornado, an earthquake or even North Korea setting off an EMP. All you’d have available to use is what you’ve got with you, at least until you could make your way home.
That’s why your EDC (everyday carry) is so important. Keeping just a few pieces of survival gear on your person or in your car can make a world of difference. It’s also important to learn how you can use the things that you carry every day, to help ensure your survival. One of these is your smartphone.
The modern smartphone is an amazing device, holding more computing power and memory than the desktop computers of a decade ago. While we normally limit our use of these devices to surfing the net and keeping up with social media, your smartphone can easily become an important part of your survival gear. The power that it has could make a major difference in your preparedness, if you use it properly.
The first thing that you need to consider is ensuring that you have a means of powering up your smartphone, no matter what. I rarely make it through a day without having to recharge mine, so I keep chargers everywhere, my office, my home and my car.
But I take it a step further than that. My EDC bag has chargers in it too, as well as a solar charger with enough power to recharge my smartphone twice. That way, I can be sure of having power for it, even if there is no place for me to normally get that power.
By the way, chances are that your smartphone would survive an EMP, even if the network that it connects to doesn’t. Even the larger cell phones are small enough that they probably wouldn’t attract and absorb enough of the EMP to damage them. Of course, that’s assuming that it wasn’t plugged in, charging. If it’s charging, all bets are off.
If you don’t have a good case for your smartphone, I’d highly recommend buying one. I’ve seen way too many smartphones with broken screens, simply because the owner didn’t want to put an “ugly” case on their phone. Don’t go for beauty, go for something that will protect it from being broken.
Set it Up
The next thing you want to do is ensure that your smartphone has everything you can possibly put in it for survival. Some of the basic apps can be useful, as well as some that you should add. So, what sorts of apps and information do you want to have?
You want a good GPS on your phone, preferably one that will give you information about more than just the roads. This can not only help you find your way home, but help you know where to find resources you might need. Make sure that you download the maps for your area onto your phone, and don’t just depend on connecting to the internet to get them. If the internet is down, so is your map.
While the GPS will provide you with a lot of information about your position, there are times when just having a compass is useful, especially for setting a course that you are going to follow.
Using a cell phone as a flashlight tends to eat up battery power rather quickly. Nevertheless, if your other flashlight is out, being able to use your cell phone might be critical.
Maps, Including Topographical Maps
Don’t just depend on the maps in your GPS, download maps onto your phone as well. An EMP could knock out the satellites that GPS depends on, rendering it useless for your needs. If that happens, it would be good to have maps on your phone that you can use. You also want to have topographical maps, to show you the terrain you’ll be crossing. You can download those for free from the USGS website.
Survival Books on Kindle
If you install the Kindle app on your phone, it will allow you to keep a library of survival books on it as well. More than anything, you should have wilderness survival and bushcraft books, as those will provide you with the most usable information. As with the maps, make sure that you download them onto your phone, so that you don’t have to depend on the cloud.
Wild Plant Identification
Another important type of book to download is one on wild plant identification, specifically one on edible plants. There are lots of kinds of plants that you can eat, but there are also poisonous ones. Having a reference to these will help keep you from eating the wrong thing.
Another way of using wild plants is as medicine. Modern medicine actually has its roots in herbal medicine. The major difference is that the pharmaceutical industry creates artificial chemicals that mimic what is found in nature. They do that because they can’t patent something found in nature. So “going herbal” is nothing more than returning to the roots of medicine.
Yes, your phone’s camera can be a useful survival tool. You can use it to take photos of your back trail as you are traveling through the wilderness. That way, if you have to turn around and go back, you’ll have some reference to how things should look from that direction.
You can also use selfies as a means of checking your health. Some sicknesses will show up in your face or on your skin. Injuries or insect bites on parts of your body you can’t see easily will be visible in photos you take. While these might not be the kinds of selfies you want to post on social media, they can help you survive.
Getting the Weather
The weather is an important factor in survival. As long as you can receive some sort of weather report, you can be ready when it hits. I live in a hurricane zone, so I use my smartphone to keep track of hurricanes that are on the way, checking daily on the National Hurricane Center’s website at www.nhc.noaa.gov.
Calling For Help
But the most basic use of your smartphone can also be the one that saves your life; that’s to call for help. Not all disasters affect everyone. If you get lost in the woods, injured while out fishing or trapped in a blizzard, calling for help may very well be the easiest way of solving your problem. There are always agencies and individuals who rescue those in need; all you have to do is call them or call someone you know, who can find them for you.
Rich is a long-time survivalist, having gotten started in his youth, during the latter part of the Cold War. Yet the collapse of the Berlin Wall didn’t put an end to his survival instinct. He has since added military experience and a career as an engineer to his survival knowledge. This has allowed him to design and build his own survival equipment. He is an accomplished author, who has written over 100 books on all aspects of survival.