Vacationing or traveling with the family or tour group is fun but stressful if you run into unpredictable situations that require emergency communication.
Suppose you're stuck alongside the highway, stranded on a boat, or off trail in the back country, a smart phone can send the vital information to rescue you or your group. The scout motto, "be prepared" has significance wherever your travels take you.
Communication devices will be the essential tool to have with you at all times, particularly a smart phone, which you can rent if you don't own one. Wise travelers will add communication tools to your travel checklist.
Here are several affordable apps, devices, and tips to help you be prepared on your next vacation.
Flashlight and Morse Code SOS App
Friends on a beautiful Amazon River trip got stuck one day when the river tour boat had engine failure and no phone communication. Stuck for 20 hours on the river boat in the dark, someone used a Morse Code SOS app to signal for help. A passing boat found them in the dark and sent for help. This situation is certainly one to keep in mind when you're traveling in remote areas with next to no communication capability.
Although there are several morse code apps, the iLlumination v1.7 is a wonderful flashlight app that actually sends out an LED light signal in tap mode or strobe. iLlumination includes text to Morse Code that sends your SOS in LED, Screen, or Dual mode. Screen mode can be used on other devices such as an iPad. Even with all this functionality, iLlumination is actually free.
Smart Phone Turns into Satellite Communicator
Situations may become necessary to communicate off the grid or out of cell tower range. You can turn your smart phone into a satellite communicator using the SPOT Communicator. This satellite component has several functions, including a locator becon, and it pairs with your smart phone to send text messages, email, Twitter updates, and Facebook postings. In an emergency situation, you can use the SOS function to send emergency requests and exact coordinates to family as well as the GEOS International Emergency Response Center, which is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
SPOT Personal Tracker - Locator Beacon
Adventurous travelers heading into remote backcountry may require a separate device called a personal tracker locator beacon. On Trailspace, a reputable community for outdoor gear, community member Bill Straka wrote an indepth review, titled "I'm Lost, Help Find Me: A SPOT Gear Test." Straka tested the personal tracker over a six-month period.
Backup Smart Phone Battery
Smart phone battery life ranges from as little as 6 hours up to 20 hours and this may not be sufficient if you're stranded. Retailers and phone providers will have battery supplies needed for your phone. Packing a fully charged backup smart phone battery is a good safety precaution and a popular choice for many people to take on any type of vacation.
Universal Emergency Telephone Phone Numbers
When you're within range of emergency services, you can use the universal emergency phone numbers to dispatch EMS, fire services, or police.
911 is the emergency phone number used in the U.S. and Canada.
112 is the emergency phone number used in the European Union, and can also be used in North America where GSM phones are redirected to 911.
Other countries have adopted specific emergency telephone numbers. Check with your local government.
ICE Contact Person
ICE stands for in case of emergency, and should be added to your mobile phone address book. Designate an emergency contact person, such as a spouse, close relative or friend, and list the person under the name ICE.
Public Safety Alert System
While you consider how you can send out messages, you may also want to ensure your smart phone can receive wireless emergency alerts (WEAs) if there is a potential emergency in your area. The U.S. government, through FEMA and FCC, has implemented the commercial mobile alert system (CMAS). You may check with your mobile phone provider to ensure your phone is a CMAS-capable device.