Hurricane Florence prep: Smartphone apps to help you stay safe

Zello (Facebook) 

When Hurricane Florence hits and everyone is scrambling, either on the go or without electricity, there are a few apps that can help you get the information you need to stay safe and stay in touch with friends and family. 

Here are some useful apps for cell phones and/or tablets: 

  • Zello: This push-to-talk app turns your smartphone into a walkie-talkie so that you can communicate with other people using the app when mobile networks are overloaded. The app was used a lot by rescuers during Hurricane Irma to find people and animals in need. You create a Zello account and then find a channel to join — or create your own channel and invite friends — and chat. You push a button to talk, just like with a walkie-talkie. You will need wi-fi or cellular data connection to use it. There’s a Zello FAQ for new users and a guide for using the app during disasters — both worth checking out ahead of time. It works on Apple, Android, Windows Phones, and Blackberry. 
  • FOX 46 Charlotte Weather AppFOX 46 Charlotte's weather app will have the latest alerts that will give warnings about severe weather in your area. 
  • Red Cross Hurricane: This free app gives you NOAA alerts and a way to connect with loved ones. It includes a flashlight (so do most phones), an alarm (also on most phones) and a strobe light. Red Cross also offers first aid apps for people and for pets that could come in handy (as well as apps specifically for tornadoes, earthquakes, floods and wildfires). It works on Apple and Android devices. Check out all the options at
  • ReadyNC: This app from North Carolina Emergency Management, NC Department of Public Safety and NC Citizen Corps gives disaster updates, including current weather conditions, evacuation updates, traffic conditions, power outages (and how to report outages), open shelters (including ones that take pets!) and real-time info on stream and river flood gages near you.
  • NOAA Radar USThis app gives real-time animated radar images and an interactive map with National Weather Service weather alerts and weather info for your exact location. It's free.
  • All Dox AppThis app enables you to organize your critical life documents in a safe and secure environment by combing a consumer-friendly application with enterprise-level security. The All-Dox app is a one stop document tool that lets you scan, save, safe-keep, share, and sign documents online and offline. 

RELATED: Hurricane Florence expected to linger over Carolinas for days

How to preserve your cell phone battery:

  • Close out any unnecessary apps. If they’re running in the background, they’re sucking valuable juice.
  • Manually enable low power mode.
  • Turn off wi-fi or enable Wi-Fi Assist on iPhones. This will eat up data, though, so pick your battle.
  • Turn off Bluetooth if you’re not using it.
  • Turn off 4G (select 3G instead).
  • Dim your screen as much as you can stand.