Ultimate Guide: Best Apps in a Power Outage

Photo by Robin Worrall on Unsplash

I love living in New England. Is a beautiful part of the country, but the winters can sometimes be brutal. We do get the occasional hurricane but I typically lose power in winter storms. Those events become challenging when you try to get updates. Information is very dynamic and you may not have a working television to keep informed. Like most people, I’m typically looking for information on road closures, school closings, weather advisories, power outages, and more.

Can an app help in a power outage? Absolutely. Apps are a great way to have information pushed directly to your smartphone versus searching for the same content on websites. Apps also have an advantage over websites because they have the ability to store content on your device, which means you’ll have offline access to the information.

This article will review why your smartphone is a great resource during outages, why it may work when your computer doesn’t, and the best apps you can use during emergencies and outages. Additionally, we have a state-by-state look at emergency apps created specifically for your state or website alternatives when an app doesn’t exist.

Why Would My Cell Phone Work When My Computer Doesn’t?

Most consumer laptops do not have a radio modem that allows the laptop to connect to the Internet. This is why we rely on Wi-Fi for connectivity. When the power goes out, and your Wi-Fi goes with it, your laptop loses Internet connectivity.

Insert cries from children around the house.

Even though your cell phone may rely on your home Wi-Fi, it also has a built-in radio from your wireless carrier. When you lose Wi-Fi your cellphone will revert to cellular data provided the wireless network is up and running.

Why does it matter?

So, during an outage, you’re likely to rely on your cell phone more than any other communication device. Aside from providing entertainment you’ll need your phone to feed you information on the power outage, weather alerts, and more.

What If I Don’t Want to Use My Cellular Data?

Hey, this is a judgment-free zone. If you don’t want to use your data I can’t make you. Just know that if your Wi-Fi is out and you’re unwilling to use cellular data you’re going to be limited in the amount of information you have about what’s going on around you. Also, having spent 16 years in telecommunications you’re likely on an old plan if you’re still counting data. Most plans today provide unlimited data at a reasonable plan. Might be time to switch.

Don’t miss the state-by-state listing of apps in our list below.

What Are the Best Apps I Should Get for My Smartphone?

Your Smartphone Address Book

I’m a big fan of cloud-based e-mail like Google and Yahoo. Those providers maintain your address book in the cloud. Even if your phone or computer is damaged, you could log in with a friend’s phone or computer and gain access to your e-mail and contacts.

This is a good place to store numbers for services you may need. Here are a few examples:

  • Police & Fire non-emergency numbers
  • Electric Company
  • Gas Company
  • Oil Company
  • Insurance Company
  • Credit Card Company
  • Doctor’s numbers for everyone in the family
  • Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222)

ICE Medical Standard

ICE Medical Standard aids first responders and emergency room personnel by housing a person’s medical information like your name, your address, blood type, emergency contacts, medical contacts, medical insurance, and a photograph for identification.


Twitter allows you to follow certain people and organizations. When critical information is disseminated you’ll be notified. Make sure you turn on notifications so you’re alerted when the news hits. While there are many — here are some suggestions:


Keep current on breaking news with any national media outlets. Some common options are:

  • CNN
  • FOX
  • NBC
  • CBS
  • ABC
  • BBC

American Red Cross First Aid

The American Red Cross has put together a large portfolio of apps. A quick text to these codes will give you access to their app:

  • First Aid: This handy app gives you instant access to information on handling common first aid emergencies (text “GETFIRST” to 90999).
  • Pet First Aid: Don’t forget about your pets. Grab this app for veterinary advice for everyday emergencies (text “GETPET” to 90999).
  • Emergency: Monitor 35+ different severe weather and emergency alerts (text “GETEMERGENCY” to 90999).
  • Tornado: NOAA issued watches or warnings for your area can be received with this app. (text “GETNADO” to 90999).
  • Hurricane: Monitor hurricane conditions in your area. Provides tracking during the storm and let others know you are safe even if the power is out. (text “GETCANE” to 90999).
  • Earthquake: Receive earthquake notifications, find help and let others know you’re safe even if the power is out. (text “GETQUAKE” to 90999).
  • Flood: Receive weather alerts whenever the NOAA issues a tornado watch or warning for your community (text “GETFLOOD” to 90999).

CPR Tempo

This app is great if you’re CPR certified or need a reminder on the tempo.

SIDE NOTE: Compress to these favorite tunes according to New-York Presbyterian, who reminds us that effective hands-only CPR needs to be performed at a rate of 100/120 beats per minute. Here are a few songs that follow that rule:

  • “Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees
  • “Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper
  • “Rumour Has It” – Adele
  • “Rock This Town” – Stray Cats
  • “What’s Going On” – Marvin Gaye
  • “Another Brick in the Wall” – Pink Floyd

Download this handy PDF on CPR for a reminder.


If you want to receive emergency alerts and information then the FEMA App is a good option. Inside you’ll find emergency preparedness tips and disaster resources.

Life 360

I’ve used this app for years and love it. This app allows friends or family members to share their location and communicate with each other. You can also set up geo-fences or zones to get alerts when family members or friends enter or leave those zones.

Weather App

I’m a big fan of Weather Underground, but the point on this one is to have your favorite weather handy for updates on your regional weather.

Radar App

Same applies here for a radar app. I recently started using MyRadar and really like the interface. I’ve also used NOAA Radar Pro, which is a paid app. Or, their free version, NOAA Radar Live, has a few ads to sift through, but otherwise is equally as good.

Hurricane Tracker

Sometimes the weather and radar apps focus on everything but the one item that means the most. With a hurricane tracker you’ll be sure to keep tabs on developing storms, their current position, strength, and tracks.

GPS Mapping

There are a few choices here depending on your expertise or inclination toward maps and the intended use.

  • Google Maps is by far the easiest for most users for basic maps and navigation.
  • Apple Maps is another good choice
  • Topo GPS and GAIA GPS. These apps step things up quite a bit for the outdoors enthusiast who may not want to buy a dedicated GPS device. Both have features of a dedicated GPS, but at a fraction of the cost. I’ve used both for hiking and you wouldn’t be dissapointed in either one.

Web M.D.

A doctor in your pocket. Web M.D. allows you to check symptoms, access drug & treatment data, get first aid information, and check local health listings on the go.

5-0 Radio Police Scanner

This is one of my favorite apps. 5-0 Radio Police Scanner has the largest collection of live police, firefighter, aircraft, railroad, emergency, news, and ham radios. Listen to activity from around the country or in your back-yard with this simple but effective scanner.

PulsePoint Responder

PulsePoint Responder utilizes the concept of social networking to solicit help. Users indicate they’re trained in CPR and willing to assist. Then, if someone nearby is having a cardiac emergency, the app notifies the closest users.


The built-in flashlight on your smartphone makes a handy tool for power outages. I’m not sure I’d use this app to illuminate a room for an extended period of time, but a quick walk down a dark hallway or the occasional use makes this built-in app handy.

Flashlight by iHandy

This additional app is only available for iPhone. It provides the same flashlight experience as the built-in flashlight that comes with your phone. Additionally, this app has some built-in features for signaling like SOS and strobe light.

National Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)

This U.S. public safety system is for mobile alerts and allows people with certain wireless phones and other compatible mobile devices to receive geo-targeted text messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has required all wireless carriers to ensure their networks can receive alerts by May of 2019.

Alerts include:

· Alerts issued from the President of the United States
· Alerts involving imminent threats to life or safety
· Amber Alerts

Software versions may change the menu, but look for the alerts here:

  • iOS – settings > notifications > scroll down to government alerts
  • Android – settings > apps & notifications > emergency alerts

U.S. State-By-State Apps & Alert Sytems

last updated: November, 2018

I didn’t want to hunt for this information because I knew you wouldn’t want to. So, I only conducted two searches for each state:

  • state name‘ emergency app
  • state name‘ emergency management

If states didn’t appear with relevant information in either search, I felt they were missing an opportunity to notify you, which means in an emergency you’ll have to hunt for information when you shouldn’t have to.

I found plenty of cities, counties, and universities that have their own apps and are outperforming the state, but currently, this directory is only at the state level. We’ll see if there is room for additions down the line.


App Name: Alabama SAF-T-Net
Availability: iOS & Android

Users will get notified if you’re in the path of dangerous weather through SAF-T-Net, text messaging, email or phone calls. Customize your location for home, work, or children’s school. The Alabama SAF-T-Net app also provides daily weather, forecasts, and radar map.

SAF-T-Net includes:

· Tornado Warnings from NWS
· Severe Thunderstorms Warnings from NWS
· Baron-Eclusive Twisting Storm ALerts
· Baron-Exclusive Dangerous Storm Alerts
· And More

Alabama Emergency Management Website:
Follow Alabama EMA on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube.


App Name: No state-specific app
Availability: n/a
Alaska Emergency Management Website:

This website, by Alaska’s Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, is your best resource at the moment, but disappointingly, while creating this site, I found many broken links to APIP and Disaster Updates. Furthermore, their daily situation reports are PDF based and require multiple clicks where a clean webpage could provide the most up-to-date report.

With no state-specific app. Be sure to set up alerts via Wireless Emergency Alerts mentioned at the beginning of this list.

You can follow Alaska’s Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


App Name: No state-specific app
Availability: n/a
Arizona Emergency Management Website:

This website by Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN) provides updates for emergencies, preparedness, hazards and more.

With no state-specific app. Be sure to set up alerts via Wireless Emergency Alerts mentioned at the beginning of this list.

Follow AzEIN on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Blogger


App Name: No state-specific app
Availability: n/a
Arkansas Emergency Management Website:

The website by Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM), which is Arkansas’ Homeland Security and Preparedness Agency. ADEM’s goal is to provide protection, prevention, mitigation, response and recovery to Arkansas citizens.

With no state-specific app. Be sure to set up alerts via Wireless Emergency Alerts mentioned at the beginning of this list.

Follow ADEM on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


App Name: No state-specific app
Availability: n/a
California Emergency Management Website:

This website, by the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), highlights California’s participation in the national Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) as well as information on Early Earthquake Warning (EEW) that provides information on earthquakes and tsunamis.

With no state-specific app. Be sure to set up alerts via Wireless Emergency Alerts mentioned at the beginning of this list.

Follow Cal OES on Facebook and Twitter.


App Name: No state-specific app
Availability: n/a
Emergency Management Website:

This site, managed by Colorado’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, provides statewide information on all emergencies and county specific contact information.

With no state-specific app. Be sure to set up alerts via Wireless Emergency Alerts mentioned at the beginning of this list.

Follow them on Twitter.


App Name: CT Prepares
Availability: iOS & Android

CT Prepares includes:

· Ability to create interactive checklists
· Notify Emergency Personnel
· View preparation guides for various emergencies
· Sign up for alerts – no indication what alerts though
· Contact family members
· View emergency news and events
· Locate emergency services
· View weather

Connecticut Emergency Management Website: https://portal.ct.gov/Government/Emergency-Preparedness
Follow the Connecticut Division of Emergency Management & Homeland Security on Facebook and Twitter.


App Name: Third Party App (CodeRED) reigistration required
Availability: iOS & Android

The Delaware Emergency Notification System (DENS) is hosted and managed by a third party app called CodeRED, which serves as the primary system for public warning and emergency protective action information in the state. Municipalities, counties, and state agencies utilize the system to inform and warn the public during emergencies that would adversely affect their health, safety, and welfare.

Deleware Emergency Management Website:
Follow DEMA on Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr


App Name: Florida Storms
Availability: iOS & Android n/a

Florida Storms includes:

· Live radio streams of the nearest Florida Public Radio Emergency Network partner station
· Customizable push notifications from multiple sources, including the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center, Baron’s exclusive Doppler radar, and local emergency management personnel
· National radar, with 1-­‐hour past loop
· National Hurricane Center storm track’s and forecasts
· Multiple feeds of real-­time information from various sources, such as the nearest National Weather Service office, the National Hurricane Center, Florida Department of Transportation, the FPREN Storm Center and local emergency management offices
· Preparedness information for a weather disaster, including what to do before, during, and after a storm

· The Florida Public Radio Emergency Network partners stations are:

  · WUWF (Pensacola)
  · WFSU (Tallahassee)
  · WKGC (Panama City)
  · WUFT (Gainesville)
  · WJCT (Jacksonville)
  · WMFE (Orlando)
  · WMNF and WUSF (Tampa / St. Petersburg)
  · WFIT (Melbourne)
  · WQCS (Ft. Pierce)
  · WGCU (Ft. Myers)
  · WLRN (Miami)

Repeater stations include:

  · WJUF (Inverness)
  · WMKO (Marco)
  · WUCF (Orlando)
  · WFSQ (Tallahassee)
  · WXEL (Miami)

Florida Emergency Management Website:
ForidaDisaster.org, known as the State Emergency Response Team (SERT), is a division of Florida Emergency Management, and provides general disaster information, disaster recovery centers, planning resources, and more.

Follow SERT on Facebook and Twitter.


App Name: Ready Georgia
Availability: iOS & Android

Ready Georgia includes:

· A customizable Ready Profile that includes a ready kit checklist of emergency supplies and a family disaster plan
· “I Am Safe” notification for emergency contacts
· Geo-alerts for live weather, disaster, and public health alerts
· Live traffic conditions, open shelter locations, and evacuation route maps
· Info on how to prepare for different threats and local contacts to help

Georgia Emergency Management Website: 
Follow GEMA on Twitter


App Name: No state specific app
Availability: n/a
Hawaii Emergency Management Website:

This website by Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency provides general information on preparedness, hurricane shelters, tsunami evacuation zones, news, and alerts with the intent to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and emergencies.

With no state-specific app. Be sure to set up alerts via Wireless Emergency Alerts mentioned at the beginning of this list.

Follow Hawaii EMA on Facebook and Twitter.


App Name: Third Party App (CodeRED) & Idaho State Alert and Warning System (ISAWS)
Availability: iOS & Andro

ISAWS alerts includes: 

· Severe Weather Alerts
· Missing Children (in most cases)
· Natural and/or manmade disasters
· Civil emergencies
· Events of significance (statewide or national)

Idaho Emergency Management Website:
The Idaho Office of Emergency Management maintains this site covering disaster assistance, warning systems, emergency preparedness, and more. They utilize a third party app by CodeRED and offer a web-based sign-up for the Idaho State Alert and Warning System (ISAWS).

Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


App Name: No state specific app
Availability: n/a
Illinois Emergency Management Website:

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) operates this site covering general emergency management, preparedness, and education.

Follow IEMA on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


App Name: No state specific app
Availability: n/a
Indeana Emergency Management Website:

This website from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) works to protect the people, property and prosperity of Indiana. This site offers eremgency inforamtion, preparedness tips, general education, and more.

Follow IDHS on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram


App Name: Alert Iowa
Availability: Web-based system requiring registration

Website currently doesn’t have a way to register for these alerts.

Iowa Homeland Security & Emergency Management has put together Alert Iowa, which is a mass notification and emergency messaging system. The system can be used by state and local authorities to quickly disseminate emergency information to residents in counties that utilize the system. Of Iowa’s 99 counties – all but 12 have signed up to utilize Alert Iowa.

Iowa Emergency Management Webiste:

Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


App Name: No state specific app
Availability: n/a
Kansas Emergency Management Website:

KSReady.gov has information on emergency planning and preparedness for the public, businesses, schools, children, elected officials and first responders. 

Follow KSReady.gov on Facebook and Twitter.


App Name: No state specific app
Availability: n/a
Kentucky Emergency Management Website:

Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM) is a division of the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs maintains this page to ensure residents are safe, secure, and prepared for emergencies and disasters.

Follow KYEM on Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr


App Name: Third Party App (AlertFM)
Availability: iOS & Android

Alert FM includes:

· Emergency information
· Evacuation notices
· Pertinent weather updates
· Amber Alerts

Louisiana Emergency Management Website:
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) works with emergency managers from all 64 Parishes and 42 colleges and universities who all utilize Alert FM.

Follow GOHSEP on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


App Name: Citizen Alert System
Availability: Web-based system requiring registration

Citizen Alert System includes:

· Health epidemic or threat to public health
· Homeland security
· Severe storm warnings/bulletins
· Amber Alerts
· Statewide government office closings

Maine Emergency Management Website:
Maine.gov’s Citizen Alert System is designed to keep the public informed about events that may impact public health or safety. You can also get preparedness information from Maine Prepares.

Follow Maine Emergency Management Agency on Facebook and Twitter.


App Name: Maryland Prepares
Availability: iOS & Android

Maryland Prepares includes:

· Monitor current cyber threats and suspicious activity
· View real-time alerts for emergencies, weather, and traffic
· Send an “I’m Safe” messages
· Create customized Family Communications Plans
· View Emergency Preparation Guides for different types of emergencies
· Prepare Emergency Kits through interactive checklists

Maryland Emergency Management Website:
The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), created Maryland Prepares to provide important information and tools to help Maryland residents be more informed and prepared for emergency situations.

Follow MEMA on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Soundcloud.


App Name: Massachusetts Alerts
Availability: iOS & Android

This app will send you up-to-date public safety information from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). Keep your phone’s Location Services on and you will receive alerts and information based on your location, proximity to an event or incident, and the preferences you select. 

Massachusetts Alerts includes:

· Severe Weather Alerts
· Amber Alerts
· Information on natural disasters like evacuation and shelter-in-place
· Shelter information
· Information about power outages, including restoration times
· Tips to prepare, stay safe and more 

Massachusetts Emergency Management Website:

Follow MassGOV on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram


App Name: Michigan Prepares
Availability: iOS & Android

Michigan Prepares includes:

· Contact import for a backup on important numbers
· Meeting places for organized and pre-planned sots to meet family
· Email export to send completed plans via PDF to provide family members
· Resource section for checklists, fact sheets, and important links

Michigan Emergency Management Website:

Follow Michigan Prepares on Twitter.


App Name: No state-specific app
Availability: n/a
Minnesota Emergency Management Website:

Minnesota’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) division manages this central hub of information from personal, community, and business preparedness. Visit the site for information on emergency declarations, weather.

With no state-specific app. Be sure to set up alerts via Wireless Emergency Alerts mentioned at the beginning of this list.

Follow Minnesota’s HSEM on Facebook and Twitter


App Name: Mississippi EMA
Availability: iOS & Android

Mississippi EMA includes:

· Emergency Notifications
· Local weather forecasts
· Weather Radar and Evacuation information
· Disaster Kit Information
· MEMA news releases, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube
· Preparedness Information
· MEMA and County Contact Information
· FEMA Information

Mississippi Emergency Management Website: 

Follow Mississippi MEMA on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube


App Name: No state specific app
Availability: n/a
Missour Emergency Management Website:

Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) is a division of the Missouri Department of Public Safety. Their website provides advice on planning and preparations for all major events/disaster, recovery & rebuilding information and resources, along with other news and program information.

Follow Missouri SEMA on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+


App Name: No state specific app
Availability: n/a
Montana Emergency Management Website:

Ready and Safe is Montana’s site that covers continuity planning, emergency management, safety programs, and security programs.

Follow Montana’s Disaster & Emergency Services on Twitter and Facebook.


App Name: No state specific app
Availability: n/a
Nebraska Emergency Management Website:


Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) operates this website that offers information on preparedness, operations, technical hazards, readiness, and recover.

Follow NEMA on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr

Check Back Soon

Non-U.S. Alerting Services

Video Apps:

These apps will help pass the time but will do a number on your battery. Sometimes you just have to give a little to keep the sanity. We have some ideas below on batteries that could help. I’m not partial to any of these services as I subscribe to Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Each provides something for everyone in my family.

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime Video 
  • Amazon FreeTime Unlimited for Kids 
  • Hulu Basic

How to Keep Your Phone Running

During an outage —  keeping a battery charge is going to be challenging. Especially if you’re doing a bit of Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu binging. Consider these ideas to extend the life of your battery:

  • Limit the use. Yeah, right. I can hear the laughter now, but if you can cut back a bit you’ll appreciate being able to get updates when you need them.
  • Low power mode. Keep your device running longer on this mode to extend the life of your battery.
  • Portable batteries. We’ll have an article on this soon, but I’m a huge fan of Anker portable batteries. This is a device you’ll use all the time and becomes critical during a power outage. This is a must-have and on my top list of critical items. Check out my favorite here.


Social media is a great way to have information come directly to your smartphone instead of chasing information through various websites or other sources. Hopefully, you’ve found some new apps to add to your smartphone collection. Familiarize yourself with the apps before an outage happens so you’re connected and ready to go. Remember, be prepared.

I’m interested in hearing what apps you use most during outages or emergencies. Have some favorites that aren’t listed? Let us know what you use and how it helped.

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