We’ve curated a selection of apps that could spell the difference between a crisis and an emergency. In an ideal world, you’ll never need to use most of these apps—but until that world comes about, it’s better to have them than to not.
Note: ExpressVPN is not affiliated with any of these apps. We just enjoy sharing helpful tech information!
These apps can help you learn new self-defense skills or stay in touch with others when you are in situations that make you vulnerable, such as traveling alone.
What3words uses a string of three unique English words—rather than complex coordinates—to help you pinpoint any location globally with an area of 3×3 meters. Used by emergency services in places like the UK and U.S., the system is useful for navigation, incident reporting, and asking for help.
Find My Friends for Android
Share real-time location updates with friends and family. Location sharing is only possible with consent from both parties, and the app will display regular notifications that it is running so you don’t leave it on by accident.
FindMe for iOS
In addition to sharing real-time location information, the app also allows you to share/track battery levels of participating phones, track lost devices, and send alerts in case you are in immediate danger.
Probably one of the best apps for providing loved ones with real-time alerts on your location. Waze also provides drivers with valuable crowd-sourced information about route interruptions, parking tips, and alerts for the most efficient timelines for travel.
Providing daily check-ins for seniors, epileptics, and those with medical conditions that limit mobility, Snug Safety was developed specifically for people who live alone. Every day, users are required to check-in on the app, and if they fail to do so, emergency services can be dispatched for assistance.
COBRA Defense International for Android
Billed as a “police academy for civilians,” C.O.B.R.A is a martial art system designed to teach people of all ages self-defense, environmental awareness, and bully response tactics.
Combat Academy provides a surface level overview of various martial arts and fighting systems including Muay Thai, Karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Boxing.
Learn Krav Maga, the official martial art of the Israeli Defense Force. The app provides tutorials and videos on a variety of fighting techniques including ground fighting and grappling.
These apps can help you in situations where you are stranded in the wilderness. Whether you’re camping, hiking, or orienteering, it’s always best to have tools ready to survive and navigate your way back to civilization—especially if you’re stuck without an internet connection.
Offline Survival Manual for Android
A complete offline survival manual that covers vital information on topics like first aid, starting fires, building shelter, foraging for food, and surviving in different climates.
One of the best and most comprehensive offline maps available today. A word of advice before traveling: Make sure you update all maps over Wi-Fi before heading out. You don’t want to be stuck outside and wasting your power or data on updating the app.
Compass Steel for Android
A simple, ad-free offline compass. What more could you ask for?
Commander Compass Go for iOS
A great offline compass for outdoor and off-road navigation.
A powerful offline GPS star map for navigating by night.
While apps generally can’t take the place of professional medical services, these could help prepare you for an emergency situation or make your life a little easier if you are managing a medical condition.
Developed by the American Red Cross to help deal with everything from minor accidents to emergencies. The app provides video and animated guides in addition to direct lines of contact with emergency services.
If you find yourself having to give birth in an unexpected place, this app will simplify at least one aspect of the process. The user interface has been designed to be as clean as possible with readability in mind.
In addition to helping you stay on top of your medication, the app also provides a function that alerts caregivers and loved ones if you’ve missed a dosage.
Offline communication apps
These chat apps are useful if you find yourself in an emergency situation with no internet or if you prefer to stay offline to ensure privacy. Just make sure your contacts download the same apps.
Zello is a push-to-talk walkie talkie app that’s great for anything from organizing events to coordinating disaster relief. It allows for real-time voice streaming, texting, and can support group channels of up to 6,000 users.
Bridgefy lets people message each other without an internet connection, as long as they are within about 100 meters.
Designed for activists, journalists, and their sources to communicate safely, Briar can be used both online (via the Tor network) and offline (via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.)