With the mobile app industry evolving at hurricane speed, smartphone users have unprecedented resources available at their fingertips to aid them during emergencies.
Here are 10 helpful apps for the 2012 hurricane season, presented in alphabetical order:
Boingo Wi-Finder (free): Need to find the nearest wireless Internet connection? The Wi-Finder -- the 2012 About.com Reader's Choice Award for Best Travel App -- uses GPS to locate users' closest network. The app also plots results on a map, using a color-coordinated system indicating the relative strength and security of each network. Available for both iPhone and Android.
WebMD (free): This app offers advice for initial care for illness or injury in the absence of a medical expert. It consists of a series of simple and potentially lifesaving techniques that someone can be instructed to perform using minimal equipment. The app also can function without Internet access. Available for both iPhone and Android.
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Flashlight by i4software ($0.99): Should your power go out and you can't find a flashlight, you can turn your smartphone into one by using this app, which has a five-star rating with more than 20,000 votes on the Apple network. In addition to providing a concentrated bright light from the touch screen, the app enables users to save battery power by automatically shutting down other open apps when this light is turned on. Available on iPhone only. Android equivalent: Tiny Flashlight (free).
Frugal Hotel and Motel Finder (free): This app enables travelers on a budget to identify the nearest affordable lodging. With information on dozens of budget hotel chains in about 40,000 cities, it could be a resource for those on the road looking for a safe and thrifty place to stay. Available for both iPhone and Android.
Home Inventory Photo Remote (free): This app allows users to walk around their homes and build an outline of a personal inventory to compile for insurance purposes. The details can be filled in later. Users can create items, locations, collections and categories for their personal property. The app can also scan the bar code from an item or its packaging to add to users' inventory automatically. Available on iPhone only. Android equivalent: MyHomePro: Home Inventory ($3.99).
Hurricane Supply List (free): Plan on weathering the storm in your home? If you decide to do so, it might be beneficial to first download this app, which offers a checklist of supplies you'll need before, during and after the hurricane. Users can check off each item on the list on their next trip to the store to ensure they're as prepared as possible. Available on iPhone only. Android equivalent: Disaster Readiness Guide ($1.29).
iEmergency ICE Family PRO ($2.99): Developed with input from emergency medical workers, nurses, doctors and firefighters, this app enables medical personnel to access your critical medical information if you need emergency treatment. Information on medical conditions, blood type, allergies, medications and prescriptions may be uploaded for each member of your family. Available on iPhone only. Android equivalent: Emergency (ICE) ($4.49).
RepairPal (free): If you should experience car trouble on your way out of the area, RepairPal tells you the right price to pay for your repair, finds the nearest recommended mechanic, tracks all your repairs and offers one-touch access to roadside assistance. Perfect for getting you and your family back on the road and out of harm's way. Available for both iPhone and Android.
SPOT Connect (free): This satellite service allows users to be found anywhere on Earth -- regardless of whether they have a cell signal -- by connecting to the Globalstar satellite network. The app can notify others, including emergency responders, of one's GPS location coordinates and current status. Users can also store up to 10 predefined messages for quick reference and for sending in an emergency. Available for both iPhone and Android.
Surf Watch ($9.99): Using data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather buoys, this app sends alerts informing users of changing wave heights, swell direction, wind direction and wind speed. Though originally developed for surfers, the app could come in handy for those living near the shore who want to monitor ocean conditions as storms approach. Available for both iPhone and Android.