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50 Emergency Uses For Your Camera Phone

Written By: Paul Purcell

In an emergency youll need to provide and receive help, and after its over, youll have to return, repair, and rebuild. Central to all this is communication and documentation. Our society loves red tape, especially after disasters. Below are 50 ways the camera phone can be used in an emergency to document, record, and relay important information.

Any camera could be used for some of these things, but the phonecam carries a distinct advantage. It can immediately transmit your pictures. If you dont have a phonecam, go with what you have, or what you can afford. Disposable cameras and digital cameras are acceptable. However, the phonecam rules, so lets look at ways yours can be used in an emergency. These are excerpts from Disaster Prep 101.

1. Last minute child ID. Whenever the family might be separated, take last-minute pictures of all family members, especially the kids, and pets.

2. Send a map. To send or receive directions to or from a location when voice directions arent working, draw a map on paper, take a picture, and send.

3. Injury photos to the doctor. Suppose help isnt available, and someones sick or injured. If there are visible signs or symptoms, relay pictures to medical personnel who can walk you through whatever treatment is possible where you are.

4. Damage documentation. In catastrophes, itll be days before insurance adjusters get there to file claims. Photo all damage in case some of it gets repaired or cleaned up before agents arrive.

5. Report suspicious activity. If you see suspicious activity in your neighborhood, upload pictures of suspects and the situation to the Police immediately.

6. Heres the landmark. Gathering the family is critical. If you dont have a fixed meeting place, send pictures of where and what youre near so others can find you. This also works well if youre lost in the wilderness and need to relay pictures of landmarks.

7. Meet us here. If you have a fixed rendezvous point, send a pic you already have on file, so others will know where to meet. Take these photos while compiling your family emergency plan.

8. Photo shopping list. When stocking up in anticipation of an emergency, take a picture of your pantry as a quick shopping list.

9. Driving directions. If youre trying to tell others where a certain location is, send a picture by picture set of directions. Create this file while assembling your family reaction plan.

10. Meet this person. If your family evacuates, and they know where to go, but havent met the family contact person, send them a picture of the person theyre to meet, or send that person pictures of the people heading their way.

11. Last minute property inventory. If youre evacuating, snap quick shots of your property to include purchases not on your last home inventory, and the current condition of your property.

12. Adventure journal. Take pictures to record what you do, where you go, and people you meet during an evacuation, etc.

13. Situational severity. In a large-scale emergency, first responders will be overworked. They might not be available for a minor situation. However, the situation might be worse than they understand, and you might need serious help. Send a picture of how bad things are.

14. Quick text messaging. You might not have time to type a message, and the lines might not be open long enough for a conversation. Write a note on paper, take a picture, and send that.

15. Minor traffic mishap. In a minor fender-bender, with no injuries or disabled vehicles, most jurisdictions will tell you to swap info and move along. If thats the case (always call 911 to make sure), photo the vehicular damage, people involved, witnesses at the scene (and their car tag numbers), and of others involved in the accident to show their injuries (or lack thereof).

16. Wallet backup. Take pictures of your wallets contents (or important documents) to record numbers, and show that cards are or were in your possession. Be careful with this info as its very sensitive and can be used for identity theft!

17. Inclement weather reporting. If youre the first to see the funnel cloud, hail, or a river overflowing, send a picture to the weather service or authorities as rapid proof an emergency is developing.

18. First Responder intel. The more first responders know about a collapsed house, an auto accident, a fire in progress, or any other emergency, the more rapid and appropriate a reaction they can make.

19. Missing persons. Send picture of picture. In addition to last minute family photos, send a picture of a photograph in your purse or wallet of a missing family member.

20. Relay property damage to or from neighbors. After a disaster, whoever goes home first, either you or your neighbors, could photograph area damage and relay info to the other.

21. Help insurance adjusters find your property. After a devastating incident, street signs will be gone, house numbers wont be visible, etc. Take current pictures of landmarks or unique damage near or at your property to make it easier to find you.

22. Copy bulletin boards. If youre in an emergency shelter, and theres an info bulletin board, youll need the info but might not be able to write it down. Take a picture!

23. Bus, subway, or city map. If youre anywhere youre not familiar with and theres a posted map, take a picture of it for later reference if you get lost.

24. Document your route. When traveling to a new area, and you want to find your way back, take pictures along the way of landmarks at turns you make, forks in the road, etc.

25. Record medicines or food brands. To relay information about medications, or if you have special dietary needs and are sending information regarding certain brands to someone, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

26. Parking spot locations. Dont trust your memory, trust a picture. Take a pic of where you left your vehicle either in a lot or in a parking deck.

27. Engine repairs. Should you break down and your vehicle shows outward signs of problems such as steam shooting from a hose, or liquids dripping from the engine, send a pic to a mechanic who may talk you through a quick fix.

28. Business or service function and hours. Copy posted business hours or listed service functions (and pricing) for later review and recall. This is also a good way to report price gouging.

29. Child custodian. If you cant get to your kids at school or other function, relay a picture of the person who is coming to pick them up. Send this picture to the school or function, and to your child (if they have a phonecam).

30. Info on injured or hospitalized people. You might be in a position to send pictures to people looking for loved ones or vice-versa.

31. Hotel room number. Whenever you get a hotel room, take a picture to find your way back. Photo the room number on the door, and the name of the motel and adjacent buildings.

32. ID your evac gear. As with all belongings, take a picture to prove ownership. This might come in handy with theft in emergency shelters. Its a rare occurrence, but be ready to prove things are yours.

33. Photo scavenger hunt. Youll need something to entertain the kids. Give them a short list of things they should take a picture of. First one to take all the pictures wins!

34. Identify the close-up. Another idea is to take a really close up picture of something while the kids arent looking, and have them figure out what it is.

35. Document your whereabouts. Lets say looting or rioting is occurring. You can help Police by secretively taking pictures of the perpetrators (not really recommended for safety reasons), or take pictures as youre leaving to document the fact you werent involved.

36. ID the rescuer. If a rescuer is picking up your child or pet, photo the rescuer (and the child or pet) and the vehicle they used. Photograph their name tag as well as registration numbers on helicopters, vehicle tag numbers, or names of boats.

37. Document your cleanup. It may be a while before your insurance adjuster can arrive. Take pictures of the damage as you found it, and steps you took during cleanup. Regarding insurance, NOTHING beats documentation!

38. Document expenditures. If you buy goods or supplies, rent equipment, or hire a service, in addition to receipts, photograph the goods acquired, equipment being used, services being performed, and the people involved.

39. Property pics for retrieval companies. Some scenarios will see you unable to return home. Some companies are trained and equipped to go into these areas to gather peoples belongings. Property photos will allow you to identify specific items youd like retrieved.

40. Evacuee status. Authorities will want to know who is injured, dead, or missing, and who is okay and where they are. Taking pictures of those you meet along with way, or at your emergency shelter, will help ID the living and well.

41. Language barriers. Ever try to find the restroom in a foreign country and you didnt know the phrase? Imagine how guests in our country feel in emergency situations. Pictures make communication easier, whether youre trying to understand their needs, or relay yours.

42. Transmit road conditions. Lets say after a hurricane, youre one of the first families returning home, and youre taking back roads. Authorities (or others following) might not have checked every avenue of return. If damage needs to be reported, or theres no damage (report that too), sending a picture can relay tons of information.

43. Relay traffic conditions. If family members are separated, or heading different directions, pass along traffic conditions or info from traffic warning signs.

44. Crime scene evidence. People have returned to a home undamaged by a disaster, but later looted. Since Police might not be able to show up right away, take crime scene photos (for both Police and insurance).

45. Too much on the screen? Should the TV flash pertinent information and you dont have time to write, or theres a lot of text on a computer and you cant print it, take a picture of the screen for later review.

46. ID for doctors or pharmacies. Medical needs are a real probability during an emergency. Since you cant get to your doctor, and they might phone in a prescription to a pharmacy that doesnt know either of you, use your phone to verify your identity to your doctor, and your doctor can relay the picture to the pharmacy.

47. Emergency supply information. Suppose a developing emergency finds you low on goods and you send different people to different supply locations. If supplies are low, these folks can send a picture of the types or brands of items available so you can make educated purchase decisions.

48. Last Minute List items and shutdown. Though everyone should keep a bugout kit packed and ready, there will be items which cannot be packed in advance. In addition to a written list, create a photo file showing items you need to take (and their location) and steps to secure the house before leaving.

49. Evac atlas. Create a travel atlas of emergency assets available along evacuation routes. Include lodging, ATM locations, emergency rooms, etc. Travel the routes and take photos, or draw maps and shoot those.

50. Reaction plan for the reading disabled. If a family member suffers from any reading disability, using photos is a must. Create a photo file that will relay your entire emergency plan without using text.mes of boats.

37. Document your cleanup. It may be a while before your insurance adjuster can arrive. Take pictures of the damage as you found it, and steps you took during cleanup. Regarding insurance, NOTHING beats documentation!

38. Document expenditures. If you buy goods or supplies, rent equipment, or hire a service, in addition to receipts, photograph the goods acquired, equipment being used, services being performed, and the people involved.

39. Property pics for retrieval companies. Some scenarios will see you unable to return home. Some companies are trained and equipped to go into these areas to gather peoples belongings. Property photos will allow you to identify specific items youd like retrieved.

40. Evacuee status. Authorities will want to know who is injured, dead, or missing, and who is okay and where they are. Taking pictures of those you meet along with way, or at your emergency shelter, will help ID the living and well.

41. Language barriers. Ever try to find the restroom in a foreign country and you didnt know the phrase? Imagine how guests in our country feel in emergency situations. Pictures make communication easier, whether youre trying to understand their needs, or relay yours.

42. Transmit road conditions. Lets say after a hurricane, youre one of the first families returning home, and youre taking back roads. Authorities (or others following) might not have checked every avenue of return. If damage needs to be reported, or theres no damage (report that too), sending a picture can relay tons of information.

43. Relay traffic conditions. If family members are separated, or heading different directions, pass along traffic conditions or info from traffic warning signs.

44. Crime scene evidence. People have returned to a home undamaged by a disaster, but later looted. Since Police might not be able to show up right away, take crime scene photos (for both Police and insurance).

45. Too much on the screen? Should the TV flash pertinent information and you dont have time to write, or theres a lot of text on a computer and you cant print it, take a picture of the screen for later review.

46. ID for doctors or pharmacies. Medical needs are a real probability during an emergency. Since you cant get to your doctor, and they might phone in a prescription to a pharmacy that doesnt know either of you, use your phone to verify your identity to your doctor, and your doctor can relay the picture to the pharmacy.

47. Emergency supply information. Suppose a developing emergency finds you low on goods and you send different people to different supply locations. If supplies are low, these folks can send a picture of the types or brands of items available so you can make educated purchase decisions.

48. Last Minute List items and shutdown. Though everyone should keep a bugout kit packed and ready, there will be items which cannot be packed in advance. In addition to a written list, create a photo file showing items you need to take (and their location) and steps to secure the house before leaving.

49. Evac atlas. Create a travel atlas of emergency assets available along evacuation routes. Include lodging, ATM locations, emergency rooms, etc. Travel the routes and take photos, or draw maps and shoot those.

50. Reaction plan for the reading disabled. If a family member suffers from any reading disability, using photos is a must. Create a photo file that will relay your entire emergency plan without using text.

About the Author: Copyright 2005, Paul Purcell. About the author: Paul Purcell is an Atlanta-based security analyst and preparedness consultant with over twenty years risk management and preparedness experience. He’s also the author of “Disaster Prep 101.” More information on Paul and his book can be found at http://www.disasterprep101.com.

Source: www.isnare.com

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