Two iPhone Apps to Ensure Help Is on the Way

Apps notify emergency contacts of your plans on water and land

Whether you’re exploring sea islands by kayak or heading out on a multi-day backcountry hike, one of your most important pieces of safety equipment is a plan in the hands of friends and family: where you’re going, when you’re leaving and when you’ll be back.

Sure, there’s always good ol’ pen and paper, but we’re living in the age of the iPhone, dang it, and we’ll be damned if there aren’t apps for that.

For boaters there’s the Float Plan App for iPhone ($1.99 in the App Store), which, needless to say, has way more features than a typical float plan. It emails your emergency contacts with details of your trip, including your itinerary, a photo of and info about your boat, names of passengers/companions, and approximate GPS coordinates of your put-in and take-out locations—and where you parked your car, too.

I see no reason you couldn’t also use this app for dry land excursions (substitute trailhead for put-in, yourself for vessel, etc.), but there also happens to be a new, more simple, app that does this with a key extra feature.

Bugle for iPhone (free in the App Store) stores your plan in the cloud—say, snowshoeing in the backcountry or exploring some trails just outside of town—and alerts a contact list if you haven’t “checked in” when you expected to. (See also the Yodel app.)

There are obvious benefits to this kind of app: you don’t have to have cell service—or even your phone—for an alert to be sent out if you get lost, injured, caught in a storm, etc. Your emergency contacts will know you’re not back and have a rough idea where to send help. Think of it as a sticky note on multiple fridges instead of just one.

“We’re outside or traveling all the time,” co-developer Steve Grind told the Washington Trails Association. “We always found ourselves wishing we had an easy way to tell people about our plans. It's a terrible feeling to find yourself out hiking after dark and to suddenly realize that nobody knows where you are or when they should start looking for you if you got lost or hurt. We created this as much for ourselves as we did for you.”

There are potential drawbacks, though: you don’t have cell service, have a dead battery, decide to stay out a bit longer, or just plain forget to “check in,” and—whoops!—search and rescue is on the case.

All things considered, though, the drawbacks of not telling people where you’re going can be a lot worse.

Via The Goat.

Picture credits: iTunes / BigTunaApps (top) and iTunes / Inti, Inc. (bottom)

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