Emergency Uses for Your Camera Phone

Today's cell phone cameras take better pictures than the point and shoot you carried a few years ago. Along with the obligatory selfie to accompany a blog or Twitter post with your self portrait, your phone's camera can help you respond to or even forestall emergencies. From the aftermath of accidents to the photo that can identify a missing person, you can take pictures to document events after the fact or to prepare for the unexpected.

Documentation

Whether you've just climbed out of the driver's seat after an accident or you're surveying the damage to your home from a natural disaster, you can use the camera on your phone to document the conditions in which you find yourself. In an auto accident, you want photos not only of the bent fender on your car but of the other motorist's vehicle damage and the scene that encompasses both your autos. After a hurricane, tornado, flood or earthquake, you may need to document the condition in which you find your house and the belongings left in it, especially if the authorities give you only temporary access to the premises.

Emergency Beacon

If a flat tire, overheated radiator or other vehicular malfunction leaves you stuck by the roadside after dark, your phone can shed light on your predicament and even assist you in signaling for help. Along with using a smartphone screen as a trouble light, you can turn your camera flash into an emergency beacon with an app that makes it strobe repeatedly to attract rescuers' attention. While you look under the hood for the cause of car trouble, take pictures of anything that looks unusual—steam from the radiator, hoses askew or wires disconnected—to send to someone who can help you either fix or at least diagnose the problem. Even a deactivated cell phone can call 911, so stashing an old standby in the glove box can get you assistance if you're stranded.

Human Safety

Keeping current portraits of your children on your phone can provide you with an invaluable reference in the event that one of them disappears. To assist police in looking for your child, a photo makes a much better guide than a verbal description. If she's at an age at which her appearance changes quickly, replace the portrait frequently to keep it up to date. Likewise, if you serve as a caregiver to an elderly relative, you can store equivalent photos of him to share in the event that he becomes disoriented and wanders away from home.

Suspicious Activity

If you head out for a run and spot damage to a neighbor's property, broken glass on a nearby storefront or people you don't recognize entering a vacant house, you can capture everything from dings and dents to suspicious activity on your phone's camera. Whether what you see merits a call to 911 or just a record of the scene that you can share with your neighbor, the store owner or the realtor listing the property, your phone can provide vital documentation and evidence for later use.

Photo Credits: Samsung

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