The forecast track of Hurricane Irma — an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph — is still an unknown, in terms of its impact on the Outer Banks. But that doesn’t mean residents and visitors shouldn’t be prepared in the event of an emergency.

Get a hurricane kit together, make sure your gas tank is full, get cash — in case the power is down, and you can’t use your cards — and don’t get caught in an emergency situation with no means of communication.

There are now apps and technology that enable smart phones to act like a walkie-talkie — even if the mobile network and the internet are not working.

One such app is Voxer Walkie Talkie, a free application that can be downloaded onto any iOS (iPhone, iPad or iPod) or Android device (https://voxer.com)

About the app

Voxer is a live messaging application that brings push-to-talk technology to smartphones. The service features live and recorded voice —if a you push the button to talk, you can be heard on the other end as you speak, but everything is also simultaneously recorded so you and the recipient(s) can play back any message later.

Voxer also has integrated text, photo and location sharing, which can be sent alongside voice messaging.

The service enables the user to talk to up to 5 individuals or groups to communicate with at once (free) — or up to 500 individuals or groups using Voxer Pro ($3.99 per month).

The average audio message on Voxer is about 7 seconds and uses about 14KB of data. Text messages on Voxer average about 700 bytes of data, according to the company's website.

The app is the brain-child of Tom Katis, a communications sergeant in the U.S. Special Forces, who came up with the concept of creating such an app after he found the difficulties faced in combat and other emergency situations for using conventional walkie-talkies. After his return from duty from Afghanistan, Katis recognized the potential of such an app and began its designing.

In May of 2011, the Voxer Walkie Talkie app was launched on the iOS, Apple’s operating system.

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