Chances are you've seen your neighbors sharing their Zello handle. But what is Zello?

Zello is a free smartphone app, available on iOS and Android, that turns your mobile phone into something that could be described as a mixture between traditional walkie-talkies and a police scanner.

It's important to know that access to a cellular network or WiFi is required for Zello to work, so it won't be something that you can rely on if cell towers go down and/or power outages prevent you from accessing a WiFi connection.

What the app does allow you to do is use it as a two-way radio to keep in touch with specific people, a circle of friends, co-workers, etc. or rescue workers using a specific channel. This app was popular during rescue efforts after Hurricane Harvey, allowing people who were trapped by floodwaters to communicate with rescuers who were in the area to help them evacuate.

It has also been a great resource for helping others to find resources, freshwater or to check on elderly family members. According to Zello CEO Bill Moore, the best feature during storms is the ability to "have two-way conversations at the push of a button, jumping in and out of channels whenever you want, with an app that uses little battery."

Moore says it was one of the biggest things they focused on while creating the Zello app, and anyone who has had to endure power outages during a hurricane knows just how crucial batter life can be, especially in an emergency rescue situation. It is often seen on "must-have apps" lists when it comes to storms and setting up Zello and adding the people you need to be in contact with BEFORE the emergency is important since some disasters can cause blackouts that last for days.

We hope to never need the Zello app, but just like our water, snacks, and generators, its a great (and free) tool to have "just in case."

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