It is not uncommon to feel worried about your safety when you are walking towards your car in a dark and secluded parking lot. Whether you go out alone for a run after sundown or are walking through a dark abandoned park on your way home, the times we live in have most likely made you prone to imagining some quick safety precautions, just to be prepared and feel a little bit safer in all scenarios.
From street harassment to medical emergencies, personal safety is a concern for everyone irrespective of age and gender. With the development of GPS and other location-based technology, a number of personal safety apps have entered the market to meet this concern.
Also called an SOS app, a personal safety app is a mobile application that can be used to aid personal safety. Most of these can be installed in smartphones; while some of these apps are even integrated into wearable technology. These apps not only address safety concerns against harassment or attackers but are also useful in case of emergencies such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.
Most personal safety apps are quite easy to use. These usually have a button that hovers on the screen of a smartphone. Some apps can be activated by voice or by motion, such as shaking the phone vigorously. Whenever you feel unsafe, you will have to activate the app. It will then detect your location using your phone’s GPS, which will be shared with the local authorities or your chosen trusted and emergency contacts. The emergency contacts will also need to install the app in their phones to receive instant notifications and location information if required. Although some apps do send SMS notifications, so it might not be necessary for the emergency contacts to download and install the app. For personal safety apps to work, it is essential to keep location and internet connectivity on at all times.
Some apps also work through geofencing and heatmapping. Geofencing is when the user or an emergency contact selects an area on the map within which the user is expected to be. If the user steps out of the selected area, the app will trigger an alert. Heatmapping involves the use of crowdsourced information to deem certain areas as unsafe. Users are alerted when they are close to such an area in their city or wherever they are.
Many personal safety apps often ask for personal information or require access to personal information on the user’s phone such as location, photos, contacts, etc. It is usually up to the user what information they want to share and how they want to use the app. In case a user is not comfortable in providing some personal information, they can switch to another app. Some apps require users to keep the GPS and location services switched on all the time. Some users may consider this as an invasion of their privacy. In such a case, they can always turn off location access when they are certain they don’t need the app.
The cost of personal safety apps varies. The cost can be on a per month basis or yearly basis. The cost can range from $0.99 to $2.99 per month. Some apps charge extra for premium features. Those who are not inclined towards paid apps can also opt for free personal safety apps. These include Hollaback!, bSafe, Circle of 6, Kitestring, Watch Over Me, Guardly, and so on.
Personal safety equipment usually includes safety alarms, pepper sprays, and tasers. While alarms are legal in all 50 states without any age restrictions, the latter two items are not legal everywhere. Most airlines allow a person to carry a personal safety alarm, but not pepper sprays and tasers. Additionally, using pepper sprays and tasers runs the risk of causing harm to innocent bystanders or even backfiring. Personal safety alarms are relatively safer, except for the fact that these have to carried around. All these personal safety equipment and devices occupy space. Moreover, in case of an emergency, one has to be quick enough to pull out the safety device from their baggage.
On the other hand, we always carry our phones in our pockets where they are easily accessible. In most cases, our phones are in our hands already. Thus, it becomes easier to set off a personal safety app. Also, there is no risk of harming oneself or innocent bystanders with an app.
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This is an affordable personal safety app to stay safe in any situation.
Personal alarms are self-defense devices. These emit a very loud alarm siren when activated and some alarms also come with a flashing LED light. Personal safety alarms can be useful in emergency situations when a person is alone and they need to deter their attacker. For example, if a person is out late at night, goes running on their own, or are traveling solo, the alarm can be useful to distract the attacker. Once they are distracted, the individual can make a run for it. These alarms can also attract the attention of other people and get help, in case of an emergency.
Personal safety apps have been designed specifically for people to communicate with others when they may need help in case of an unsafe situation. These apps can offer peace of mind, instant communication, and access to help in case of emergency. They are specifically useful for those who need to travel alone and travel through secluded areas or just need someone to keep a watch, in case they find themselves in an unpleasant situation. However, a number of these personal safety apps have privacy-related issues and need to be researched carefully via reviews and other methods before being downloaded. In nutshell, it is best to gauge on an individual basis, whether one’s need for a personal safety app outweighs privacy concerns and is worth it.