The world is a scary place that maybe is getting scarier but, listen up, in your pocket or purse right now you probably have a device that will help you stay safer – your cellphone. You won’t ever be alone again, not with your phone as your pocket lifeline.
That’s right: a properly outfitted smartphone will help you travel safer. It may even help save your life. Ten well-chosen apps will help you handle whatever dangers life deals you, at home or abroad.
Ask Robb Monkman, founder and CEO of React Mobile. When he was in college, his apartment was invaded by armed robbers. These were seriously bad guys who even took one of his roommates as a hostage after they ransacked the place. For years thereafter, Monkman noodled on that incident until, one day, it occurred to him the phone he had in his pocket is a key to personal safety.
He worked to create React Mobile – a free app, for iPhone and Android – that lets a user tell a pre-designated list of contacts they are in trouble while providing the exact location. The app will also prompt the phone to call 911 or whatever the local emergency assistance number is. It’s smart enough to know the right number.
For users who want to up the ease of use, React Mobile also offers a standalone button (available on Amazon) that connects with a phone via Bluetooth and tells the phone to get busy sounding an alert. With the button, there is no need to unlock the device, summon the app, and tell it to sound an SOS. Yes, the button saves only seconds – but seconds may matter.
Variations on a Theme
Other apps do similar things and one that has gotten very positive press is Companion, also free.
Emergensee is a clever variation on the theme. With a click, your designated contacts can see via video what kind of pickle you are currently in.
That’s just for starters. Experts offer up more suggestions. Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, said he personally recommends Red Cross apps such as Emergency, which automatically delivers 35 different emergency alerts regarding weather and much more, and First Aid, which provides info on handling a range of common situations. Both are free.
You also want the free Google Maps on your phone in case you need to find alternative routes on the fly. While you are at it, download WAZE, which a community based app that provides real time road and traffic info so you can hone in on the smartest and fastest route, potentially avoiding dangerous traffic.
Knowing the Law
Trouble can also arise in unwanted contacts with police. The Atlas app is a handy way to know the laws in whatever state you enter and its point, said company founder Steve Wood, is to help travelers avoid unintentional law breaking. He said, “One often overlooked threat faced by travelers is getting picked up by the local authorities for breaking the laws. Often times we don’t realize how much laws vary from place to place.”
Wood elaborated by saying, “Things like importing your own alcohol, whether you can drive with headphones in or while using a phone, how guns must be handled, what you must tell police when they approach and more all vary locally.” He’s right. Enter New Jersey with a gun in your car and you may be in real trouble. Ditto for driving and using a mobile without a hands-free kit.
What About Travelers?
Another must have for world travelers in particular is Find Your Embassy, free from the US State Dept.
Global travelers ought also to check out Safeture, an iPhone app that provides what the developer calls a Global Warning System. The developer elaborated by saying, “Safeture is a personal safety and early travel warning solution that provides real-time status on warnings, alerts, and localized security information wherever you are.”
Remember, dangerous events happen abruptly. One day Bali is an idyllic getaway for a beer soaked holiday. The next there might be a terror incident. The goal of Safeture is to provide constantly updating locale specific info so that you know what you need to stay safe.
A free variation comes via the US State Department in its Smart Traveler app. Check it out to see if it suffices for your needs. Included are country dossiers as well as up to the minute travel alerts and warnings. You don’t even need to be a US citizen to download it.
A last important download: Google Translate, recommended by numerous experts. If you want to call for help, you have to know the local language. Google Translate puts you in the know, free of charge.
There you have it, an app toolkit to supercharge your mobile and transform it into a kind of digital bodyguard. Do you use any of the apps listed above? Are there any others you’d recommend? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.