The One Safety App Everyone Should Have On Their Phone
Fair warning, we're gonna get a little bit dark for a second, but I promise I'm gonna bring the tone right back up and it's all for the purpose of telling you about an amazing service that I cannot recommend highly enough. Cool? Cool.
The world is a dangerous place for women. As I'm writing this the news cycle is inundated with stories of women who have been attacked, and the hashtag #metoo is trending. I've heard from men who are surprised by these apparent revelations, and every women I know has basically been like, "Ya doi." This is the world we walk in every day, it's just that now people are paying attention. I was attacked years ago and because of that, and the aftermath, I now have PTSD. In the years immediately following my attack, before my PTSD diagnosis, I was always on high alert (whether I needed to be or not). I was afraid to be outside alone, no matter the time of day. Every noise startled me, and a panic attack could be triggered by something as innocuous as a man standing too close to me in line at the post office. I even called 911 once because I was outside and a heard a noise. That's it. It was a squirrel or a leaf or something, but I completely lost it. Once I was connected with an operator I was immediately mortified and explained that I was just overreacting. (She proceeded to ask me yes or no questions in case I was in danger and couldn't respond. Bless that woman for caring so much, but no, I explained, I was just going insane.)
I don't get these feelings often anymore, but I do live in a large city and I am often alone. A few weeks ago I parked my car and noticed a man watching me, and once I got out of my car and started walking down the street he began following me. I ducked into a building and he crossed the street quickly after me, and while this all could have been a very odd coincidence, at that moment I was so glad I had SafeTrek installed on my phone.
SafeTrek is a simple app that could have saved me a lot of panic attacks if it was around ten years ago. You need to do a little setup before using it, so I'd recommend downloading SafeTrek before you need it, that way when you find yourself wanting a little extra security (or just peace of mind) you are all set and ready to go. When you open the app, you'll see a large button that says "Hold until safe" and, well, you do. Just hold down on that part of the screen until you're in a place where you feel safe, and when you take your thumb off the screen you'll be prompted to enter a PIN. If you put in your PIN within 10 seconds, the app will send you a text saying they're glad you got home safely. If you don't enter your PIN, emergency services will be contacted and sent to your location. (If you forget your PIN, you can text with a dispatcher instead and they will cancel your alarm.)
You can also use SafeTrek as a sort of panic button, simply by pressing the button and releasing immediately. This can also be helpful if, say, you need emergency services but cannot speak. SafeTrek dispatchers are on call 24/7 and will stay on the line with you until emergency services reach you. You can also add any information you want or need to the app, like if you have any allergies or disabilities that responders should know about. The SafeTrek dispatcher will have this on file and will be able to relay this info, along with your exact location, to emergency services.
SafeTrek is also working on syncing up with other apps, so you can sync your SafeTrek account to Uber, Tinder, or a health monitor to tell if you're having a seizure. One of the things I find really interesting is that they're also working on syncing with trail and running apps to know if you've left your route or a safe trail.
Back to that guy following me down the street. I had an appointment and afterward, I felt like he was going to be waiting outside the building for me (remember, I have a PTSD brain, this is how it operates). I knew in my logical brain that I was overreacting, but my anxiety was overriding all logic. Then I remembered SafeTrek. Before I walked out of the building I opened the app and held down the button. I didn't even look around and allow my anxiety a chance to be justified. I knew I had a safety net right there in my hand. I walked down the block and got into my car, and once I felt safe I took my hand off the button and entered my PIN. This message immediately came in from SafeTrek.
SafeTrek is available for iPhone and Android and costs $3 a month or $30 a year. I think this app is so valuable that I don't think a smartphone is complete without it. In fact, this is a great gift idea, particularly if you have someone in your life who just moved to a new city, or got their driver's license, or went away to college, or started training for a marathon alone at night, or literally any person. We should ALL have SafeTrek on our phones!