We count on apps for so many things these days, like avoiding traffic, finding dates, and keeping up with our friends. In fact, the average American cellphone user accesses approximately twenty-seven apps per month, according to Nielsen.1 So why don’t more of us use an app for safety? It could be because there are so many personal safety apps available, so we don’t know which one is best. Fortunately, SafeWise has your back.
We researched dozens of free apps with your safety in mind and chose four based on their unique safety features, reviewer ratings, and my insights as a former police officer. Download one or more of our recommended personal safety apps, then share this article so everyone you know can be safer.
SafeWise Reminder: These apps are excellent safety tools, but they don’t take the place of sound judgement or gut instinct. I’ve interviewed countless victims who said that a person or place made them feel uneasy, but they unfortunately dismissed their feelings. Be proactive about safety by using good decision-making tactics and trusting your intuition.
SafeWise Top Safety Pick: SmartWatcher
Unique Feature: SmartWatcher offers Continuous Safety Monitoring for a $0.99-per-month upgrade. This feature periodically asks you whether or not you’re safe—if you don’t respond, it alerts your safety network.
SmartWatcher tracks your location to help you stay safe. You can include up to twelve Watchers—trusted family and friends—who will be alerted of your location if you press the emergency button. These Watchers then have the option to call you or emergency services. This app is useful whether you often walk home alone at night or live in a dangerous neighborhood. It’s also a great option for those who may be more prone to medical emergencies. And whether you have a smartphone or smart watch, SmartWatcher will likely work with your device.
Being aware of potential dangers is one of the best ways to help protect yourself—especially when you’re alone. So while we love that this app helps you stay safe, we also recommend checking the crime rate of areas you plan to visit before you leave the house.
Circle of 6
Unique Feature: Preprogrammed text messages allow you to contact your circle of friends quickly and discreetly.
Offering a user-friendly interface and range of innovative features, Circle of 6 won a White House Technology Challenge and unsurprisingly receives great press. Start using the app by adding up to six people you trust to your circle. When you need help, simply tap the appropriate icon, and your circle will be notified. For example, if you’ve been drinking, you can tap the pin icon and send your circle a text with your GPS coordinates and a message saying you need help getting home. If you feel uncomfortable on a date, tap the phone icon to deliver a text saying “Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.”
There’s also a Phone Out icon that gives you direct access to national hotlines and a specialized hotline of your choice. Circle of 6 U is a school version of the app, customized for campuses across the country to encourage students to look out for one another’s safety.
Unique Feature: React Mobile works in conjunction with a wearable safety device, allowing you to call for help even when your phone is out of reach.
React Mobile has three primary modes: I’m Fine, Follow Me, and SOS Help Me. Enabling Follow Me mode sends your chosen contacts a text or email with a link to your GPS location. From there, your contacts can follow you in real time and be alerted when you safely check in. We are especially impressed with the multiple features of the SOS Help Me button. Pressing this button sends out an emergency alert to as many people as you’ve chosen and automatically notifies local emergency services. For added security and convenience, you can configure the app to post help notifications to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
React Mobile goes the extra mile to help you stay safe with the React Sidekick—a wearable safety device featuring the SOS Help Me button. React Sidekick is a Bluetooth-enabled device that pairs with your cellphone when it’s within approximately 100 feet. It is available for $69.99 from React Mobile’s website.
Unique Feature: Activating the bSafe emergency alarm automatically records audio and video from your phone, which could prove helpful to law enforcement officers. Pressing the alarm also alerts your bSafe friends.
bSafe offers several features to help increase your personal safety—especially when you walk alone. Once you create a network of bSafe friends, they can follow you via GPS and receive alerts when you check in at your destination. If you don’t arrive when you expected to, bSafe sends your friends an SOS message. This is an excellent feature for college students, late-night partiers, or anyone who walks alone. This app is free, but there’s also a premium version that includes enhanced features like 24/7 access to professional security. According to the company website, bSafe Premium is live in a few countries and will be available in the United States soon.
Whether you’re out on a first date, learning your way around an unfamiliar city, or on an epic hike, these apps can help keep you safe—and call for help if you ever need it. Staying safe at home is just as important, which is why SafeWise suggests installing a monitored home security system. Security systems can protect your property and also alert you to dangers like smoke and carbon monoxide.
Remember, if you feel you need the help of emergency services, don’t hesitate to call 911.
1. Nielsen, “So Many Apps, So Much More Time for Entertainment”