There are hundreds of safety apps available these days.
What can they do? Well, depending on the app, they can…
…allow your designated family/friends to track you via your phone
…send an SOS to your designated family/friends by pressing the panic button (some panic buttons are voice activated)
…notify your designated family/friends that you are in danger if you remove your thumb from the screen
…share a real time live streaming video with the designated friends/family so they can see what’s happening instantly
…take a picture of the attacker and warn them off by telling them they will be identified
…call your designated emergency numbers for you
…show you safe locations nearby where you can go to in case of an emergency.
These features can be helpful in certain instances…
If you have time to get away from a dangerous situation, your app can help you notify the police and family members, take a picture or video and maybe share a list of safe places where you can seek help.
But what if you don’t have time to get away?
These apps are not a substitute for self defense. And they should not be relied on to save you from an attack.
I call safety apps “after apps.” They are really only helpful after you have already been attacked. (Unless, as I said earlier, you can get away safely. Which is your best option if it’s available to you.)
They will not stop an attack. They will not protect you during an attack. And after the attack? Well, if you’re still conscious, and if they haven’t stolen your phone, the app can call for help. (Even if the app notifies family/friends for you, the most they can do is call the police. The attack will already be over by the time the police get there.)
A false sense of security
Don’t be lured into thinking that you’re safer because you have a safety app on your phone. You aren’t.
One of the ads I saw for a safety app actually said this: “If you don’t feel safe while going through any particular area, you have to launch this app on your phone and keep holding it till you are safe…”
What I dislike about this add (other than the bad grammar) is that it encourages people to go through unsafe areas.
If you don’t feel safe going through a specific area, don’t go through that specific area. Avoid it if you can. And if you can’t, you need more than a safety app to rely on.
You need Self Defense Skills.
You need to know how to defend yourself if you are attacked. And you can’t do that with your phone in your hand.
Learn how to defend yourself. Take a self defense class or two. Carry a weapon. It doesn’t have to be a firearm. You can use pepper spray or a kubotan or a knife (check with the laws in your area) or even a pen. Stabbing an attacker in the eye with a pen will do some serious damage. Make sure you learn (and practice) how to properly carry and effectively use your weapon of choice.
And learn some threat awareness skills too. Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to what is going on. The more aware you are, the more opportunities you have of avoiding dangerous situations altogether.
Keep your hands free
Having a phone in your hand slows down your reaction to an attack. It’s also difficult to manipulate your phone during a possible adrenaline dump (fight or flight response). And it takes your mind away from the threat/attack. Which makes it really difficult to defend yourself.
Having a phone in your hand can actually increase your chance of being attacked. Your phone is right out there, in your hand, visible to the public. It gives thieves something valuable to steal. Maybe they’ll just grab the phone and run. Maybe they’ll knock you down first, or worse.
If you do use a safety app…
Make sure you know how to use it.
If the app is set up to call 911 or any other emergency number, make sure the numbers are working properly.
Don’t talk, text or do anything else on your phone when out in public. Pay attention to your surroundings! You may be able to avoid an attack, rather than have to react to one.
And please don’t rely on it to save you.