As summer approaches, many of us are looking forward to travel, weddings, parties and spending time outside. All this action can be a great thing, but it also presents more opportunities for women to be vulnerable, whether it's when we're traveling alone, jogging at dusk or walking home solo on a warm night.
While it's important to be aware of your surroundings and make wise decisions year-round, the start of summer is an ideal time to re-up on strategies for staying safe — and the products, apps and tips below will help give you and the people you love protection and peace of mind.
Phone a friend
Red Panic Button is a free SOS call app that lets you send your location (via text and email) to a list of emergency contacts, which shows up through a Google Maps link. The best part: It only takes a single click, and you don't even have to sign into your phone — you can activate it through your screensaver. Ideal, since in emergencies, who's going to have the time (or wherewithal) to type in their phone password? Its simplicity is touted as easy to use even for kids, the elderly or disabled.
When you've sold an old laptop or coffeemaker on Craigslist, you probably want to get rid of it ASAP. If the buyer lives locally, it can be tempting to meet in person rather than wasting time or money mailing the item. But letting a stranger into your home to pick it up is never a good idea — and even meeting in a public place can be nerve-wracking. The solution: Many police stations offer Safe Exchange Zones, a location that aims to give people a safe space to exchange items bought online. The areas are monitored via camera in the event that something shady goes down. Contact your police station to see if your town — or a nearby one — has one of these safe zones.
Revolar ($59) is a clip-on device ideal for women on the go in any setting, especially if you enjoy walking or jogging outside regularly or travel to new places often. Not only can you send for help if needed, the Revolar can do everything from find your keys to help you meet your daily step goals. Just download the app and plug in details on contacts you trust. With the push of the clip-on’s button, you can alert your friends and loved ones to your GPS location if you’re feeling vulnerable. Want to get out of a sticky situation (whether it's a bad date or something more serious)? Discreetly click the device to make your phone ring so you can excuse yourself without raising suspicion — brilliant.
Want to report an incident but aren’t sure how or whether it's safe to do so? That’s the idea behind Callisto, the free tech platform used at some universities. Members of a community can record data about an event and timestamp it confidentially without yet submitting the report to authorities. They can decide to send the report later when they're ready or use a cool feature that ensures the report goes through only if someone else reports the same perpetrator. Want to bring Callisto to your community? Click here to become a campus partner or recommend a school.
Safety for students
POM (from $45) is a wearable "peace of mind" device that's perfect for college students, as it can alert campus security with the push of a button, shares real-time information on your location and also lets you make a phone call through the device.
Catching it on camera
Take a social media break
Wherever you head this summer, try not to blast the fact that you’ve left your home empty on social media. If you must post about your exciting travels, do so only to a select group of friends. No point in letting strangers or predators know that your home is unguarded — or that you might be traveling solo.
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