With South Africa and its people in the grip of rising cases – some of them high-profile – of violence against women and children, it’s now more important than ever to make sure you are safe, and that your loved ones know where you are and how to contact you. While the perfect scenario would be to not have to resort to using these sorts of means, here are a couple of handy apps and tips that will make you feel a tad bit safer.
First, let's run down some of the more popular emergency and SOS apps currently available:
bSafe is a truly amazing piece of software, downloaded by millions of users around the world. Primarily aimed at teens and young kids with access to smartphones, the app can be used by anyone. When you hit the panic button in an emergency, guardians or your emergency contact is alerted and not only do they have access to your live location, but your smartphone’s video and audio is turned on for recording. Other impressive features include voice-activation, eliminating the need to remove your phone from your pocket when you don’t have a chance to do so, a siren which can act as a deterrent or alert people nearby when needed, a fake call generator to get you out of unpleasant or threatening situations, and the ability to set up a network of friends and family who act as your guardians.
While bSafe is the most feature-rich app available, there are alternatives that work just as well:
Over 300,000 people have downloaded Namola, the local emergency app by insurance providers DialDirect. The app is really simple: when you feel threatened or are in an emergency, you can quickly open the app, hit ‘Request Assistance’ and you will be called back immediately. Your GPS location is also shared with emergency responders as well as 5 emergency contacts who can view your live location. Namola also recently launched Namola Plus, a panic button for times when you don’t have your smartphone with you. The button retails for R2499 and includes a 12-month subscription to the service.
Another impressive local app is mySOS, a panic button-style app that connects users to over 20,000 service providers and their location and contact details. The app allows you to activate an emergency for yourself or on behalf of someone else. You are also able to load personal information as well as medical aid information. When you hit the panic button, your location (including the street address), your name and the nature of the emergency is forwarded to 5 contacts.
Apple Emergency SOS
Apple – from iOS 11 and up – comes with a built-in Emergency SOS feature. To activate the feature on iPhone 8 or later, press and hold the side button along with one of the volume keys until the SOS slider appears. Activating this will call the local emergency number. Once you are done with the call, your details are then forwarded to your emergency contacts, which can be set up beforehand. You can read more about the feature here.
What else can you do to make sure you're connected at all times?
1. Keep your device charged up: If your smartphone has no power, then you cannot use it in an emergency. As best you can, make sure you leave for your journey with a sufficient amount of battery. If you can't, make sure you have a power bank, even a small one with enough to power up your phone in case of an emergency. If you feel you might not have enough power for your journey, put your device into a low-power or power-saving mode.
2. ICE contacts: Most devices come with a feature to add emergency contacts. List useful contacts including your doctor, spouse or other next of kin for first responders to have access to. On iPhone, set up the Medical ID feature by opening the Health app, tap the Medical ID tab, Edit and turn on Show When Locked. Setting this up on Android might differ from brand to brand, but this will generally appear under Settings.
3. Keep your location on: Through the abovementioned apps along with Find my iPhone and Google's Find My Device, your family and friends are only able to track your location if your location services are connected. In addition, keeping your Wi-Fi on greatly reduces the search area as your phone might pick up Wi-Fi hotspots to pinpoint your exact location. With this in mind, it is also a good idea to make sure you have enough mobile data on your phone at all times. If you're in a location that is new or unfamiliar to you, send a location to your family and friends or check-in on social media.
You can never be too safe and it’s always going to be handy to note a few of these apps and tips. We’ve seen in the news that violent crimes can occur even in places we’d assume are safe. weFix, recognizing the importance of having a device that’s in tip-top shape, invites all patrons to have their smart devices charged at any one of our stores FOR FREE to ensure that when you’re on your journey home, you are prepared.