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Apps for Halloween safety

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You use your smart phone to make grocery lists, to connect to friends and family via social media, and to make purchases online. 

You can also use your phone to keep your family safe this Halloween by downloading a few apps. From a pop-up storm to a serious crime, these apps will help you be aware of current issues in your neighborhood and may just save the day.

Check the weather before heading out and during your walk if the skies look gray. The Weather Channel and MyRadarWeather both have free and paid versions to track local temperature, precipitation and severe weather alerts.

It's important to avoid uneven sidewalks and to remain visible to cars passing by so use any one of the free flashlight apps in the utilities category to light your way. If you come across an unsafe construction site or an illegal dumpsite posing a threat, you can report it via TrashOut , which has been popular in Europe.

Get the free Patch app from Patch Media Corporation, a popular local news source. Enter your town and receive updates on the latest news, community events, and business listings. Many Patch sites report crimes and emergencies in their communities with frequent updates as information becomes available, so you'll know about a potential dangerous situation as soon as possible.

Issues in your neighborhood may not be isolated to the physical environment; you may need to avoid some neighbors themselves. The Life 360 Sex Offender Search app allows you to find registered sex offenders in your neighborhood. The app provides a picture of the offender, a current address, and charges he was convicted of. Many parents stay on top of this information year-round but it's especially important to know who's door your child is knocking on at Halloween.

You are likely to accompany your young children trick-or-treating and can monitor their safety firsthand but many teens go out without parental supervision. It's important to set ground rules beforehand. Make sure your teen charges her cell phone before she heads out and remind her to leave it on.

Circle of 6 is a popular app among teens and college students that offers a way out of uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situations. Your teen stores up to six contacts in her circle and by simply hitting an icon, a pre-programmed text message is sent to all of them. The phone icon asks the circle to call the user to interrupt an uncomfortable situation, which is great if your teen wants to excuse himself but is worried about seeming uncool. The car icon sends out a text message asking the circle to come pick up the user at her current location, which is delivered with a link to the location via Google Maps. The app has a link to a rape or sexual assault hotline, a relationship abuse hotline, and a spot for another custom hotline, so be sure to have a thorough conversation with your teen about those very serious situations.

Every parent's worst nightmare is a missing child. The Kids ID app allows you to create a file for each child, including their current picture and vital statistics. This information can be directly emailed to your police department should your child go missing. There is also a checklist for you to follow in the minutes following your child's disappearance, which is the most critical time.

For children with a serious medical condition, response time to an emergency is crucial to their care. The Emergency Aid app allows you to create a medical profile complete with a picture, notes about current conditions and medications, doctor's names and contact information, and detailed lists of what to do and what not to do in case of an emergency for those assisting your child. There is also an optional password to protect private information.

Apps can be used to stay organized, get information, or have fun but this Halloween, an app may just keep you safe. From potential environmental hazards to dangerous social scenarios, these apps may help you and your family avoid a bad situation or even help navigate one.

Jennifer is an educational consultant who works with families and educators to establish healthy and productive routines in the home and school. Adapting behavior management techniques she implemented for years as a special educator, she helps parents and teachers adopt these tools to fit their unique needs and priorities. Jennifer also speaks to parent and education groups on current topics in education and children's health. Visit www.jennifercerbasi.com