Scroll To See More Images
As a 25-year-old woman who regularly goes on spontaneous late-night runs, walks the two and a half miles home from work in the dark almost daily, and has headed out on first dates with virtual strangers on more than a few occasions, I’ve been in more than one situation that’s left me looking over my shoulder uncomfortably. I need to step up my safety game! Cue a few of my favorite personal safety apps that make me feel a thousand times less stressed when I’m just trying to live my life.
I’m not alone in feeling stressed about my daily safety: I bet if you ask any woman on the street if she’s ever felt anxious when out alone, she’d respond with a resounding “Yes!” And with good reason: One in five American women will be raped in her lifetime; a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds in the U.S. and 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the United States have been stalked in their lifetime.
With all this in mind, it seemed like a no-brainer when a friend suggested I free up a little memory on my iPhone for a personal safety app. Right now I have bSafe downloaded onto my phone, but there are a ton of different free options—and a few handy devices—that act as alarms or send location updates and alerts to your selected contacts when you’re feeling unsafe. Some of the apps and devices on this list can even call 911 directly if needed. Read on to see several of the best apps and devices that help you take your safety into your own hands. Literally.
Our mission at STYLECASTER is to bring style to the people, and we only feature products we think you’ll love as much as we do. Zich and QVC are STYLECASTER sponsors, however, all products in this article were independently selected by our editors. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.
Zich offers a range of safety features designed to keep you safe no matter what. You can send SOS alerts using either your voice or a tap, automatically send audio and video clips during an emergency, and receive fake phone calls whenever you’re in an uncomfortable situation so you can always have the perfect exit strategy on-hand. You can also have a friend watch out for you by sharing your live location and recordings and in the event you feel a threat, keep your finger on or near the “Alert” button and release if you feel any danger. This app is free to download on the App Store and Google Play and includes free unlimited one-minute fake calls for all users, one month free for all subscribers and a monthly subscription price of $2.99.
Invisawear makes accessories that can make you feel just a little bit safer. The cute necklace actually has a hidden button that connects directly to an app on your phone. If you push the bottom twice, the app tells your friends and family that you need help via a text containing your exact location. You can even call 911 directly or set up the app so that it can make a loud noise to throw off your attacker.
3. One Scream
Let One Scream make you feel just a little bit safer on your next run. Turn on the app’s location feature before you head out, and scream if you encounter any danger. 20 seconds after the initial sound, the app notifies a list of people that you can customize in advance.
There are a lot of really great features on bSafe that are available for free. You can set up a network of “Guardians” who can then follow you home via a GPS trace—kind of like how you can follow an Uber driver who’s about to pick you up. I know my mom would have loved this when I still lived at home.
There’s also an emergency alarm that you can hit, which will then send your exact location to your guardians while also recording audio and video from your phone, which gives you the opportunity to present that footage to the police later on, should you need to.
There is one small downside to this app, however: Having the GPS running will drain your battery a little faster.
5. Red Panic Button
Red Panic Button sends your location via a Google Maps link to emergency contacts (which you enter when you set up the app) any time you press the red panic button. Obvious enough! You can also opt to set up emailed panic alerts with more information, or Twitter and Facebook panic buttons, which will tweet or post an emergency message or status from your account. This app works for your phone, iPad or Apple Watch.
Flare isn’t just an app. Rather, it’s a stylish bracelet that links to one! It comes equipped with a small button that triggers a number of different responses, should you ever find yourself in danger. You can send your location in a text to five friends, receive a call that acts as the perfect way out of a sketchy situation, or connect with 911 directly in seconds.
Kitestring isn’t an app, but it is a text-message service that checks up on you when you’re out—kind of like an overprotective mother. If you don’t check in with Kitestring by text, it sends a personalized alert message to your listed emergency contact. Kind of a great idea for when you’re going on a date with a stranger or walking through a shady neighborhood, am I right?
8. React Mobile
After being the victim of an armed robbery while in college, cofounder Robb Monkman got to work on an app that would discreetly call for help when you’re in a scary situation. What he came up with is React Mobile, a key ring device that pairs with an app on your phone via Bluetooth, so you can get help faster if your phone is locked or out of reach. Hitting a button on the device will send an alert to your network, so they know where you are and that you need help.
A version of this article previously appeared in February 2016.