When I was young, all I needed to know was "never accept candy from strangers." Today, that seems to be the least of our worries. Fortunately, the tools we have available to protect ourselves and the ones we love are more powerful…and more mobile than ever before.
Deal with medical emergencies quickly
In the event of an emergency, paramedics or medical professionals may require quite a bit of background information before they can begin treating you. Of course, you might be unconscious, or dazed, and unable to respond. Fortunately, there are apps that can do your talking for you.
ICE ($0.99; catalystsw.com) and iEmergency+ ($0.99; kavapoint.com) allow you to record all of your critical health-related information, including your emergency contacts, doctor, and insurance information; as well as your important medical information, including relevant illnesses, medications, and allergies. Emergency personnel are trained to look for information if a person is non-responsive, so make it easy for them. Keep the icons for these programs on your main Home screen, and don’t lock your iPhone or iPod touch.
Even more important than protecting yourself is protecting your family and loved ones in the event of a medical emergency, or caring for them when they are ill. Even if you have good insurance, those co-pays can really add up. Fortunately, you can improve your response to healthcare issues and reduce costs if you have the correct information at your disposal.
Both SymptomMD ($2.99; selfcare.info) and Pediatric SymptomMD ($1.99; selfcare.info) help you identify symptoms and determine the best course of action. You can use these apps to ensure you are administering the proper dose of any prescribed or over-the-counter medications. Finally, you can dial your doctor, a local ER, or 911 from either of these apps.
In some cases, you can’t wait for emergency personnel to arrive; you need to take immediate action to save someone’s life. A basic knowledge of the Heimlich maneuver, CPR, and other critical first aid measures can mean the difference between life and death, between mild irritation and significant injury. Before an emergency occurs, check out American Heart Association’s Pocket First Aid & CPR ($3.99; jive.me).
If anything happened to your dog or cat, it would be like losing a member of your family—especially to your children. Pet First Aid ($3.99; jive.me) gives you the information you need to identify and deal with common health-related issues your cat or dog might experience. In addition, you can use the app to store your pet’s vital information, including medications, medical history, and veterinarian’s contact information.
Keep your neighborhood safe
One of the more serious threats to children, and the one that worries parents the most, is sexual predators. Offender Locator ($1.99, free "Lite" version also available; govision2020.com) identifies persons on the Registered Sex Offender list in your area. You can enter your address or use the GPS capabilities of your iPhone to select the area. I found roughly 50 registered sex offenders within five miles of my house and used the information to establish "off limits" areas for my children.
Want to know what is going on in your area that might affect your safety? Check out local newspapers and related blogs. You can also get a feel for local safety issues by listening to emergency and police radio communications, and you can do it on your iPhone. Emergency Radio ($2.99; edgerift.com), Scanner 911 ($0.99; scanner911app.com), Police Radio ($0.99; crushed boxsoftware.com), or Police Scanner ($2.99; juicydevelopment.com) let you listen in on a variety of emergency radio scanners in hundreds of cities.
Find and report missing children
Kids have a way of being right in front of you one second and gone the next. Most of the time, they’re around the corner or at a friend's house. But if your child is really missing… well, it's a parent's worst nightmare.
If you ever have to report a missing child, the police are going to ask a lot of questions designed to help them find your child. Unfortunately, you're under a lot of stress at the time and you may find it difficult to find and provide critical information. An app like KidStatz can help ($0.99, free "Lite" version also available). It lets you store accurate and detailed info about your children (name, height, weight, medical history, medicines they are taking, birthmarks, distinguishing characteristics, etc.) as well as photos. You can e-mail that info directly from your iPhone to the authorities.
After you report your child missing, the police will likely issue an Amber Alert. Missing Children (Free; objectiveplay.com) and Amber Alert (Free; zdziarski.com/projects/amberalert) allow you to monitor Amber Alerts and other missing children reports in your area and nationwide. You can also use these apps to report sightings of any of the missing children.
Identify defective or substandard products before you buy them
It seems like every day you see another recall of a children's toy. There are two apps which can help keep you on top of this critical information. CPSC Recalls ($0.99; recalls.urbanapps.com) gives you a list of alerts from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission that is regularly updated. You can use the app to share recall info with others and review a history of recalls since 2001. Whistler ($0.99; pickledapps.com) provides notices from a number of U.S. government agencies, including safety alerts relating to health care products, road safety, disasters, and consumer products. I was a bit disappointed to find that Whistler, unlike CPSC Recalls, does not include pictures of the items in question. These pictures help you quickly determine whether or not you have the recalled item in question.
Avoid Mother Nature's wrath
Local weather conditions can change quickly, and it’s good to know if anything is threatening before you take the kids to the park. Weather radio is a great way to stay on top of current conditions, but who wants to keep the radio tuned to that station all day long? Fortunately, there’s an app that lets you access it whenever and wherever you want.
Weather Radio ($1.99; radiofor iphone.com) lets you listen in on weather reports and emergency weather broadcasts from NWR, the nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous, up-to-date weather information. If you want raw weather data, check out the NOAA National Weather Service app ($1.99; sites.google.com/site/nwsiapplication). Although not affiliated with NOAA, the app provides you all of the alerts straight from the National Weather Service.
Protecting those you care about
Whether it's a medical emergency, a defective product, or Mother Nature herself, danger is a fact of life. The apps discussed in this article help you protect those you care about—yourself, your family, your neighbors, and even your pets.