The tech that ensures you never have to walk truly alone
It's sad but true that we need to be posting this tech advice and products to empower us to stay alert and stay safe.
by Laura Kingston
The news of Sarah Everard has resonated with women across the country this week. Many of us will have had conversations with friends, parents and colleagues recounting close shaves or situations we were in where we feel ‘lucky’ that something didn’t happen.
We’ve all said ‘text me when you get home’. We’ve all rang our mum/partner/friend (delete as appropriate) to talk mindlessly to just to be on the phone as we’ve walked home alone. And we’ve all held our keys (or a full bag of dog poo) just that little bit tighter as we’ve walked past a man we’ve felt a bit unsure of.
The sad fact is that women are making these calculated decisions day-in-day-out, almost on auto-pilot. 100% of women I’ve spoken to in the last week have said they feel like they’ve experienced sexual harassment in some form during their lives.
The conversation is happening, things will hopefully change and one day, this might not be an issue. But right now, it still is, so we’ve compiled the below practical tips and handy products to help empower ourselves to stay alert, stay safe and look after each other.
Plan before you go out…
- Make sure that your Uber app is up-to-date and your bank card is linked. Add a couple of taxi numbers to your phone too in case of emergencies.
- Make sure that your phone is fully charged.
- Arrange to meet your friends in a safe place. Preferably inside rather than on the street.
- Make sure that you let a friend, partner or your parents know where you are going.
- Stash some cash on your person just in case you lose your bag or purse.
Stay alert when you’re out…
- Never leave your drink unattended.
- Look around you and be aware of what’s going on.
- Try to stay with friends – don’t leave anyone in your group alone and assume they’ll be ok.
- Leave a situation if you start to feel uncomfortable.
- If you accept a drink from someone, don’t leave them at the bar unattended – keep an eye on your drink.
- Know your limits and always stay in control.
Try to avoid walking alone at night, but if you do, remember these tips…
- Always keep to well-lit areas and use main roads and paths.
- Walk towards the traffic so that a car can’t pull up behind you.
- Change into comfortable shoes in case you need to run
- Never take shortcuts down dark alleys or through parks.
- If possible, call someone on your phone and talk to them while you’re walking – the entire time – and keep letting them know where you are.
- If an attacker goes for your bag or purse, throw it as far as you can and run in the opposite direction. Don’t struggle, the bag isn’t important, you are.
- Make sure you have some money in a pocket as well as in your bag, just in case.
- Consider carrying a personal alarm or a loud whistle.
- Stay aware of your surroundings – don’t wear headphones.
- Never accept a lift with a stranger or someone you don’t know very well. Get an Uber or a reputable taxi instead.
Set up ‘call with side button’ on your iPhone
Emergency SOS is set up on all iPhones when they come out of the box, but there’s a feature which has been doing the rounds on social media this week which needs to be set up manually. Once activated, if you rapidly press the side button 5 times, your phone will emit a loud alarm sound and call emergency services. It will also send a text with your exact location to your Emergency Contacts. Here’s how to set it up:
- Go to Settings – then Emergency SOS
- Toggle ‘Call with Side Button’ to activate the feature
- Update your Emergency Contacts but going to their contact profile and selecting ‘Add to Emergency Contacts’
Good to know: As long as your phone is nearby, this works exactly the same on your Apple Watch. Just hold the side bar down and wait for the alarm to sound. It will call emergency services and text your contacts.
So how does it work on Android?
On Android phones, this feature varies but you can usually check the settings by searching SOS in the settings.
Samsung phones have a feature called Send SOS Messages that allows you to press the side key three times to automatically message someone with your location. It will automatically attach pictures using your rear and front cameras, as well as an audio recording of the moments before the message was sent.
How to share your live location on WhatsApp
The Live Location feature on WhatsApp allows you to share your real-time location for a specific amount of time with an individual or group chat. Individuals who you shared your live location with will continue to see the location you shared as a static thumbnail image, and can tap the image to see your last updated location. This feature is end-to-end encrypted, which means no one can see your live location except the people you shared with.
First, you need to enable location permissions for WhatsApp in your phone’s Settings > Apps & notifications > Advanced > App permissions > Location > turn on WhatsApp.
Next, in WhatsApp, open the chat you want to share your location in.
Tap Attach, then choose Location and then Share live location.
Select the length of time you’d like to share your live location. Your live location will stop being shared after the selected amount of time.
Consider carrying a personal alarm
These small but mighty personal alarms give off a 140DB ear-piercing sound which can last for 50 minutes once activated. Designed to disorientate an attacker and sound the alarm for help, these personal alarms are discreet and super easy to use. There are plenty of options available on Amazon. We found this pack of 3 so you can put one on your key ring, one in your bag and make sure one is always to hand.
Best for joggers or long journeys
This wristband alarm is easy to carry and emits a 120 decibel sound as well as a flashing light when activated. Ideal for joggers if you don’t want to be clutching a personal alarm in your hand.
Did you know there are legal self-defence sprays in the UK?
We’ve all seen pepper spray on US films. it’s banned in the UK but there’s actually a UK-approved version that we can carry with us and use if necessary. EveAid is a pocket-sized spray that emits a powerful, non-toxic but overwhelming odour powerful enough to cling to clothes and skin for up to 3 days, helping Police to identify a perpetrator. UV dye which is invisible to the naked eye is released in the spray too.