Have you ever had a nightmare that you are trying to dial 911 but your fingers are shaking too much to hit the buttons or you can’t get your phone unlocked fast enough?
Staying safe at college is a subject that every parent wants to talk to their kids about, and they will be happy to know that college students talk about it too! A friend of mine recently texted me a link to a new safety app called Safe Trek, which was created by students at the University of Michigan to be a “blue light in the palm of your hand.” As an incoming college freshman this fall, I think a safety app right on your phone is such a great idea that I want to share it with everyone who is starting a new college semester.
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Safe Trek is designed to keep you feeling safe when you aren’t sure a call to 911 is necessary. I found myself in exactly this situation after leaving a birthday dinner in Boston over the summer.
I was walking with two of my girlfriends through the corridor of a closed mall toward a subway station. As our heels echoed down the empty hall, another set of footsteps joined ours. I looked back to see a man walking toward us and gaining ground at an uneasy rate. At first my friends and I shook off our fear as paranoia, but when we hit the escalator and the man decided to stand one step behind us, my heart really started to race.
At the end of escalator was a vacant tunnel leading to the subway, and I couldn’t help but think it looked like a perfect place for a horrifying movie-murder scene. I slipped my phone out of my pocket and dialed 911, tilting the screen so that both my friends understood that if the man made one wrong move, my finger was on the trigger. It wasn’t until we were safe on the train that I realized my plan had been flawed—what if the man had knocked the phone out of my hand before I hit the button? Did I even have my GPS turned on if the police picked up to an empty line? Would they even think anything of it?
How It Works
An app like Safe Trek seems to me to be the perfect solution to close-call situations like these. The safety app allows you to discretely hold your finger on a button whenever you feel unsafe. After your sense of security returns, simply let go of the button and enter in your preprogrammed four-digit pin. If this pin number is not entered within ten seconds after taking your finger of the button, the police will be alerted and instantly know your location.
Use Your Head (and your nails, too!)
I just started college as a freshman this fall, and I think this is an app that every college student should know about. Safety tools like these are cropping up in other ways, too. There is another new safety product also created by college students that’s recently been making a buzz in the media. Undercover Colours is a nail polish invented by four students at North Carolina State University that can detect date-rape drugs in a women’s drink. It’s not on the market yet, but you can like their Facebook page if you want to help support it.
But while products like Safe Trek and Undercover Colours are a great ideas, never forget that common sense is still the best safety device. Always travel in groups, especially at night, and leave no friend behind—everyone who goes out together, should return together.
If you have more great college safety tips to share, let us know!
Jennifer Leilani Thomas is a freshman at Emerson College in Boston where she majors in Visual Media Arts with a post-production concentration. She enjoys playing college softball and exploring Boston with her friends.