Smartphone apps to keep you safe

Apps make your smartphone a high-tech safety device

Your kids are probably out of school for the summer, or they're about to be -- either way, that means they'll be out and about, possibly without you. If you're concerned about what they'll be up to, personal safety apps offer an easy, high-tech way to keep tabs on them.

From alarms to GPS tracking, the apps market is now flooded with programs designed to keep you or your kids safe from attackers or just keep families in touch.

Jarrett Arthur knows a thing or two about how to stay safe. For more than a decade, she's specialized in teaching self-defense, which now includes how to use your phone to help you stay safe.

"Lately, I've been getting a lot of questions about safety apps," said Arthur.

Arthur said she like apps like SafeTrek that notify police of your location when you hit a button.

"I'm going to put my finger right on the button and now I'm walking to my car," said Arthur, describing how SafeTrek works. "I get hit, I get tackled, I have to fight back, I ditch my phone, then that call is being made and the signal is being made automatically to authorities."

Personal Safety Apps

Safety apps, like BSafe, Circle of 6, Red Panic Button and Guardly, are among a growing number of programs designed to instantly alert authorities or friends if you believe you are in danger.

These particular apps all have similar features, where they'll send your location to those people you designate as an emergency contact.

With the free BSafe app, for example, if you press the SOS alarm, a siren will sound, flashlight will turn on and your guardians will receive an SMS message.

In that message, the contacts you've set as guardians will get a map of your location, video of what's happening around you, and your phone will even call your primary guardian, which can be 911 dispatchers.

Cindy Yokoyama said she downloaded safety apps on her phone for extra protection.

"If I was alone and not with my kids, I think I would feel comfortable having the safety app in one hand and using the other hand for safety," said Yokoyama.

If you do have children, there are also safety apps out there that are geared towards allowing you to keep on eye on your family.

For example, with the free app Life 360, you'll see your whole family on a private map and be able to check in with the one tap check-in button.

If there's a problem, you just press the alert button and everyone gets a message letting them know you need help.

You can also track to see that your kids made it home when they were supposed to.

In the event of an emergency, as we head into hurricane season, you would also be able to let family members know you were safe even if you couldn't get a call to go through.

When selecting an app, you may want to consider how often you think you'll use it and balance that with the cost. There are several apps that are free, while others may have a fee to download or may charge additional fees or subscription fees to use advanced or premium features.

Whichever you decide works best for you, experts said the best way to stay safe is to be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times-- don't let your smartphone distract you into a dangerous situation.