One of the most surprising tips I learned in a women’s self-defense class was that something as innocuous as my hairstyle can make me exponentially more vulnerable to a mugging or personal attack. Women who wear their hair down are far less likely to be attacked than women who wear their hair in braids or ponytails. The rationale? If an attacker grabs a chunk of your loose hair, painful though it may be, if you pull hard enough it will rip and you can get away. Try pulling yourself free from someone who has a hold on your entire head of hair – you’ll find it impossible. Surprising? It may be, to you – but it’s not to the criminals who are seeking out their next victims.
Safety – especially as a single mom living alone – is a top priority for me. I recognize that coming home late to an empty house, or even running errands with a tantrum-throwing child puts me at a statistically-higher risk of becoming the victim of a crime. That’s why my interest was captured when I received an email from iUDAME (sounds like the Spanish word for “help me!” for those of you not from
South Florida) about their newly-launched safety app, available on iOS and Android. And while other services, like Kitestring, are already on the market, iUDAME’s feature set is likely going to
appeal to a much broader audience with a myriad of needs.
The app allows users to input up to 5 trusted friends and relatives as emergency contacts. In the
event of an emergency, with the touch of a button, your phone will automatically notify those contacts and emergency responders, providing them with your name, any profile information that’s significant (such as chronic health conditions or allergies), and your location. While apps like Kitestring were designed to notify contacts in the absence of action (such as not checking in when you’ve gotten home safely from a bar), iUDAME enables you to actively notify contacts of an emergency in progress with the touch of a button. Because the app will also contact 911 and provide emergency responders and your contacts with your name, location, and medical information, it is useful for:
- People who are living with chronic illness, allergies, or those who live at home alone: The founder, himself, was inspired to create the app when his sister suffered a fatal heart attack at 32. She chose to call her husband first, losing precious minutes in calling emergency responders that could have proven to be life-saving. Her story is not unique – my own best friend from childhood died of a heart attack this year at the age of 34.
- Women: Whether you live alone, with roommates, or with a spouse, you’re statistically more likely to be the victim of a crime when you’re alone. This app lets you alert your contacts to a problem – even when you aren’t able to speak. This can mean the difference between getting quick help in an emergency – from a home invasion to a sexual assault – and a much nastier outcome.
- Children: iUDAME also gives parents the ability to activate the iUDAME app on their children’s phones in the event that they are unable to locate them, if they don’t come home after a night out, or if they believe their children are in danger – making it a key safety app for parents. With an out-of-state stepchild in college, this app seems like a perfect tool for getting help quickly if something happened.
As we approach the holiday rush, please keep in mind that the “most wonderful time of the year” is also the most dangerous time of the year. Crimes – ranging from home and vehicle break-ins to muggings, rapes, and other violent crimes increase in frequency this time of the year. So once you’ve installed your iUDAME app and configured it appropriately, these are some other things you can do to stay safe this holiday season:
- From South University: “When you leave the mall, before you walk outside, put your keys in your hand, think about where you parked, and put the cell phone down,” Willingham says. “These guys look for victims. If someone is walking swiftly with a purpose and they know what’s going on around them, they’re not going to attack that individual.”
- From NYPD: Don’t listen to music or wear headphones, talk or text on your phone while walking. Criminals seek out distracted people who aren’t aware of their surroundings.
- From Criminal Justice Degree Guide: Rape is one of the 10 most common crimes during the holiday season. Rapes tend to increase during the holiday season, likely in part because of increased volumes of parties and drinking. To avoid becoming a victim, limit your alcohol consumption, and if you’re out, watch your drink at all times. There are a number of tools that you can use to inconspicuously check whether your drink has been targeted – and you may want to invest in one of these tools if you know you’ll be out and about during the holidays.