5 summer apps to keep you safe outdoors

Download these to your smartphone before you head out for a hike, jog or even a walk across campus

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Summer time is the perfect time to head outdoors. The extra long days provide ample opportunity to explore the woods, head to the beach or even train for an upcoming marathon. While these adventures are the gateway for incredible memories, many people, especially solo travelers, may want a little backup. Luckily, taking a few seconds to download a smartphone app can add a safety measure and way to stay connected. Check out some of summer's best safety apps — both for iOS and Android devices.

Companion lets you tap friends or family and let them know where you are when you head out for an adventure.GearBrain


Spending time alone is great for the soul, but sometimes you want people to be able to get in touch with you, just in case. Companion is a free iOS app that makes sure your outdoor adventure never leaves you completely alone. You can save your home address and insert the location of where you are headed so that emergency contacts — in other words, your virtual companions — can connect with you immediately. Companion also live tracks your location at all times, and contacts receive a notification when you have reached your destination. If an emergency arises, contacts and emergency workers can be alerted instantly at the press of a button with the most recent GPS location.

Find cell service locations — even if you're off grid — through CairnGearBrain


Wilderness lovers and those who want to get an 'off the grid' experience this summer can create a safety net without ever having to place a phone call. Cairn is a free iOS app that lets you download hundreds of maps that show where cell service for various providers is available along your routes, even if you're offline without an internet connection. You can also use Cairn to share planned routes with loved ones and send one-click messages that you're okay. If a contact doesn't receive a notification by a certain time, Cairn will share information on alternatives methods of communication and how to contact search and rescue teams for the area. While an Android version isn't ready at press time, the company appears to be currently working on one.

Emergency details from how to help someone who has a broken bone to handling asthma attacks is easy to find through the American Red Cross First Aid appGearBrain

First Aid: American Red Cross

Accidents happen a lot during summer vacations and when they do it's important to know how to react to get the best outcome possible. The American Red Cross created the First Aid app to teach users emergency information for asthma attacks, bleeding, broken bones, burns, choking and more. The app, which works on both iOS and Android devices, also includes emergency preparation information, emergency knowledge quizzes and a database for nearby hospitals and medical centers. Those who are interested in giving back to American Red Cross can even learn more about blood, platelet and plasma donation services.

Enter details such as where you car is parked into HikerAlert so people know where you last were before you went out for a trekGearBrain


Planning on doing a lot of hiking this summer? HikerAlert is a great way to ensure that people know you return home safely from every outing. This service is web-based, so rather than sit on an app on your phone, you need to enter details on its site which can be accessed from a mobile device. While not free, HikerAlert charges an annual fee of $5.99, but does offer to refund your money after 30 days if the service doesn't work as you expected.

After setting your desired return time, this app will automatically send an alert to your emergency contacts if you fail to make it by that deadline. You can add your personal information, planned trails you're hiking, details about your car and where it is parked, plus who is along for the hike: from friends to pets. You can also include the equipment you're carrying including water, food and other outdoor gear. All the fields are updated prior to each trip so that emergency contacts and services will have data they may need should they need to begin a search and rescue operation.

Simplicity makes this app worth considering — hold down a button in the app while you're out if you feel unsafe and if you lift your finger, help is sentNoonlight


Noonlight bills itself as a personal safety app and while not free the app is simplicity itself in its design. You push down a button when you feel unsafe — while walking, outside, at night or even during the day. When you lift your finger, the app gives you a moment to enter a four-digit pin. If it's not entered, Noonlight assumes you're in danger, contacting the authorities to your location — even if you're moving.

At $2.99 a month, the iOS and Android app is certainly an expense that should be considered. (The first month, however, is free.) You can cancel at any time, but charges are billed through your iTunes account. You can also link Noonlight to Alexa and Google Home devices, as well as other connected gadgets, taking this from a mobile app to one you can bring home.

- Li Cohen is a New York-based writer.

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