For any parent, not knowing where their child is or who they’re with can be scary- scarier than all the haunted houses and candy induced stomach aches combined. Just because Halloween is the spookiest part of the year (cue the black cats, witches, and ghouls) doesn’t mean you have to fear for your child’s safety. Through the use of smartphone apps and proper planning, parents who are letting their children trick-or-treat in a group setting without adult supervision can rest easy this Halloween knowing their children are safe.
Apart from chaperoning your children’s trick-or-treating outing, there are a handful of reliable yet unobtrusive ways to ensure your kids stay safe. Before you start downloading additional apps and adding GPS beacons to your child’s costume, consider the basics.
Establish a timeframe with your child for routine check-ins. Whether it’s a call updating you every hour or two, or even just a quick text message, making sure your children know to check in at pre-determined variables can give you an added sense of security. You can even set alarms on your child’s phone that remind them to check in with you.
Another simple yet effective safety precaution is to program In Case of Emergency (aka ICE) contacts into your child’s phone. Honestly, this is a safety function that you’ll want to program regardless of the time of year. Numbers that are labeled with ICE make them much easier to search, and in case of emergency, safety officials know to check a phone for these contacts first.
If your child has any health issues or allergies, you can even add this information to their phone. For iPhone users, this is as simple as updating their Medical ID. For Android users, you may have a Medical ID feature in your phone’s settings depending on the phone and OS you’re running. If your child’s phone doesn’t have a native Medical ID feature, there are plenty of free apps available.
For parents who have already covered their bases and are looking for additional ways to ensure a safe Halloween, there are a handful of apps available:
Family Locator is a free app that allows you to track your family members while keeping in touch via instant messages. Parents can see their kid’s locations in real time, set safe and unsafe zones on the map, and even get notifications if they leave the designated safe area.
The Red Panic Button is another free app geared towards emergencies. If your child presses the panic button, their phone will immediately send a text message and email containing their GPS location and a Google Maps link. You can add multiple people to their panic contact list that will receive these messages, so your entire family can be alerted instantly with one press of the button.
Life 360 is another app similar to Family Locator that allows you to view your family members on a map, communicate with them via instant messaging, and receive alerts when they have arrived at their destination. Life 360 allows the user to create custom groups as well as communicate via group chat. You can also set boundaries so you can be assured your kids stay in a safe area.
This Halloween, don’t take anything to chance. Make sure to cover the safety basics with your child before they trick-or-treat, and establish a schedule for regular communication throughout the night. If you do decide to use any additional apps, make sure your child knows how to use each one, as well as how important they can be for their safety.
Finally (and this should go without saying), make sure their phones are fully charged before they walk out the door!