Use Your Phone for Safety

  • Published
  • By Adam Sandbek, 75th Air Base Wing Safety

HILL AIR FORCE BASE – Approximately 55 million Americans drove more than 50 miles from their residence to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and more than 100 million will hit the road to celebrate Christmas.

Delays, winter weather, traffic congestion and an already stressful season can wreak havoc on drivers during the primary travel period between Dec 22-Jan. 2.

The 75 ABW Safety staff recommends you plan ahead this holiday season for increased road traffic, evaluate conditions and consider using a check-in feature or app to let friends or family members know you are on your way.

Your phone can also send alerts if you’re delayed by traffic, experience bad weather or, hopefully never, get into a serious accident.

Your phone map application can detect traffic, crashes, lane closures, weather restrictions, and will optimize a route for you based on those inputs. Most of us know the way to “grandmother’s house” but it doesn’t hurt anything to put it in your phone’s GPS. It may save you time, frustration and alert you to potentially dangerous conditions.

From many map applications, you can share your ETA with your contacts and you can also allow them to see your location, as well as stops you made. If you connect to your vehicle, it can also stop the kids from asking “are we there yet?”

Another measure you can take is to enable weather alerts on your phone. These are managed through the location services settings and will provide weather notifications based on your exact location. I’ve decided several times to avoid or reschedule travel based on weather alerts.

A new feature available with the latest iOS version is called “check-in”. It is very simple to use. You can send a text message to any of your contacts letting them know you’re leaving a location, and that you want to “check in” when you arrive at your destination. Your phone does this automatically.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve said you would, “call when you get there” but then forgot.

Finally, and I hope this never happens to you, your phone can alert emergency medical services if you’ve been in a crash through automatic detection using an accelerometer and gyroscope—we’re living in the future.

If you have an Apple device, it will request EMS, notify your default emergency contact, and use all cellular networks available, and will tap into satellite service, if needed, to get aid to your location.

Turn these features on and keep your emergency contact updated. Other platforms have this capability, but your author only has experience with Apple devices.

The bottom line is, our phones are for much more than social media, TikTok, YouTube, gaming and browsing. When properly set up, our phones can alert us to changing conditions, keep us connected to loved ones, and literally save our life if there’s a serious collision.

Yes, there are some privacy considerations, but from a risk management perspective it just makes sense.