Running Alone Just Got a Little Bit Safer

New app allows solo athletes to easily alert emergency contacts

Yank/iTunes App Store

When it comes to running safely, one of the smartest things you can do is run with friends. Going solo, especially when it’s dark outside or you’re charting unfamiliar territory, greatly increases your risk for danger because you’re more vulnerable and have less access to immediate help if you become injured.

Of course, running with friends or in a group isn’t always an available option. Busy schedules or a lack of friends who are willing to rack up miles with you means sometimes you have no choice but to go it alone. (Plus, us runners enjoy being left alone with just our thoughts and the road sometimes.)

When you head out on your own— whether you’re running, hiking, biking or simply traveling a foreign country solo— a few things you can do to increase your safety include carrying your ID or a road ID, stashing some extra cash or your credit card, bringing your charged cell phone, and notifying a close-by friend or family member about where you’re heading and how long you plan to be gone for.

And if you want to take your safety one step further. You might consider downloading an app like Yank. It easily allows users to alert emergency contacts (by yanking their headphones from the media jack) in case of a situation where they feel threatened or encounter any sort of issue.

Adam Peruta, an assistant professor in the Department of Strategic Communication at Ithaca College, developed the concept for the app with runners in mind specifically, but (especially in a day and age when many people are walking around with earbuds plugged in) the app seems to be extremely useful for anybody who encounters an issue when alone.

The app runs in the background of your phone while you’re listening to music through headphones. If you feel threatened, sustain an injury or are in any other type of danger, yank out your headphones and an alert (including a map with your GPS location) is sent to your pre-designated emergency contact through both email and text message.

Of course, we’ve all experienced the accidental headphone yank, which is why the app includes a 20-second countdown that allows you to cancel the alerts before they are sent if triggered unintentionally. On the other hand, if you’re in immediate danger you can tap your phone to skip the countdown and send out the alerts immediately.  

Peruta also notes that in a case where your phone becomes damaged (say an attacker smashes it) the alerts would still get out because the sequence triggers are programmed in the cloud immediately.

“Our future plan includes getting Alarm Charms or little plugs made that would fit into the headphone jack to activate the alarm feature in lieu of headphones," Peruta said in a press release. “Yanking the Charm would activate the alert sequence like the headphones do now. Users see the value in the app and would like it to be available outside of just using it with headphones.”

Yank is currently available only to iOS7 users however, Peruta hopes to expand its capabilities by one day tying into college campus public safety systems and 24/7 call centers. 


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