Tag Archives: Waze

High-Tech and Low-Tech Ways to Help Prevent In-Car Heatstroke

By Tracey Dowdy

According to the National Safety Council, forty-two children have died after being left alone in a hot vehicle in 2019. While the danger is highest during the summer, deaths have been recorded for every month thus far, and are a risk in every state, even those with moderate temperatures. The NSC reports that “with an outside ambient air temperature of 72°F, the internal vehicle temperature can reach 117°F within 60 minutes, with 80% of the temperature increase occurring in the first 30 minutes.” If the temperature is between 72° and 96°F, the temperature inside your vehicle can jump 40 degrees in an hour. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that heatstroke is the leading cause of non-car crash vehicular death in children under 15

Hacks, like putting your cell phone or work bag in the back seat beside your child or creating your own version of Sophie’s Baby Forget-Me-Not, are practical ways to remind yourself to check the backseat. Alternatively, you could set a reminder in your phone, make a habit of calling or texting a spouse or family member to confirm drop-off or ask your daycare to text notification if your child isn’t dropped off. 

This year’s number is higher than average, and in response, automakers in the US have voluntarily committed to adding rear-seat warnings in essentially all new cars and trucks by model year 2025. The details of what the alerts will look like are unclear, however, they’re likely to be a combination of “auditory and visual alerts” that will turn on after the driver turns off the vehicle. 

Some vehicles, like the Kia Telluride, already come with a Rear-Occupant Alert System. Not only will it give you an on-screen alert that someone’s in the back, but it will also set off the car’s alarm if you walk away.

Until technology like this is available across the board, there are

devices available that can help you remember to check the backseat and prevent any more tragic deaths. 

Your favorite traffic app, Waze, can be set up to remind you to check the backseat when you reach your destination. Go to Settings and turn on the “Child Reminder” feature to start getting the notifications. You can even set a personalized message to further customize the alert. 

On the other hand, if you’re not a fan of Waze – currently, Cookie Monster is narrating my turn by turn directions, but you do you – the Kars 4 Kids Safety App for Android is available on Google Play. The app connects to your car’s Bluetooth so that when you leave the car, an alarm sounds. You can even add your child’s photo to customize the reminder. 

The Elepho eClip Baby Reminder is a car seat baby alarm that attaches to the car seat or seat belt, connects to your smartphone, and sends proximity alerts. Once activated, it syncs via Bluetooth to either your smartphone or an accompanying key fob. If you leave your child in the car and walk more than 15 feet away, an alarm will sound. If for any reason you don’t respond, the eClip will automatically text your spouse, partner, family, or friend. It also has a built-in thermometer and will alert the driver if the backseat is overheating or too cold. 

The Backseat App is available on iPhones and Android, and because it doesn’t rely on Bluetooth, it’s useful to parents who are driving older model vehicles that don’t have the technology built-in. One of its best features is that it works in multiple countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Mexico, New Zealand, and the U.K. Via the car’s GPS, the app reminds drivers to check the backseat when the car is parked. If the driver fails to respond to the alert, an email and a text message are sent to three pre-selected contacts that there’s a possibility a child has been left in the car. The messages also send the location of your vehicle, along with your car’s identifying characteristics.

The CYBEX Sirona M SensorSafe Car Seat is for children from birth up to 65 lbs, (approx. 4 years). When you get out of the car, the SensorSafe 2.0 automatically reminds you about the baby in the car seat via both the installed vehicle receiver and again through the SensorSafe app available for iOS and Android. The system turns on after you’ve driven for 30 seconds at 5 mph or more and monitors both whether the car seat’s chest clip is buckled or unbuckled and the temperature inside the car, using an internal thermometer in the chest clip. When the vehicle is stopped, the ignition turned off, or the chest clip released, an alert sounds, signaling that your child is still in their car seat. 

The Ride N Remind system monitors your vehicle’s rear doors and is automatically activated when either rear door is opened and closes within fifteen minutes of your vehicle is started or if the rear doors are opened and closed while your vehicle is running. Once the ignition is turned off, Ride & Remind emits a distinctive and continuous chime, reminding you to check the backseat. To deactivate the chime, users press a button located inside, near the rear door. If for any reason the chime is not responded to within 40 seconds, your car’s horn will alert you and anyone nearby with a loud, continuous SOS signal. Note: requires professional installation. 

If your child’s caregiver isn’t a big smartphone user, the Bee-Safe Child Auto Alarm is a low-cost system that alerts drivers to the possibility of children both in the back seat or behind the vehicle. The design is decidedly low tech – just peel and stick the unit on the panel behind the driver’s door. Installation takes less than 30 seconds. Best of all, they’re currently offering a Fall buy-one-get-one sale.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Apps for Your Memorial Day Weekend Road Trip

Tracey Dowdy

Ah, the great American road trip! Depending on how well your kids handle being strapped in for hours at a time, that phrase either filled you with delight or soul-crushing dread. My kids were pretty road hardy, but my friend Lilly’s daughter saw her car seat as a form of child abuse and would morph into a spider monkey if she even heard the phrase “road trip.” Getting her in the car required one of those clowns they use at rodeos to distract the rampaging bull and keep it from killing everyone in its path. At least that’s how I picture it.

Wherever your kiddos fall on the road trip spectrum, these apps can ensure things go as smoothly as possible and get you to your destination happy – and not just because you survived the tiny terror in the backseat!

We depend on our phones for navigation and entertainment while we drive but they’re not always within reach and it’s not always safe to pull over in order to find one. A car mount like Logitech’s ZeroTouch for Android puts your phone front and center and comes with an accompanying voice command app that syncs with your phone allowing hands-free calling, voice to text, voice navigation, location sharing, and voice activated music.

If your holiday includes planes, trains and automobiles, TripIt (Free – iOS, Android), is a sanity saver. Forward your reservations to plans@tripit.com and you’ll have access to all that information in one convenient location. You’ll get a master itinerary with maps, directions, and weather updates, all accessible anytime on or offline.

Waze (Free – iOS, Android), a community sourced traffic and navigation app, provides real time updates on your route so you’ll know about upcoming traffic jams, accidents, debris on the road or any of the other potential delays that will keep you from being where you need to be when you need to be there.

Automatic plugs in to your car’s computer and will report back to you on everything from your driving to why the check engine light just came on. It also has a parking map and walking directions so you’ll never lose your car again. Perhaps most important, if Automatic detects you’ve been in a serious crash, an agent will call to assist you, contact emergency services and loved ones and will stay on the line until help arrives.

The Sit or Squat app may be the greatest gift to road-tripping parents since the portable DVD player. Search and view for restrooms near you or at your destination, filter results by selecting Open Now, Sit-or-Squat Rating, Family Bathroom, Baby Changing Table, Handicap Accessible, or Pay-Per-Use toilets. (Free – iOS, Android)

Some newer model cars come equipped with 4G LTE but for those of us without, a mobile router is a great resource. Most carriers will let you add one to your existing plans so you have access to the data you’re already paying for, or choose Go from Karma with pre-paid data that you purchase by the gigabyte and that never expires.

Roadtrippers (iOS/Android) lets you find all the quirky and interesting sights along the way. Use the app to find a quick distraction when everyone is tired of the car or let Roadtrippers take you on the scenic route by choosing one of their Classic USA Road Trips. You can book hotels and share your itinerary with others all from within the app.

Despite the fact I grew up there and should have known better, a few years ago I came very close to being stranded and running out of gas in the Cape Breton highlands late at night. Gas Buddy (Free – iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry) is every road-tripper’s friend, as it not only helps you find the nearest gas station, it tells you prices so you can get the most for your money without going too far out of the way.

Finally, if the trip is taking longer than you expected or if you’ve just decided you’ve had enough for one day, Hotel Tonight (Free – iOS, Android),  is the answer, offering last-minute deals and discounted rates lower than what’s available on other apps. Search for hotels and see all the details you need – what’s close, which ones are pet friendly, have a fitness center, etc. Refer a friend and both of you receive a $25 discount when they book.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Top 10 Apps for the Business Traveler

By Michael Connolly

Not to age myself, but when I first traveled for business, I had to find a pay phone to call the airline and confirm that the flight was on time.  While I somehow got from point A to B, I have never had more fun traveling for business than today. The apps I use know me better than I know them. Below are my top 10:


What!? My boarding pass doesn’t have my frequent flyer number? I just got an email that my credit card bill is due tomorrow. My wife is calling asking what our AAA number is. My daughter forgot the Apple ID and password. With the 1Password app, I can store all my passwords in one app and take care of tasks while standing online at security. Of course you don’t want to have the same password for everything but good luck remembering all of them. That’s why this app is great, especially while on the road.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows


There are apps that have cracked my top 10 not based on productivity as much as based on enhancement of the business travel experience. Pocket stores articles for offline use. I actually smile when the flight attendant tells everyone to turn their devices onto airplane mode. Then I know it’s time to catch up on all of the articles I’ve saved on Pocket. It becomes like a customized newspaper that I enjoy creating, then reading.

Platform: iOS, Android


This app will tell you everything about the terminal you are in, security wait times, flight delays, gate changes or layover time adjustments. Last week in Cleveland, GateGuru told me that there is a Chic-Fil-A in between terminal A and B. Thank you!

Platform: iOS, Android


This is my go to for a central portal for flight itineraries. You book a flight and send the confirmation email to Tripit. The app organizes and presents the itinerary in a very readable way. The concept of forwarding an email to Tripit makes this an essential app to have.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows


Life360 tracks anyone you choose (with their consent) on a map. I have my family on there and see each of their icons on the map, which shows where they are by their phone location. No more “Honey, when will you be home?” Just look at the app. “When are the in-laws coming over?” Look at the app. As a business traveler, there are times that I may be delayed or tied up and Life360 allows my family to know where I am at all times. We have never used it in an emergency but I can imagine how useful it would be if the need arose.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows


This crowdsourcing app shows real time traffic and route suggestions. The first time I heard it say “Caution, car on shoulder in 10 feet” I thought a helicopter was following me from above. The perfect app for auto travel, particularly in lesser known cities. It has reduced the stress of just renting a car and hoping to get to my meeting on time.

Platform: iOS, Android

Business Insider

Of the hundreds of news apps, I really like the journalism associated with Business Insider.  I find myself referring to articles during small talk with clients. The articles feed you with interesting facts that are useful for people who work in a variety of industries.  It is my go to for “food for thought” information.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows


Why would a business traveler put Nest in their top 10? Do you remember winter? Nest remotely controls your home’s thermostat. I remember that one Thursday in January when I got home late and the house was nice and warm. That’s because as soon as I landed at LGA, I set the thermostat to 70 degrees. Enough said!

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows


Google? Yes. What about the weather app? WatchESPN? Don’t you want to know how the market is doing? Once I clicked on Google, all that information was there! Like 15 apps worth of information customized to my needs. A one stop shop for travel, weather, sports and anything else that I need. It proactively lists all my interests. One time it showed a sale on running shoes (I guess it saw me shop the other day).

Platform: Android

DH Texas Hold’em

Once you are up to date on news, traffic, flights and weather, what is a business traveler to do? This app rounds out my top 10 for the joy it brings during a delayed flight. While we were stuck on a runway with some people moaning and some shouting, I was in a conversation with people from Indonesia, Russia and Italy. We were all sitting around a table playing a friendly game of poker (no real money). By the time I looked up, the person in the best mood on that delayed flight was…. me!

Platform: Android

Do you have a favorite travel app for business? Share it with us here!

Apps to Help You Through the Holiday Season

By Tracey Dowdy

The holiday season is upon us and to make sure that light up ahead is the light at the end of the tunnel and not the train coming at you, here are a few apps to help you enjoy and not endure the Holiday season.

Getting organized is essential to successfully navigating the holidays.

  • EasilyDo organizes everything from do-do lists to travel. Get weather and travel alerts, link to your bank accounts, email, Facebook, LinkedIn…it’s like having a personal assistant in the palm of your hand. You can track packages, pay bills, even get directions with estimated travel time for events in your calendar. (Free – iOS, Android)
  • Slice not only tracks what you bought, when you bought it, and when it will be delivered, but it will also let you know if the item goes on sale and help you get your money back. You’ll even be notified if the item is recalled by the Consumer Safety Board. Slice organizes your receipts for easy returns and tracks spending to help you stay on budget. (Free – iOS, Android)

Speaking of budget, finances are one of the top stressors for the holidays. Whether it’s purchasing gifts, travel costs, or hosting family and friends, it’s easy to end up over budget without really knowing how you got there.

  • Mint offers a comprehensive, real-time look at all your account balances. It sends alerts if you’re about to go over budget, organizes transactions, and it can even send push notifications about your bills. (Free – iOS, Android, Windows Phone)
  • Snagajob is a great resource for finding seasonal work to supplement your budget. Create a profile and upload your resume to apply for jobs directly from your phone for work in retail, restaurants, and customer service. Search by location, industry, job title or company and you’ll receive daily alerts that match your specifications. You can even upload a 30 second introductory video to help you stand out from the crowd. (Free – iOS, Android)
  • Black Friday sends you constant updates on Thanksgiving sales and lets you create a wish list to save all your favorite deals in one place. You can organize deals by store, compare prices, and sort items by keywords, store or price. (Free – iOS, Android)

There are more apps to help with food or recipes for the holidays than you can shake a spatula at, but two of my favorites are from Bon Appetit and Food.com.

  • Thanksgiving: A Bon Appetit Manual manages to be both gourmet and rookie cook friendly. The app offers step by step instructions paired with photos so you know exactly what you’re doing. If planning and preparing is overwhelming, switch to Menu View and choose from pre-selected menus. (Free – iOS, Android)
  • Food.com not only has a massive recipe base which is great for all year round, it can help you create a meal from whatever you have on hand – great for using up those holiday leftovers. (Free – iOS)

Time with family and friends during the holidays is priceless, which is a good thing because Holiday travel can cost a fortune. Luckily, there are ways to get around blowing your budget.

  • Gas Buddy lets you find the gas stations nearest to you offering the cheapest gas prices. Content is user-created and for every report you post you can earn points toward prizes. (Free – iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry)
  • Waze uses your phone’s GPS feature to find the quickest, most efficient routes and avoid traffic due to congestion, construction or accidents. Users submit reports on traffic or road conditions so you always know what ahead. Waze also lets you know where to fill up for the best price. (Free – iOS, Android, Windows Phone)
  • TripIt Travel Organizer lets you organize every aspect of your trip in one place. Forward confirmation emails (automatic if you use Gmail or Google Calendar) from airlines or hotels and TripIt will create an itinerary for you so you can be prepared each step of the way. You can get directions, check weather conditions, link to your calendar and share your trip plans via social media. (Free – iOS, Android)

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.