Tracking technology can locate loved ones during disasters, mass shootings

(WXYZ) - When terrifying events happen, like the tragic shootings in Las Vegas or the hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, the first thing we think of are the people we love:  where are they and are they okay?

But reaching those loved ones during chaos can prove nearly impossible, because cell towers can get overwhelmed.

The 7 Investigators found some tracking devices can help you locate and even hear from a loved one.

In the hours following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, those who fled the concert found themselves on lockdown in hotels.  Hundreds were hospitalized, and more the fifty people lay dead.  At the same time, their loved ones were frantically searching for answers about where they were and whether they were safe.

In natural disasters like the three hurricanes that have left Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico in ruin, when communication is down, panic takes over.

Satellite trackers often used by hunters and campers going off the grid could be the answer.

Garmin’s InReach Explorer allows you to track and share your location with family and friends.  It has an emergency SOS trigger to a 24/7 search and rescue center, and with a satellite subscription you can even two-way text message from anywhere in the world… no cell coverage required.

That will run you $449.99.

Even on an average day, a parents' greatest fear is not knowing where your child is.

“You are just trying to watch them every second. And I have twins so they like to go in different directions,” said Peggy Ford.

A simple shopping trip once turned into a nightmare for Ford.

“My daughter thought it would be fun to play hide and seek in Target and I went absolutely bonkers. The panic you feel is all consuming,” said Ford.

That made Precise Innovation CEO Brian Sullivan wonder -- why not track your child?

“Technology today is too cheap, it is too economical to not put on a kid,” said Sullivan.

His Kansas City based company created the Kids Sport GPS watch.  Parents can track their kids using an app on their smart phone.

To the child, it’s just a watch and step counter.  It costs about $140.  The watch has a panic button for the child to alert their emergency contact stored in the watch.

“We are tracking our wallets, we are tracking our dogs, what is our greatest asset? It is our children,” said Sullivan.

If money is tight, there are free apps to track your kids or teens.  Life 360 and Family Tracker are both free in the App Store.

Just remember, in a disaster zone, anything relying on a cellular coverage may not work.

If you decide to start carrying one of these devices with you to concerts or other large public events, it’s important to make sure your loved ones at home know how to access the tracking tool and that they download the free apps that will connect them to you in an emergency.

If you have a story for Heather, please email her at hcatallo@wxyz.com or call 248-827-4473.

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