Free Apps, Get Your Free Apps!

A person could spend all day at the app store-it’s the new retail therapy. And the federal government is happy to enable your app downloading habit. Among the various free offerings on the U.S. government apps page are many relating to health, fitness and product safety.

Here’s a roundup of a few that might be of interest to readers of this blog. Not all may be available on all devices, but there’s no shortage of choices for smartphones, tablets and/or iPod Touch.

Safer Car, brought to you by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, invites you look up a vehicle’s crash test results and receive notifications of important car recalls or new safety information. You can even get directions to a nearby location for help properly installing child car seats.

CDC Influenza is geared toward clinicians and other health-care professionals, but consumers who want to be well-informed about the latest recommendations and influenza activity will find it useful as well. When your mobile device is connected to the Internet, information and content updates automatically. This is an official application of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

American Red Cross First Aid is what you need when accidents happen, offering advice for everyday emergencies via videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step procedures practicing first aid.

NCI QuitPal is the National Cancer Institute’s effort to support smokers trying to quit. It uses interactive tools that are proven strategies to change behavior and give up tobacco.

Eldercare Locator is a nationwide service that connects users to agencies that serve older adults and their families. A searchable database enables users to find local resources. The site also links to other federal and nonprofit organizations.

BMI Calculator is one of the most popular tools on the website of the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Body mass index is a reliable indicator of total body fat, which is related to the risk of disease and death. The NHLBI BMI calculator receives 1.6 million visitors a month and ranks No. 1 on Google. This app calculates your BMI and provides links to resources for maintaining a healthful weight.

Solve the Outbreak helps budding epidemiologists become disease detectives, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In this game, you must solve a disease outbreak and, ideally, learn about public health and how real disease detectives help save lives.

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