One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when choosing a personal protection device is the sheer amount of information available.
Often sorted according to a variety of criteria including size, noise level, triggering mechanism, daily habits, age, and so on, the number of options can be overwhelming.
In this guide, we’ll explore the common types of personal alarm keychains and draw up a list of questions you can ask yourself in order to find a protection device that suits your individual needs.
We’ll look at common features and explore when and how you can benefit from each of these. To help you navigate through all this information, we’ve divided our research into the following blocks:
- What a personal alarm keychain is
- How these devices work
- What to consider when getting a personal alarm keychain
- Situations when it can come in handy
Understanding personal alarms keychains
Personal alarms are small, hand-held devices that emit a piercing, siren-like sound that serves to ward off assailants.
Attackers often rely on silence and going unnoticed, choosing to strike in secluded and poorly lit areas. This means that personal alarms can be decisive in helping you get out of unpleasant situations safely.
Personal alarms are usually small enough to be part of a keychain and thus be within a quick reach in case danger arises.
The purpose of personal alarms is to take the attacker by surprise and disorient them in order to give you a couple of moments to get away and draw attention to the incident.
The reason people rely on personal alarms is that they are highly effective. Most available models produce a sound between 120 and 140 decibels. As a way of comparison, a really loud rock concert produces a sound of around 110 decibels, and the human eardrum ruptures at 150 decibels.
Some devices are also equipped with a whistle for cases when the alarm battery dies or when you don’t want to activate the alarm fully, but still want to get out of trouble quickly.
Personal alarm features to consider
The personal alarm market has been growing rapidly over the last four years, and it is expected to continue to grow even more in the next five. Already now, you can get gadgets that come with monitored alarms or auto-dialers, or that are customized for different age groups. There’s a lot to choose from, so let’s look into the features you should consider:
The first thing to consider about your personal alarm is its purpose, which will determine its design.
If you want to buy an alarm keychain for a child, there are plenty of options where alarms are designed to look like small toys that can be mounted to the child’s backpack straps or attached to their favorite toy.
For mobile workers such as delivery staff, visiting nurses, physiotherapists, or employees who work late night shifts, a good option is to get a personal alarm keychain that can be easily added to car keys. That way, you will be able to quickly reach the alarm button.
For students who often need to attend late evening lectures, getting an alarm in the shape of a wrist lanyard or a power stick is a convenient way to quickly reach for the alarm without giving its existence away to assailants.
Finally, the elderly should consider getting a personal alarm with a long cord. This can allow them to easily reach and pull the pin to set off the alarm. Such alarms can be pinned to a belt.
Another question to bear in mind is the durability of the device.
The best approach is to start by considering your everyday habits. This will help you determine how your alarm needs to be durable.
For example, active people who spend a lot of time outside—whether it’s running or walking in suburban areas or in parks—will want a water-resistant alarm.
Similarly, outdoor lovers who go trekking or camping in semi-extreme conditions will want to look for an alarm that can sustain high or low temperatures.
On the other hand, if you’re more likely to spend time in less extreme conditions but you’d like an alarm to keep you safe in case of a home burglary, you’ll want to find an alarm that can sustain falls from high places or and can also survive smashing attempts. Assailants will often go after your protection alarm first in order to leave you defenseless.
Battery life is an essential feature to consider when selecting a personal alarm. Some devices are battery-powered, others are rechargeable, and some are even powered by solar energy to speed up the charging process.
When considering the type of batteries your device uses, bear in mind how this affects the use of your protection device.
- How difficult is it to buy this particular type of battery? Can you easily find it at your local store or is it only available in specialized stores far from your home? You’ll want to choose batteries that are often in stock and easy for you to buy so your device will always be working.
- How heavy are the batteries? When it comes to emergency situations, especially if in an outdoor sports or trekking context, an ounce can make a difference, so be sure to find the weight that works for you. When you go to a store to look for an alarm, make sure to ask them to let you try an alarm with batteries inside so you get a clear picture of how heavy the device will be.
- What is the battery standby time? For how long can the batteries power the alarm? This time can range between 30 to 50 minutes, and the safest bet is to find batteries with a long life.
- How easy is it to change the batteries? Do you need a screwdriver each time or can change the batteries without one? Imagine you’re walking home from work and stop by a store to get batteries, but then have to walk the rest of the way without a battery in your alarm, until you reach home and your toolbox. Think about convenience here—choose the device whose batteries can easily be changed.
- If the battery dies, is there a backup whistle to rely on? This is a feature that’s highly recommended. If it fits your budget, find an alarm with a backup whistle.
Push button vs pins?
There are two major categories of personal alarms: those with push buttons and those with a pin, cord, or chain.
The main difference is that alarms with push buttons require users to simply push a button, which triggers the device into releasing the alarm sound.
On the other hand, devices with a pin, cord, or chain require a more complicated movement to trigger the alarm. The sound will go on until the pin is returned to the device.
We suggest you test out both before settling on one type. In times of distress, it all comes down to how easy for you it is to activate the alarm. Can you pull the pin out faster than you can reach for the button and accurately push it?
While the main task of a personal alarm is to get you safely out of an unpleasant situation, many available options come with other functionalities.
Here are the main extra functionalities you’ll want to consider for your protection device:
- Flashlight/LED light — If you’re a visiting healthcare worker making late night visits or a jogger running through poorly lit areas, you may want to have a flashlight mounted on your alarm.
- Backup whistle — When your battery dies or when you don’t want to use the full alarm.
- Geo-fencing — This allows you to set a virtual perimeter and get notified each time the device gets out of the radius.
- GPS location — This is a good feature to have when you’re looking after someone and want to easily pinpoint their location.
- Non-movement alarm — If the alarm doesn’t move for a long time, the alarm will notify you, which is great feature to have if you’re looking after an elderly or disabled person.
Do You Need a Personal Alarm or A Connected Device
When you start looking into a personal protection device, you’ll find that most solutions available fall into one of two broad categories: they’re either a stand-alone personal alarm or a connected device.
Personal alarms, in addition to fitting into most budgets, can keep you safe in a number of everyday situations, especially if your profession is not considered risky.
For instance, if you want to scare off a stray dog you encounter on your running route or want to ask for help in case a pickpocket tries to rob you on the subway, then a personal alarm might do the job just fine. As long as there’s someone nearby to hear the sound for help, you should be ok.
However, personal alarms fail in more serious situations, such as when you’re far away from the crowd, when you need professional emergency protection, or when your line of work comes with risks that would benefit from having a better solution.
Let’s say you work as a real estate agent, a visiting physician, or a homecare employee. You will likely be spending time alone with people you don’t know well, without anyone nearby to help you in case of an emergency. That’s when you should turn to a connected device.
Connected devices bring not just an added level of protection, but also facilitate a speedy response from emergency responders. In case of an emergency, you can push a single button to quickly dial a professional emergency responder, while the system automatically sends your GPS location so you can get help fast. If your job is on the risky side, check out how POM can help you get out of danger fast.