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The 5 Best Personal Alarms for Self Defense in 2020

24 Apr 2020

What do you do when you’re in danger while walking on the street or using public transit and find yourself are alone? Depending on the situation, it may not be easy to defend yourself physically or call for help.

That’s why a number of personal protection devices have been developed to keep people safer in situations where it’s hard to call for help or fight back. These devices, such as pepper spray, tasers, and expandable batons, are innovative and easy to use, making it easier for people to feel safe no matter where they are.

A personal alarm is a newer solution to personal safety. Once you press the button on the keychain-sized device, the piercing alarm sounds hundreds of feet away. Not only are personal alarms varied in features and functionality, but they’re also legal in every state, unlike other personal defense items.

Personal alarms can be used to alert the people around you that you’re in danger. And most are loud enough to disorient attackers, allowing you to get away safely.

Here are our top five personal alarms for different people and situations.

Best Personal Alarm for Elderly: KOSIN Safe Sound Personal Alarm 140dB

The KOSIN Safe Sound Personal Alarm keychain is perfectly designed to clip onto a variety of places, whether on your belt, backpack straps, and any other place you can think of.

safe sound personal alarm keychain emergency siren

This alarm comes in a pack of six, so you can share with friends and family or use them for different outfits and bags. Activating this 140-decibel alarm will have any attacker clutching their ears in hopes of keeping out the screeching sound. This gives you enough time to run to safety or defend yourself.

This alarm is powered by three AG13/LR44 batteries. The batteries can power the alarm for 50 minutes, more than enough time to call for help from several miles away. When the alarm is not in use, these batteries give the alarm a battery life of over one year. You will only need to change the batteries once a year.

The device is encased in ABS plastic to prevent people from breaking the alarm. This protects the alarm against falls, getting crushed, or even exposure to high temperatures.

What we like:

  • The KOSIN alarm comes in a six pack with different colors so you can coordinate with your outfits and accessories.
  • It comes with both a keychain and a wrist lanyard, giving you plenty of options for easy, fast access to the alarm.
  • The pin-activated alarm is simple to use: Simply pull out the cord, and the alarm will sound.

What we don't like:

  • Accessing the batteries requires a screwdriver to remove the back cover.

Best Personal Alarm for Runners: Vigilant 130 dB Wearable Personal Protection Alarm with Backup Whistle and Neck Lanyard

This Vigilant wearable alarm looks like something from a Sherlock Holmes movie set in early 20th-century London, but the loudness of this alarm jolts you firmly back into the 21st century. This personal alarm is versatile and wearable—you can wear it around your neck as a lanyard.

vigilant electronic attack personal alarm

To alert people that you’re in danger, you have two options. First, this personal protector has a built-in whistle for threats that are easily driven off at the thought of people nearby intervening.

If bystanders are farther away or you need to physically drive away an attacker, you can choose to activate the extremely loud alarm. The 130-decibel alarm is way beyond what the human ear can take: People can only tolerate 100 decibels for 15 minutes.

What we like:

  • The dual feature makes it versatile; in case the alarm batteries die, you can fall back on the whistle.
  • The weight on this thing makes it absolutely unnoticeable to the wearer. At 1.5 ounces, the alarm will feel like an accessory rather than a safety tool.
  • The device is built to survive the harshest conditions you’ll encounter and can survive various shocks, such as falls or smashing attempts.

What we don't like:

  • The device only comes with two replaceable LR44 batteries. This means you need to check often whether the batteries are still working.
  • This alarm is not the best for people who want to hang their protectors off their belts or keychains.

Best Personal Alarm for Women: Vigilant 130 dB Personal Alarm PPS8

Vigilant’s Personal Alarm PPS8 is our pick for the best personal alarm for women. Unlike other ominous-looking personal alarms, this device does a wonderful job of being subtle as it is easily confused for a tiny power bank or a Bluetooth device.vigilant personal alarm wristletWith a built-in LED light, this alarm is truly a multifunctional tool. If you have to take that shortcut home but the alleyway is dark, whip out this personal protector and illuminate your way home.

This device is very convenient to use in stressful situations. Most other alarms require you to reach for them, whether in your purse or on your belt, and then fumble to press a button while the attacker is bearing down on you.

With this device, the lanyard also acts as the activation device. Simply pull out the lanyard, and a pin will be removed, setting off the alarm. So whether it is hanging off your neck or it is nestled in your pocket, it’s just a matter of reaching out and with one move, scaring the attacker away.

What we like:

  • It comes with two replaceable AAA batteries, which are easily replaceable.
  • The easy-to-use alarm gives the carrier an element of surprise and an opportunity to reclaim power over the situation.
  • The 130-decibel alarm will disorient any attacker (and draw attention to them).
  • This personal alarm weighs a mere 0.64 ounces, making it one of the lightest personal protectors on the market.

What we don't like:

  • The device doesn’t look like a personal alarm, but its appearance is a bit bland for style-conscious people.
  • The pin activation method, though easy to use, makes it more likely that you accidentally set off this alarm.

Best Personal Alarm for College Students: BASU eAlarm Plus

The BASU eAlarm Plus is one of the smallest personal protectors on the market. In fact, BASU claims that if you find anything smaller, they will give you this model for free.

baso ealarm

Not only is the device small, but its design looks similar to a USB drive and comes in a variety of bright, popping colors.

Don’t let the bright colors fool you, though. The device is powered by two CR1632 batteries and is capable of pushing out 130 decibels of repellant alarm. Any attacker approaching you will be instantly repelled by the noise.

What we like:

  • The alarm is easy to operate: Simply pull out the pin, and the alarm goes off. Put it back in, and the alarm stops.
  • The device’s hoop means you can set up this alarm as a tripwire for an early warning system.
  • The protector is built into a rubberized casing that makes it capable of withstanding great shocks.

What we don't like:

  • Aside from the alarm, there are no other features on this device.
  • In case you’re stuck waiting for rescuers, the alarm will only provide 30 minutes of sound before the batteries die out.

Best Personal Alarm with GPS: Katana Safety Arc

The features on personal alarm devices vary from simplistic loud alarms to more sophisticated devices that go further in protecting you and sending help when you’re in distress. The Katana Safety Arc is one of the more sophisticated (and expensive) devices on the market and combines innovative features with ease of use.

katana safety arc personal alarm system
The Katana Safety Arc is a smart personal alarm that is mounted to your smartphone. It comes with a GPS locator so you can be located when you set off the alarm.

The device comes with a smartphone app. When the alarm is triggered, the app bypasses your lock screen and sends your location to the Katana Safety team, who will then call law enforcement and tell them where you are. You can also choose to send your location to up to seven friends.

There are three ways to operate this device. The first is by pulling a red tab on the bottom of the device, which will let out an alarm to scare away any would-be attackers. The second is by using a lanyard on your wrist. In case of trouble, simply drop the phone and the tab will be pulled.The third is more subtle.

There is a button on the back of the device that sends a silent alarm when pushed. This is for situations where sudden, loud sounds could put you in even more danger.

What we like:

  • The alarm is slim enough that you’d never feel like you’ve attached an extra battery to your phone.
  • Despite all its innovative features, this device will only add 1.44 ounces to your phone.
  • The smartphone app and GPS location tracking adds peace of mind so you know law enforcement is on the way when you trigger the alarm.

What we don't like:

  • The device is more expensive than other personal alarms on the market, starting at $100.
  • The Katana Safety team option is only for paid subscribers. Those who opt out of the subscription won’t get a direct line to a police dispatcher.

What Features Should the Best Personal Alarm Have?

Personal alarms on the market have a variety of features and functions. Before you choose one, consider the following features and determine which ones are a priority for you.

1. Purpose

Different personal alarms have different functions. A personal alarm device has two main uses. The first and most obvious use is to ward off attackers. Secondly, they are also used as monitoring devices for vulnerable people, such as the elderly or people who are sick, so that caregivers are alerted if the person is in harm.

2. Type

Figure out what type of alarm works best for you based on the situations when you’ll need the alarm handy. Personal alarm devices come in three main varieties:

  • A keychain device, which can be included with your keys
  • A device with a lanyard that can be worn around the neck like a pendant or hang from the wrist
  • A smartwatch worn around the wrist. Some of these alarms can be synced up with your smartphone, and many have advanced features. 

personal alarm keychain

3. Simplicity

As much as it may look cool to have a device that looks like futuristic alien technology, your personal alarm needs to be easy to use when you need it.

This is why many personal protective devices come with a big button right on the face. These big buttons allow people to easily and quickly trigger the alarm.

personal keychain panic alarmOther alarms are triggered by pulling out a pin. One flick of the wrist, and the attacker is suddenly more likely to be caught—and likely to get their ears damaged from the piercing alarm if they don’t flee.

4. Battery life

An emergency can happen at any time. And when it happens, you don’t want to reach for your personal alarm only to find a dead battery.

Personal alarms use a variety of batteries, including button cells and lithium metal batteries. These batteries’ lives vary greatly depending on the device’s functionalities. Devices with more features will use up more battery power.

That means that if you get a more sophisticated device, you need to be vigilant about checking and replacing batteries more frequently than with more simplistic personal alarms.

5. Additional features

Some people want their personal alarm to have more features so they can use it in different situations.

These additional features can include LED lights for illumination, or maybe smart features such as a GPS locator. However, the more features the personal alarm has, the higher the price tag will be.

Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Alarms

1. What is a safe personal alarm?

A safe personal alarm is a device you can carry with you on your neck, wrist, pocket, bag, belt, or other place. The device emits a loud sound when you trigger it that can ward off attackers, whether people or misbehaving animals. This loud racket is also a call for help to people in the vicinity.

2. What is the best personal safety or attack alarm?

There’s no definitive answer on the best alarm as every person has their own needs. Some will want a simple alarm with basic functionality, while others will want something that has the capability to alert law enforcement of their current location.

3. How loud is 140 decibels?

Measuring sound is completely different than measuring distance. On a ruler, the distance between inches increases by the same amount, but in sound, that is not the case.

Sound goes up by the power of 10 with each 10-decibel increase. So a 20-decibel sound is 10 times more intense than a 10-decibel sound. If it goes up to 30 decibels, the sound is 100 times more intense than sounds at 10 decibels.

When scaling up to 100 decibels, the sound becomes 1 million times more intense than at 10 decibels. Sounds upward of 85 decibels are considered damaging, and it is recommended to get away from them as soon as possible. Sounds at 140 decibels will cause damage to someone’s ears after 15 minutes.

4. Are personal alarms effective?

Personal alarms are most definitely effective. Just the sound of the alarm itself, around 140 decibels, is much louder compared to other sounds. A full-blown concert at the loudest will be around 80 decibels, and those can be heard from quite a distance.

An alarm emitting 140 decibels of noise can significantly disorient anyone around it, especially when people are not expecting it. Disorienting an attacker with a personal alarm will make them stop and brace themselves from the noise, giving you an opportunity to escape. The noise will also alert other people of your location so you can get help.

5. How much does a personal safety alarm cost?

Cost varies depending on what type of personal alarm you want. The simplest devices start from $10, while devices with more features and higher-quality materials will be more expensive. You can easily find a personal alarm in your price range.

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