There are lots of different types of personal alarms. Choosing the best one for you can sometimes be tricky. Read on for tips on how to make the right choice. 

The purpose of a personal alarm

The purpose of a personal safety alarm is to shock and disorientate an attacker, giving you vital seconds to get away.

Important features  

The most important feature of an alarm is the sound it emits.  If an attacker is to be shocked enough to pull away from you, this sound needs to be as loud and as shrill as possible.

It also needs to be different from those which are commonly heard.  For example, if a personal alarm pulsates like many car alarms, the sound may not be as effective as it is not so shocking.  The most effective sound is continuous and over 130 decibels (approx 138db is ideal).

Your alarm needs to be easy to carry, but consider whether a very lightweight and tiny alarm will be as loud as you need it to be (and whether it will get lost at the bottom of your bag).  Some small alarms can still be very loud – although the sound may not last for very long – and can be easier to handle for some people.  The best compromise is in an alarm which can fit easily into the palm of your hand but is still very loud.

Ease of use also needs to be considered: How would you operate the alarm in an emergency?  There are many different ways to activate different types of alarms, including push caps, push buttons and pull out pins.  How fiddly is it to activate it?  Do you have problems using your hands or fingers?  Can it be operated simply by being pushed against something?

When & how to use an alarm

The primary purpose of an alarm is not to attract help. You cannot rely on them to do that.  Firstly, there may not actually be anyone within earshot. Secondly, hearing an alarm does not necessarily attract help.Often personal safety alarms sound like a car alarm and we are all used to this sound and often ignore it thinking it’s a false alarm. The most effective sound is a loud continuous shriek.

If you are able to attract the attention of passers- by, you are more likely to get help if you shout a specific instruction – such as “Call the police!”  This makes it clear that you are in danger and need help.

Once you have set off your alarm, leave the situation as quickly as you can, moving to a busy area if possible.  Don’t wait to check that your alarm has had the desired effect; just go.

Remember that a personal alarm should be just one part of your personal safety plan: There are lots of other ways in which you can help to reduce the risk of violence and aggression.