Personal safety alarms are small, portable devices that emit an earsplitting sound when triggered, usually by the push of a button or removal of a pin.
Most buyers are attracted to the idea that the noise will likely scare off, or at least startle, any attackers, giving you time to escape or making them flee to avoid attention. Most alarms emit around 130 decibels, which is about as loud as a military jet with an afterburner taking off from an aircraft carrier, so they’re certainly attention-getting — and well within the range where hearing damage can occur. If you’re activating one, try to hold it as far away from your own ears as possible and cover your ears if you can.
Security expert Brianna Jensen of ASecureLife.com recommends considering three main factors when choosing a personal safety alarm: size, alarm time, and bonus features. You want something small enough that you’ll actually carry it and long-lasting enough to make sure people notice. And maybe a flashlight or whistle, just in case. “Personal alarms are legal and can't be turned against you (unlike pepper spray, tasers, or other weapons), which makes them a discreet, lower-risk alternative to these other safety measures,” said Jensen.
Whether they’ll achieve your desired result, well, that depends on what that result is and the situation you’re in. “If you're in a remote area with no one else around, an alarm may not reach the ears of someone who can help. And if you're abroad, the sound may not have the same meaning or raise the same concern as it would at home,” said Jensen. Make sure you know enough about your destination that you can ask for help and know if you should contact emergency services.
There’s no substitute for good situational awareness — especially when you're traveling solo. But if a small alarm makes you feel a little more comfortable on your journey, then pick the one you think you’re most likely to carry and get out there.