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Personal Alarms - Advice and Information
Although the risk of becoming a victim of violent crime in Britain is small, around 900,000 people in England and Wales were assaulted by a stranger in 2006/07. Violent assault is not an issue that anybody wants to take risks with, so it makes sense to take precautions to avoid it. Personal alarms are one of the most cost-effective ways to take responsibility for our own safety - and in many cases make the difference between escaping a serious attack or not.
The concept of personal alarms originated as a protective measure against sexual assault (hence the term ‘rape’ alarm), but they can be used by any individual (male or female) who, through their work or social life, can find themselves isolated in potentially dangerous situations. Awareness has grown among employers in recent years of their duty of care for their workforce, and the supply of personal alarms to employees is now common place. This is particularly true of the NHS, where it is estimated that a healthcare worker is attacked every seven minutes in the UK.
The objective of a personal alarm is to produce an ear-piercing sound that shocks and disorientates an attacker, giving the intended victim the chance to escape. Most experts agree that a sound of at least 130 decibels is required to have this effect - loud enough for the alarm to be heard up to half a mile away. The fear that this will attract the attention of passers by can sometimes be enough to cause attackers to flee.
Not surprisingly in a booming market, there is a bewildering range of personal alarms to choose from. They can however be split into two categories - battery, and gas powered alarms. Their main distinguishing features are that:
- while the volume in decibels produced can be similar, the pressure in gas alarm canisters produces a constant shriek that is more ear-piercing than the pulsating siren made by most battery alarms;
- gas alarms provide between 3 and 6 minutes of continuous sound for standard canister models. Battery alarms can be set off for longer periods over many months before replacement batteries are required;
- battery-powered personal alarms tend to be smaller (in some cases less than 5cm square), and are often in the form of key rings or fobs. Most gas alarms are cylindrical, and typically around 10cm in height. There are exceptions however, such as a miniature key ring gas alarm (which shocks attackers with a 138 decibel blast).
With these differences in mind, the choice of product will come down to individual need and preference. Battery personal alarms will often be more suitable for people who work in potentially risky situations, particularly the type of unobtrusive products that can be clipped to clothing or bags for easy access. People may also have a preference for the way that alarms are activated. Most battery alarms are set off by pulling a pin out with a chain or cord. Gas alarms however tend to have a button that locks down when pushed - this means it can be set off by pushing the alarm against any part of the body (or anything relatively solid). This can save valuable seconds, particularly for people with dexterity problems for example. Importantly, both types of mechanism will produce a continuous sound after a single press/pull, enabling the owner to release the alarm and defend themselves if necessary.
Battery and gas alarms are comparable in price, with most best selling products falling in the £5 - £11 range. At the lower end of this range you’ll get a product with just a powerful alarm function. Beyond this, the alarms incorporate additional features suited to their power source. For battery alarms this can include torches, or strobe lighting to further distract an assailant. The more expensive gas alarms can combine their formidable sound with a repelling odour spray, and an ultraviolet tracer that leaves no visible stain...until detected by a police UV scanner.
The investment needed for a personal alarm is minimal - and although the risk of assault may be small, what price can you put on the opportunity to escape unscathed if it happens?
Below is only a part of our range; for more information on personal safety products, please click here personal alarms to browse the full range of personal alarms stocked by Crime Prevention Products.