I was not paid to do this post. And I don’t ever review or recommend products that I haven’t tried myself and found to be functional/effective. With that out of the way, Vigilant PPS (Personal Protection Systems) contacted me and asked if they could send me one of their personal alarms to test and review. I’ve never bought, owned, or even seen a personal alarm before, and hadn’t thought much about them, but I found the idea interesting, and agreed to give one a try. Here’s a link to the unit they sent me, on their website (also pictured at right). This particular unit is a special addition in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, where Vigilant donates $1 to the center for each unit sold.
I tried making a video for this review, but my laptop automatically and drastically decreased the volume when the alarm sounded, making it seem less effective than it is, so I decided only to post about it instead. In the picture above, the same image displayed on Vigilant’s site, the unit may look slightly smaller than it is. Here are a couple of pictures so you can accurately see the size of the unit:
Although it’s slightly wider than my hand, it’s very light, thin, and would easily fit in a pant pocket. The round “circle” is the “speaker”, and not a button. And the orange button is used to activate an LED light that sticks out right below where the lanyard attaches to the device. To make the alarm go off, you simply pull the lanyard off of the device, or pull the device off of the lanyard. I think this is a smart design, as it would be easier to use under stress than having to find and press a button, and keep it pressed. To silence the alarm you have to put the “pin”/lanyard back into the device.
The alarm is VERY loud, and it’s surprising that such a small device can produce such a loud sound. It’s actually painful to my ears, and extremely annoying. I have no doubt that the alarm would surprise an attacker, particularly indoors. Although the alarm is extremely loud, it doesn’t travel well through walls or closed doors, so I wouldn’t rely on it to alert someone who is a wall/door or two away from you. They may hear it, but I would assume that many people would just wonder what the noise was. I’m also not sure you’d get much attention from people indoors if you used it outdoors, especially considering how many car alarms go off accidentally, and how few people pay attention to them. However, an attacker isn’t going to know that. He/she is just going to hear an extremely loud alarm go off. If the attacker doesn’t want attention drawn to the scene, the use of this alarm could definitely cause him or her to flee.
It Doesn’t Replace Awareness and Prevention
No weapon replaces the need to be aware and to do what you can to prevent an attack before it occurs, and the owners of Vigilant said the same in an email to me. In order to use this device you need to have it or the lanyard in your hand, or very quickly accessible, and you need to see the threat coming. Again, that’s true not only for this personal alarm, but also for a gun, knife, pepper spray, etc.
When to Use It
I just received this alarm and have never used one before, so my thoughts on this are relatively fresh. If anyone disagrees with me here, please let me know/discuss in the comments.
My thinking is that this alarm would not be ideally suited for a robbery, where an attacker threatens you with a weapon and demands your money, purse, etc. Such robberies tend to be quick, the attacker can still grab what he wants, and I wouldn’t risk angering an attacker with an alarm in such a situation, particularly since the alarm isn’t going to do anything to stop the attacker from stabbing/shooting/assaulting you.
But I do think that in situations where bodily harm is the goal of the attack (from kidnapping/abduction to physical assault), this alarm could be valuable. It’s far easier and quicker for an attacker to get an object you’re carrying than to rape or abduct you, and an attacker who wants you can’t get you if they simply run away. They can’t run away with you. Because more time is generally needed for rape or abduction, a loud alarm that draws attention may dissuade an attacker from continuing, increasing the chance that he gets exposed or caught. So my initial thoughts are that this alarm would be ideal when bodily harm is threatened (or even beginning) and bringing attention to the attacker may cause him to flee.
I don’t see this as an effective tool for men in most situations. Men are far less likely to be abducted or raped, and “fights” that men get into (which are almost always avoidable) often happen in crowded places anyway, where attention is already on the participants.
However, I do think it could be an effective self defense tool for women (particularly those who don’t want to carry pepper spray) and children. Giving children pepper spray probably isn’t a good idea, but this alarm is something they could carry 24/7, anywhere. It’s something they could easily learn to use, and something they wouldn’t have to feel bad about using even if they used it in error. Unlike with pepper spray and other weapons, using a personal alarm cannot injure someone mistaken for an attacker. There is zero downside to giving this alarm to a child, and considering it could save the child’s life, it’s hard for me to imagine why a child shouldn’t have one. They’re also very inexpensive.
The key with any self defense tool is understanding when it should be used, and when it shouldn’t. No weapon works in all situations. No weapon is perfect. For adults willing to put in the training time, I highly recommend learning to use and defend against weapons. Weapons use dramatically increases your odds, and the training can be great fun. But especially for women who are unwilling to learn to use a weapon (or unarmed self defense for that matter), and most definitely for children, I think this alarm could be an excellent self defense tool.
Let me know what you think in the comments…
Note: Vigilant also sells pepper spray, and they happen to carry my favorite keyring unit.
One of the areas I discuss when I teach self defense classes is the use of whistles or personal alarms. Many robberies or purse thefts are crimes of convenience. These goblins usually rely on surprise and speed.They also don’t want to be noticed so some type of tactic using an alarm,or whistle may cause the individual to leave. In my opinion a determined attacker will not be phased by the noise. I feel the strongest deterrent is awareness and vigilance. If this alarm system can be set on a door to go off if door is opened, it would be good for when people travel. Also I agree it would be good to carry by women and children. Another tactic I teach is you are walking to your car and are approached by someone who looks like they want to give you a problem- hit your car alarm.
I think anything that helps a person get away I’m all for, but like you said it doesn’t replace awerness.
Yours in Christ
GM Dave Spangler KU-DAN
This is a neat little gadget. I’ve heard one of these go off and it really hurts from prolonged exposure. What’s interesting is that this one uses a lanyard which makes it difficult for the attacker to try to snatch it from you and deactivate.
It might be more useful if there was some kind of strap to allow it to be attached to a bag handle whilst the lanyard is tied to your wrist. That way, the alarm would go of automatically in a snatch theft situation and prompt the thief to chuck it.
NO ONE with ill intent would want to be near this thing!this thing is great! it’s unrealistic to think that a child could fend off a grown attacker and it would be irresponsible to arm a child with pepper spray or any other weapon. many adults are also uncomfortable with carrying a weapon of any kind. most people also lack the inclination, time, or money to train seriously to hurt other people in self defense. this device fills that gap nicely.
one improvement it could have is a strobe light on it. I see that it has a utility light, but a strobe light would give a clear visual indication of where the trouble is coming from. this would be an added deterrent and would also indicate to responding police where the victim might be. there could even be a transponder with a cellular connection embedded in it that could call police much like how the personally worn medical alert devices for elderly people do. this could also help police locate suspects if the device is left a purse or a car that gets stolen.
it would be interesting to develop some tactics for using this device. for example, if you’re attacked, would you just pull the cord and drop it at the feet of your attacker and run the other way? is it better to pull the cord and run with it still in your hand? maybe pull the cord and stay still so your attacker runs off?
There actually is a device on the market, or about to be, that will pepper spray an attacker, take his picture, alert the cops, and send his picture to the cops. Here: http://www.getthedefender.com/ I plan on posting about it soon. Although, it is a “weapon”, so some people would not be comfortable with it. The barrier to use is also higher due to the pepper spray aspect.
Having a loud personal alarm instead of pepper spray on such a device would be a nice alternative for some.
Regarding the personal alarm, I imagine pulling the chord, keeping the alarm, and running to safety would probably be the best option.