A personal alarm is a tool, like any other. The smaller, keychain sized ones I have purchased lately are nothing more than toys, however. I searched "vintage personal alarms" on Ebay, and found this bad-boy. Let me tell you why I like it...
An alarm should have three qualities:
1.) It should be incredibly loud. I mean, if this thing is going off in the house, your only concern would be to turn it off or get it outside.
2.) It should be simple to operate. A pull-pin switch is common, and this is very effective for several reasons. They are easy to activate...and the holder of the pin is the only one that can shut it off.
3.) It should be nearly indestructible. If it is going off, I should not be able to stomp on it to make it stop. Battery removal should require tools.
Other features...flashlights, keychains, and whatever...are often superfluous. This is a tool. My tool should perform it's chosen function very well. Other functions (especially where defensive use is concerned) can muddle muscle memory techniques and reduce the effectiveness of the device.
Enter, the Futronix Body Alarm. This device is loud enough to scare my dog from outside the house, and cause a bit of lasting hearing loss if I don't replace the pin quickly enough. I need a screwdriver to remove the batteries, and it requires both of my hands to muffle the sound. I don't activate it often, because the neighbors notice (outside), and my family hates it (inside). This is exactly what I want in an alarm.
This is how it works--When I pull the lanyard, a small pin is removed from the device and it begins its wailing siren. The only way to stop the siren is by re-inserting the pin. This particular alarm has a sturdy belt/waistband clip on the back. If I had chosen this as a defensive tool, I would clip it on before walking my dog, jogging, cycling, or simply going to the store. I can hold the lanyard in my hand, or drop it in my pocket.
If I needed to use the alarm in a personal assault situation, I would pull the pin, then toss the alarm some distance away. If my opponent wants to stop the ear-splitting noise (which will be difficult under any circumstances), he will need to go fetch it. If he ignores the noise, almost every person within a half-mile will be able to hear the commotion, and it won't be long before someone investigates.
This device screams when you can't. It...never...stops. Imagine this in a stairwell or parking deck! What if it were set off in an office? Hallway at school? On the subway? These devices are non-lethal, and command a presence.
By being creative, you can figure ways to protect yourself that are a bit outside-the-box. Mount one to your doorframe and slip the lanyard around the doorknob. Presto! A door alarm. This can be done with a little forethought in hotels and doormrooms as well.
Worried about someone stealing your bike? Find a way to discreetely secure it under the seat and attach fishing line to the pin. Only you will know it is there, and if someone moves it? Yep! Chaos.
I love the thing, and will seek a regular supplier of an equivalent alarm. Once I find one, I will make them available on this website.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!