What is a Body Alarm?

wiseGEEK Writer

The body alarm or personal alarm is a safety tool device that when activated, sets off an extremely loud siren sound. These are usually lightweight, portable alarms that should be worn within convenient reach. If someone attempts to harass or attack you, you don’t have to work to find the button, or rummage around in your purse looking for the alarm. Some can be worn on the waist or belt with a clip, or worn around the hand and held when you’ve got to walk through a bad neighborhood, a dark parking lot at night, or any place else you deem unsafe.

A body alarm should be kept out of reach of children.
A body alarm should be kept out of reach of children.

If you’ve ever heard the sound of a body alarm, you know that it is very loud and can almost hurt the ears. The hope with most types of the body alarm is that making such a loud sound will discourage people from attacking you since it is likely to draw attention to you and a would-be attacker. Anyone in the near vicinity will hear this alarm, though there’s no guarantee they will respond to it. The rate at which people ignore car alarms is fairly high. This means the body alarm might provide a little extra safety, but isn’t a substitute for good training in self defense and common sense decisions regarding your safety (like walking in pairs through a dark parking lot).

A body alarm shouldn't be a substitute for proper self defense training.
A body alarm shouldn't be a substitute for proper self defense training.

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The body alarm should be kept out of reach of children, since long exposure to the sound can significantly damage hearing. On the other hand, an older child who can be trusted might want to carry one when walking unescorted to and from school. You may have to check with your individual school to find out if they are allowed on your child’s campus. Usually no one objects to one being kept in a backpack during school hours.

This type of alarm can come with other handy features. For instance many also have flashlights and most are powered by batteries. It’s a good idea to change these or check battery strength from time to time even if you haven’t used the alarm. Most body alarms are very slight and small, weighing merely ounces, so they’re very easy to carry. They’re also inexpensive, with the majority between $10-20 US Dollars (USD).

As you’re searching for a body alarm, you may notice a completely different type of personal alarm used for people who have difficulty staying awake while driving. This is worn like an earphone, and if your head begins to droop while driving, you hear a small alarm to keep you awake. Again, such an alarm is no substitute for making safe driving decisions, like not driving when you’re sleepy.

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Discussion Comments


I like the idea of a personal body alarm, but I wish it would do something other that emit a loud noise. I've heard that yelling "HELP!" or "RAPE!" doesn't get much attention from bystanders, but many people do pay attention to "FIRE!". Maybe the manufacturers of these devices can add voice messages, like "FIRE!" or "CALL 911!".


A friend of mine quit his regular job and started selling security equipment, including a personal body alarm. He came into my restaurant to visit me and he accidentally pulled the pin in the crowded dining room. The noise was incredibly loud, considering the size of the alarm on his belt. He got the pin back into its holder a minute later, but by then just about every customer was looking straight at us.

I'd say if I were feeling threatened in a dark alley and I pulled that pin, there would be no doubt about someone else hearing it. They may not know what's going on, but they'll know something is out of the ordinary. My friend said he couldn't keep enough of those body alarms on the shelves.

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