Panic Alarm

When you are alone with a potentially dangerous person, its best to stay as calm as possible. It’s a situation that no one should ever be in, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take necessary precautions. After all, the worst part for most people is to determine the appropriate response or action to take when it happens.

A panic alarm is usually triggered by pressing an electronic panic button, which can be either wired or wireless. Also known as duress alarms, panic alarms could be bought separately or as part of a home security package, but the crucial thing to remember is where an alarm system could protect your property and loved ones while you are away from home, a panic alarm is extremely useful in protecting you when you are at home and in desperate need for help.

And considering that 2 million home burglaries are reported each year in the United States, the need for such sophisticated protection is higher than ever.

But if you don’t know much about panic alarms then the following information could help:

When to Use a Panic Alarm

The most important thing to know is when to trigger the panic alarm. Immediate police intervention should only be called when absolutely necessary and false alarms could be a waste of time, money and resources. Therefore, use the alarm when absolutely certain that:

  • You are in danger of being harmed.

  • Someone else close by may be in danger.

  • When the person you are with is about to or has already harmed himself.

  • If there is a medical emergency.

How to Use it

  • The Basic Set-Up

    A panic alarm system usually consists of a button which, when pressed, activates the alarm by sending a signal to either the local emergency team, e.g. the police, or to a monitoring service. Then a communication system, usually via control panels and signaling devices, summons help when the alarm is activated. The type of communication system can vary depending on resources available and the threat level of the situation. For example, most panic alarm systems are designed to alert a monitoring center who will then call the police or other appropriate authorities to respond. But some panic alarms are connected to an on-site security staff or to non-security personnel who then form their own response team of employees from different departments. Panic alarms are typically installed in easily accessible yet hidden locations.

  • Adjustability

    However, depending on your personal safety needs, panic alarm systems come in various forms. For example, other than devices that just have a button to press, there could be devices where you have to push the button twice, or devices that have to be squeezed, or even devices that could only be activated by using your foot or knee. Some devices could have more than one button depending on which response team, be it the hospital or the fire department, you consider appropriate for the situation. They could also have more than one code, for example, a normal code and a duress code, to alert the relevant authorities. Most panic alarms are also designed in a way that they cannot be accidentally activated.

Depending on the package, additional devices could also be included. Examples of these include sensors which detect when someone has entered a protected area, or smoke security systems which emit harmless but dense smoke to confuse the intruder.

  • Wired vs. Wireless

    One of the most basic differences is whether the alarm is wired via cabling, or wireless. A wireless set-up normally uses a short-range radio transmitter and could be handy if you’d prefer your alarm to be portable, for example, on your car’s security keychain fob or on bracelets for children and elderly people. Plus, a wireless panic button tends to be small and could thus be easily hidden from view. These devices could run on battery as well as electricity, which could be useful in case of power outages. There could even be less confusion during installation. This is not to say a wired set-up could be less preferable, as wired panic alarms could function regardless of disturbances in wireless signals and are considered more reliable.

  • Siren vs. Silent

    Another option you could look into is whether you want your alarm to trigger a siren in the immediate vicinity or to silently alert the appropriate authorities. The latter option, also known as a holdup alarm, is beneficial if you don’t want the intruder to know you’ve pressed it, otherwise he could get away at the first sound of a siren, if not become more aggressive. Consider carefully who will be using the button, if you live alone or with others, whether neighbors would hear your siren, how long it would take for the response team to reach and if you want monitoring services to act as middlemen. Silent alarms with monitoring usually send a response team immediately whereas siren alarms with monitoring will result in the monitoring service first calling you (if they’re not able to reach you, then they’ll send a response team).

Where to Use it

The best part about panic alarms is that, even if they’re not wireless, they could be set up almost anywhere you consider necessary. However, if you are confused, some examples of where to place it are:

  • On your nightstand or the wall next to your bed

  • Underneath an office, reception or customer service officer’s desks

  • At the cashier’s counter

  • At security checkpoints

  • In rooms where valuables are stored

Again, depending on the resources and what kind of set-up you go with, you could even provide security for people at a medical or university campus in addition to your own home and workplace.

Things to Consider

However a panic alarm is only as reliable as the people using it. If you are thinking of installing such a system in your home or workplace, there are certain things you need to take into account beforehand:

  1. Take the time to understand the different types of panic alarms available and how they work.

  2. Decide if you want it to be wired or wireless, and monitored or unmonitored.

  3. Consult your local police regarding recommended panic alarms systems as well as the fines charged for false alarms. Also try to find out what their average response time is (even in major U.S. cities, the police could take as long as 30 to 45 minutes to respond to an alarm).

  4. If you want to install it yourself, do read through the instruction manual and components list thoroughly before set-up.

  5. Decide the locations that need to be covered by the system as violence could occur anywhere, especially in a large campus, for example, hallways, parking area, etc.

  6. Explain to your loved ones how and when to use the panic alarm.

  7. Look into getting a panic app or button on your mobile phone.

It is even more crucial to prepare yourself in the event of an emergency at the workplace:

  1. Determine which departments or employees require more protection, for example with a dedicated mobile duress transmitter, as some may be prone to more violence as per their job description. A dedicated mobile duress transmitting system could provide an additional layer of safety for people by using panic alarms and integrated software.

  2. Evaluate the current emergency response for workplace violence. Provide frequent training regarding the use of panic alarms. Also decide:

    1. which staff members should be in charge until the response team arrives;

    2. who should contact the office by phone to assess the situation (yes/no questions like “is there a weapon involved” could be used);

    3. who should stand by the door of the place in danger in case they are needed;

    4. who should direct the response team when they arrive and give them an assessment of the situation.

Specific instructions or crisis plans could also be devised to assist staff members in case of emergencies. After the event, all those involved could be debriefed in order to control spreading of rumor and misinformation.

  1. If possible, set up a video surveillance camera that views each area where a panic button is installed to provide real-time recording when a panic button has been pressed. If they are equipped with a video surveillance system, this could allow the monitoring center or facilities that use a response team to assess the current situation and take proper action.

Safety First

85% of break-ins are from non-professionals that are usually more desperate and dangerous; therefore you can never be too safe. Some other precautions you could take are to familiarize yourself with the room in which the panic alarm is and where it is located, as well as to keep your door unlocked as often as possible. Keeping your firearms ready and quickly accessable with a gun magnet holding it right next to your door can also be useful under such situations. When in confrontation with a potentially dangerous person, make sure to keep something between you and the individual, and try to position yourself closest to an exit. If the person tries to escape, do not put yourself in harm’s way; inform the police instead as to his description and where he might have fled to. In any case, try not to give out too much personal information about yourself to people you don’t know, and call 911 immediately if you see anyone acting suspicious.


Q:Where can i install my wired panic alarm button? is it necessary to be hidden?

A:Panic alarm buttons are for situations where you need help but cannot reveal to others that you are calling someone for help. Panic buttons are normally used by cashiers at banks and receptionists at offices. These buttons are supposed to be hidden for security reasons, but at the same time they need to be accessible. You may install a panic button under the table or some other accessible but hidden corner of a furniture item.

Q:Do wireless remote also come with panic alarm system?

A:Yes, wireless remotes used to arm and disarm the security alarm system have panic buttons installed in them. The user can press the panic button given on the remote control to notify the security company about a home emergency or a security breach. It is a very convenient and safe way to notify the security company and seek urgent help.

Q:What happens when a panic or duress alarm is activated?

A:When the panic alarm is pressed by a person in an emergency or panic situation, the alarm goes off at the security control centre. The duty of the security centre is to send local security officers or the police to respond to the site. Panic alarms are used by individuals as well as businesses and cater to a variety of emergency situations.

Q:What are the component of panic alarm system?

A:Panic alarm system consists of two basic components. One component is the panic button that the person activates when he or she needs help. Panic buttons are placed in a hidden but accessible area. The other component is the communication system, which is the method used to ask for help. The communication system can communicate to an off-site alarm monitoring center, a security control center, or to non-security personnel.

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