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Today we live in a country run by...well I don't think I even need to finish that sentence. In this day and age, criminal punishments become lighter, and legislators are determined that potential victims (aka: us) remain as defenseless as possible by making any weapon or device that can cause the slightest bit of harm or minor annoyance highly illegal. So what is the answer? In a country where carrying so much as a pea-shooter could get you arrested, your choices are sparse and largely unsatisfactory. -The Device- This device, the Yale personal alarm does...well...what you might expect an alarm to do; it creates an extremely loud (130 decibels), highly irritating, and potentially deafening sound that could be described as 'a thousand canaries chirping'. The jack plug which is removed to activate the alarm (and replaced to switch it off) is quite firm so there is little concern about triggering it accidentally. The device comes with batteries already installed, and although I have not tested the lifespan, the packaging claims that the alarm can sound for around 6 minutes. Although the alarm comes with a short lanyard, it has no clips, or loops on the actual device, so it can be very difficult to actually attach it to anything without a little DIY work. I personally stuck a piece of adhesive Velcro on the back of mine. The build quality is very robust and the alarm will keep on sounding even after it has been dropped on concrete. -Size- On the website, this item is described as 'compact'. However, I have also heard the word used to describe small cars and I wouldn't fancy trying to put one of those in my pocket, nor would I want to carry one around with me on a daily basis. I looked high and low for the actual measurements of this device, but I was unsuccessful; but I am now happy to reveal the secret that Yale (apparently) doesn't want you to know; H: 2" W: 1.4" D: 0.5" Weight: 24g Length of Lanyard: 6" See, now was that so hard? The device is pretty small and light-weight so it is no problem for me to carry it everywhere with me; I use mine mainly to secure my laptop bag. -Function- These alarms theoretically have three uses. The first is that the loud noise would stun the attacker and give you chance to escape. This is actually quite believable as the noise can numb your brain as effectively as half a bottle of vodka. The second is to alert people nearby of the situation so they would (hopefully) come to your rescue. Unfortunately this is slightly less believable. How often have you heard a car or house alarm and took no notice? Be honest; my point exactly. The third is to attach to your bag and fasten the lanyard to yourself; that way, if someone took your bag, they would take the alarm also; the alarm would trigger and it is likely that they would drop the bag so as not to bring any more attention to themselves. Used creatively, it could help against pickpocketing and snatches. Unfortunately, this use is limited without some DIY work because of the lack of any clips or suchlike on the actual device. -Price- These alarms are available for about five pounds. I personally bought mine from Ebay for less. It may not look a lot, but it is quite a powerful device and one that, I believe, is worth the cost. -Who is it suitable for?- Anyone, and everyone. It really doesn't matter who you are. Just because you're a body-builder doesn't give you any more protection (against the courts!) if you beat one of these snot-nosed youths to a unidentifiable pulp. Claiming 'self defence' actually stands for very little these days and still requires going to court even if you do succeed. Until the laws change to allow innocent people to protect themselves, this sort of thing is unfortunately all we have. -Conclusion- When faced with a pack of savage 'hoodies', I'd much rather be toting an AK-47, and in comparison a personal alarm offers limited protection; however, it is cheap, legal, and better than nothing. If nothing else, it could always be used for a party gag or for getting rid of telemarketers (don't tell anyone I said that).