Warding off criminals with a personal alarm


There are noise alarms to protect vehicles, homes and business establishments; why not a noise alarm to protect people?

Allied Electronics of Hong Kong has answered that rather obvious question by making one, and it's now being marketed in the United States by Quorum International of Scottsdale, Ariz.

The device, called the Personal Attack Alarm or PAAL, measures 2 inches by 3 inches, about the size of a beeper. But a beeper was never this loud or this piercing. The sound level is 104 decibels, which is "about the same as a freight train whistle," said Ken Withrow of Fenix Enterprises, one of the distributors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

A person carrying a Personal Attack Alarm can activate it simply by pulling a pin. The alarm, which comes with a wrist strap and belt clip, also can be rigged to be set off inadvertently by an attacker, robber or purse-snatcher.

Once set off, the noise won't quit for two hours -- or until the pin is reinserted.

"A good thing about PAAL is that there's no moral decision or question of legality in the use of it as there can be with a gun or stun device or Mace," Mr. Withrow said.

"It just shocks him to the point that he's no longer in control, creates a diversion and brings help."

Of course, there's never a guarantee that any kind of defensive response will deter an attacker, and for that reason law enforcement agencies tend not to endorse personal protective devices, Mr. Withrow said.

Mr. Withrow noted that the noise device can be helpful to the disabled and to elderly people who live alone as well as to attack victims.

Retail price for the basic black PAAL is $29. A yellow sports model is $32, one dollar of which goes to the Special Olympics. Both models take a 9-volt battery.

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