Most of us will probably be familiar with the idea of screech alarms. The concept is simple, if threatened a user activates a small device which emits a loud piercing noise in an attempt to scare off an attacker.
This type of alarm is commonly issued to those who are concerned about their personal safety. However, when it comes to protecting those working alone, is a more advanced safety solution required?
The sound given off by screech alarms is deliberately unpleasant to the ears and can startle an attacker. This gives a victim the chance to escape and also alerts others in the immediate area that someone is in trouble.
However, the problem with passive alarms is that if there’s no one nearby, then no one can help. Even if a person is able to get away from the initial threat, they may be badly injured and require urgent medical assistance.
Alarms can also be easily silenced or muffled if an assailant places their hand over it. In busy cities their effectiveness is reduced further as people are used to loud noises and may ignore the sound or mistake it for a car alarm.
In some cases, a subtler approach may be required. For example, if a cashier was working alone and felt threatened by a customer behaving aggressively they’d want to avoid escalating the situation further. It would be far more appropriate to seek help without the customer knowing. This shows the limitations of this type of alarm and the situations they can be used in.
Monitored alarms are a far more discreet option. They can be disguised easily and triggered without an attacker realising. When activated devices can link through to a monitoring centre so there is always someone available on the other end who can assess the situation and involve the emergency services. If a device has GPS capabilities a user’s whereabouts can also be quickly passed to the Police, saving vital time.
Typically, these alarms will allow the monitoring centre to listen in for signs that the user is in danger and communicate directly with them. They can even be activated before a situation deteriorates, which in the lone working scenario above would be useful.
The way in which Controllers at the monitoring centre respond to an incident can also be pre-planned, with escalation procedures tailored to different situations. This is ideal in environments where there are multiple types of risks to the user. Some lone worker alarms can even detect impact so can activate automatically in situations where a user may not be able to respond.
Employers have a duty of care to protect their workforce, so employee safety must be taken seriously. Many lone working roles carry a number of risks therefore requiring a more sophisticated and tailored approach to manage these.
Screech alarms are intended mainly for personal use and although they can work in public areas, monitored lone worker alarms are better suited to the dangers of lone working and therefore offer more complete protection.