What Is A Duress Alarm And Do I Need One?

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Panic button (caption: Guide to Duress Alarms)Have you ever found yourself in a situation when you knew you were in imminent danger? Many of us rely on security systems to help keep us safe and alert the authorities when we need help. But in some situations, activating your alarm can present a challenge. If someone is in your home or workplace and you need to activate the alarm, do you know how to summon the police discreetly? That’s when a duress alarm can be a lifesaver.

Article Overview

What’s A Duress Alarm?

A duress code alarm system is a security system that allows you to enter a code that will simultaneously disarm the alarm and send a silent alarm to alert authorities that you need help. These codes can come in handy when you find yourself with an intruder asking you to turn off your security system.

Using a duress code, you appease your intruder by following their directions, and you let the right people know that you’re at risk.

Types Of Duress Alarms

There are several different types of duress alarms. We’ll explain the difference so you can make sure you’re getting the right one for your needs.

Distress Alarm

CallToU Wireless Caregiver PagerDistress alarms are often a single button alarm that sends an alert. You may find them in medical facilities where patients or staff may need to get help quickly. You may also see this type in a workplace where the work is dangerous and workers are far from each other. The distress alarm may be in the form of a wearable pendant or a button in a strategic location. These alarms usually alert others within the facility but don’t automatically call the police. The CallToU Wireless Caregiver Pager is a distress alarm that a patient can use to alert their caregiver during a distressing event.

Panic Button Alarm

Ring Alarm Panic ButtonPanic buttons are a type of duress alarm that you can carry with you or even have as an app on your cell phone. They’re great for personal security and medical emergencies. Some home security systems offer panic button options like the Ring Alarm system that allows you to buy their panic button separately and add it to your system.

Silent Alarm

A silent alarm is when your alert doesn’t make an audible noise but does call for help. You can trigger the silent alarm with a panic button or a duress code. Think: bank teller with a button under the counter or someone turning off an alarm in the presence of an intruder at home or work. The Honeywell 5869 Wireless Commercial Panic Switch is a popular option.

Do I Need A Duress Code?

Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they’ll need a duress code feature on their alarm system until they’re in a situation when they’ll need it. Several home security systems offer this feature, so you may want to consider adding it to your system.

Use Your Intuition To Stay Safe

In a scary situation where you can use a duress code, you’ll be the only one to decide whether or not you should. If you feel like you’re putting yourself at a higher risk if the police arrive unannounced, you need to do what’s right for your situation. Every scenario is unique and will play out differently. Trust yourself to make the decision that feels right and keeps you the safest.

Security Systems With Duress Options

Several of the security systems we review have some duress options. Here are a few, including links to our reviews so you can see what our experts have to say about each system.

  • ADT: With ADT, you can enter a duress code and get a panic button. Both options can trigger a silent alarm and alert the police.
  • Alarm.com: Alarm.com isn’t a security system;
    Panic button from Frontpoint
    Panic button from Frontpoint

    however, it works with some security systems to integrate all of your security and smart home features. Your security system provider provides duress features, but Alarm.com lets you add things like a panic pendant to increase those features.

  • Frontpoint: Frontpoint offers panic buttons, a panic option on the touchscreen control panel, and a duress code.
  • Protect America: Protect America offers panic buttons, a duress code, and the additional option of a mini keypad you can place discreetly. You can use the mini keypad to arm, disarm, and enter the duress code.
  • SimpliSafe: You can use panic buttons and a duress code with SimpliSafe.

Be sure you follow up with your provider to make sure you set up your silent alarm, and you know what your duress code is; it may not happen automatically. You also want to verify if panic buttons trigger a silent alarm or require verification before alerting the police. Knowing your system and how it works will provide the most security when you need it.

Duress Alarms For Schools

This video from CBS Philly shows how New Jersey schools are using a type duress alarm system to protect their students and staff.

Stay Informed About Response In Your Community

Having a duress alarm could be your saving grace in a dangerous situation. By entering a simple code, you can alert the police and discreetly get the help you may need. To make the best choice in your location, you may want to consider the average police response time in your area, so you know how quickly you may get help. Having all the information you need helps you make the best decisions when it comes to your safety.

Have you been in a situation where a duress alarm would have been helpful?

About The Author:

Julie has been writing professionally since 2012. She is an active volunteer for a local arm of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country. Everytown does comprehensive research on gun violence and makes recommendations on how we can all make our communities safer. Her involvement with this organization has given her invaluable information about how to keep our kids safe.

She enjoys writing not only about gun safety, but from family-related content to informative articles about technology, events and healthcare. In her free time, you might find her hiking, trail running, biking or swimming. You might also find her in the kitchen where she loves to cook and bake.

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