Panic Buttons: Why You Need One And Which One To Get

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Elderly man holding panic button in hand (caption: Guide to Panic Buttons)Panic buttons are security alert systems that allow you to get help when you need it. There are a variety of types that range from an app on your phone to a part of your home security system. Depending on your needs, you can find a way to protect yourself with a panic button.

Article Overview

Do I Really Need A Panic Button?

A panic button allows you to discreetly call for help or sound an audible alarm if you find yourself in a situation of distress. Here are 3 situations when a panic button could help you out.

1. Intruder In Your Home

When someone enters your home without your permission, you need to alert authorities as quickly as possible. You can use a panic button while you’re in a safe spot in your home without notifying the intruder of your whereabouts.

2. You Feel A Threat To Your Safety

There are a lot of situations when you might feel threatened. Maybe someone is following you or waiting near your car when you leave a store. A panic button can help you send an alert to authorities to protect yourself.

3. Medical Emergency

If you have a medical emergency, time is of the essence. By just pressing your panic button, help can be on the way.

How Do They Work?

Most panic buttons consist of 2 parts: the button and a communication system. Once you press the button, you alert the communication system, which then will contact 911. When it’s a part of your home security system, it will inform your home security provider. That provider knows the details of your home security and can provide information even if you cannot.

Loud Audible Alarms vs Discreet Alerts

Panic buttons can alert in 2 ways, with a loud audible alarm or a discreet alert to responders. Depending on your situation, you may prefer one over the other. If someone attacks you, you’ll want a loud alarm to draw attention to your location, and frighten your attacker. A discreet alarm is ideal when you want to send an alert without putting yourself in more danger-for instance, an armed robbery at a place of business or a during a kidnapping.

Are They Similar To A Medical Alert System?

Elderly person's folded hands (caption: Best Medical Alert Systems)Panic buttons are similar to medical alert systems because they alert first responders when you have a medical emergency. However, you can use panic buttons for a variety of other situations. Panic buttons also have an option for a discreet alert. Medical alert systems connect you to someone who will speak to you through a communication hub on the device, so they’re not discreet.

If you’re interested in a medical alert system, read our reviews of the best medical alert systems to see which one is right for you or your loved one.

Types Of Panic Buttons

Home SecurityApps | For Business | For The Elderly | For The Car | Personal 

Home Security

Many home security systems offer panic buttons as an added layer of protection for you and your family. If an intruder enters your home while you’re there, you can press the panic button to sound an alarm. It will then alert your provider’s monitoring center to dispatch the authorities. You can use the panic button even if your alarm system isn’t armed.

Ring Alarm Panic ButtonSome of our favorite security systems have the option of a panic button. Frontpoint offers a panic pendant as an add-on to their system, and SimpliSafe has a panic button option as well. Some other systems that we review also offer this option. The ADT panic button is wearable and connects to the command system. Ring Alarm also has a panic button you can purchase to add to your system.

Monitored Security + Panic Button = Optimal Protection

Home security panic buttons are wireless and sometimes wearable, so they can go anywhere in your home. You want them to be accessible so you can use them where and when you need them. The combination of a panic button with a home security system is the best choice for complete protection.


There are several top-rated apps, like Red (iOS, Android), Rave (iOS, Android) and Noonlight (iOS, Android), you can install on your smartphone to use as a panic button. Some offer more features than others, like GPS location and informing your emergency contact.

Personal Experience

Parents like to add apps like Noonlight to their child’s phone to help make sure they’re safe. Kids like them because they’re easy to use and put them at ease when they’re alone.

My teenage daughter has Noonlight. It gives me some peace of mind when she goes jogging in our neighborhood or walks to a friend’s house alone. – Neil G., Safe Smart Living

I like Noonlight. It’s easy to use and it makes me feel safe when I’m out by myself in our neighborhood or hanging out with friends. – Mary Kate G., Neil’s daughter

For Business

Honeywell 5869 Wireless Commercial Panic SwitchBusinesses may want to install a panic button that will alert authorities when a threatening situation occurs. The Honeywell 5869 Wireless Commercial Panic Switch is a popular choice you can place under a desk or register so you can send an alert without being noticed. It does need to connect to your security system.

For The Elderly

Old woman talking on phone (caption: Best Home Security Systems For The Elderly)Some panic buttons may cater to the elderly by being easy to use and helping to alert in situations that are more common for people in this older age group.

If this is what you’re looking for, consider the best security systems for the elderly and look for panic buttons that you can add to those systems.

For The Car

Though you can install a panic button in your car with an alarm system, most newer models have this built into the key fob. These are typically just an audible alarm set off with the push of a button. You can use them to alert others of your need for help or to scare someone away if you feel threatened.

Carbon Monoxide Detection

Another safeguard for your car is a carbon monoxide (CO) detector. You probably are used to seeing them mounted in homes, but did you know they’re also available for your car? In 2017, Ford warned owners of certain Explorer SUV models (built 2010-2018) that carbon monoxide (CO) could be leaking into their vehicles’ cabins1. And Toyota had problems with its keyless ignition systems causing a series of deaths in recent years2. The danger is that CO is an odorless and colorless gas that can cause serious impairment in drivers and even death.

Personal Use

B A S U eAlarmA personal panic button is a simple way to provide you with extra security at home and on the go. Products like the B A S U eAlarm and the iMaxAlarm sound an audible alarm when activated. The goal is to alert people around you of your emergency while also frightening those trying to harm you.

How Fast Do Panic Button Apps Work?

In this 3-minute video, CBS Philly put the Noonlight panic-button style app to the test. Watch to see how it worked and if it was a better choice than calling 911.

Benefits Of A Home Security System

Panic buttons can give you peace of mind about getting help when you need it quickly. Whether you use an app or a device is up to you, but they’re a definite plus when paired with a home security system. If you don’t have one, learn more about the benefits and 8 reasons why home security systems are important.

Also, read our reviews of the best home security systems to provide complete protection for you and your family by being able to quickly and efficiently alert authorities when your safety’s at risk.

Have you had a situation when a panic button could have kept you safe?

Sources: [1] Bloomberg [2] CarTalk

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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