Benefits of Panic Alarms
The purpose of a panic alarm is to allow a person under duress to quickly and silently call for help in the event of an emergency. Panic alarms are also called “duress alarms”, “hold-up alarms”, or “panic buttons“.
Panic alarms are used when it may be unsafe or uncomfortable to call for help in other ways. For example, if a belligerent person is standing in your lobby, it may be unwise to further escalate the situation by picking up a phone to call for assistance. A panic alarm can provide a quick and convenient way to summon help without drawing attention.
Safenet Security feels that almost every business can benefit from the use of panic alarms. Places where panic alarms may be particularly beneficial include:
- Receptionist’s desks in building lobbies.
- Security stations and checkpoints.
- Shipping/receiving areas.
- Customer service counters.
- Check-out counters and cashier’s stations.
- Rooms where cash or other valuables are received, processed, or stored.
- Interview rooms in Human Resources department.
- Executive office suites.
- Places where confrontations with the public are likely to occur.
The panic button is the device that the person activates when he or she needs help. There are many styles of panic buttons available. These can have a single pushbutton, two pushbuttons that must be pressed simultaneously, devices that must be squeezed, and devices that are activated by a foot or knee. There are also devices that can be covertly activated when cash or a product is removed at the request of a robber. Most panic buttons are specifically designed to resist accidental activation.
Panic buttons are normally installed in a location where they can easily be reached, yet out of view of the casual observer. In many cases, panic buttons are installed on the underside of a desk or counter-top.
Panic buttons can be the wired type or wireless type. Wired panic buttons are connected using cabling. Wired panic buttons are very reliable, but it can sometimes be difficult and costly to get cable to each panic button location.
Wireless panic buttons use a short-range radio transmitter, similar to that used with a garage door opener. Wireless panic buttons are easy to install and can be placed just about anywhere. Wireless panic buttons can also be carried around on the premises by employees if desired. Wireless panic buttons require batteries and need to be tested frequently to assure that they are operating properly.
Tips for Successfully Using Panic Alarms
Panic alarms are worthless unless people know how to use them. Provide frequent training and make employees practice using panic buttons, particularly at positions where there is high employee turnover.
- When possible, provide a video surveillance camera that views each area where a panic button is installed. The panic alarm system should be interfaced to the video surveillance system to provide real-time recording when a panic button has been pressed. At facilities that have a security control centre, the video surveillance system should automatically display the appropriate cameras at the control centre whenever a panic button has been activated. This allows the centre to assess the situation in order to send the proper response.
- Facilities that use a response team to respond to panic alarms should have some method to assess the situation before personnel enter the scene. Cameras that view panic button locations should be remotely viewable by response team members. This can be done using a computer on the network that has video viewing software, or by providing one or more dedicated video monitors.
- In some locations, different types of responses may be needed to handle different types of situations. For example, a drunk person in the lobby poses a different threat than an armed robber, yet employees may wish to have a method for discretely summoning help in either case. To handle this, it is possible to install what we call a “two-state” panic button. This button can be programmed so that two types of signals can be sent, one for true emergencies, and one for when help is needed but the situation doesn’t require an emergency response.
If you have questions about panic alarms, or need help in designing a panic alarm system for your facility, please Contact us today