If you’re concerned about self-defense, you owe it to yourself to explore the differences among the most common tools — pepper sprays, stun guns and personal alarms — as each method offers advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the type of dangerous situation you’re most likely to find yourself in, it is important to understand the pros and cons of each tool. We’ll help you sort them out.
What it is: A personal safety alarm is a small device that emits a loud shriek.
Pros: The devices are easy to use, and you don’t have to worry about aiming them. A simple pull of a pin or push of a button will activate the device.
Cons: If you are in a remote area, loud noise probably won’t deter a potential attacker. You also may have to rely on someone who hears the alarm to call for help, and the noise doesn’t disable the attacker.
What it is: A stun gun is a weapon that delivers a strong shock through its prongs.
Pros: A stun gun can be used anywhere on an attacker’s body. The shock will incapacitate the attacker and give you time to flee. Stun guns come in a number of sizes, are often lightweight, are easy to use and can be clipped on a belt. The devices can be used several times before needing to be recharged.
Cons: Stun guns are only effective if they make direct contact with an attacker. That means you need to get very close to your assailant, which could give him or her plenty of time and opportunity to do you harm.
What it is: Pepper spray is a device that emits a chemical that, when sprayed on an attacker, will irritate the eyes, causing tears, pain and temporary blindness.
Pros: Pepper spray can thwart an attack from up to 15 feet away. It’s easy to carry, can be clipped on clothing or a bag and comes in a number of shapes and sizes. Pepper spray is very easy to use — just point and shoot.
Cons: Wind could prevent the chemical from hitting an attacker and cause the chemical to blow back into your face.
No matter which type of self-defense method you choose, it is important to practice using it so you are comfortable operating it in a stressful situation. In addition, before purchasing any item for self-defense, check with your local police department to find out if your community has any restrictions.