November 24, 2015

Buyer's Guide: Personal Safety Options


Buyer's Guide: Personal Safety Options

What can you carry to protect yourself in real estate? Here's a range of products to consider.

Most personal safety products are very affordable, and many are available for less than $20. They can be grouped as products for a person and the place. For adequate protection, you'll likely rely on some combination of these.

But remember, with personal safety products it's important to be properly trained and prepared on how to use them correctly in an emergency. Some may also require licensing; check with local officials. Here are some options to consider:

Keychain alarm: This is one of the most basic solutions and is small enough to fit on your keychain. It will sound a shrill, ear-piercing siren at the touch of a button, which should attract attention — and hopefully send an attacker running.

Pepper spray: This will effectively disarm a person or animal long enough for you to escape and summon for help. It must be properly aimed and instantly available. You might want to consider compact sprayers — which are small enough to hide in your hand — that may be more practical to carry with you while on the job.

Stun guns or tasers: These are not as easy to conceal and may be more difficult to wield effectively. For this reason, security experts do not recommend them for most real estate professionals. A taser may be difficult to use in time to stop a sudden attack. A stun gun requires you to touch the attacker with the unit before it can have any effect. If you are intent on carrying such protection, you'll want to explore models that are disguised to look like familiar objects.

Everyday items: Some items you come across every day can also serve for self-defense in an emergency. A aggressively wielded pen, pin, or pocketknife can deter a would-be attacker long enough for you to get away. Also, the standard remote control that comes with most cars to lock or unlock them can be used to activate the car's lights and alarms and alert anyone in the area. Wasp spray can also temporarily disable an attacker from as far as 20 feet away.

Portable alarm system: A simple doorstop alarm slips behind any door you don't want opened and will sound when anyone tries to enter or move the unit. Miniature magnetic alarms can also be installed on doors or windows in seconds, to sound whenever they are opened or tampered with.

Such systems may be good to install during an open house or when showing a vacant listing—then you can remove them when they're no longer needed. A standard lockbox also restricts access to a home, and some models even alert you to attempted tampering or unauthorized attempts to enter.

Emergency kits: On the road, there is always danger of an accident or a vehicle breakdown. For peace of mind, keep an emergency kit in the trunk and an auto safety tool in the glove box. The multipurpose tool typically contains a light, a hammer for breaking windows, a blade for cutting a safety belt, and a sharp point for piercing a deployed air bag.