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I shop for a living, and this $17 personal alarm is what I'm giving my mom this holiday

As a city girl, I’d been meaning to get a personal alarm forever. I’m often walking the streets alone at night, and riding the subway can be, dicey. But I wanted to find an alarm that I could be sure wouldn’t activate by accident (ugh, nightmare) and that wouldn't weigh me down. I also didn’t want to pay more than 20 bucks. So how happy was I when I heard about the iMaxAlarm Personal Security Alarm (just $17!)? Needless to say, I ordered one immediately. Now, with Mother's Day on the horizon, I plan to get one for my dear 'ol. Interesting gift idea, eh....??

The personal alarm is battery-operated and easily straps onto your bag or a lanyard.
$17 at Amazon

When I took it out of the packaging, I was shocked by its extremely light weight — barely there, really — and it was easy to put on my key ring thanks to the included carabiner. I love that it looks like a cute little key fob that discreetly lives on my keychain. The color is nice, too — a very pretty metallic rose gold.

The alarm comes pre-installed with batteries that last for 30 minutes when used and two-to-three years unused. The batteries are not replaceable, but for the price, I’m okay with that. To activate the alarm, you pull off the top; to stop the sound, simply reinsert. The idea is that the deafening sound will alert others, and hopefully deter an attacker, too.

As I left my apartment the next morning, I felt prepared and confident. This little gizmo was giving me peace of mind. I also felt a sense of control knowing that if I’m ever in a dangerous situation, I have an easy way to signal for help.

MaxxmAlarm Illume Personal Alarm on Amazon
Flowers are nice, but does anything say "I care" more than this practical, potentially life-saving, gadget? Mom will never forget your thoughtfulness. (Photo: Amazon)

It’s perfect for all the walking I do around the streets of New York City. But I keep thinking of all the other places this thing is going to come in handy. When I camp upstate, I can use it in case a bear comes along — not that I’ve encountered one yet, but you never know.

I’ll bring it with me while going for a run, and if I ever get lost in the woods — a big fear of mine — I like knowing I have a better chance of not being stranded. All alone. In the cold. Just this past weekend, I brought my iMax with me as I hiked in the woods with friends. You can never be too careful!

I’m the mom of two young girls, and I figure that when they’re a bit older and start walking to and from school on their own, I’ll clip alarms to their backpacks. Why not?

Speaking of motherhood (and grandmotherhoo): The iMax is an invaluable tool for keeping an elderly person safe and/or allowing them to call out in case of an emergency like a fall. So many uses! So many colors!

Is Mom a dedicated color-coordinator? No worries -- you can get her one of these in Black, Blue, Rose Gold (above) or Space Grey.
$17 at Amazon

Testing out the noise made me really nervous. After all, this little dude blasts a 130-decimal alarm — that’s like a jet taking off. Though I was scared to sound the alarm, I wanted to see how loud it really was—I had to know what I was dealing with here. I live in an apartment with neighbors literally above, below and to the sides of me. So I didn’t want to “alarm” anyone by setting it off but then again I didn’t want to do it on the street.

I put it under my pillow and pulled the top off. It’s LOUD. REALLY loud. Kind of like a crazy-high-decibel-vibrating-extremely-irritating noise that would drive someone insane to listen to for too long. It was so disturbing that I started shaking trying to get the top back in to stop the sound. It was easy enough. And then, ahhhh, the sound of silence.

I’m thrilled that I haven’t had to activate the alarm in real life, and hope that it never comes to that. But I feel better knowing that if I’m ever in a scary situation, this screeching siren has got my back.

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.

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