Just two weeks after moving to San Francisco, I was mugged in broad daylight down the street from my office in downtown. I was texting while walking (something I should really stop doing) when all of a sudden, my phone was snatched out of my hands by one person while someone else was pulling my hair from behind to keep me from going after them. It was quite the initiation to the city. Of course, after telling my dad what had just happened, he overnight shipped a book to me called The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence and lectured me about being aware of my surroundings.
In response to the incident and especially since I was living alone in a brand-new city, I bought a bottle of pepper spray to add to my keychain. I had grown so paranoid over the upcoming weeks that I had walked around with my finger on the trigger in my pocket so that I'd be ready for anything. But I realized that if I were to be attacked under any other circumstances, I'd have to reach into my purse, unlock the bottle, and make sure I was aiming away from my own face. Pepper spray isn't always that practical in the face of emergency because when do we have enough time to complete all those steps?
So when I heard about the Basu eAlarm ($16-$20) as the modern pepper spray, I knew I had to try it out for both my safety and for my parents' peace of mind. The tiny alarm hooks onto your keychain and can be used as a crime deterrent, animal repellent, rescue signal, and intrusion alert. All you have to do is pull the pin off the top and an alarm immediately goes off. I tested it out the other day and let me tell you, this thing is loud. I suggest doing it inside your home with the pin ready to be capped back on, maybe even with some earplugs, because the sound definitely made my ears ring. If you don't replace the top, the alarm will continue to go off for 30 minutes, which is about the length of its battery life. The pin is easily removable but secure enough that you won't have to worry about accidentally setting it off. It's also just as simple to close.
The eAlarm can be used when exploring outdoors to scare off animals or as an SOS signal in case you get lost. And the best part is that you're allowed to bring it with you past security, whether you're going to a concert or boarding a plane. A couple of my coworkers who already own one love it for that very reason, and now I completely understand why the Basu eAlarm is much more reliable than traditional pepper spray.