3 Personal Safety Gadgets for College Students

Whether it’s a late night trek to the library or heading back from a party, take any of these three gadgets with you to feel a little safer on campus.

Rebecca Edwards
Security Expert, Safety & Tech Reporter
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Published on October 20, 2021

Heading back to campus comes with more than student loans and a hefty book fee. For many students, it's the first time you're out on your own. To help you out, we put together the three safety essentials every student should pack this semester.

And, best of all, they won't add much to your college costs.

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1. Pepper spray

Travel-friendly pepper spray

If you feel safer with a weapon that plays offense, then we highly recommend pepper spray.

It's non-lethal, fairly easy to use, and small enough to carry with you everywhere. Plus, this brand comes with two for just $20 (one for you and one for a friend).

Before you use this in an emergency situation, give it a test run. You don't want to accidentally spray yourself or a pal. And it's important that you feel comfortable using it when you're in a scary situation. You should be able to get multiple uses out of just one can.

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Pepper spray safety for you

Pepper spray lasts up to two years, so be sure to check the expiration date and replace it as needed, even if you’ve never deployed it.

Watch our pepper spray tests on TikTok!

Rebecca Edwards, SafeWise

2. Personal alarm

If you're more comfortable calling in the cavalry instead of trying to take
out an attacker on your own, a personal alarm might be your best friend in a sketchy situation.

Personal alarms are great, whether you're trying to evade an attack or simply calling for help. They're small, easy to carry (often a keychain), and simple to operate.

We found one at Target for under $10. But you can get fancier-schmancier ones for around $25. Either way you look at it, a personal alarm is a pretty affordable way to go.

What to look for in a personal alarm

First, you want a strong, loud siren.

If nobody can hear it, it's not going to do its job. Some have multiple sirens that work on different frequencies to maximize the disruption. You can find sirens that go up to 120 dB (about as loud as a big clap of thunder, a chainsaw, or even a rowdy concert). So, not too shabby.

Be sure the alarm is easy to trigger, but not too easy. Look for one with a pull-out pin that prevents false alarms while you're rummaging through your backpack. And, like pepper spray, be sure you test your personal alarm.

Finally, check the battery life. Most personal alarms last for months or even years. The one we tested uses batteries meant to last for 12 months.

Rebecca Edwards, SafeWise

3. Panic button app

Best panic button app

A panic button app downloads directly to your phone and connects you to help.

Our favorite is Noonlight, an app originally designed for college campuses. What makes Noonlight one of the best safety tools out there is that it uses GPS to pinpoint your location when you need help.

It connects you to a monitoring center where a real-life person will check in to see what's going on and call for emergency services if you need it.

Best of all, the app’s panic button that connects to live monitoring is totally free. Upgrade options start at around $4 a month, but the free version is really all you need to connect you to a lifeline when you're in danger.

Noonlight app screenshot

Noonlight safety app, SafeWise

Final word

With everything else going on in your college life, you don't need to waste time stressing over safety. With our three safety must-haves (pepper spray, personal alarm, panic button app), you'll feel more prepared when you're in class, walking across campus, or coming home after a late night party.

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