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As a young woman living in New York City, it's an unfortunate reality that I have to always be aware of my surroundings when stepping out of my apartment. Carrying around pepper spray or even a small pocket knife has proven effective for some, but my natural clumsiness, lack of training, and the possibility of those tools being turned against me have always been unsettling.
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That's where the She's Birdie Safety Alarm comes into play. When left untouched, the alarm is just an ordinary keychain that can be hung on your bag or keys. When its two-piece body is tugged apart, the 130-decibel alarm sounds, with a strobe light beaming brightly.
This $30 accessory was a graduation gift from my mom, who is just as, if not more, concerned about my health and safety. Today, it's a must-have wherever I go, whenever.
Ideally, you'd use the Birdie alarm when you're in a situation of danger and seeking assistance. When you're out of harm's way or the situation is resolved, you can deactivate the alarm by sliding the looped pin back into place. The company says the keychain battery lasts up to 40 minutes after you pull out the pin, giving you a good amount of time to get to safety.
The Birdie alarm has a compact and sleek build and comes in fashionable colors like black, light blue, and purple. When looped through the included brass carabiner, it looks more like you've added a purse charm or luggage tag as opposed to toting a safety device. The subtlety is a feat in and of itself.
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Speaking of luggage, the Birdie is TSA approved and the twist-off carabiner makes transferring the alarm from my work tote to my going-out bag quick and simple. I can even latch it onto my wallet when I'm just stepping out for a walk. Still, the twist-to-open design makes it difficult for the alarm to fall or be pulled off.
While subtle-looking, the Birdie has become popular enough to make most perpetrators think twice when they see one. My friend who recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin claims that the Birdie has become so widely known that just having it on the outside of your purse alone acts as a deterrent.
Luckily, I haven't had to put the Birdie to a real-life test. And while I'd like to keep it that way, I have tested the alarm mechanism to exactly see how loud it was. To put it in words, the alarm is bright and loud and would have me running away in seconds. If you do end up purchasing the Birdie, I also recommend familiarizing yourself with the sound. As a tip, cover the speaker with your fingers to muffle the sound and, most importantly, warn your roommates.
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The Birdie is by no means foolproof, but it does grant me (and my mom) peace of mind for only $30. I should also mention that since I received the Birdie, the company has rolled out a smarter, more compact successor, the Birdie+. Aside from the original alarm features, the Birdie+ uses Bluetooth and the Birdie+ app to implement even more safety features. With the Birdie+ app, you have 24/7 instant access to a live support rep, can share your location with emergency contacts, and, my personal favorite, receive a fake "excuse-to-leave" call when you're in an uncomfortable situation.
The Birdie+ keychain alarm starts at $39 but requires an additional $90 annual subscription fee after the initial six-month free trial. Regardless of which model, I can't recommend the Birdie alarm enough as it continually acts as a simple, non-violent solution to making me feel safe.