Cell Phone vs. Wireless Panic Button: Which Is Better in an Emergency?

Most people today see their cell phone as an essential part of their lives. 85% of adults in the US own a smartphone, and many professionals rely on mobile devices as part of their everyday business.

A cell phone is likely your go-to solution for many of life’s problems, from finding a place to grab coffee on the road to scheduling a time to meet up with a new client. It’s no surprise that many people also see these devices as their lifeline in an emergency.

In the real estate and property management industry, it’s especially important to have a swift and effective way to contact emergency services. You could face a number of unsafe situations, including angry tenants, surprise guests at a vacant apartment, or even just a parking garage after dark. But just how effective are cell phones in an emergency situation — and is there a better alternative?

Using cell phones in an emergency situation

During a conflict or unexpected emergency, your cell phone is limited by several factors, including signal strength, battery life, and more. There are also physical limitations, social cues, and technical shortcomings that make using a cell phone to call 911 undesirable in a tough situation.

In the best of circumstances, it may take multiple time-consuming steps to call 911 on a mobile device:

  1. Pull phone out of pocket or purse
  2. Either unlock phone or tap “emergency” on the screen
  3. Then dial and press call

All of this can be very difficult to do with shaky or sweaty hands, and many people are unfamiliar with the emergency call settings on their device. The process of dialing the phone and speaking into it can escalate a difficult situation.

If you’re being attacked by another person, your cell phone will be the first thing they’ll take away from you. If you manage to make a call to emergency services, an attacker can simply take the phone and hang up the call.

Plus, depending on how much you use your phone (which, for most Americans, is a lot) and how often you charge it, the worst-case scenario is that you have a dead battery and can’t use the phone at all. 

Why use a wireless panic button instead of a cell?

So, cell phones aren’t necessarily great in an emergency — but what other alternatives are available?

Many real estate and leasing professionals are turning to wireless panic buttons, which automatically connect you to emergency services with the push of a button. These discreet devices can be clipped to your keys, belt loop, or lanyard and look like a regular key fob — something that doesn’t draw attention.

Using a wireless, wearable panic button like Apartment Guardian is easy and takes as little as three seconds to connect with 911. Push and hold the button to trigger the automatic call mechanism, which will connect you to local emergency dispatch using the strongest wireless signal available, irrespective of network provider.

Once the call is active, it can’t be hung up by the device, so an attacker would not be able to end the call. Thanks to the sensitive microphone, emergency services can hear anything within 10 feet of the device. Plus, the battery lasts up to two weeks on a single charge.

Most importantly, in a situation where seconds matter, Apartment Guardian connects to 911 up to 8 times faster than a smartphone.


It’s a common misconception that cell phones are always quick and reliable in an emergency. Depending on the situation, they may do more harm than good.

In the real estate and property management industry, it’s important to have the fastest possible access to emergency services. A simple wireless panic button can offer peace of mind, and save you valuable seconds in a bad situation.

Protect yourself with the Apartment Guardian personal panic button. Learn more.