JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — “It’s jewelry that boasts it can save your life!”
The devices are programmed to call for help with a click of a shiny button.
Action News Jax Alicia Tarancon put this safety couture to the test in an Action News Jax Investigation.
She spoke with 25-year-old Renee Shumay.
Shumay believes her fashionable silver bracelet may have saved her life.
“I was with an individual I was not comfortable around. I was comfortable at first and then I realized oh no. I got to get out of this I don’t feel comfortable,” Shumay said.
That’s when she hit the little button on her bracelet and in just a few seconds Shumay told us a message went to her family and a few of her closes friends.
“My dad called me and all my friends texted if I was okay and I was able to talk to them in a moment where I was panicked and didn’t have a lot of control and they helped get me out of there to a hotel where I felt comfortable,” Shumay said.
It’s because that was no ordinary piece of jewelry but a stylish panic button designed by a company called Flare.
The device also can deliver a pre-recorded voice message.
Flare CEO Sara de-Zarraga says she created the product based on her own experience.
“I’m a survivor of sexual assault like far too many women are. But I’ve also experienced countless other unsafe moments,” de-Zarraga said.
And Flare isn’t the only company offering safety couture.
InvisaWear makes necklaces, bracelets, wristbands and scrunchies with discrete safety features.
“We wanted an attacker to have no idea that you’re calling for help,” Rajia Abdelaziz the CEO and Co-Founder of InvisaWear said.
Abdelaziz said if you press the button twice it’ll text 5 people of your choice to let them know you need help. It’ll share your location and it can also contact 911.
We put both devices to the test with the help of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
First we tested a bracelet with Flare.
Pressing the button first sent a call to my phone. Since we ignored that it sent us a text message and when we didn’t answer that a third party tried to contact us.
Finally the company reached out to law enforcement.
From start to finish it took twenty minutes before deputies were alerted.
Next we tried it with InvisaWear.
It’s designed to connect directly with security company ADT which then called the 9-1-1 dispatch center after I failed to pick up my phone.
In this case it took four minutes.
Clay County Lieutenant Sarah Lipe told me while she likes the idea of the products she said that reaction time is too slow during an emergency.
“Every minute we waste waiting on the phone call…you could have already been hurt. If you’re in Jacksonville you could be out of the state of Florida by this point in 40 minutes and we would have no idea,” Lt. Sarah Lipe with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said.
And she says relying on a piece of a jewelry is risky.
“I think it probably would provide a false sense of security to someone,” Lt. Lipe said.
Both Flare and InvisaWear also require you to have your phone turned on and nearby or else they won’t work.
“If you have your cell phone with you which we discovered you needed to make these things work. It’s easier for you and quicker for you just to text 911” Lt. Lipe said.
But Shumay told me calling or texting 911 isn’t always an easy option during an emergency.
“When you’re in a state of shock you freeze,” she said.
Instead she felt immediate relief talking to her family and friends during her tricky situation without having to call police.
Today she wears her bracelet a couple times a week to the store and even to work.
“It’s something that’s cute and it’s something makes me have more piece of mind no matter what I’m doing or where I ‘am,” Shumay said.
The devices can cost up to $250 depending on the style and features.
Flare doesn’t come with a monthly cost but InvisaWear comes with optional upgrades that include a monthly subscription cost.
Action News Jax reached out to both companies about the time it took for law enforcement to be contacted.
Flare disputed that it took twenty minutes for dispatch to be notified, saying it instead only took 64 seconds.
However, that’s not what we witnessed alongside the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
Invisawear told us it’s workers were put on hold several times when it called law enforcement.
Calling 911 by phone is the best and quickest option to get help.
If you only have the ability to text, nearly all of the counties in our area can accept text messages sent to 911 emergency dispatchers.
In our area, only Baker County in Florida and Charlton County in Georgia don’t have that ability.
If you send a 911 text, keep your message concise. Include the nature of the emergency and your exact location.
Don’t use slang, abbreviations, or emojis.