A number frequently used to identify the water resistance of a Personal Alarm is its IP
(Ingress Protection) rating. Originally created for electrical engineering purposes over
a century ago, IP ratings provide an officially recognised minimum standard of
uniformity. The focus here is only on the waterproof aspect of IP ratings pertaining to
The three most common IP ratings used to differentiate waterproofness are IP65, IP66
Myth #1 – Higher IP ratings offer greater waterproof protection
The first digit has nothing to do with waterproof ratings so we’ll focus solely on the
meaning of the second digit, which indicates the level of protection that the shell of a
personal alarm offers against the infiltration of water.
In other words, a device with an IP67 rating does not necessarily mean that the same
device is also capable of achieving IP65 or IP66 compliance. It’s perfectly
understandable that an alarm meeting the minimum standard of immersion in shallow
water for a period of time may become waterlogged if high pressure jets forcibly squirt
a large volume of water in a steady stream at close range directly at the same unit.
Looking at the progression between IP65 and IP66, it may seem logical to presume
that an IP standard 67 must offer a superior level of protection against water
invasiveness. However reading the criteria for IP67 dispels this erroneous
presumption. Any claim that a personal alarm with an IP67 rating can be safely worn
in a shower is mistaking an apple for an orange.
Unfortunately, even renowned buying guides for personal alarms propagate this
misinformation, as this example illustrates: “A rating of IP67 or higher will protect it in
the shower, and if you drop it in shallow water, dirt, mud, etc.”
Myth #2 – IP Ratings are the result of stringent testing procedures to achieve
Self-certifying IP ratings are commonplace and do not violate any international
regulatory authorities. This means that manufacturers can simply design a product to
meet an IP standard, then specify that rating without approval or authorisation from
any governing body. This often leads to products introduced into the market that do
not actually meet minimum requirements.
A belief that IP ratings are inviolate and provide indisputable legitimacy is apparent in
the statement of a well-respected reviewer of personal alarms: “Some brands use
generic terms like ‘splash proof’ or ‘shower proof’ but these are relatively meaningless
without an IP rating.”
The Inanely Obvious
IP testing that measures water resistance involves only water. . . not the addition of
chemicals as found in soap and shampoo. Whether in the shower or bathing in a tub,
virtually everyone applies a cleaning agent of some sort in conjunction with water.
During this process, the viscosity of water changes making it easier for soapy rinse
water to work its way into the tiny holes of the speaker and microphone.
This means that regardless of an IP rating of 65, 66 or 67, soapy water is highly likely
to get inside the unit causing permanent damage and void the warranty. This can be
seen visually in the following photos.
Here are the two halves of a personal alarm shell without the inner workings:
Here are two sets of shells with a piece of toilet tissue cut to fit inside:
After connecting the two halves and attaching a lanyard to each unit, I showered with
the unit labeled “No Soap”; simulating the rinsing of my hair while using only water.
Next, I draped on the unit marked “Soap”; applied shampoo and rinsed the soapy
concoction out of my hair. Here is what the test revealed when the back halves were
The tissue (above left) in the unit where soapy bubbles from the shampoo had been
rinsed over the sealed unit was saturated. Whereas the device used with only water
(above right) showed no liquid had seeped onto the tissue. Knowing people will
continue to bathe using soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc; we came up with a highly,
technically advanced solution to the problem. We call it the Guardian Shower Bag.
IP ratings are all but meaningless when assigned to personal alarms. They are not designed to wear while bathing in a shower or bathtub, relaxing in a spa, or swimming in a pool. The easiest solution to the problem is to use a waterproof enclosure specifically designed to keep your personal alarm dry – a shower bag.