The phrase panic button takes on a different meaning each time you ask someone what it means to them. For example, to the homeowner, a panic button signifies the use of an audible alarm, which is meant to scare away an attacking party. To a sales clerk, however, the phrase panic button means the invocation of a silent alarm, usually transmitted to police or central office personnel without the attacking party's knowledge.

In commercial applications, there are rules of the road that security dealers should follow. For example, you should always position a panic button where the public, as well as an attacking party, cannot easily discern its presence prior to or during a hold-up. The mounting location must also be such that the attacking party is unable to determine when an employee has intentionally activated it.

Panic buttons in this setting must also be of the latching type. This means that they must lock into position when they are activated, or a visible means of indication must be provided. Panic buttons in this setting must also be manually reset, usually with a key. Of course, this kind of panic button must be designed to discourage accidental activation while making deliberate invocation simple and readily possible whenever needed.

In the case of bill traps, dealers must install them in pairs and always in such a manner that it requires the removal of money from both clips to activate a silent panic alarm. Also, according to UL681, Installation and Classification of Burglar and Holdup Alarm Systems, Underwriters Laboratories Inc., Northbrook, Ill., the activation of a single money clip (where there are two) must create a visual indication at the protected premises.

Last but not least, dealers must train their commercial clients in the proper use of the panic buttons they install. For example, store clerks must be instructed not to invoke a panic button when they face off with an attacker. In addition, they must be advised in the methods and requirements set forth by the employer, as well as law enforcement in whose jurisdiction the business resides.