People may wonder why they need a medical alert device if they have a smartphone or a smartwatch. The answer is speed. Every second matters after an emergency such as a fall or car accident.

You may not be able to reach your phone. You may spend precious minutes making a phone call, assessing your location, and communicating with intermediaries.

One study shows about 30% of people who fall are not able to get up again. Further health damage can result in what’s called the “long lie,” which may occur until help arrives.

The Bay Alarm in-home and mobile units feature wearable devices with single push buttons that connect you with a live operator at a U.S.-based emergency monitoring center. The mobile units have GPS location tracking to identify your precise location.

If the operator doesn’t establish a connection or hear you after your call, they’ll send help to your location. Automatic fall detection will do the same if you’re unable to make an emergency call.

Bay Alarm Medical is a division of Bay Alarm, a security system provider located in Concord, California. Bay Alarm was founded 75 years ago in 1946 and is a family-run business.

Bay Alarm Medical is among the top 10 medical alert systems in the United States.

They offer four types of emergency alert products, including:

  • an in-home unit
  • two mobile devices
  • a smartwatch

All units use 4G LTE Verizon or AT&T cellular service — except for the landline SOS Home — with GPS location tracking. You don’t need to have a cellular account because the connection is routed through Bay Alarm Medical.

How it works

All four types of Bay Alarm Medical alert systems function similarly with three steps:

  1. Push button. Push the emergency medical alert button on your device, wall button, or wearable button.
  2. Operator answers. A trained operator available 24/7 speaks to you over the device, assesses your situation, and determines your needs. If you don’t respond, they will dispatch 911 emergency services.
  3. Operator responds. The operator arranges the help you need. They will contact friends, family, neighbors, or local 911 emergency services, as needed.


  • quick emergency response time (usually 1 to 15 seconds)
  • large help buttons and easy-to-use interfaces
  • customer service by live chat, phone, or website
  • multilingual communication in 170 languages
  • user tracking for caregivers in mobile app
  • automatic fall detection
  • plug-and-play installation
  • landline or cellular connection
  • GPS location tracking on mobile units
  • nationwide service area
  • affordable packages with locked-in prices and no hidden fees
  • easy handling of false alarms
  • a 30-day free trial
  • A+ rating on Better Business Bureau


  • requires reliable cellular coverage (Verizon or AT&T) in your area for most units
  • no international coverage
  • equipment purchase cost for mobile alert units
  • no medication reminders or wellness checks
  • some users complain about operational failures and accounting disagreements

For this review of Bay Alarm Medical, we used our vetting criteria to consider:

  • material from the company website
  • current online reviews of their products
  • scientific research about medical alert systems

For a broad look at other products for independent living, see our roundup of the best products for older adults at home.

To consider other medical alert systems, read our review of the best medical alert systems.

Bay Alarm Medical devices are available for online purchase through the Bay Alarm Medical website or by calling the company at 1-877-522-9633 to speak with a care consultant.

  • SOS Home: $25 per month for landline connection, $40 for cellular connection, and $10 for fall detection service
  • SOS All-in-One: $40 to $50 per month, plus $99 to $129 to purchase the device
  • SOS Mobile: $30 to $40 per month, plus $99 to purchase device
  • SOS Smartwatch: $35 per month, plus $159 to purchase device
  • Bundle packages: $50 for the SOS Home unit, plus the individual monthly prices of the mobile units you choose
  • Lock box: $30 per lock box to house keys for emergency access to your home

Does Bay Alarm Medical offer payment plans?

You can pay monthly, quarterly, or annually. These are payment plans, not long-term contracts.

Is there a setup fee?

There are no setup, installation, or activation fees.

Does Bay Alarm Medical accept insurance?

No. Bay Alarm Medical recommends that you contact your healthcare professional to determine coverage. Personal medical alert systems aren’t covered by Medicare parts A and B. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Part C (Advantage) plan, you may have partial coverage.

Can you change or cancel your Bay Alarm Medical subscription?

You may cancel or change your subscription at any time. The company will refund any unused months less shipping costs once you return any leased devices in working condition.

  • SOS Home: To connect with an emergency operator, you press the button on the console, the wearable Help button, or the optional wall button.
  • SOS All-in-One: You can activate the help button for assistance both in and out of the house with the small device. You can put the device in your pocket, on a tote with the provided belt clip, or on a pendant or wristband.
  • SOS Mobile: You carry the small chargeable device with you on a provided belt or lanyard and press the help button for assistance. The device lights up and connects to an operator.
  • SOS Smartwatch: You wear the watch and press the help button to talk with an operator via the watch’s two-way speaker system.

Bay Alarm Medical is consistently at or near the top of online reviews of medical alert providers. For example, it was rated best overall in 2022 by the Medical Alert Buyers Guide.

Customer reviews are generally excellent. At the time of publishing, Yelp reviewers rate Bay Alarm Medical 4.5 out of 5 stars with around 430 reviews, while Google lists the company’s rating as 4.7 out of 5 stars with more than 8,800 reviews.

No warranty is included. Bay Alarm Medical does offer a Premier Protection Plan that costs extra. The plan allows one free system replacement per contractual year and a 50% discount on accessories.

The plan costs $2.95 per month for the SOS Mobile, SOS Home, and SOS Smartwatch and $4.95 per month for one of the bundles.

You can cancel service at any time without a fee as long as you return the equipment in workable condition. You generally pay shipping for the return, unless you have the Premier Protection Plan.

SOS Home

  • What’s in the box: base console unit plus help button that you can wear around your neck or wrist
  • Features:
  • least expensive system
  • optional wall help buttons
  • waterproof buttons
  • 1,000-foot range in home from wearable button to main console
  • loudspeaker volume on console unit
  • uses either landline or cellular connection
  • optional automatic fall detection

SOS All-in-One

  • What’s in the box: device, belt clip, wristband, lanyard, and charging cradle
  • Features:
  • small oblong device that fits in your pocket or the provided belt clip
  • additional wearable help button for use in provided lanyard or wristband while you sleep, shower, or recharge your device
  • water resistant
  • uses Verizon or AT&T cellular connection, with GPS location tracking
  • 600-foot range from wearable button to main device
  • can be used both inside and outside the home
  • can be used in your home as a base station or on the go
  • optional automatic fall detection
  • app-based location tracking for caregivers

SOS Mobile

  • What’s in the box: mobile device, belt clip, lanyard, and charging cradle
  • Features:
  • device a little smaller than a deck of playing cards
  • built-in help button
  • Verizon or AT&T cellular connection, with GPS and Wi-Fi location tracking
  • up to 72 hours on a charge
  • water resistant
  • optional automatic fall detection
  • app-based location tracking for caregivers

SOS Smartwatch

  • What’s in the box: smartwatch, charger, and wristband in two sizes
  • Features:
  • loud two-way speaker system
  • dedicated help button you press to talk with an operator
  • no smartphone required
  • screen size: 1.25 inches
  • pedometer and weather app
  • water resistant
  • color-coded dot on the watch face to indicate network strength
  • uses Verizon or AT&T cellular connection, with GPS location tracking
  • app-based location tracking for caregivers
  • note: automatic fall detection not available

Older adults, especially those who live alone, often find that these devices give peace of mind to themselves and family.

Research from 2016 shows that monitoring devices, especially those with automatic fall detection, can provide significant health benefits to older adults. One study showed that personal alert systems are most beneficial in medical emergencies, such as:

  • heart issues
  • breathing difficulties
  • falls

Caregivers, especially those looking for devices for people with epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease, often consider these devices for their loved ones. Read more in our article about caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease.

Medical alert devices aren’t for everyone. For example, some older adults may:

  • be unable or unwilling to use the technology correctly
  • live in an area without dependable cellular coverage (though a landline can work)
  • may need more supervision than a medical alert can provide

  • If you’ve purchased the system for a loved one, be sure they’re trained and able to use the system.
  • Test the system when you first receive it and regularly thereafter.
  • Be sure the cellular coverage in the area is sufficient if your alert system uses it.
  • Plan for what you will do in the event of a power or cellular outage in your area.
  • If you have a pacemaker and are using the system, review any precautions with your doctor.

Your medical and caregiving team can help you decide if the Bay Alarm Medical alert system is right for you. You can also discuss your situation with a Bay Alarm Medical care consultant who will help you pick the product best suited for you from their lineup.

Keep in mind

Bay Alarm Medical alert systems aren’t a substitute for emergency services.

In the event of a mental health emergency — if you’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else — call 911 or the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.

SpecificationsBay Alarm MedicalMedical Guardian
Cost$25–$60 per month$30–$170 per month
Upfront cost$89–$159 equipment purchase for mobile and smartwatch units $125–$200 equipment charge for all units except the Classic Guardian (in-home landline unit)
Shipping costyou pay shipping unless you have the Premium Protection planyou pay shipping unless you have an annual subscription
Free trial period30 days
AppAccount Manager app includes caregiver tracking with mobile plans.My Guardian app stores emergency contact info.
Sizeproduct size varies, from buttons or smartwatch to in-home console
product size varies, from buttons or smartwatch to in-home console
Weightlightweight design, weight varies by productlightweight design, weight varies by product
Connection• cellular (Verizon & AT&T)
• landline
• cellular (Verizon & AT&T)
• landline
In-home range1,000 feet1,300 feet
Medication reminderyes, on the smartwatch
Battery life (on-the-go units)varies per product and use pattern, 6–72 hours (32-hour backup battery for in-home unit)
varies per product and use pattern, up to 168 hours (32-hour backup battery for in-home unit)
Response timecompany guarantees 45 seconds or less; users say it is usually 1–15 seconds1–15 seconds
Subscriptionyes, payable monthly, quarterly, or annuallyyes, payable monthly, quarterly, or annually
Wearableall devices are either wearable or have wearable buttonsall devices are either wearable or have wearable buttons
Fall detection$10 per month, plus $30 device fee (available only with SOS Home and SOS Mobile units)$10 per month
Warranty• no general warranty included
• Premier Protection Plan available for $3 to $5 per month that allows one free system replacement per contractual year and a 50% discount on accessories
• general included warranty covers device replacements for general wear and tear
• additional warranty available for $6.99 per month provides replacement in event of damage, loss, or theft

There are several ways to contact and get started with Bay Alarm Medical:

  • Phone: 1-877-522-9633; a care consultant will walk you through the various programs and help you choose. To order, you’ll need to create an account.
  • Email:
  • Chat: Chat with online support on the Bay Alarm Medical website.
  • Order online: Choose systems on your own and order them on the Bay Alarm Medical website.

The Bay Alarm Medical website details how to use their various products in:

Who will Bay Alarm Medical call if I have an emergency?

In your online account dashboard, you’ll provide the names and phone numbers of your emergency contacts, including friends, relatives, and neighbors.

You’ll specify what order you want them contacted, such as if you want local 911 dispatched before or after notifying your emergency contacts. If dispatchers are unable to hear you or establish a connection, they’ll dispatch local emergency services.

Can I accidentally set it off?

Yes. Simply tell the operator that your call was a mistake. There will be no charge. The devices aren’t particularly sensitive, but anyone can push a button by mistake.

Is Bay Alarm Medical private and secure?

Bay Alarm Medical says they value your privacy and they’re not in the business of selling or sharing customer information. The company does share your information for business purposes, such as billing and shipping.

How do I turn this off?

To turn off the SOS Home unit, you flip the O/I switch on the back of the base unit to the “O” position. Mobile units operate on batteries that can be removed to deactivate the device. In general, you want your units always on and operating.

Is Bay Alarm Medical better than Life Alert? How?

Life Alert was founded in 1987 and has the brand recognition of a longtime leader in the field. However, it’s also among the most expensive medical alert systems, and it requires a 3-year contract. Also, it offers only bundled plans, and no fall detection is available.

You may be able to customize your needs better with Bay Alarm Medical. Only you can know which service suits your needs. You may want to discuss your options with a doctor, family members, or friends.

Is a medical alert system really worth it if it’s unmonitored?

The short answer is yes. You do generally need to press a button to summon help, but you can usually do that with the wearable buttons or smartwatch. If you have the automatic fall detection service and are unable to press the button, the system will activate the call for you.

Bay Alarm Medical is among the most affordable and reliable medical alert systems that provide automatic fall detection, according to third-party reviews and user input. Most units use a cellular connection that the company provides.

You can choose from a wide range of products, including an in-home unit, mobile devices, or a smart wristwatch. All are available either by ordering online on the website or by calling the company whose customer consultants will walk you through your choice.