panic button

an alarm button for use in an emergency, as to summon help.
push/hit/press the panic button, Informal. to give way to panic in a distressing situation.

allegedly first used in reference to emergency bell systems on World War II bombers such as the B-17 and B-24 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
panic button
1.  a button or switch that operates any of various safety devices, for use in an emergency
2.  informal hit the panic button, press the panic button to react to a situation by demanding emergency action; become excited; panic

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Example sentences
As storms batter global finance, depositors' fingers are on the panic button.
If this was intended to press the panic button, it seemed to succeed.
If you sense danger and you have a panic button on your car keys, keep your
  hands on the panic button until help arrives.
Install a panic button under the counter to quickly notify the police in case
  of a robbery.
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