Your security system is key in protecting your home and family, but false alarms are one of those unpleasant side effects that can sometimes prevent people from setting their alarm in the first place. And take it from us – we’ve known too many people who became victims of burglary because their state-of-the-art security system was left disarmed and idle.
False alarms are annoying, but they can also cost you. Some towns impose hefty fees on homeowners for false dispatches, and if they recur, that can really add up.
If you’re worried about false alarms and their associated inconveniences and fees, there are better options than turning off your security system. You can take steps to prevent false alarms from occurring, and rely on technology to make it easy to mitigate them when they do happen. Here’s how.
Understand Your System
One of the biggest deterrents to alarming a security system is simple lack of knowledge. Your alarm company should spend time teaching you to use the system – and you in turn should take time to inform your other family members, including kids.
If you’ve installed a new system, it’s especially important to go through a training session with your contractor. Your system is probably not difficult to learn or use, but if you’re not familiar with it, you’re more likely to make a mistake. And the last thing you want to do is start pushing buttons just to see what happens!
One of the key pieces of information you’ll need is your security code. While you want to be careful not to set it to something a burglar can guess – like your house number or zip code – you don’t want to make it too difficult for everyone to remember. You’d be surprised by how many false alarms happen because someone didn’t know, or forgot, the code.
Keep Objects Away From Motion Sensors
Another common reason for false alarms is because of objects hanging near motion sensors, like curtains or other décor, or because pets have set them off. Check your motion sensors while the heating or air conditioning is on to be sure that nothing nearby is accidentally going to be blown around and trigger them.
If you have pets, technology can help. Choose sensors that have “pet immunity” which means that the activities of your furry friends won’t accidentally set the sensors off. The Honeywell Lyric, for example, has sensors that can be used with pets up to 80 pounds.
Be Mindful Of Doors And Windows
Doors and windows top the list of culprits when it comes to false alarms. Often, homeowners forget to close them before arming the system. Check all doors and windows first, then arm the system. Even if you’re sure nothing is open, it’s a good idea to follow the same routine so that checking becomes a habit, and not something you have to try to remember.
Other times, people forget to disarm the system before opening doors and windows. If you arm your system while you’re home, it’s tempting to open a window for some fresh air, or run out to the mailbox, only to hear that dreaded blare. If you find yourself being absentminded about opening doors and windows, you may want to give yourself a visual cue that the system is armed, like a sticky note on the sash!
Maintain Your System
Faulty equipment, and even low batteries, can result in false alarms. If your system is old, or if you find yourself wondering why it’s just gone off again, have a professional alarm company take a look. It may be time for a replacement or upgrade, or you could have dangerous shorts in wiring.
There’s also a case to made that do-it-yourself systems should be avoided. Proper installation is important for myriad reasons, among them proper wiring and proper placement of components for maximum effect and minimum false alarms.
Let Technology Help With The Unexpected
Sometimes false alarms can’t be prevented. Your Black Lab got a little too enthusiastic and set off the motion detector. Mother Nature cooked up a storm and knocked a branch into the house, and that triggered the alarm. Either way, it can happen when you’re not home or during the five minutes you’re not near your cell phone.
It happens. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with dispatch and fees. Believe it or not, there’s an app for that!
Check with your alarm monitoring company to find out if they have a false dispatch program. That means that when they receive an alert that your alarm goes off, an instant text message is triggered to you and to everyone on your authorized contact list, initiating a group chat where you – or anyone who might be available on your behalf – can address the alert.
If you’re at home, or if someone nearby like a neighbor can verify the false alarm, it can be cancelled at the tap of a button on your smart phone by entering your security code.
If nobody responds or can verify a false alarm, only then are the police dispatched. That makes it easier to avoid false dispatches, and ensure that the authorities will arrive when needed.
So if you have an alarm system that you hesitate to use for fear of false alarms, try these tips to keep them from happening. And ask us about our false dispatch program so you can have peace of mind when they do.