False alarms don’t have to happen!
Security alarm system education series
“How can I prevent false alarms?”
“Is there a false alarm ordinance in my city or county?”
“Is there a fine for false alarms in my area?”
Have you ever heard an alarm sounding in your neighborhood? Did you check to see what was happening – or did you assume it was a false alarm?
A false alarm can be an annoyance to neighbors. If your burglar alarm system “cries wolf” too many times, others may disregard an alarm triggered by an actual emergency.
Every false alarm that results in Public Safety dispatch consumes time and resources that could be used to pursue actual crimes. Furthermore, the response can create a hazard for the responding officer and for others. For these reasons your city or county may have an ordinance requiring a fine for excessive false alarm dispatches. Some ordinances call for no response under some circumstances.
10 things you can do to prevent false alarms
- Educate everyone who uses your alarm. All persons who will be turning the alarm system on or off should be shown how to check for unsecured doors and windows, how to arm the alarm and exit, what to do if the user forgets something and needs to re-enter, how to contact the monitoring station, how to cancel an alarm caused by user error and how to contact the alarm company if assistance is needed. Your account number and password will be needed in the event that the user has to contact the monitoring station or your alarm company.
- If someone has a key, they should also have a code. If someone has a key to your home or business, that person should also have the code for the alarm system. They should also be educated as to the proper operation of the alarm (as above).
- Have problems fixed immediately. If you discover a problem like a loose door or window sensor or a damaged door or window, make sure to call your alarm company to have the problem resolved before you use the system.
- Keep your contact info updated at the monitoring station. If you change a contact phone number or person, make sure to pass the information along to your monitoring station or alarm company.
- Think about how your pets might affect the alarm. Make sure your alarm company knows about any pets when designing your system. Your motion detector may interpret your pet as an intruder. Notify your alarm company if you acquire any new furry friends. Remember that rodents and other unwanted critters can cause a problem too.
- Notify your alarm company about any remodeling. Always let your alarm company know about any new remodeling project that can affect the alarm system.
- Make sure your alarm system batteries are fresh. The battery in your alarm system’s control box should be replaced every 3 years or so. A low battery can trigger a false alarm in the event of a power glitch or power failure.
- Watch for items that could affect your motion detector. As an example, a new display in a business or floating balloons can cause false alarms.
- Make sure to notify your alarm company if you move furniture or install new drapes. Moving furniture or installing new drapes could affect your motion detector’s coverage or sensitivity.
- Ask your alarm company for ECV or Enhanced Call Verification. ECV is a procedure where up to two user phone numbers are called prior to public safety dispatch. A common cause of false alarms is user errors and this procedure has been statistically proven to reduce false alarm calls.
A technology that has been around for a number of years is the “dual-technology” detector. This type of detector employs two kinds of technology for sensing an intruder – for instance, a microwave motion sensor and a passive infrared (body heat) sensor. This type of motion detector is often used in warehouses and other less controllable environments. Another example is a sensor that detects the audio signature of a breaking window coupled with the vibration caused by the breaking glass. Both technologies must trigger simultaneously to create an actual alarm.
You may want to talk to your alarm company about sophisticated new technologies such as video or audio verification. These features allow your monitoring office to see or listen-in to your location following the triggering of your alarm. Also ask about “cross-zoning” of motion detectors or other sensors. Remember that all of these technologies DO NOT negate the need for you to follow the checklist of 10 things listed above.
Is there a false alarm ordinance in your area? If so, what is the fine for a false alarm? Check with Security Pro of Florida for information about your specific area. Security Pro of Florida is always happy to answer your questions about false alarm prevention. You can contact Security Pro of Florida here. Security Pro of Florida serves all of Central Florida including the Orlando, Deltona and Daytona Beach areas.
Modern alarm systems are generally very reliable and false alarm free if installed properly by a reliable, experience alarm company and used with common sense and care.