Friday, March 22, 2013

False Alarms: Are You in the 97%?

False alarms have been a hot topic in local discussions lately, and much debate has gone into how to prevent them. According to local reports, as many as 97% of alarms that police responded to in 2011 were false.

In an effort to aid the community in this on-going struggle, while also saving our customers valuable time and money, the folks here at Alarm Center would like to share some information about false alarms, and tips about how to prevent them.

False alarms are often triggered when someone enters a location not realizing the alarm is set, or does so and forgets their access code. Yet, most people do not realize that other – seemingly simple – things can set an alarm off such as bugs, dirty motion sensors, and even pets.

According to the excellent brochure, Residential False Alarm Prevention, by FARA (False Alarm Reduction Association), the "Common Causes of False Alarms" are:
  • Inadequate training of people allowed access to your security system (children, neighbors, cleaning personnel, real estate agents, guests, relatives, babysitters, service and delivery personnel, etc.).
  • Weak system batteries.
  • Open, unlocked or loose fitting doors and windows.
  • Drafts from heaters and air conditioning systems that move plants, curtains, balloons, etc.
  • Wandering pets.
A monitored security and alarm system is an investment in the safety of your home or business. By keeping some simple things in mind, you can increase the efficiency and efficacy of your security system and avoid costly false alarms.

First, make sure everyone in the home knows how to arm and disarm the alarm system. If you are a pet owner, motion sensors should be installed that will not detect the movement of pets up to a certain weight. If your pets joined your family after your alarm was originally installed, be sure to upgrade your motion sensors to a more pet-friendly model.

Remember, anything hanging from the ceiling or on the walls that can move or drift in an air draft can trigger your motion sensors and set off a false alarm.

Alarm Center does periodic testing of our customers' alarms, which helps prevent false alarms due to faulty equipment, low batteries, etc. Customers can, however, take preventative measures to stop false alarms due to non-equipment issues.

Businesses have more to worry about with false alarms, as they can be charged a fee (based on how many false alarms they have), as was discussed in a recent article in Baton Rouge's The Advocate, "Plan targets false alarms".

From the article:
[Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne] White is proposing a drastic hike in fines for those whose systems repeatedly send out false alarms over a 12-month period ... Currently, there is no fine until the sixth false alarm is reported and that fine is $10. 
White's proposal would allow for three free false alarms before imposing fines for each subsequent one, ranging from $25 for the fourth to $200 for the eleventh false alarm.
For this reason, it is imperative that business owners know and practice the best methods available to prevent false alarms. Another excellent brochure by FARA, False Alarm Prevention for Businesses states, under "Tips for Businesses":
Be sure all employees are thoroughly trained before attempting to use the alarm system. Hold monthly training sessions to ensure alarm users are aware of: any changes to the system; the importance of careful pre-arming checks; designated entry/exit doors; proper opening/closing procedures; correct pass codes and arming codes; and rehearse how to cancel accidental activations.
Read all 14 of these great tips here.

Learning how to prevent false alarms is not only essential for home and business owners for their own peace of mind, but helps the community at large by not wasting police resources on false alarms. According to The Advocate article:
Baton Rouge police responded to 22,347 burglar alarms at businesses and homes in 2011 — but only 670 them were real calls.
That's less than 3% of all alarm calls -- 97% of 2011's alarm calls were false alarms. As FARA wisely states:
Alarm companies and alarm users must be responsible for the use and maintenance of alarm systems to help ensure prompt police response when an emergency really does exist.
False alarms can be a nuisance for a homeowner and an actual financial burden for a business owner. Being proactive about preventing false alarms benefits everyone, and helps local police departments focus more of their attention on responding to crime in the area.

[Call Alarm Center Security today for a FREE quote on a security system for your home or business - 1-800-97-ALARM - or visit our website to see if you qualify for a $0 down installation -]