Preventing False Burglar Alarms

By Pamela Singleton, Sonitrol Pacific Director of Communications
Posted November 17, 2008

Typical burglar alarm companies have a false alarm rate around 97-99 percent, an unacceptable statistic by any measure. These false alarms expend police and firefighter resources, and cost homeowners time, money and peace of mind.

Security system providers and homeowners must work together to confront this problem and give attention to the three primary causes of false alarms: user error, service or installation errors, and equipment failure. Doing so will decrease the false burglar alarm rate. Take action today to minimize your risk of having a false alarm and put these tips to use.

1. Training
– After you have an alarm system installed, make certain your security provider gives you and your family comprehensive training on how to use the system. A reputable company will be happy to provide you with demonstrations and as much training as you need.
– Ask your security provider for written instructions and take notes during your security system training.
– Train everyone with a key to your home on how to use the system.
– Develop a plan for when a false alarm activation occurs. Rehearse your alarm cancellation procedure with your family.
2. Eliminate possible causes of false alarms
– Give attention to drafts that could move plants, curtains, etc.
– Keep banners, signs, balloons and fans away from motion sensor areas.
– Be aware of wandering pets. Work with your security provider’s sales and installation team to design a system that takes your pet’s activity into account.
– Don’t run in and out of your home after the alarm is set, even if it’s just for a quick second.
– Make sure all doors and window are solid and fit well in their frames.
– Keep motion sensors clean and dusted. A spider web can activate sensors.
3. Communicate with your security system provider
– Choose a security system provider that verifies sensor activations through either audio or video means. Ask your local law enforcement agency to recommend a company that verifies signal activations.
– Keep security system provider phone numbers updated and easy to access.
– Keep your burglar alarm company and their monitoring center updated with information on how to contact you.
– Let your security provider and monitoring center know anytime someone new gets a key to your home.
– Inform your security provider and monitoring center if you do any home remodeling or painting.
– Work with your monitoring center to test your system regularly.
– Schedule an annual preventive maintenance appointment with your security system provider. Technicians need to test your equipment and the back-up batteries. Reputable companies will do this at no charge to you.

False burglar alarms affect everyone. Homeowners, burglar alarm companies and law enforcement officials can work together to reduce the impact of false activations and increase the effectiveness of home security systems. Investing time in selecting the right system, training and maintenance will save you time, money and inconvenience.