False Alarm Reduction:
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The False Alarm Dilemma
Police Responses to Security System Alarms
95% of all police responses to security system alarms across America were prompted by false alarms.1
Case Study: Security Alarm Calls in Seattle
The Seattle Police Department reported that they responded to over 24,000 home security alarm calls in 2002. Only 325 were valid emergencies, making fewer than 2% of calls legitimate.
Top 6 Causes of False Alarms
False alarms happen for a variety of reasons, but most are caused by natural human mistakes. In fact, the False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA) reports that more than 80% of false alarms are caused by user errors that could easily be prevented.2
1. Place Sensors in Proper Places
Turn sensors away from air/heat vents, fans, and windows so they don't pick up any breezes or drafts that could prompt a false alarm. Additionally, make sure you keep all moving objects away from the sensors when your alarm is set.
2. Properly Train All Users
Properly train everyone, whether it's your kids, a babysitter, a relative, or yourself, to arm and disarm your system properly. The most effective way to train them is to explain how the system works, demonstrate it yourself, and then have them arm and disarm the system multiple times under your supervision.
3. Equipment Checkups
Make sure you schedule regular inspections of your security system equipment a few times each year to ensure it is still running properly. Alarm monitoring companies can even set up annual tests to make sure signals are transmitting properly. If you have glass-break detectors, make sure they are adjusted properly so they aren't set off by loud noises, like thunder. Also, check the battery backup—low batteries are the second most common cause of false alarms.
4. Secure Your Doors and Windows
Have a professional technician check your system at least once a year to ensure you don't have any broken sensor connections or loose-fitting doors or windows. Also, make sure you close and lock all your doors and windows before you set the alarm.
5. Pet Friendly Sensors
There are motion sensors that are immune to movement caused by pets up to 80 pounds. If you have household pets that roam the house while you're away, these sensors are worth the investment.
1. Reset Your System:
When your alarm is going off, enter your security code into the alarm control panel to disarm the system and stop the alarm as quickly as possible.
2. Communicate With Your Security Provider:
Make sure you are prepared to talk with a representative from your alarm company. Give your password or ID number. Do not leave home until you have talked with them.
3. Do NOT Call 911:
Never contact your local emergency services about a false alarm. If you have a false alarm, only contact the security system provider.
4. Set Up Phone Notifications:
When you set up notifications with your service provider, have them call two phones before alerting authorities. This way, you are more likely to speak with them before they unnecessarily contact the police, an ambulance, or the fire department.
5. Review Your System:
Accidents happen, but take measures to prevent the same mistake from happening twice. Make the necessary changes to ensure whatever triggered your false alarm the first time won't happen a second time.
Help Others Prevent False Alarms
Download our reference guide for preventing false alarms and share it with your family, friends, and neighborsEmbed on Your Website Download a PDF
isc.temple.edu/economics/wkpapers/Pubs/FalsePolicy.pdf. faraonline.org/files/2012/05/Patrol-Officer-Bulletin.pdf. www.lapdonline.org/faqs/content_basic_view/9162