False Alarm Info & Prevention

As with the story of the boy who cried Wolf, false alarms can be the downfall of any security system. False alarms are caused by many factors, these include but are not limited to poor system design, equipment failure, user error, and environmental.

 Unfortunately, false alarms do happen from time to time, the key to effective false alarm reduction is fast and accurate service response. At KeepSafe Systems, we use our many years of experience to stack the cards in your favour. If you are currently experiencing false alarm issues, feel free to contact KeepSafe Systems and we will do our very best to remedy the situation. If you do not yet have a security system and you are considering the services of KeepSafe Systems, you can be assured we will provide you with the best service possible.

With the recent increase in false alarm awareness, many people have been either opting out or delaying the purchase of a security system.  Others have distanced themselves from the decision-making process, by buying the least expensive "Package deal", without even considering how appropriate this system is for their needs and lifestyle.

Depending on who you ask, the “main” cause of false alarms varies.  Suspects include faulty installations /equipment, environmental conditions, pets, or user error.  Although these are all valid factors that should and will be addressed, there is also the problem of misapplications or, simply put, improper selling.    

In speaking with many alarm salespeople, I have noticed a disturbing trend of a lack of industry knowledge.  Although some very knowledgeable sales people do exist, there is no official set of guidelines or training.  Sure, if you ask them what a motion detector or a door contact is most will know the answer - It is with assessing the customers’ real security needs that some tend to lapse.  This statement is not meant to discourage you from purchasing a security system, but mearly intended to encourage you, as with any major purchase, to know what you are buying.    

A few common causes of user-initiated false alarms are: windows left ajar; too short delay times; taking too long to come in or leave; re-entering the home just after leaving without disarming (assuming the exit delay is long enough to compensate); decorations hanging by or around motion detectors; pets; and of course improper testing.  I remember a particular customer that would insist on testing out her alarm system and not notifying the monitoring station, in order to measure the police response time.  This caused absolute havoc with both the monitoring station and police to the point where her system was disconnected from monitoring.

 Another common cause of false alarms includes motion detectors being installed with the belief that they are “pet proof”.  I have yet to be convinced that there is a good pet proof motion detector on the market.  If you have a pet, either keep the pet in an area away from motion detectors when the system is armed, or do not have motion detectors installed and increase your perimeter and pre-entry protection (i.e. glass-break detectors).

 Then there is the problem of faulty installations.  I read something a while ago that is appropriate in this case:

 

“It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay to little ...  The common law of business practice prohibits paying a little and getting a-lot in return -- it just can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

 

In short, you get what you pay for.  Do not let price be the sole determining factor in choosing your alarm system.  I’m not saying that you should choose the highest price in order to get a decent security system, instead, you may wish to carefully consider what you’re purchasing and from whom you are purchasing it, keeping in mind you are not only purchasing the equipment but the proper installation of it.  

Questions to ask the company are:

  • Do they have a list of standards that they follow (Solder all connections, test all devices, run individual cables to all devices, don’t double up on devices etc.)?  

  • Do they stand behind their work?  

  • How long is the warranty and what does it cover?  

  • Do you feel comfortable with their knowledge and the system that they are selling you?  

  • Does the company selling you the system have an installation license for the province, or do they just “Farm out” their work to whatever subcontractor is available?  

  • Most importantly, does at least one of the technicians installing your alarm have a security alarm trade qualification ticket?

 Finally, there is the problem of faulty equipment:  Once again, the “you get what you pay for” rule kicks in.  For the most part, the professional equipment in use is pretty much standardized.  As well, equipment installed by most of the professional security alarm companies is run through stringent industry testing procedures.  Now, I’m not saying that all of the equipment sold on a retail basis is low-quality, but before you buy something you should ask yourself why is this equipment only being sold on a retail level and more importantly, does this system suit your needs or are you only buying it because of the price?

 Once your system has been installed, ensure that you understand exactly how it works and what you can do to avoid false alarms.  The features and operation of your security system may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but as with anything new, it may take you a little time to get used to it.  Ensure that everyone who will be using the security system knows how to operate it and, if you are monitored, how to cancel a false alarm.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you are unsure of any features, phone the installation company’s technical support line:  Most companies understand the problems that you are going through and have no problem in helping a customer out.

 Those are the basics of false alarms and how you can help reduce them by choosing a proper system.  Next month I will discuss some of the basic options available to you and how you can determine your own security needs.  If you have any questions on this months article or on security systems in general feel free to contact me at 604-874-8772.  If I am not in please leave a message and I will get back to you.