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