False alarms are not only irritating, they can result in hundreds of dollars worth of false alarm fees. False alarms also annoy your neighbors and startle your household pets. Worst yet, reoccurring false alarms may make you hesitant to use your home security system and that’s just what any burglar wants.
Save law enforcement resources and keep your hard earned cash in your pocket by taking these eight simple steps to help prevent false alarms.
Know your codes: An overwhelming majority of false alarms are caused by the user entering an incorrect keypad code. To prevent false alarms, create an alarm code that every member of the family can remember. Use caution that is isn’t a code the burglar might guess (such as your house number). If you change the code, inform everyone who knows the code. Because it’s easy to forget who has your alarm’s code, we advise you keep a list.
Keep pets in their place or use pet immune sensors: Pets often wander throughout your home during the day. When they do, they can set off motion detectors that activate your home’s alarm. Rather than forgoing the use of burglar detecting motion sensors, replace traditional sensors with “pet friendly” or “pet immune” sensors. These motion sensors are designed to ignore the presence of pets up to a certain weight. They are affordable and readily available from many security providers.
Secure all windows and doors: Keeping windows and doors shut is not only a smart security practice, it can also help prevent false alarms. Before you activate your home security system, be sure all windows and doors are shut. Prior to opening a window or door, disarm your system.
Alert house guests: To minimize the chance of a false alarm, let visitors know your home security system is armed. If your guest is staying with you for a while, be sure he or she feels comfortable with how to arm and disarm your home security system. Don’t forget that the babysitter, house cleaner and dog walker also need to be trained how to operate your home security system. You’ll want to be sure everyone who uses the alarm knows their pass code and has the phone number to the monitoring station in the event that the alarm is accidentally activated.
Watch for stray objects near motion detectors: As we mentioned, Fido and his furry friends can activate a false alarm, but so can stray objects. If you’re receiving a false alarm due to motion sensor activation, take a close look at items that may be hanging or placed near the sensor. For example, when your home’s heat or air conditioning turns on, it could blow curtains or plant leaves into the area protected by a sensor. Helium balloons have a bad rap for activating motion sensors; keep them tied down in an area that isn’t protected by a motion alarm.
Replace batteries regularly: Your alarm system will warn you when the system batteries become weak. Changing the system batteries on a regular basis can help prevent a false alarm. You’ll be happy to know that many wireless home security systems are outfitted with batteries that can last up to five years.
Stay in touch with Mother Nature: Sometimes, acts of nature will set off your alarm. Strong winds, electrical storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes can result in a false alarm. If a storm is brewing, keep watch on your home security system.
Report suspected damaged or faulty equipment: False alarms are typically due to human error. In fact, roughly 70 percent of false alarms are attributed to user mistakes. But if you think a false alarm is caused by a malfunction of your home security system, contact your provider immediately. A representative from your home security company will be glad to check the status of your alarm system.
The most fundamental way to prevent false alarms is by using your home security system on a regular basis. When your family uses the security system consistently, they’ll get comfortable with how it works, and that means there’s less likelihood of a false alarm.
Written by Alexia Chianis
Wanderlust junky and mom of two, Alexia is a former police officer and U.S. Army Captain who draws on her experiences to write about a myriad of safety topics. Learn more