Thursday, July 04, 2013

Crime Prevention tip: The 7 Best Ways to Reduce False Alarms.

Courtesy for the City of Milton Police Department

Security system ordinances typically require homeowners and businesses with security systems to register and/or obtain an alarm permit.

Registration fees and/or permits typically cost between $10 and $40, and in most cases, must be renewed on an annual basis.

The charges levied by municipalities to security system companies in response to a false alarm, are often passed on to the business or home owner. Many municipalities will not charge a fee for the first false alarm, but repeat false alarm offenders can expect fees anywhere from $70 to $500 (check local programs for exact fee schedules).

In addition to the fiduciary obligations, reducing false alarms will result in better service and increased protection for home security system owners.

Since false alarms are so prevalent, and the resources necessary to respond so expensive, the response time from police officers is not always ideal. If the number of false alarms are minimized, in the event of an actual break in, police officers will be able to respond more quickly.

The goal of all security system owners should be to minimize false alarms.

The 7 Best Ways to Reduce False Alarms

Choose the right home security system: The individual circumstances of a homeowner will determine what type of system is appropriate. For example, some home security systems are installed by licensed professionals, while others are installed by the homeowner. An elderly homeowner with limited mobility would likely not have the capability to install a home security system. Pet owners would also want to ensure the sensors and detectors are pet-friendly. Homeowners should take the time to learn about the features of the best home security systems before making a selection.

Utilize a brief familiarization period: Following the installation of a new home security system, many home security companies will allow a brief familiarization period. During this period, no signals received at the monitoring center will be dispatched to the police department or other authorities. False alarms that occur during this period will not have repercussions and give the homeowner a great opportunity to get familiar with the system. If a newly installed system is repeatedly broadcasting false alarms, the homeowner should reach out to the home security company for guidance and assistance.

Appropriately train those with access to the home security system: All family members, babysitters, relatives, neighbors, cleaning crews, repairman, and any other person that has permission to be in the home, should be appropriately trained on how to use the system. This includes understanding how to arm/disarm the system, knowledge of alarm codes and passwords, and the process for canceling an inadvertent alarm activation.

Install a home security system with two-way communication capabilities: Some home security keypads utilize two-way voice technology that enables the dispatcher to hear what is happening in the home. This allows the homeowner to communicate directly to the monitoring center whether a police dispatch is necessary.

Require dual verification: Many home security monitoring companies will have access to audio or video resources. Following an alarm activation, requiring the monitoring center to obtain an audio or visual confirmation before dispatching authorities will help reduce false alarms.

Conduct a short debriefing after a false alarm occurs: After a false alarm occurs, it's important to take the time to determine what triggered the alarm and to implement measures to ensure the action is avoided in the future. If the cause of the false alarm cannot be determined, homeowners should be particularly cautious.

Perform occasional maintenance: Homeowners should perform occasional maintenance to ensure that all sensors, detectors, cameras, and any other home security component is secured, clean, and working as designed. Excessive dust, spider webs, and loose sensors and detectors can all be the source of false alarms.

Other ways to reduce false alarms:

Ensure all windows and doors are secure before setting the alarm

Ensure the home security company is licensed and reputable

Spray insect repellent around sensors and detectors twice a year

Periodically test the home security system to ensure equipment is working appropriately

Ensure that panic buttons or other emergency activation features are out of the reach of children

Make certain that the monitoring center has current contact information and that call lists and emergency contacts are accurate

Check the batteries of any wireless devices and the backup power to the primary keypad

Designate an area in the home for the home security user manual and ensure contact information for the home monitoring system is accessible

Be mindful of environmental changes (new pet, plants, HVAC systems, new home decorations, etc.) that may impact the home security system

Use deadbolt locks

Contact a professional exterminator if rodents, insects, or other pests are a repeated problem

Inform the alarm company or monitoring center if you expect to be away from the home for an extended period of time

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