Home Security Systems: Hunting Down False Alarm Causes

This article talks about causes of false alarms from a home security system and what can be done to prevent them from occuring.

I had no intention of having my father held at gunpoint. However, one early afternoon last fall, that is exactly what happened. I had come to my parents' house for lunch on a break from work, and being the last one to leave, I turned on the home security system. A few hours later, I receive an angry phone call from my father, who was not very pleased with me.

He had rushed home from work when the home security company had called to inform my father that the alarm had gone off and no one was answering the phone. He arrived home to an empty house, with no sign of an intrusion, except the blaring alarm. He quieted the alarm, and proceeded to do a quick search of the house. Nothing seemed to be wrong. Just as he noticed that the sliding glass door to the backyard was open just a crack, he was told to freeze and put his hands in the air. He turned around to find a gun pointed in his direction and a police officer ready for anything. With his hands in the air, explained that he was the owner of the home, as well as the security system that had caused the alarm. They allowed him to slowly reach one hand into his pocket, and he produced his wallet and driver's license, proving his identity. The cops soon left and everything returned to usual, except for one upset Dad"¦

False alarms, such as the one I caused, are a common problem of home security systems. My father's false alarm was due to my sister's puppy, a miniature daschund named Rosie who has a knack for opening doors. When I left that afternoon, I forgot to lock the sliding glass door. About an hour later, Rosie used her paws and her nose to nudge it open just enough that she could slip her way into house. This alarm could have easily been prevented, had I remembered to lock to door.



A number of things can sent off alarms, and these things can mostly be prevented. First of all, loose windows and doors can set off an alarm when they open. Some doors, particularly French or double doors, can be blown open by the wind if not properly closed and latched. Check your doors thoroughly to make sure that even if they are locked that the wind cannot cause them to move, setting off motion detectors. Checking your windows is also important to prevent airflow within your home while the alarm is set.

Although many alarms are not set up with detectors on the windows, an open window can still be a cause of a false alarm. Open windows allow air currents within the house, which can cause items in the house, such as balloons, hanging plants, curtains, or decorations, to move, setting off motion detectors within the house. Air conditioning or fans can also cause this type of alarm, so it is a good idea to turn these off before leaving the house. Not to mention that this conserves energy and will save you money on your electric bill! Insects can also crawl across motion detectors and set them off. Make sure to dust and clean often to prevent these types of false alarms. Although a small spider web in the corner may not seem like an immediate concern, where there is a web, there is usually a spider, and a spider becomes a concern when he causes an expensive false alarm to occur. This can also be the most confusing to hunt down as well. If you experience a false alarm, and have searched your house thoroughly and found no apparent cause, it may not have been a cat burglar, but merely a critter.

Pets are also a common cause of false alarms. Having an alarm does not mean that pets cannot ever be left inside. Most alarm companies can adjust your monitoring so that pets can roam about freely. If you do not set your system up to monitor your pet, however, and little fido accidentally gets left inside, there is a good chance his prancing about may set off an alarm. This is especially true for cats, many of which live only indoors. Cats are known for jumping on high places that motion detectors within your house are sure to detect. This can be easily taken care of with a simple phone call to your monitoring company.

Most importantly, make sure everyone in your household knows how to cancel an alarm in case they come home and simply forget to turn it off. This is very common, as I am sure any security system owner knows. Most security systems have a way to cancel an alarm. Almost all will call if an alarm is set off and ask for a code word. Make sure everyone in your family knows the code word and that it is easily remembered. Should you have guests, or a house sitter, many alarm companies will allow you to have an auxiliary code and code word for while they are visiting, in order that you can prevent false alarms without divulging your regular code. Go over with your household the process that your monitoring company uses. Make certain that all know to wait for a phone call if your company plans on calling each false alarm.

False alarms take law enforcement officers away from real emergencies and can be costly, as many police departments charge for false alarms. Having a home security system is a proven way to protect your home against intruders, but if you choose to protect your home with a security system, it is your responsibility to prevent false alarms with just a few simple measures. Lock your doors and windows, keep things clean, turn off fans, and keep your family informed about the security system, and false alarms can be prevented.

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