False alarms can be a major annoyance to premises owners (whether that’s your home or your business) and to the emergency services who may be enlisted to respond when your alarm system is triggered. There are various set ups for intruder alarms, including the option for the police to be dispatched immediately when the alarm sounds. There is also the option of being alerted before the police are sent, so you can ensure it’s a real emergency and not a false alarm. If you have a CCTV system that streams footage to your phone or computer you can easily and quickly tell if there is a burglar inside, or whether it’s wildlife or a completely false alarm.
Most false alarms come from poorly maintained systems where faults develop over time, but aren’t picked up because you don’t have a regular maintenance schedule. We advise all our customers to have an agreed maintenance provision, and to perform regular checks themselves to ensure everything is working properly in between planned services. Proper attention and care of your system can eliminate virtually all false alarms, as the causes of these can vary from wiring being nibbled, animals moving sensors and cameras accidentally and a change of circumstances.
Changes in circumstance can vary; for example, you may have installed a system which monitors the car park, and detects motion after a certain time. If a new business starts up on the same site, or the opening hours of nearby premises change then you’ll need to make sure your system settings are changed to reflect this. What is an entirely innocent event of a neighbouring business owner leaving the premises an hour after your system kicks in can lead to a false alarm and even the police turning up to question or arrest someone who is just going about their business. If new neighbours have a roaming cat or dog that escapes regularly this can also trigger your motion sensors, so pay attention to changes in the local environment that could affect how your alarm system operates.
At home, ensure that your alarm system is also regularly serviced and that faults are reported straight away. Anyone you allow in your home, who may be there while you are out (such as babysitters, cleaners or relatives) should be shown how to set and un-set the alarm so they can turn it off if there is a false alarm. It’s also worthwhile leaving proof that the person is allowed to be there, because if you have a system that directly alerts the police they’ll need to prove that they are legally in your home and not there to commit a crime. People who live in your home should be shown all the ins and outs of the system so they can deal with any issues.
Depending on your home system set up you may have separate circuits for the upstairs and downstairs. This allows people to use the bathroom or for kids to come into their parents’ room if they have a nightmare without triggering the sensors, while the downstairs is on high alert for any movement. If pets or children can get downstairs they can set the alarm off, so consider using a stair gate to prevent movement between the floors of your home while the system is active overnight. In some cases, fans and other ventilation systems can mimic movement, triggering the system, so ensure that you either turn these sensors off, or find a location for the fan where it won’t falsely activate the alarm.
False alarms cost money for the emergency services to attend, taking them away from other situations where they may be desperately needed. They’re also frustrating for the system owner, who may be regularly awoken in the night to deal with false positives at their business, and worse, they can lead to complacency. If you’re subjected to frequent false alarms there is a very real danger that you will overlook a genuine emergency, assuming it is just another false alarm.
Please keep your intruder alarm systems well maintained and have them regularly serviced so they’re working they way they should, to keep you safe and not frustrated.