Keep your burglar alarm in good working order to avoid false activation and fines. Nationally, police respond to millions of calls to alarm systems where no crime has been committed or attempted. Numerous studies have shown that over 75% of these calls are due to user / owner errors.
The purpose of 'Tips for Alarms Users' is to help alarm owners identify the most common mistakes that are made and how to correct them. Please review these helpful hints and should you need additional information or training contact your alarm company.
The most common errors occur when the alarm is being turned on. Proper procedure to follow:
- Check the alarm keypad and verify that the system is ready to turn on.
- If the alarm is not ready to arm check all doors and windows until the alarm is ready to turn on.
- Make certain that everyone who is leaving is ready to exit.
- Enter the arming code and have all people exit.
- Close the exit door and lock it.
- Wait by the door to make certain that the siren or bell does not go off.
- If for any reason you must re-enter the premises, open the door and immediately turn the alarm off.
- When you are again ready to exit repeat the above steps.
- Most Important, if the alarm sounds never leave until you’ve spoken to the alarm company. If they don’t call you, you must call them so have your password ready and have the phone number for the alarm company close by.
The second most common error occurs when turning the alarm off. Proper procedure to follow:
- Approach the door and unlock it.
- Open the door and enter.
- Immediately go to the alarm keypad and enter your code.
- Wait by the keypad until you get confirmation that the alarm is off.
Servicing Your Alarm
- Alarm systems are not maintenance free and should be serviced periodically.
- Alarm systems run on a system battery that should be replaced every three to five years, maybe even sooner if frequent power outages have occurred. An outdated or weak battery can cause the alarm to malfunction during bad weather conditions.
- Over time, doors and windows can warp or become misaligned causing an alarm system to be over sensitive. This problem should be addressed by either fixing the door or window, or adjusting the protection.
- Many dispatches occur because contact lists with the alarm company are not kept current. Keep contact lists up to date and more importantly, include cellular phone numbers. Request that the alarm company call house and cellular numbers prior to dispatching police on burglary alarms.
- It is the alarm owners responsibility to make certain that anyone with access knows how to use the alarm system. Review this list with other users and make certain they know how to cancel a false alarm.
- If you decide to use the Internet for your phone service make certain to let your alarm company know. Your alarm may not transmit over the cable system unless adjustments are made!
Non-Residential Alarm Users
- Ensure that all those with access know how to use the alarm system.
- Non-residential alarm systems have a much higher rate of false alarms than residential alarms. This is typically the result of multiple alarm users, many of them casual users do not use the system on a regular basis. In non-residential applications you may also change users because of staff turnover or change in position. In addition, company chain locations where the alarms are supposed to be similar, newer replacements may vary slightly different arming procedures resulting in false alarms.
Tips for setting and deactivating alarm systems apply equally to residential and non residential locations. Review these procedures to familiarize yourself, employees and other users with proper procedures for using your alarm system.
In addition to setting and deactivating alarm systems, other factors should be taken into consideration.
- After hour access to a telephone with an outside line is sometimes limited or cut off. Many businesses turn their telephone system off after regular working hours or forward it to an answering service. If an employee forgets to 'set' the phones the alarm company will be unable to reach needed contacts when an alarm sounds. If there is a direct number that rings after hours, make certain that your alarm company has that number.
- If the alarm is accidentally set off instruct employees to not leave the premises until they have spoken to the alarm company. They should make certain they have the phone number for the alarm company's monitoring center and a pass word required to cancel an accidental alarm.
- Updating emergency call lists is very important! Review emergency call lists monthly give access only to those who know how to use the alarm system.
- Training of individuals with access should be continuous. Work with the alarm company to develop a program that can be reviewed by employees frequently.
- Employees should be educated in how to use the robbery alarm, or, 'button'. The robbery alarm should only be used for a robbery. Do not activate the robbery alarm for events such as customer disputes, in this case dial 9-1-1.
Responsible use of your alarm system insures that police will continue to respond. In some areas of the country police require that a 3rd party verify an actual crime has been committed prior to dispatching an officer. This situation would place you and other at risk if police cannot respond. When an alarm sounds, and police are dispatched someone with access should meet police at the premises to allow access. With commercial properties it is not unusual for burglars to enter through the roof or walls of a neighboring business.
Selling a Property With an Alarm System
Did you know that Jacksonville fines alarm owners for excessive false alarms where the police are sent and there is no obvious sign of criminal activity? It is the responsibility of the alarm owner to insure that everyone who has access to the property is versed in how to use the alarm system. Recommendations:
- It is highly recommended that as the owner of the property you contact your alarm company and advise them that your property is for sale and that Realtors will be entering and leaving the property at times when you are not present.
- If you have a cellular phone, give that number to the alarm company and inform them to not only call the premises but also call your cellular prior to dispatching the police.
- Ask your alarm company if they will program what is called an “abort window” sometimes referred to as a “dialer delay” into the system and have them perform this. Note: The “abort window” feature allows an authorized person to reenter the disarm code after the alarm has gone off and stop a signal from going to the alarm company. This protects you and the police from unnecessarily responding to your property.
- Have your alarm company verify that you have sufficient delay times programmed to avoid creating a false alarm. Industry standards call for a 60-second exit delay and 30 to 45 second entry delay.
- Once your property is sold you could still be responsible for false alarms if you fail to notify the new home owner and your alarm company that you no longer take responsibility for the alarm. If the new owner does not intend to use the alarm system it needs to be deactivated by a trained alarm technician.
- In the process of selling a property it is not unusual for the power to be turned off by the seller. If the power is not restored within three to four hours there will likely be a false alarm caused by the battery being fully discharged. This could result in a service call for the new owners and perhaps a false alarm fine.
Be a Good Citizen
Your alarm is only as effective as you make it, and your educated use of your alarm makes it an effective crime fighting tool. For more tips on using your alarm call your Alarm Company and visit the Security Industry Alarm Coalition website.