Home Security: How to Prevent Against Costly False Alarms

Home security systems are important to the protection of everything you’ve worked so hard for, but false alarms are a real problem for many police departments — and can be quite costly to homeowners.

A false alarm is defined as an emergency alarm, such as a fire alarm, that is set off unnecessarily. A false alarm will set normal alarm procedures into action: your monitoring station will call to verify the alarm and if no resolution is reached, the police and/or fire department are dispatched according to contracted agreements. False alarms divert valuable resources from real emergencies.

Check alarm ordinances in the city you live in.  An excess of false alarms can cause cities to charge fees ranging from $25 – $200 per false alarm incident. Many cities require that homeowners register their alarms — with some cities even handing out fines for those who don’t.

Tips for minimizing false alarms

False alarms are bound to happen on occasion, but there are some significant ways homeowners can work to minimize the occurrence.

  1. Know how your alarm system works. Seventy percent of false alarms are a result of human error. Make sure everyone in your household knows how the alarm system operates, and  the correct codes or passwords associated with your alarm system.
  2. Keep areas around motion sensors clear. A fan or vent that blows a curtain and creates movement around a sensor could set off an alarm. A change in furniture or décor could inhibit the effectiveness of your home security system. Always be aware of potential sensor triggers and inform your alarm company of any changes with your home’s layout.
  3. Consistently manage windows and doors. Secure doors and windows before turning on the alarm and don’t open them once the alarm is activated.
  4. Regularly check your security system and device batteries. It’s recommended that you test your system monthly to be sure it’s operating correctly. If you’re a Bay Alarm customer, just call our monitoring center and we will walk you through testing your security system.
  5. Have a plan for pets. If you have a pet, make sure you have the correct system setup so they won’t trip the alarm. Have a new pet? Contact your security system provider to properly calibrate your system for your pets.
  6. Stay in touch with your monitoring station. If you have a monitored security system, be sure to store your monitoring station’s phone number in your mobile phone contacts to quickly identify and react to monitoring station calls.
  7. Keep your emergency contact information up to date. While regularly checking your system, take this opportunity to also update your call list. Call lists get set up when your security system is installed and rarely get updated.

What to do in the event of a false alarm

If your alarm is activated, you will receive a call from a central station operator. It’s important to have your passcode and password ready. If you’ve triggered the alarm yourself, immediately contact your monitoring station to report the false alarm. Declaring a false alarm quickly can stop police from being dispatched unnecessarily — and save you from being hit with a fine by your city.

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