‘False alarms’ is not technically the correct turn of phrase to be using when talking about this subject. The alarm would have activated for a reason, it’s just that the reason may not have been due to a true security breach. The term ‘nuisance alarms’ may be more accurate.
As an insurance approved security company, part of our job is to record reasons for activations, and analyse these ‘false alarms’ in order to try and improve our service. These statistics are then externally moderated across the country by the standards board NSI. Thanks to their research we are able to see the main causes of these activations and work out ways to avoid nuisance alarms.
Not only are nuisance alarms annoying for those nearby, having to deal with the loud sirens, but if they are too frequent they may cause people to ignore your alarm. In the event of an actual emergency this could be disastrous. Alarms with police response are also limited to the number of false activations they are allowed to have during a set time period, and breach of these rules could result in losing this service and in turn your system may not meet your insurance company’s terms.
Below are a list of recurring issues that have continued to appear in the reports. Keep these in mind to try to avoid false alarms in your home and business.
Windows and doors not being locked properly, leading to people walking into alarmed zones or strong winds moving objects in the sensor’s sight.
Activated by cleaner/untrained staff
Many businesses may have new staff or unfamiliar personnel providing cover. This can often be the case with changes in cleaning staff etc. The easiest way around this problem is to install a tag operated access system. This takes away the hassle of reminding staff of codes and passwords as a simple flash of a tag will set or unset the system. These tags can then be programmed out of use without having to be returned, allowing you to keep track of who has access to where.
Activation by animals
For domestic pets, it is a good idea to only allow them in zones that the alarm is not set. If your pets roam freely around your home, it may be a good idea to install pet friendly sensors. These can tell the difference between your pet and an intruder, only alerting you if there is unusual movement in your premises. In commercial premises there may be other animals which could cause problems, for example pests (mice or spiders) or the odd stray bird or fox which could find a point of entry. Again this comes back to making sure your premises is secure before setting the alarm.
Personal attack buttons activated accidentally
If this is a recurring problem it may be a good idea to reconsider the placement of the alarms. Are staff accidently leaning on them during daily tasks? Are cleaners setting them off just by running a cloth over the desks? Think carefully about where is easily accessible for emergencies, but also will not be set off unintentionally. Remember to warn all staff to take care around these.
A common problem is people using the wrong entrance and then being unable to reach the alarm keypad before it activates. Remember to be clear with staff about which entrances they should use at the beginning and end of days. If this continues to be a problem, it may be an idea to install a magnetic lock on other doors, meaning they will not open unless the alarm is disarmed.
Know your codes
Secure all windows and doors
Alert house guests of the alarm
Watch for stray objects near sensors
Report suspected damaged or faulty equipment