7 ways to reduce false alarms in your home or business

Knox County Sheriff’s Office

The use of alarm systems by businesses and homeowners can be useful in both deterring criminal activity and alerting authorities of emergency situations. The downside is that the majority of activated alarms are false alarms. From January 1, 2015 through September 30, 2015 The Knox County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to 732 alarm calls. The vast majority of these calls were false alarms. The time and resources needed to respond to false alarms takes away from other priorities. In order to provide the best services possible, we are requesting alarm owners provide the county dispatch center with two phone numbers that dispatchers can contact when an alarm is received. The dispatch center can be contacted at 740-393-6728 or email your information to, [email protected] . Not all alarm companies provide the dispatch center with key holder information, or are willing to provide numbers to emergency personnel. To help reduce the number of false alarms, we are providing some helpful hints to alarm owners.

1. Practice using the alarm.

Homeowners tend to have the highest occurrence of false alarms in the first few days after their system is installed because they’re getting used to arming and disarming the system. Hold a family meeting and have everyone practice activating and deactivating the alarm. Family members must memorize the passcode, be aware there’s a limited time to enter the code before the alarm activates, and know the code word to cancel the alarm by phone.

2. Become aware of sensor locations.

You may not think twice about opening a window or door or entering a monitored room, but doing so can cause a false alarm. Every member must be aware that opening a door or window while the alarm is on will cause it to activate. It’s also important to convey that windows and doors must be completely closed, as wind or rain coming through a crack can set off your alarm. Walk through your home with your family and point out where sensors and motion detectors are installed. In addition to family members, guests, repairmen, housekeepers, babysitters or other workers should be aware that your house is alarmed.

3. Secure objects that can move.

Curtains, balloons, plants and decorations can be moved by air coming from vents or even from pets passing nearby. When the movement is detected by the room’s motion sensors, the alarm is accidently activated. As you’re getting used to a new security system, it’s a good idea to turn on your home’s air conditioning or heating system to determine if these items will move and be picked up by a sensor.

4. Keep pets in their place or use pet immune sensors.

Pets often wander throughout your home during the day. When they do, they can set off motion detectors that activate your alarm. Rather than foregoing the use of burglar detecting motion sensors, replace traditional sensors with “pet friendly” or “pet immune” sensors. These motion sensors are designed to ignore the presence of pets up to a certain weight. They are affordable and readily available from many security providers.

5. Replace batteries regularly.

Your alarm system will warn you when the system batteries become weak. Changing the system batteries on a regular basis can help prevent a false alarm. You’ll be happy to know that many wireless home security systems are outfitted with batteries that can last up to five years.

6. Stay in touch with Mother Nature.

Sometimes, acts of nature will set off your alarm. Strong winds, electrical storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes can result in a false alarm. If a storm is brewing, keep watch on your home security system.

7. Report suspected damaged or faulty equipment.

False alarms are typically due to human error. In fact, roughly 70 percent of false alarms are attributed to user mistakes. But if you think a false alarm is caused by a malfunction of your home security system, contact your provider immediately. The most fundamental way to prevent false alarms is by using your home security system on a regular basis. When your family uses the security system consistently, they’ll get comfortable with how it works, and that means there’s less likelihood of a false alarm.

Rehearse alarm cancellation with anyone who might use your system.

Make sure anyone who has a key to your house or business knows how to operate the alarm system.

Tell all users to call the monitoring center when the alarm activates and present their authorization pass code.

Keep your alarm owner’s manual and alarm monitoring center phone number handy.

Cancel all alarms that don’t need emergency response.

Update the alarm company and dispatch center if you change your phone number or anyone on your call list changes their phone number.

Knox County Sheriff’s Office