False alarms (security, smoke and carbon monoxide) are not just irritating, they’re dangerous. They create a sense of complacency that can nullify the entire point of the alarm itself. It’s a Boy Who Cried Wolf situation; with each false alarm that rings, the impact of that alarm decreases thereby rendering the entire system as more of a nuisance than a life-saving tool. What follows are some tips that should help either drastically reduce or wholly eliminate false home alarms:
Fire and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Maintenance and Location
With fire and carbon monoxide (CM) alarms, the key is placement and maintenance. Placement, specifically, is extremely important for fire alarms. You want each alarm to be placed in a dry area, as high humidity and steam can often trigger false alerts. Place a fire alarm in your kitchen, but do not put it right above your stove where it will ring incessantly every time you cook something. Choose a location close enough to be able to detect fire-signaling smoke, but not general, everyday cooking. Maintenance is vital for both CM alarms and smoke detectors (aka fire alarms.) Make sure each unit is free of dust and debris and functioning properly. Fire and CM alarms can be damaged and/or triggered by dirt and moisture in the unit. Run a test each month, and if you find a unit is malfunctioning, don’t wait, replace it immediately.
Understanding the System
The key here is understanding one’s responsibility within the system. Quite often, false burglar alarms are set off by homeowners themselves who either, forgot the code or the process for disabling the alarm. These are the easiest false alarms for combat; it’s all about training. If your dwelling is equipped with a home security system, you should know the ins and out of that system. Turning off the alarm as you enter should be automatic. And, because our minds can sometimes be quite porous in regards to holding information, make sure to have a backup location where you’ve written down the code in case you find it has suddenly escaped your mind. If a member of the family is continually arriving home late at night, forgetting the code and setting off the alarm, the sound of the alarm during prime crime hours will be associated with a mistake rather than a break-in, and this completely defeats the purpose of the alarm. Make sure to reiterate and retrain all family members whenever necessary to ensure everyone is one the same page.
Accuracy is the most important aspect of a security, CM or fire alarm; there needs to be an understanding at work here. When one of these alarms sound, it means execute your emergency plan and get out! False alarms muddle the entire arrangement, so minimizing their existence is paramount.