How to Prevent False Alarms

Michael Shannon O’KeefeJul 20, 2017

False Alarms, also known as nuisance alarms, are mistaken signals that normally occur due to user error or equipment malfunction. In the event of a false alarm, police, fire, and medical units will be dispatched needlessly.

According to a 2014 report released by the National Fire Protection Agency, first responders reacted to over 2.5 million false alarms that year – resulting in a loss of over two billion tax payer dollars. Upwards of 96% of alarms are false, thus adding to a growing sense of complacency amongst first responders.

This distress has resulted in the widespread failure of proper equipment maintenance, as well as a general lag in product information awareness. Overall, these factors have distracted first responders from not only doing their jobs effectively, but also from aiding those in need. All told, this has contributed to needless loss of life and to an enormous waste of community funds. Moreover, false alarms will end up costing the culprit hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in penalties and fines.

False alarms can also cause what is known as alarm fatigue or alert fatigue. Constant exposure to repetitive alarms causes an individual to become desensitized. Similar to one’s ability to sleep through a morning alarm, alert fatigue gets considerably more dangerous when involving fire alarms or carbon monoxide detectors.

How to Prevent False Alarms

  • Know your security system
  • Keep your contact information with your security provider up to date
  • Educate all primary users in the proper use of the security system
  • Keep all areas around motion sensors clear
  • Change all batteries in detection units at first indication of low battery
  • Test all detection units on a regular six-month basis
  • Secure doors and windows before turning on alarm.

At the end of the day, false alarms are frustrating, but a home security system is an important line of defense for your home & family. Some providers, such as ADT, provide "professional installation," which is where a technician comes to your home & sets your system up for you. Other providers offer easy-to-install DIY home security systems. For an in-depth breakdown of the best providers, check out ConsumersAdvocate.org's top ranked home security companies of the year.