Fall Back in Love with Your Alarm System

Mike White

Improperly installed alarm systems can range from a nuisance to dangerous when it does not protect a property

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When we conduct private client residential, family office or commercial security assessments, there are always two constants that come up in our discussion: (1) we talk about the importance of alarm systems, and (2) many clients complain about alarm systems. They say:

  • It doesn’t work right.
  • It’s too confusing to operate.
  • There are too many false alarms.
  • Family members won’t use it.
  • I don’t want to bother the neighbors if an alarm goes off.
  • We don’t trust it.

We don’t blame them. Improperly installed or poorly designed alarm systems can range from a nuisance with several false alarms to dangerous when it does not sufficiently protect property, the family and assets.

A Long-Term Relationship with Your Alarm Requires Work

Unfortunately, navigating the marketplace for a better alarm system can be equally frustrating, so clients often pay for a service they are not comfortable with or do not trust. While we do not provide alarm system services, we’ve evaluated enough of them for our private clients to know that many of these alarm system problems probably sound familiar to almost anyone with a system in place. We suggest the following steps to mitigate the issues, protect yourself and fall back in love with your system.

Five Steps to a Happier Alarm System Relationship

1. Request additional training from the alarm company:

All users should understand how to operate the system, including arming, disarming, and activating fire, life safety and duress features. This is critical to improving the usage rate of the system. Training will also increase user awareness of when the system may be malfunctioning.

2. Ensure the alarm service provider conducts annual maintenance:

Inspections should confirm that batteries are sufficient for operation and all sensors are operating as designed, including those for doors, windows, motion and broken glass. Specialty devices, such as panic fobs, fire and smoke detectors, should also be tested and inspected. This is also a good time to review the account programming for the call tree and active user codes.

3. Upgrade panels and firmware:

Alarm useability is a key factor in ensuring regular use. Often, new touch screen interfaces are more user-friendly, intuitive, and allow for remote arming and disarming. Alarm service providers can help update your system with the most recent firmware.

4. Issue separate codes for each authorized user:

While sharing codes may be convenient, issuing separate codes allows the owner to disable a single user without having to create a new code to disseminate to everyone. Additionally, separate codes allow for usage tracking and may identify individuals who require additional training. Those who don’t understand the system will not and should not use the system.

5. Integrate video surveillance into your alarm system:

When an alarm occurs, an integrated system will ensure the event is captured on video as it unfolds. An actively monitored alarm and video system will provide valuable details for immediate law enforcement response and post-incident investigations.

Don’t break up with your alarm system, especially when it can usher in fire and law enforcement resources when you need them most. Just like any other healthy, rewarding relationship, sometimes you just need to go the extra mile to keep things running smoothly. Jensen Hughes security risk consulting experts can help you assess your security and provide recommendations to minimize threats and vulnerabilities. Click here to learn more.

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About the author

Michael White
Mike led and directed hundreds of Secret Service Special Agents, Specialists, Sworn Officers and support staff.

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