Perhaps the installer wasn't competent, the system is getting old or you forgot that the alarm was active when you popped downstairs to get your newspaper... Whatever the reason, false alarms happen!
Usually it's not a problem, but if you have a monitored alarm system with Police response, then you'd better read the following carefully - or you may end up in trouble.
Did you know it's not just the installer, maintainer and monitoring company's responsibility to filter out false alarms? It's yours too.
And, if you have too many false alarms, your Police response could be taken away!
The definition of a false alarm is any alarm not resulting from:
In fact, any activations without apparent damage or entry to a premises, and line faults, are counted as false alarms - unless proven otherwise.
While you don't have to have all three services provided by the same organisation, they do all need to be NSI or SSAIB approved for you to receive Police response, you can read more about the requirements here.
However, if one of those companies exceeds the relevant Police force's average for false alarms, they can be suspended and their ability to offer Police response with their alarm systems will be withdrawn.
This could mean your alarm, so choose your provider carefully!
Your obligation is to ensure that you have employed all possible means to filter out false alarms. In short, this means not activating the alarm accidentally.
If you set off your alarm and it is deemed to be a false alarm, then this will be recorded by the Police.
If you have a monitored alarm with Police response, the Police will categorise your alarm as a Level 1. This means it receives immediate attention from the nearest available Police unit.
This Level 1 protection is very important, it's probably the reason you went through all the trouble of ensuring your installer, maintenance provider and monitoring service were all NSI or SSAIB approved. However, if you are recorded having three false alarms in any 12 month rolling period, your alarm will be downgraded to Level 3.
When this happens, you will receive a letter informing you that your Police response is going to be withdrawn. Your Police response service will then be taken away no less than 14 days after receiving the letter.
This is not good news for your family when your real life crisis is put at the bottom of the list after the important stuff - like the reliable Level 1 burglar alarms.
If you have a total of 12 false alarms, regardless of the time frame, you and your maintenance company will receive a letter suggesting that you take urgent remedial action.
You'll have to have your alarm upgraded to DD243:2004 or BS8243:2010 standard. Don't worry, any NSI/SSAIB approved company will know what this is, so get in touch with them quickly.
If this isn't possible, you need to find the cause of the false alarms, get this fixed and then have a 90 day period that's free from false alarms - shown by evidence from the security company you employed.
If you've got an alarm with Police response then you've already done a lot of the things that help reduce false alarms - using an NSI or SSAIB approved company for the installation, maintenance and monitoring of your system and getting your system regularly maintained.
Here are five simple steps can you take to help ensure you don't get any more false activations:
1) Practise using your alarm!
A lot of false alarms are due to misuse. Make sure using your alarm is second nature, that way when you're half asleep, you can still remember your alarm code and how to switch it off!
2) Let your house guests know you have an alarm
If you've invited someone to stay over then it's a good idea you let them know you have an alarm. Otherwise your guest's simple trip to the kitchen to get a drink of water could wake up you and the neighbours in the middle of the night...
3) Curtains and other movable objects
Curtains and, surprisingly, helium balloons can be a cause of false alarms. Make sure there isn't a breeze in your room, close the door and always make sure the windows are shut!
4) Where are your sensors?
Learn where your sensors are! If a sensor is activated then opening a nearby door can set it off. It's not just you either, teach the rest of your family too.
5) Use An Alarm Company That Cares
Any decent alarm company will be able to tell you how to avoid false alarms when they install the system. Listen to their advice carefully and you should be fine!