Preventing False Alarms

False Alarm Reduction Tips172434_1012

Across the country thousands & thousands of hours are spent on investigating false alarms by Police & Fire Departments. With more & more communities cutting back on resources they are limited & should not be wasted.
False alarms negatively impact your home and personal life, but they also affect your security company & your community. False alarm fees can cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. It can also create dissatisfaction with your alarm system, as well as your security company.
Here are some causes of false alarms:
  • Using incorrect keypad codes.
  • Failing to train authorized users.
  • Failure to secure doors & windows once the alarm is turned on.
  • Wandering pets.
  • Re-entering the home just after leaving without disarming (assuming the exit delay is long enough to compensate).
  • Objects hanging by or around motion detectors.
  • Weak system batteries.
  • Faulty equipment.
  • Acts of nature (strong winds, electrical storms, etc.).
  • Not operating or properly maintaining fireplaces, wood stoves etc…
  • Renovations can disable devices or cause the alarm to trip.

False alarms due to faulty equipment or acts of nature are rare. The single largest cause of false alarms is human error.

Once the causes are identified, some basic steps should help reduce false alarms:
  • Properly train all users ( babysitters, relatives, children, visitors, etc.).
  • Secure doors & windows before turning on alarm.
  • Keep pets in areas of your home where they wont trip the system or get pet friendly devices.
  • Keep your password/codes & call lists up to date with the Central Station.
  • Service & maintain the system (including batteries) properly. When renovating keep in mind changes that may have to be made to your system.

If there is a question as to whether or not the system is working properly, immediately contact the security company to have a technician check the status of the system & devices.

Communication & your alarm system, what are your choices

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Your alarm system needs to have a way to communicate alarms & troubles to Instant Alarms Central Station. In the past the only way to do that was good ole telephone lines . A lot of consumers today in an effort to cut costs are deciding to drop their traditional telephone lines to go with the newer technology like cellular & internet.

If your thinking about changing your phone service. What should you do?
The first thing you should do is contact Instant Alarm company. Talk to us about the impending switch and discuss communication technologies that are compatible with your alarm system.

After selecting & switching to a new phone service, make sure to call Instant Alarm to ensure the new service is working properly with your alarm. Preferably before the installer leaves the premises.

Watch this neat video that explains communications as it relates to your alarm system.

 

Thanks to advances in technology, alarm systems are designed to work with many different types of communication services. Now that you have a better understanding of what your choices are there are pro’s & cons to each type of service.

Traditional phone lines use a copper line to send the communication signal to the alarm monitoring company. The phone line is typically used by both the household and the alarm system.
Pros
• Traditional phone lines are known as the most reliable of the services.
• Monitoring service connected by a traditional phone line can operate during power outages via power from the phone company.
Cons
• Traditional phone lines utilize copper lines, which are vulnerable to both natural and deliberate outages.
• Since traditional phone lines depend on dial up, the connection is slower than other services.
Cellular radio signals use wireless digital transmission, just like your cell phone, to transmit alarm signals to the monitoring station.
Pros
• In comparison to other phone services, cellular radio can carry more data at greater speeds.
• Since the connection is wireless, cellular radio is generally tamper-proof, so deliberate outages are rare.
Cons
Cellular radio devices require power at home to operate. During a power outage, the alarm relies on a back up battery for operation. Back up batteries generally last between 2-4 hours.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a newer communication service that takes analog audio signals, like what you hear when you talk on the phone, and turns them into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet.
Pros
• Most traditional home alarm panels can connect to a VoIP phone system without upgrading any of the panel’s hardware.
• VoIP is often more affordable and feature-rich than other phone services.
Cons
• Some VoIP providers use voice compression to reduce the amount of bandwidth needed to transport the voice traffic, which can cause distortion of the signal coming from the home’s alarm system, effectively disabling the remote monitoring of the system. Choose a provider that utilizes a managed facility voice network (MFVN). MFVN does not use voice compression and is the most compatible with alarm systems.
• When using a VoIP system, power to the phone line is dependent upon power at home. Depending on your provider, you may lose phone service if the Internet or power is out.
The Internet offers some of the greatest features for alarm users by connecting your alarm to the monitoring station via DSL, cable or wireless Internet connections.
Pros
• Internet services are feature rich—you can access cameras, entry systems, lighting, thermostats and a number of other devices in the home from any web browser.
• An alarms connected by an Internet service is always on and connected to the central station.
Cons
• The Internet lacks reliability for security applications as it also requires power and Internet connectivity at the home to operate.
• Alarm systems monitored via Internet require specific hardware to enable the connection, so an upgraded panel will be necessary.
• Many Internet providers use throttling during peak hours to allow for adequate usage for all of their customers. Throttling can cause unpredictable problems with alarm signals.

How reliable are the services?
Ultimately, traditional phone lines still offer the most reliable service for alarm communications but it lacks the speed and features of newer technologies. Cellular and VoIP can offer nearly the same level of reliability as traditional phone lines if battery units are well-maintained at your home. Internet, while it offers the most feature rich design, is the most unreliable communication method and should only be used as a means for supplemental communications and features, not as the sole alarm communication method.

For the most reliable and secure alarm communication system, consider combining two services in one unit. You can use a traditional phone line or VoIP as the primary method of communication and cellular radio as secondary communication. In the event that the primary communication goes down, the system will still communicate with the alarm monitoring station through the cellular radio.

Are these the only communication technologies available?
No, there are a few other communication services on the market such as wireless mesh-radio and analog radio devices.
Wireless mesh-radio technology is a new technology that Instant Alarm offers. This type of service creates a redundant network of devices that produce a highly reliable connection to the central station. Each installed device acts as a node in the network. When one node goes down due to a power loss or other factor, devices still have connectivity to the network through the other nodes that are installed. In areas where mesh-radio is available, the system can be as reliable as traditional phone lines. Also, since the network is owned and operated by Instant Alarm, there is no additional equipment or services to purchase from telecommunication providers.
Analog radio devices, which are similar to a CB radio, offer customers in rural areas and excellent alternative to digital cellular radio if coverage for the digital signal is spotty. These systems usually require the installation of an antenna on the roof of the home.

At Instant Alarm Security, we believe in putting your safety and security first. Contact us to learn more about our home security systems, monitoring and products.

    

        source,       www.alarm.org/HomeSafety                             

School Safety & Tips for keeping Latchkey kids safe

As summer draws to a close, back-to-school season is in full effect. Safety should be a priority for every family as children return to classrooms this fall. It is important for parents to stay up-to-date on the proper safety precautions and share this information with their children to keep them safe throughout the school year. The National Safety Council has a great checklist here safety checklist.

Home Security Tips for Keeping Latchkey Kids Safe

For today’s households, it is not uncommon for both parents to work outside the home. When this is the case, many kids come home to an empty house at the end of the school day. With a new school year upon us, now is a good time to remind yourself, and your children, about staying safe while home alone after school.

We’ve put together some tips we feel are most important for helping your children stay safe while at the same time, giving you greater peace of mind:

Talk with your children.  Make sure you go over all your expectations with your children, so you are both on the same page when it comes to staying home alone and what they do while they’re there. Particularly, discus security practices like how to disarm and rearm the security alarm, what to say if they answer the phone, and what to do when a stranger comes to the door.

Display emergency contact information. Pick a central location where important emergency contact information will always be posted. Even if your child knows it by heart, having it readily available is a good idea in case they forget or emergency personnel need information your child isn’t able to provide.

Have a spare key. Kids misplace stuff all the time. Having your kids stuck outside the house is the last thing you want to happen. In the event your children come home and forget or lose their keys, make sure they know where a spare key is hidden.

Know your neighbors. If your child ever arrives home and feels unsafe going inside, it is a good idea to have someplace else they can safely stay. Find a neighbor you can trust and make sure your children know they can go to them if necessary.

Consider enhanced security features. Opt for additional security features like alarm notifications and video monitoring. These tools can provide you with confidence and peace of mind that your children are safe and behaving appropriately even when you can’t be there. With alarm notifications and video monitoring features, you can receive email and/or text alerts when your child arrives home from school and check in on them by viewing live or recorded video using most any web enabled device. (PC, i pad, iPhone, android, blackberry ) You can turn your security system on or off as well as operate lights, temperature and locks with zwave devices.

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At Instant Alarm Security, we believe in putting your safety and security first. Contact us to learn more about our home security systems, monitoring and products.

 

Source- http://www.nsc.org/Safety_Home/SafetyObservances/Pages/BackToSchoolSafety.aspx & http://www.ackermansecurity.com/

 

Security Checklist for your summer vacation!

Tips For Enjoying a Fun & Safe Summer Vacation

School is out and summer is here. For many in the Greater Boston area , the North Shore & down South that means packing the bags and the car and embarking on a vacation.

We want you to have a fun and safe summer vacation, so as you make your travel arrangements take a moment to go through these quick safety tips.

Prepare your home – Arm your security system , lock your doors and windows, turn your thermostat down.

Keep your entryway clean. If solicitors are regularly leaving materials at your door or in your driveway, ask a family member, friend or trusted neighbor to collect these items for you.

Put your newspaper and mail on hold. Most post offices and newspapers will temporarily suspend delivery to avoid items from accumulating in your mailbox or driveway.

Eliminate potential hazards. Unplug appliances and other electronics that aren’t in use while you’re way.

Make sure the home looks lived in. Ask your neighbor to occasionally park in your driveway while you’re away.

Don’t forget the yard work. If you don’t already use a lawn service, consider hiring one. Burglars look for homes with tall grass, weedy flowerbeds and untrimmed hedges.

Keep spare keys hidden. Be sure to move spare house and car keys to a safety deposit box or other secure location.

Use a custom home security system. Statistics show that homes with an in home security system have significantly lower break-ins than homes that do not have alarms.

Don’t announce you’ll be away. Try to tell as few people as necessary that you’ll be out of town. Avoid announcing your absence on your answering machine, voicemail, Facebook or other social media outlets.

Keep exterior buildings locked. Lock up all ladders, tools, and other items that could be used to aid in burglary.

Consider remote monitoring – For ultimate peace of mind, consider getting remote monitoring services. You can then keep tabs on your home from your phone, tablet, computer or other web-enabled device. MYINSTANT

Although there are no guarantees that someone won’t break into your home, these preventative measures can help lessen the chances you will be victimized by a home invasion.

While on vacation consider these tips:

Take minimal amounts of cash – Bring only enough cash for an emergency and the credit or debit cards you need. The fewer valuable items in your possession, the less you will lose if you are robbed.

Don’t look like a tourist – When you get out of your vehicle, make sure that maps, luggage and other items that show you are from out of town are not visible. Thieves often view tourists as easier targets.

Be familiar with the area – Study up on the areas you will be visiting so you can travel confidently. Nothing screams “tourist” more than a couple of people standing on a street corner staring at a map with a confused look on their faces.

Avoid flashing your valuables – Try to keep a low profile. Don’t display any expensive jewelry, cameras or bags. Thieves target objects they know are very valuable.

Use your resources – If you are staying at a hotel, check with the front desk on suggested routes and places to visit. They are usually from the area and know it well enough to tell you what areas to avoid.

Stay together – Keep your group together as much as possible. Avoid going out by yourself. You are a much easier target alone than in a group. Keep an eye on children at all times.

With the help of these tips and careful planning, you can enjoy a fun and safe summer vacation with your family.

Instant Alarm provides professional security systems and monitoring services for homes and businesses in Massachusetts, New Hampshire . For more information on any of our services, request a Free Security review & quote today at instantalarm.com/

Source – http://ackermansecurity.com/blog/article/tips_for_a _fun_safe_summer_vacation/

 

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning Prevention

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When power outages occur after severe weather (such as winter storms,tornadoes,hurricanes), using alternative sources of power can cause carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in a home and poison the people and animals inside.

Every year, nearly 500 people die in the U. S. from accidental CO poisoning. CO is found in fumes produced by portable generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing CO.

How to Recognize CO Poisoning

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms.

CO poisoning is entirely preventable. You can protect yourself and your family by acting wisely in case of a power outage and learning the symptoms of CO poisoning.

You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

  • Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
  • Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.
  • Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
  • Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
  • Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.

WHEN THE POWER GOES OUT,
KEEP YOUR GENERATOR OUTSIDE
Portable back-up generators produce the poison gas
carbon monoxide (CO). CO is an odorless, colorless gas that kills without warning. It claims the lives of hundreds of people every year and makes thousands more ill.
Follow these steps to keep your family safe.
PORTABLE GENERATORS
. Never use a generator inside your home or garage, even if doors and windows are open.
. Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors, and windows.
CO DETECTORS
. Install battery-operated or battery back-up CO detectors near every sleeping area in your home.
. Check CO detectors regularly to be sure they are
functioning properly.

For more information, please visit www.cdc.gov/co. is your online source for credible health information and is the official Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

We here at Instant Alarm can help protect you & your family from CO poisoning.

We can install devices as part of your system designed to detect this gas informing you of its presence. The installation of these CO detectors may be the only notification for your family for the need to vacate your home.

Your fire alarm system will be monitored by our operators at our own UL Listed central monitoring station.

You do not need a phone line for monitoring. We offer wireless and internet monitoring options!