What to Do When Alarm Systems Are Triggered

The helpful advice you need in those crucial minutes

It can be scary to be awakened from a deep sleep by the piercing alarm of your home security system. Most systems trigger false alarms occasionally, so you might assume that the incident is nothing but a minor annoyance. But before you reach to disable the alarm, it's important to consider the possibility that you're dealing with a real break-in. Alarm systems with 24/7 central station monitoring can protect you and your family by notifying the police right away. But to be truly safe, you should have a specific plan, memorized by all family members, that details exactly what to do before help arrives.

Confront or Hide?

In the event of a break-in, you'll need to decide whether to confront the intruder or hide in a safe area. Even if you have experience handling a gun or other weapon, it's never a good idea to confront an intruder in your home. You may be up against more than one intruder, and they may be more heavily armed than you. You also run the risk of accidentally injuring yourself, a family member, a neighbor or a police officer in the heat of the moment. In the event of a real home invasion, It's much wiser to hide in a designated area and keep yourself and your loved ones safe until the police arrive.

Grab Your Phone

Before you move to a safe place in your home, it's a good idea to locate your phone. If your alarm system has 24/7 monitoring, you can expect a call from the alarm company's central monitoring station. The central monitoring service will ask for your "safe word" to determine whether or not the incident was a false alarm; if you don't provide the safe word, they'll call the police on your behalf. If you haven't been able to look for any messages on your alarm's display, you can ask the representative from central monitoring for any information they may have regarding the alarm. In the rare event that you don't receive a call from central monitoring, be sure to call them as soon as possible to let them know about the incident. Homeowners whose alarm systems don't include central monitoring should call the police immediately.

Head to Your "Safe Room"

Every household should designate a specific area of the home as a "safe room" in which all family members will gather in the event of a break-in. Try to choose a room that's as far away from potential intrusion spots as possible (i.e., doors and windows), and practice a few drills with your family so that everyone knows how to quickly gather in your safe room. A few simple preparations can help you equip your safe room and make it even more secure. You'll probably have your cell phone in hand when you head to this room, but it's a good idea to keep a phone in the room as an added precaution. Installing a deadbolt on the door to this room is another way to protect yourself and your family until the police arrive.

If your alarm is triggered and you're not sure if it's a false alarm, it's always safer to head for your designated safe room first. You can always come out and investigate later if you suspect it was a false alarm or system malfunction.

Dealing with False Alarms

Nearly all alarm systems create the occasional false alarm. If your alarm goes off due to a malfunction, it's important to call your alarm system company. A representative will be able to walk you through the steps of quieting the alarm; later on, a technician may have to come to your home to handle any necessary repairs. You can find out what problem caused the alarm to go off and what you could do to prevent it from happening again. Getting your alarm system repaired and having your questions answered can help assure you that your surveillance system is functioning properly.

In the event of a home invasion, your home security system can save your life. The noise and alerts generated by most alarm systems are enough to scare away many potential intruders; a more robust surveillance system that includes
24/7 monitoring offers even stronger protection, enabling the police to arrive on the scene quickly. Don't take chances if your alarm system is triggered. Even if an incident turns out to be nothing but a false alarm, it's always better to be safe than sorry.