In addition to strong doors and good locks for doors and windows, an alarm system can be another way to deter burglars. It is a known fact that burglars avoid lights, noise, and being seen. (They also know that people sometimes put “property protected by alarm” signs in their yard when there is actually no alarm system at all.)
Alarm systems come in a wide range of choices. The simplest form might be the inexpensive, self-contained units designed for a single door or window. They alert someone who is at home.
For whole-house alarm systems, choices include silent or audible alarms. Silent alarms “ring” into a central monitoring station. The monitoring station calls the home or business to see if it’s a false alarm or real emergency, then calls 9-1-1 if needed. There’s usually a secret number you give to the alarm company to prove you are not an intruder.
An audible alarm sets off bells, horns, or sirens inside and/ or outside the home. The idea is to alert neighbors that there’s an intruder and to make the burglar leave so he doesn’t get caught. This alarm may also “ring” at a central monitoring station. NOTE: Check local laws with police; exterior audible alarms may not be allowed.
To protect the outside border of the house, wire or tape is attached to windows and doors. With the system armed, the alarm will go off if someone enters, breaking the wire or tape. To protect the inside of the house, motion detectors and other sensors are alerted when there is movement. Pets, curtains at open windows, and helium balloons, can cause false alarms. False alarms waste valuable time and keep police from real emergencies. Across the nation, 95% of alarms are false. A panic button can be part of the alarm system. If pressed, the monitoring station will get the alert. They will contact 9-1-1 to respond.
An ideal alarm system includes:
• Sensors on outside doors and windows where someone might enter the home
• Sensors protecting the inside areas of the home
• Stationary or remote ‘panic buttons’
• Fire and smoke alarms
Questions to ask an alarm company salesperson:
1. Is the firm established, with a history of performance and service?
2. Does the alarm company have insurance to cover the cost of any damage to my property caused by the company during installation of the system?
3. Are the company and the installers properly licensed and bonded? Is anything subcontracted (installation, service, or monitoring)?
4. Is the alarm company a member of a burglary and fire alarm association?
5. Will they provide a list of references—customers who are satisfied?
6. Is the system equipped with battery back-up? Is the battery rechargeable?
7. Does the company offer written contract and written guarantee? What is guaranteed and for how long? Are parts and labor covered?
8. What is the length of the contract and can I change my mind once I sign it?
9. Explain the exact procedure that happens when my alarm goes off when 1) I am at home and 2) when nobody is at home.
10. What happens during a power outage?
11. How many alternate names or numbers can I give the monitoring company to call if they cannot reach me?
Montgomery County Alarm Detail