3 Things to Do When Your Security Alarm Goes Off

By Posted in - Answers 3 Comments

One of the frequent questions I hear from homeowners and businesses is “What should I do if my alarm goes off?” Since most of us don’t have many alarms, we’re unsure of how to respond when something does happen. When an alarm system does go off unexpectedly, it can be a frightening and sometimes confusing experience.

3 Things To Do When Your Security Alarm Goes Off


Verify it’s not a false alarm

  • Whether a burglar alarm or fire alarm, always give the system the benefit of the doubt, that’s what you bought the system for.
  • Read any messages on the display and investigate, but don’t put yourself in danger to do so.
  • If you suspect there is a real threat, either fire or an actual intruder in the house, leave and find a safe place to call the police or fire department.

Keep your phone handy

  • If your system is monitored, expect a call from the central station; if you couldn’t see the cause of the alarm in step one, ask the central station what signal they received. This information can help you identify the problem.
  • If you don’t receive a call from your central station, call them and let them know what’s happening.
  • Many central stations, like the one we use here at Wellington, have a customer web portal like www.alarmcentralusa.com, which can be useful as well.

Call your alarm service company

  • Whether it’s a real alarm or just a malfunction, chances are there will be some repairs or service needed to get your system back into its normal, quiet operation.
  • Your alarm service provider should be able to walk you through silencing the alarm until a technician can fix the problem.

You can also have a look at www.wellingtonsecurity.net/help for basic instructions on many common alarm systems. Ask your alarm service company to explain exactly what caused the alarm, and what could be done to prevent it in the future. If the response is technical ask your service provider to explain what happened thoroughly. Get assurance from them that if there was a problem with the equipment, it’s now resolved.

Seth StiebingerSeth Stiebinger has more than 10 years experience in the design and integration of systems including fire alarms, access control, video surveillance and sound. He’s been a project manager on numerous large-scale security and fire installations including, Target, Wal-Mart and others. Seth’s an expert at working with equipment from Bosch, DMP, Honeywell and more.

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(3) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Kimberly at ASecureLife.com - Reply

    February 18, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    I think it also depends on the time of day the alarm goes off. I think if the alarm were to go off in the middle of the day I would assume it was a false alarm. I always imagine most break-ins taking place when it is dark outside. If my alarm went off at 2am I would assume it wasn’t a false alarm. The only problem with investigating if it is a false alarm or not is that you could run into the intruder which can be very dangerous. I suggest you stay hidden until authorities come to your home. Don’t put your family or yourself in danger.

    • Seth Stiebinger - Reply

      February 18, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      Kimberly, thanks for the comment, it’s good advice.
      As I said in the article – trust your alarm system and never assume it’s a false alarm.

      Saying that, I also apply that logic uniformly. Plenty of burglars operate during the day when most people can be expected to be away from their homes at work or on errands.

      Allowing time of day, or any other factor, to decide when to trust your alarm system is never a good idea. If you trust it at 2AM, trust it at 2PM.

      Always err on the side of safety, and never assume an alarm is false unless the evidence shows it to be.

  • Carlos B. - Reply

    April 7, 2015 at 1:37 am

    According to FBI.gov daytime residential burglary’s outnumber nighttime residential burglary’s by over 300,000 instances between 2012-2013. I think you’re making a mistake assuming a daytime alarm is a false alarm. However, unless you have gun that you’re comfortable using it’s probably a good idea to stay hidden until authorities arrive.

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