Avoid False Alarms for Businesses by Identifying These 4 Causes (And Remedies)

While a security system is a great investment for any business, false alarms are something you need to be cautious of. According to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing[1], security false alarms in one recent year accounted for $1.8 billion in wasted police time and resources. False alarms are pricey, and not something you want to budget your business’ money for. Out of the millions of burglar alarms that police respond to in a year, about 94 to 98 percent of them are false alarms. How can you prevent a false alarm so your business isn’t part of this statistic?  Below, we’ll go over the top 4 causes of false alarms and the simple things you can do to prevent them.

Infographic of top 4 causes (and remedies) of false alarms for business

#1. Unaware Employees.

Your alarm system is meant to be triggered upon a break-in, but that’s not the only way it can be set off. Employees who are unaware of the security system or how it operates can easily set off the alarm by accident. Stan Martin, executive director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, says user error causes approximately 85 percent of false security alarms, as reported by Angie’s list[2]. It’s important to talk through all the ways the alarm can be triggered with employees, as well as how to properly arm and disarm the system.


Remedy: Train all employees on how to operate the security system.



#2. Improperly Maintained Equipment.

Poorly maintained equipment has a higher chance of triggering a false alarm. The International Code Council's International Property Maintenance Code[3] lists strict safety requirements for inspection, testing, and maintenance of fire alarms. All devices on your security system should be routinely checked to ensure they are at maximum performance. Follow this checklist below at least once a month:

❏              Check batteries in all devices on your system, including life safety devices like carbon monoxide and smoke detectors

❏              Dust and clean all motion, window, and door sensors

❏              Replace any damaged devices

❏              Make sure all technology on your security system is up to date


Remedy: Keep sensors clean, change batteries when needed, replace damaged contacts, upgrade old analog systems, annual system inspection.



#3. Internal Environment Problems.

Conditions inside of your shop can obstruct or trigger your security system. Be sure to place your sensors away from any free-hanging decorations or merchandise. Air vents can blow air onto any hanging signage or merchandise causing them to move and trigger the alarm, so you should avoid placing sensors in those areas. Setting up rules for your system, such as requiring at least 1 door sensor and 1 motion sensor to be triggered in order to set the alarm off, can help prevent alarm activations.


Remedy: Remove hanging decorations and signage, do not place sensors near air vents, secure loose doors, and windows, have your system programmed to require multiple triggers.



#4. Animals!

Strays, rodents, or any wandering wildlife can unknowingly set off your alarms. Lock the doors and secure all points of entry to avoid a stray animal coming in and setting off the system. If you have any free-roaming animals in your place of business after hours, be sure to add only pet-friendly motion sensors to your system.


Remedy: Upgrade motion detectors to those that discern between people and animals.



Don’t let the fear of false alarms stop you from making a smart business investment in a security system. False alarms are easily avoidable with proper equipment, maintenance, and training. If you want to take it a step further, interactive security systems allow you to take control of your business and your life by using a mobile app to arm/disarm your alarm remotely, before even entering or leaving your building. Older systems require you to unlock and open a door, hurry to the panel, then quickly and correctly enter a code before the alarm sounds.


To learn more about how an ADT security system can benefit your business, call us at (800) 587-2995.




[1] https://www.eyewitnesssurveillance.com/3-ways-stop-false-alarms-prevent-penalty-fees/


[2] https://www.angieslist.com/articles/do-false-alarms-cost-you-money.htm


[3] https://nchh.org/resource-library/International%20Code%20Council%20-%20IPMC_1.pdf


1. Pogue, Paul F. P. "Do False Alarms Cost You Money?" Angieslist. April 11, 2016. Accessed June 26, 2018. https://www.angieslist.com/articles/do-false-alarms-cost-you-money.htm.
2. "NFPA Journal." NFPA. Accessed July 31, 2018. https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications/NFPA-Journal/2017/November-December-2017/In-Compliance/NFPA-72.
3. "3 Ways to Stop False Alarms." Eyewitness Surveillance. January 20, 2018. Accessed June 26, 2018. https://www.eyewitnesssurveillance.com/3-ways-stop-false-alarms-prevent-penalty-fees/.
4. Cambridge, City Of. "False Alarm Billing Information." Commuting - Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department - City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Accessed July 31, 2018. https://www.cambridgema.gov/cfd/firedeptdivisions/firepreventionbureau/generalinformation/falsealarmbillinginformation.
5. "ADT Home Security | False Alarms." ADT Home Security | ADT History. Accessed July 31, 2018. https://www.homesecurity.io/false-alarms.
6. "CHAPTER 7 FIRE SAFETY REQUIREMENTS | 2018 International Property Maintenance Code | ICC PublicACCESS." CHAPTER 3 USE AND OCCUPANCY CLASSIFICATION | 2015 International Building Code | ICC PublicACCESS. Accessed July 31, 2018. https://codes.iccsafe.org/public/document/IPMC2018/chapter-7-fire-safety-requirements.
7. "Troubleshooting FAQs." Residential Security. Accessed June 26, 2018. https://www.adt.com/help/faq/troubleshooting.

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