Home Security: Alarm Systems

By: Richard Soto

You've just bought a new home, and filled it with your most beloved personal treasures. Now you need to protect your investment, and by taking a few simple steps, you can ensure that your home stays safe. One of the most effective ways to safeguard your home is to install an alarm.

There are a variety of systems out there, including traditional monitoring alarm services. This security system is wired throughout your home, and is connected to a central security office. When the alarm is tripped, this listening service will call your home to see whether the alarm was set off by accident or an intruder. If they can't reach anyone in the home, they will notify the police.

These systems are great for peace of mind. Knowing that someone is monitoring your home 24/7 can be very comforting for the elderly, and for people who live alone. One downside to this system is that it is not portable, so when you move, your system stays behind.

Another drawback is the fact that some homeowners have the alarm connected to their only phone line. This means that when the alarm is set off, no one can get through on the phone. The alarm company can't reach you, and will dispatch the police every time the alarm is triggered. If the alarm has been set off accidentally, this can be an embarrassing and stressful event.

Tracy, a homeowner from Dallas, works for a small business that features this type of setup. Forgetting the code one morning, Tracy accidentally set off the alarm. Panic-stricken, she tried to call her supervisor for the code, but the phone line was connected to the alarm, so it didn't have a dial tone. Unable to call the alarm company or her boss, all she could do was wait until the police showed up. Now Tracy says, "If you're going to install a security system, get a second phone line. This experience was really frustrating; I felt helpless and like I was wasting everybody's time. I'm really angry actually, that security systems would even allow their systems to be connected to a sole phone line. It kind of defeats the purpose of having someone monitor the place, don't you think?" Tracy was so shaken by the experience, that she now carries the alarm code on her person. "It's not a good idea, I know, but I never want to go through that again."

Another option is to install an audible-only alarm. This is one that is wired throughout your home, and emits a loud siren, much like the monitored version. The difference is that there is no one checking on your home. If there alarm is triggered, it will be up to neighbors and passersby to call the police.

As residents in large cities know, car alarms are often ignored due to the frequency of false alarms, and are seen as more of an annoyance than anything else. The same can be said of house alarms. Neighbors may ignore the sirens, all while your home is being burgled. Some police ignore these alarms too. Unless they have received notification of suspicious behavior in the area, police aren't likely to check on a property that has an alarm going off.

The benefit of this type of alarm is that its very presence can scare off potential burglars. Keeping security stickers on doors and on prominent windows, advertises the fact that you have an alarm system in place. Robbers want an easy target, so they will likely bypass your house completely.

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