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Southern Alberta & East Kootenay
Choosing a security system
November 25, 2013

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When considering a burglar alarm it is important to remember that there is no such thing as a completely burglar-proof alarm system. No national standards specify required levels of performance, and the best protective device cannot compensate for a lack of basic common sense.

Through ways, such as the appearance of your house, you can deter burglars. If you decide on an alarm system, Burglar and Fire Alarm Association can help you locate reputable alarm companies in your area. You should also check with your BBB for a reliability report on the company. As well be sure that all equipment you purchase or lease has been tested by Underwriters Laboratories.

Some tips when shopping for alarm systems are:

  1. There is no such thing as a "free" alarm system. Besides the cost of the equipment and the work to install it, there is also a monthly monitoring fee. Remember to include all these cost when doing price comparisons between alarm companies.
  2. Find out about local building codes and regulations regarding such systems;
  3. Know your options. Consider advantages and disadvantages of each system and decide which will be best for your particular situation;
  4. Deal only with reputable firms and call Better Business Bureau for a reliability report;
  5. Do not be pressured into buying more than you really need;
  6. Look for systems that bear the 'UL' seal;
  7. Be sure to get bids from several installers and be sure they include all costs;
  8. Study the contract carefully. Be sure it includes all promises, service obligations, and a warranty, and that you know if you are leasing or purchasing the unit;
  9. Check the system routinely to be sure it is working order.

When considering which is the most suitable fire alarm for you there is some general information you should be aware of.

Many fires start in locations that you least expect or have no control over, such as appliance motors and hidden electrical wiring. A good early warning system, properly selected, correctly installed, and regularly tested, can do much to limit loss of life and property.

There are two types of fire detectors; heat and smoke. Heat detectors have the lowest false alarm rate of all fire detection devices, but they are also the slowest and therefore may not be the primary source of warning. Smoke detectors and other fire alarms can reduce the loss of life from home fires by over 40 percent. There is a lot of important information available regarding how specific fire alarms work and how they differ based on their sources of power. You should inquire and understand this before you purchase a fire alarm. Ask someone from where you are buying the alarm for details. It is important to also know that there are performance standards for both photoelectric and ionized smoke alarms so make sure it has been approved by Underwriters Laboratories. This means it will bear the U L seal.

** When installing a fire alarm, location is very important. Some main rules are as follows:

  1. The best place to put an alarm is on the ceiling or high on the inside wall as smoke rises. But since the area on either surface within four inches of where the wall meets the ceiling is dead-air space that gets little circulation, avoid putting units there; 
  2. If the ceiling is below an uninsulated attic or in a mobile home, place an alarm on the inside wall four to twelve inches below the ceiling;
  3. In a multi-level house, install an alarm on each level especially if the house is air conditioned. For basements, locate the alarm on the ceiling, near the bottom of the stairs to the rest of the house;
  4. Do not put an alarm within three feet of an air supply register that might blow smoke away from the unit;
  5. Do not install an alarm between bedrooms and the air return to a furnace, because recirculated and diluted smoke will result in a delayed alarm;
  6. Corridors more than 30 feet long should have alarms at each end;
  7. An alarm should be installed close enough to the bedroom that it can be heard when the doors are closed;
  8. Be sure to put an alarm in any room whose occupant has the dangerous habit of smoking in bed;
  9. Do not install alarms in the kitchen as cooking can trigger a false alarm;
  10. To obtain optimal coverage with several alarms, do not use a single type exclusively;
  11. Consult an expert about placement when unusual architectural features exist.

It is also very important to have routine testing and maintenance. The one essential requirement for maintaining fire protection with smoke alarms is to test each one at least every 30 days and every week if it is battery powered. Follow the instructions supplied with your alarm for routine maintenance.

The source of this information was your BBB Tips on Residential Alarm Systems.