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Old May 8, 2012, 11:28 PM   #1
Davey
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My false home alarm and what it taught me.

At about 2:30 in the afternoon today I woke up to my home alam siren going off.

I had a feeling it was a false alarm considering the time of day, my neighborhood, and the fact that my cul de sac was crowded with workers putting up two new houses.

After listening for any movement downstairs I felt it was safe to go look what happened. Turns out the front door switch falsely went off.

Now for what I learned.

I programmed my downstairs keypad with descriptions of each of the zones. Zone 3 is front door, zone 2 is Patio Door etc.

I haven't bothered yet to program the upstairs keypad with the same. Instead it just says zone 3 or whichever zone is triggered. If I had programmed it I would have been able to determine immediately that the alarm was false since I have a clear view of the front door from the top of my stairs.

So if you use an alarm system capable of zone descriptions I recommend you use them. They ae very handy and can tell you from where in your house an intruder might be coming from.

I also learned that my new wireless siren in the bedroom works great.

Last edited by Davey; May 8, 2012 at 11:40 PM.
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Old May 9, 2012, 09:31 AM   #2
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I have a friend who lives in St Charles, and we were shooting at Article II Gun World and talking about the same thing.

He said he woke up, and his heart was RACING - beating in his chest like a drum.

We talked about how difficult it would have been to actually get a steady sight picture and s l o w l y squeeze the trigger and all that.

I had my smoke detector go off once and my heart seemed to jump out of my chest. I can just imagine what's like having your alarm go off in the middle of the night.

My friend said the same thing about zones. He had an alert that the door to the garage was open, but no alert that the garage door itself was open, and he had no other alerts so he came to the conclusion that he had a malfuctioning monitoring device.

He took his gun and went and checked it out anyway.

I know you're not suppossed to clear your house... but think of it. You've got your home alarm going off, it's probably a malfunction... you can wait 20 minutes for the police to show up and go through all that, or you can just go down there with your gun (just in case) and turn it off yourself..
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Old May 9, 2012, 09:36 AM   #3
Glenn E. Meyer
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Or you could just go down there and run into someone who kills you.

Oh, my - waiting 20 minutes - what a tragedy!

That's not thinking, that's stupid. Your friend and perhaps you need serious training in such matters.
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Old May 9, 2012, 09:45 AM   #4
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I don't have a home alarm because every time I think about spending the money on one I think about the gun I could get instead!
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Old May 9, 2012, 10:22 AM   #5
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My "alarms" usually sleep down in the kitchen, but they have been known to have the occasional false alarm at night. Most of the time it's a bear or raccoon sniffing around the garbage shed. Sometimes I think their own bodily functions are noisy enough to wake them up.
It is always disconcerting to be awoken, but if the "alarm" doesn't shut it's self off in a reasonable amount of time I do always go down to investigate. The sheriff is probably an hour out, and the kids rooms are downstairs, so waiting isn't really an option for me.
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Old May 9, 2012, 10:41 AM   #6
HisDudeness
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Dayman, my "alarm" of choice is a 17 pound shih tzu that yaps like crazy at the slightest noise. I've even attempted to "break in" to my own home late at night and the sound of my Arizona lawn (rocks) under foot is enough to make him lose his mind. I recommend others test their "alarms" in this way too. He's a little neurotic about it but he does his job very well.

On another note, is your user name a reference to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia?
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Old May 9, 2012, 11:21 AM   #7
Glenn E. Meyer
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I don't have a home alarm because every time I think about spending the money on one I think about the gun I could get instead!
You probably think you are being funny but instead it points out a complete lack of insight into the real problems of defending yourself and your family.

Rethink that.
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Old May 9, 2012, 11:21 AM   #8
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The advantage of an electronic alarm is it doesn't get tripped by animals outside.

I had a German Shepherd that hated cats, so at least twice a week she was barking and snarling at the window in the middle of the night at stray cats going by. She had a different bark for racoons and opposums. She developed a completely different response to skunks after she got sprayed - she'd just look out the window and give a low growl, and we knew it was a skunk. She was willing to growl at them but she didn't want to mess with them after getting sprayed once.

The thing about a zoned electronic system, if it's set up properly it will show you which parts of your house are still secure.

But having said that, I'm still leaning toward getting a dog, especially a bigger one that can be effective in doing more than just alerting.
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Old May 9, 2012, 11:36 AM   #9
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While I understand the tactical advantage of staying in your bedroom and waiting for the Police to arrive in some situations it is not practical.

My elderly Mother who suffers form Alzheimer’s stays with me most of the time and I also have three nieces that visit quite often. If the alarm sounded in the middle of the night there is no way to avoid leaving my room to check and secure my family even if it meant running into an intruder.

Now, this does not mean that after securing them I would feel the need to clear the entire house.
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Old May 9, 2012, 01:54 PM   #10
Glenn E. Meyer
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This is the problem with internet debates. The house clearing vs. bunkering down debates usually include the nuance that if you have to rescue someone you do.

However, one can train the family (if they are competent) on how to respond.

I recall a FOF where we had to clear our house. A fellow participant came out of a run and said: "Glenn, I killed my son". Oops.

I've been 'shot' just standing there with my hands up by the good guys.
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Old May 9, 2012, 02:35 PM   #11
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Yes, if you have friends or family who you may need to round up and get to safety, you may have no choice but to leave your place of safety and go about in a house in which a bad guy might be waiting for you. But the fact that you might have to do it doesn't make it any less risky for you, doesn't reduce the possibility that you might get yourself killed and thus fail in your efforts to protect your friends and family, and doesn't reduce the possibility that you'll shoot one of your friends or relatives by mistake.

As Glenn points out, in general most folks who are living in your home (except perhaps an impaired family member or very young child) can learn and adhere to a plan to get to a designated place of safety if the alarm goes off.

And if you think there's any possibility you'll need to go after friends or family members, get some good training. If nothing else, it will reinforce what a lousy idea going out looking is.
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Old May 9, 2012, 02:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
My "alarms" usually sleep down in the kitchen, but they have been known to have the occasional false alarm at night. Most of the time it's a bear or raccoon sniffing around the garbage shed. Sometimes I think their own bodily functions are noisy enough to wake them up.
It is always disconcerting to be awoken, but if the "alarm" doesn't shut it's self off in a reasonable amount of time I do always go down to investigate. The sheriff is probably an hour out, and the kids rooms are downstairs, so waiting isn't really an option for me.
Indeed. The problem with one of our three rapid response mobile alarm systems though, is that sometimes it will go off at 5.00AM in the morning and you have 8 seconds to respond or it will have a "system overload" all over the floor in an apparently random dispersal pattern, almost like its doing a little 'this is what you get for not letting me out' ballet about the kitchen. It also seems to go off a lot, almost in retaliation, if we head out for a quick trip and don't take it.
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Old May 9, 2012, 03:31 PM   #13
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We have a doggy door, so they can let themselves out into a fenced dog run.
Dogs also function as a pretty decent "zone" system as they follow the perceived threat, and make a lot of noise. They also make for a pretty reactive system as they do have different barks for different things. Plus, the sound of a couple big dogs barking is far more intimidating than a brinks sign. Both would be great, but I do love dogs. Dobermans make fantastic pets.

I don't want to get too far off the OP though. Whether it's dogs or an electronic alarm going off I think the point was how disconcerting it is to go from sleep to fully aware. And, it is. It's probably important to be aware that when you first wake up your mind isn't going to be working at 100%, and when you add adrenaline to the mix you're going to be pretty seriously impaired. It's not going to be a great time to make snap life/death decisions. Yet another reason not to go running about with a gun if you can avoid it. If you can't avoid it, be aware that your mind/eyes can play tricks on you, and that whoever else might be in your house probably already had a chance to get their coffee.

Oh, and yeah dayman was an Always Sunny reference. "Master of Karate, and Friendship ... for everyone" and all that
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Old May 10, 2012, 09:38 AM   #14
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If one has children and it seems an intruder has broken in there’s no way they’re going to just sit tight in their bedroom and dial 911.
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Old May 10, 2012, 09:47 AM   #15
Glenn E. Meyer
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Said a thousand times that you may have to rescue people.

Also said a thousand times, teach the family where to rendevous if you hear a break in or how to hunker down.

Why repeat that you want to charge out to save the kids as if folks are suggesting that you leave them as human sacrifices to the monsters?

That has NOT been the argument.

If you do have to charge out, as stated a thousand times, might want to think about training. Want to know how to negotiate a corner, use a light.

NO, just charge out opening fire with your 12 gauge or Judge.

A little annoying to see the cliches yet again and again.
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Old May 10, 2012, 09:54 AM   #16
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Another option is to have a home camera system thjat allows you to view each zone via computer, and/or, cell phone. One does not even need leave the 'Safe room', to check the zones.
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Old May 10, 2012, 09:59 AM   #17
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One suggestion...

The intruder's best friends are twofold...dark and quiet.

It is worthwhile to have a defense in depth:

a. Ensure that your family is on the same floor. This works well, especially if you have a two-story dwelling.
b. Replace your loved one's doors with solid core outside-rated doors that can, in an emergency, be secured from the inside with a stout lock.
c. GET AN ALARM SYSTEM, a MONITORED alarm system, and USE IT.
d. Here is a unique one, and one that I think has merit: Have your home wired with a master breaker in your room. This master breaker should be able to turn on EVERY LIGHT IN THE HOUSE, GARAGE, AND OUTBUIILDINGS, if you have them. Floodlights on the outside with motion detectors are also a plus.

Imagine what a burglar would feel if suddenly the whole house lit up like a Christmas tree!

Personally, with the reinforced rooms, I would teach the family that, if the lights come on or the alarm sounds to STAY PUT, lock their doors, and DO NOT OPEN until you or your wife/husband/ significant other gives a prearranged code. Tell them also that in those situations their true name will be a duress code--if they hear you calling them BY NAME, they are to immediately call police.
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Old May 10, 2012, 12:33 PM   #18
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(1) If I am ever able to build my own house, I will do the wiring so all the lights can be remotely controlled. Until then, it's not very feasible to re-do the wiring in the house to allow me to turn on all the lights at once. My feeling is that with time and increasing computerization of houses, this'll become more ubiquitous.

(2) Children are notoriously unreliable. When they're scared, they follow their instincts/habits, not logic. They won't be able to recall and adhere to complex plans, so keep things simple and practice with them. Also make sure there's some way for you to open doors from the outside, because kids WILL lock you out at some point.

(3) Balance your security with your life. Just as a CCW that's poorly fit to a person's life will be left at home, a home security plan that is incompatible with the rest of your life will be either neglected or abandoned. So take some time to think about how your plan will affect your life, and design it around what you will be able to maintain.

(4) Practice waking up and doing your routine. Not too hard to rig a device to set off a motion alarm or something like that, but even something as simple as setting a normal alarm clock for sometime in the night so you can get an idea of how YOU wake and react.

(5) Musings (I haven't thought these through and would appreciate comments). A digital camera could be used to scope out a room before entering or exposing yourself... just a high-tech periscope basically. Intercoms or radios in places of refuge (ie each bedroom's closet if they have decent doors) could help reassure the entire family that everyone's ok.
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Old May 11, 2012, 09:35 AM   #19
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Charging Out

Glen and others have answered this part. Obviously hunkering down and defending one door is more tatically prudent than attempting your best chuck norris impression. The knowledge is there if you seek it. Training is always a good thing.

I am moving into a home that I will be spending some time hardening prior to doing much living there. Vermont is a don't lock your doors kinda place so these folks barley have locks.

Due to the layout of the property there is no "safe area" for everyone to congregate in. In other words the sleeping quarters are on the parimiter and the entrance is in the dead center. Anyone trying to move through the house will be an instant target and there will be no safe shot for me because the guest room will be a back drop to a shot from my bedroom.

My plan is to harden the interior security with deadbolt locks and door jammers on the bedroom doors. Instead of meeting in a common place anyone staying in my home should simply hunker down in the room they are sleeping in and wait for things to cool down.

I don't have kids so folks staying with us are usually adults anyway. If the house is vacant and we are the only people staying in our bedroom I have a very very clear area around my Bedroom to defend. In that case shooting from the bedroom into common areas is doable.
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Old May 16, 2012, 09:21 AM   #20
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Good feedback! After 2 false alarms at my house, I have learned a couple things:
1. Don't turn the alarm off too soon. Let it run a bit and watch it.
2. My panel will scroll for each zone that is tripped. Watch the panel. If its only one zone it is likely a false alarm (depending on your design). If I see: glass break basement, then motion in basement then motion in main living I have a better understanding of what is going on.
3. When you turn the alarm off, wait and listen.
4. Clearing my house was a frightening task after false alarm #1 - I didn't enjoy it and wouldn't suggest it. It's only my wife and I at the house so there is little else to worry about.

If thermal imaging devices were more affordable I would buy one. Seeing a heat signature through walls seems useful.
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Old May 17, 2012, 10:19 AM   #21
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I'm glad I came across this as I'm starting the process of shopping for my first home. We're in a fairly rural location but that doesn't mean bad things can't happen so I will be weighing the cost of a home security system. There will be the firearms and dogs but a system and especially one with zones seems helpful.
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Old May 17, 2012, 11:57 AM   #22
Davey
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Jay,
I've learned quite a bit about installing a home alarm system on one's own. I use a Honeywell Ademco Vista 20-P. It's pretty much the standard when it comes to home alarm systems it seems.

If you got any questions feel free to send me a private message. I visit these forums daily.
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Old May 20, 2012, 11:54 AM   #23
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I have yet to investigate a home alarm system. It's just my wife and I and a noisy beagle, who alerts all the time when animals wander by the house (often in our rural area) or even if people walk by on the street or the golf course behind our house ... Unless the dog drops dead at a badly timed moment, I can't imagine not knowing something is wrong thanks to him ... I would not try clearing my house (no need, since we have a 1911, pepper spray, a cell fone, flashlights and a large combat knife available in our locked bedroom ...
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Old May 21, 2012, 08:43 PM   #24
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Quote:
(1) If I am ever able to build my own house, I will do the wiring so all the lights can be remotely controlled. Until then, it's not very feasible to re-do the wiring in the house to allow me to turn on all the lights at once. My feeling is that with time and increasing computerization of houses, this'll become more ubiquitous.
X-10 systems have been around for ~20 years that allow you to do this without any wiring changes at all ... they are not hacker-proof, but they would add this layer to your plan without spending a fortune or requiring an inordinate amount of work. They also have a car alarm style pendant that lets you turn on a couple of strategic lights wirelessly ... as in while approaching your front door from the outside.

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