Load shedding’s latest casualty in South Africa appears to be home security systems. The recurrent power outages are causing an alarming increase in false alarms, leading to stretched resources for security companies and compromised response times.
Rising Tide of False Alarms
Charnel Hattingh, Fidelity ADT’s Head of Marketing and Communications, has raised the alarm over the surge of false alerts. Hattingh underscores how these spurious signals are straining security resources, leaving them scrambling to deal with real emergencies.
Fidelity ADT, one of South Africa’s leading home security and armed response providers, is bearing the brunt of these phantom alarms. Hattingh has thus urged residents and business owners to be mindful of the issue. She implores people to identify and rectify the reasons behind false alarms, a measure vital in preventing future occurrences.
Deconstructing the ‘Why’ Behind False Alarms
Hattingh recommends maintaining vigilance in case of a false alarm, by identifying patterns such as time of day or weather conditions. She lists the six common culprits of false alarms as:
- Malfunctioning devices
- Errors due to human oversight
- Battery depletion caused by recurrent power cuts
- Poorly secured doors and windows
- Errors in setup and installation
- False triggers by pets, small animals, or insects
Investing in a backup battery system or inverter is a powerful defense against load shedding-induced low battery alerts, Hattingh advises. While these may come with a higher price tag, they could be critical in ensuring continued safety.
Fidelity warned homeowners earlier this year about the pressing need for backup battery systems, with criminals reportedly exploiting power blackouts. Wireless security systems might seem immune due to battery-powered detectors, but it’s important not to overlook the main control box, which requires backup power.
Operating an Alarm System: Best Practices
Knowing your security system inside out is a must, according to Hattingh. She suggests educating anyone with access to the system to mitigate the risk of regular false alarms. Here are her tips for homeowners:
- Secure all windows and doors before activating the alarm.
- Use insect repellent around sensors and detectors.
- Conduct regular security system tests to confirm all equipment functions as expected.
- Keep panic buttons and other emergency triggers out of children’s reach.
- Regularly check the batteries of wireless devices and backup power for the primary keypad.
- Keep the alarm user manual handy and familiarize yourself with it.
- Be aware of environmental changes (new pets, plants, decorations, etc.) that might interfere with the system or its sensors.
- Notify your security provider if you’ll be away for an extended period.
In the face of frequent load shedding, safeguarding your home requires more than just a reliable security system. It also calls for understanding the system, keeping it in optimal condition, and adapting to the unique challenges that arise from an energy-strapped environment.