Experts From Electronic Security Association Say: Alarm Monitoring Saves Lives and Property

Seconds Count in an Emergency

DALLAS, April 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- When the fire alarm went off at Steve and Sharon Commins' Los Angeles home they raced downstairs to rescue their sleeping daughter from their smoke-filled home. As they fled to safety, a dispatcher from the Commins' alarm company was alerting firefighters.

"In a fire seconds count," said Larry Mann, chairperson for the Electronic Security Association's (ESA) fire committee. "Every day across the country monitored alarm systems help save lives and property. Professional dispatchers notify the fire and police departments while home owners focus on saving themselves, their loved ones and their possessions."

The issue of alarm monitoring has become timely with the advent of do-it-yourself alarm systems that can be installed by property owners. Monitoring is sometimes an option but may not be included in the initial package.

"No alarm system is fully effective without professional monitoring," said Mann.

Insurance industry experts agree. Many offer discounts for alarms connected to a central monitoring station. Dick Luedke, a spokesman for State Farm, says his company - the largest home insurer in the country - has offered premium discounts for monitored alarms for many years. "The risk is usually lowered because of a central alarm system, so we want to charge premiums that reflect the reduced risk," Luedke said. "It's just like cars having airbags. The risk of an injury is less, so the premium is also less."

The best monitoring centers should have the latest computer technology, back-up power and redundant systems, and should meet Underwriters Laboratory's strict standards. While technology can send information from an alarm system directly to the consumer, it does not replace a skilled professional and modern monitoring center.

"In emergency situations, it's critical to have a professional monitoring center working for you. Some consumers believe they can use monitors and sensors and Smartphone technology to monitor their own homes," said Mann. "But that doesn't provide 24/7 protection and is no help if the owner is disabled or somewhere without wireless service."