The most obvious reason to maintain your alarms is to reduce the costs to your business that can arise as a result of fire, theft or vandalism if your alarm fails to trigger. However, on the opposite end of the scale, a side effect of a faulty system that you may not have considered is the ‘alarm fatigue’ caused by the alarm triggering when it is not wanted.
What is Alarm Fatigue?
Common in doctors and nurses who are constantly surrounded by beeps from medical equipment, ‘alarm fatigue’ refers to our desensitisation to alarms if we hear them too often. They get used to tuning out the beeping of equipment such as heart monitors in order to concentrate on other tasks. This means that when there is a genuine emergency it can sometimes take them a little longer to respond.
You may have experienced something similar with any nuisance noise pollution near your home or workplace. If one particular car or house alarm goes off every few nights, you may have come to simply think of every car alarm as a nuisance. You may also react slowly to a fire alarm off if you have experienced too many false triggers in that building.
Think of it as a case of your alarms crying wolf once too often – if they often go off due to faults or incorrect setup, then you and your neighbours are likely to ignore them after the first few times.
What Does This Mean For Me?
An incorrectly maintained or installed alarm system can trigger when it’s not needed due to having the wrong levels of sensitivity, having an interrupted power source, etc. Alarms don’t have to be constant, such as in hospitals, in order to cause a fatigue-like effect – a few false alarms are enough to dramatically decrease vigilance and increase annoyance in your neighbours.
Alarm fatigue in yourself and your neighbours means that there is less likely to be an immediate intervention if your fire or security alarms go off on your premises, which can lead to the same damaging consequences as if your alarm failed to go off entirely.
It’s important to keep to an appropriate maintenance schedule so that if your alarm does go off, you know that you definitely have to act on it.