As I am looking for subjects to add to our blog I have found there are hundreds and hundreds of articles reporting home invasion. Some of which are very gruesome and very sad. While searching and reading these articles one thing continually flashes in my head. Duress Code!!
We always tell our customers, arm your alarm, all the time, every time. When you are home and every time you leave. Even if you are only going to be gone for five minutes. It may sound like an over kill, or a tad paranoid, but it not.Lets talk about the duress code/password. As long as your alarm is armed, if there is a home invasion or someone following you into your home you can disarm with your duress code. The way it works is this, the duress code disarms your alarm like normal. The burglar or criminal will be none the wiser. The important part is that it sends a duress signal to the Central Station. This is an emergency signal that is given first priority. Each Central Station has its own set of procedures and laws they have to abide by. Here in Las Vegas the Police Department will dispatch on a Duress signal.
Another duress code is in the form of a password you give your Central Station. If/when your alarm goes off you will be asked to give the Central Station dispatcher a password. If you set off the alarm accidently, or it was a mistake you would give the Central Station an “all clear” or “safe” password. Furthermore, if there is an emergency situation you would give your Central Station dispatcher your “duress” password.
Here are some examples.
You wake up early to let the dog outside and forget the alarm is on. The alarm goes off and the Central Station calls. You give them your “all clear” password because it was you who set off the alarm and everything is ok.
Or, you just got home from the grocery store and are heading into the house to disarm your alarm before you unload your car. Someone follows you in and forcefully with a weapon or otherwise tells you to disarm your alarm. You use the duress code to disarm your alarm. The Central Station receives a duress signal and dispatches to local Police and authorities are on the way. But the intruder does not know that the alarm has sent a duress signal, because the alarm acts just as if it had been disarmed.
You are home watching TV and your alarm is armed in Stay mode (the perimeter doors and windows are armed, but you are free to walk about). Someone breaks in the back door and the alarm sounds. You are being held at gun point and told to disarm the alarm. You do as your told, but in the panic forget to use the duress code. The alarm company calls. The intruder tells you to answer the phone and clear the alarm. He knows that not answering will end up in a dispatching situation. You answer and are asked if everything is ok and to give a password. You use your “duress” password. The Central Station says thank you and hangs up. They now dispatch local Police and help is on the way. But again the intruder does not know that you have just alerted the Central Station of an emergency.
These a few examples of how each code/password is used. The important thing is that you remember your codes/passwords and how to use them properly, as a false duress is not taken lightly. To help remember you can practice doing simulations with your family. Simply call your alarm company ahead of time and ask to put your system on test. This will allow you to use the codes and the Central Station will know not to dispatch. When you are finished call the alarm company again and ask to put your account back in service.
I am not naïve to think that having a duress code eliminates the crime or the amount of stress or trauma caused by such an event. However, I do believe that using a duress code in an emergency situation will shorten the length of the crime and turn could save your life. I also believe that it raises the possibility of catching the burglar or criminal as they may still be in the home or premises when the authorities arrive.
Ask your alarm company if they offer the use of duress codes and duress passwords, but keep in mind there may be a nominal fee for this use due to the emergency priority and emergency response it is given.
I am curious to hear if you think these are good tools to have and to practice in case of an emergency. Let me know what you think.