In the past two months, I have experienced several incidents of residential security alarms that were disconnected because they had become a nuisance. In these cases, homeowners were unaware that their smoke detectors (fire alarm system) were connected to the security system leaving them completely unprotected. These are not separate systems -- if one is disconnected, they both are out of service.

Many security alarm systems are installed after news stories about burglaries in the area. In these instances, alarm companies will sell you an "add-on" of smoke detectors at little extra cost -- almost as an afterthought. These smoke detectors are powered by the same panel as the security system, so the system must be maintained and serviced at least annually by the alarm company to ensure proper operation.

If you have an older alarm system, you may have only one detector for an entire home -- this is not enough. At least one detector should be located on each floor of the home and outside of each sleeping area. Additional detectors inside of each sleeping room are strongly recommended -- even if only battery powered.

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Also critical to safety in our homes are carbon monoxide (CO) detectors which should also be placed, one on each level of the home. CO detectors may or may not be part of your alarm system. If they are part of the system then they too will not work if the system is disabled.

The bottom line is residential alarm systems provide more than just security protection for your home. Fire alarm, CO detectors, freeze-up protection, flood/water sensors and more may be part of the "system" and must be maintained in proper operating condition or you may be living with a false sense of security. Having annual check-ups by your alarm company is vital to insure you and your family are properly protected.

Residents with questions may call the New Canaan Fire Marshal's Office at 203-594-3030 and, if requested a courtesy visit to your home can be scheduled to insure proper protection.