Homeowners have been urged to test their security systems as a matter of urgency and to pay particular attention to the battery backup systems. The message comes from an armed response company, as South Africa finds itself in the midst of wide-spread load shedding once again.

"Many people are under the incorrect assumption that their home alarm system is deactivated when the power supply is interrupted. However, if you have a stable and correctly programmed system coupled with a battery that is in good condition, it will continue to protect the premises during a power outage - regardless if the outage is because of load shedding or not," says Charnel Hattingh, national marketing and communications manager at Fidelity ADT.

The only time it may not function correctly is if there is a technical issue, or the battery power is low. "Most modern alarm systems have a back-up battery pack that activates automatically when there is a power failure," she says.

She adds that there are a number of practical steps that can be taken to ensure security is not compromised during any power cuts.

Some of these include ensuring the alarm system has an adequate battery supply, that all automated gates and doors are secured and, lastly, to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to your security provider or the South African Police Service (SAPS).

With the added inconvenience of the lights going out at night due to power cuts, candles and touch-lights are handy alternatives. Hattingh says home and business owners should consider installing Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology, which is integrated into the alarm system’s wiring and automatically switches on for a maximum of 15 minutes when there is a power outage.

"If there is an additional battery pack, the small, non-intrusive LED lights can stay on for the duration of the power outage - or a maximum of 40 hours without draining the primary alarm battery," she explains.

She says the most important tips to remember about being prepared for a power cut are:

  1. It is important that your alarm system has an adequate battery supply. Batteries should be checked regularly.

  2. Alarms should be checked during extended power outages to keep systems running.

  3. Power cuts can impact on fire systems and fire control systems, so these also need to be checked regularly.

  4. The more frequent use of gas and candles can increase the risk of fire and home fire extinguishers should be on hand.

  5. Above all, remain vigilant during a power cut; be on the look-out for any suspicious activity and report this to your security company or SAPS immediately.

"Because of load shedding, there might also be a higher than the usual number of alarm activation signals received by security companies and their monitoring centres," says Hattingh.

"This could lead to a delay in monitoring centre agents making contact with customers. You can assist by manually cancelling any potential false alarms caused by load shedding, and thus help call centre agents in prioritising the calls needing urgent attention."

Source: Property24