Your House Alarm Is Triggered In The Middle Of The Night : What Do You Do?


House Alarm Triggered What Do You Do?

Your house alarm system is triggered in the middle of the night, you are home alone with your kids.  Quick. What do you do?  3…2…1…go.

The answer is probably, it depends.

There is a decision process that happens in a matter of seconds and there are some things worth considering should you find yourself in this situation, as I did last week.

As a little background, I took a course (NLS) to become a lifeguard in high school so I could earn extra money.  The majority of the training in the NLS course is presenting you with emergency scenarios and teaching you how to assess a situation and take action to help the individual in the crisis. Well somehow this process of conjuring up crises got engrained in my brain so I often find myself running through what-if scenarios as I go about my day. It is kind of like I’m pretending I’m in the CIA but not really at all.

Eddie travels for work, not a ton, but he can be gone for a week at a time. Even though I never watch scary movies, I read enough of the news and watch enough TV to have the bejesus scared out of me when I go to sleep sometimes. My way of coping with those bad thoughts is to focus my energy on evacuation routes from my house with my kids.

Alright, so we can fully just call me crazy right now, that’s ok. At least I can see my own crazy.

But, if something were to happen in the night then I have a whole plan of how I would get myself and my 3 kids to safety. I don’t actually know if it would work but at least I wouldn’t be spinning around in circles panicking about what I should do. OR SO I THOUGHT!!!

Eddie was away last week for work. I was bolted awake on Tuesday night by a loud blaring noise, I jumped out of bed half in a daze and started wondering what was making that noise. I realized it was our house alarm (this is where the spinning in circles happened), as I went to turn it off, I finally came to and thought holy crap our house alarm has been tripped, what time is it?! I looked at my phone and it was 1:12am.

I thought I was about to die of a heart attack right at that moment.

Test Question #1: Should you use your off code to turn off your alarm right away?

Answer: If you don’t know why it was tripped, then let it go until it registers with the alarm company.

In one of my emergency scenarios, I knew that if our house alarm ever went off at night that I would let it go until either the alarm company calls me or the outside sirens are going, because surely that means the alarm event has registered with the alarm company.

I let the blaring go until the outside sirens were going and then turned off the alarm. I grabbed my cell phone and the home phone and stood there anticipating a call from the alarm company telling me that 911 was on its way.

In the meantime I called my husband. Why? I have no idea. He was in another country so would have been no help; it was good that he didn’t answer.

Test Question #2: Do you know if you have a delay that gives you time to press the off code BEFORE it triggers the alarm company’s system?

Answer: If you don’t know, you might want to find out. If you forget to find out and this happens, let the house alarm go until the alarm company calls you.

My alarm company still had not called and I could not find their number on my phone so I called my parents and said look, I am just about to go and search the house because our house alarm was tripped so if I don’t call you back in two minutes please come over. I wanted someone to know what was going on before I went to investigate.

Test Question #3: Do you have someone you can call in the middle of the night for anything at all?

Answer: This is not really an answer, more of a suggestion that since you can’t really think when all of this is going on in the middle of the night, it is worth considering now, while you have your wits about you, who that person would be.

I have a dog and throughout all this he was VERY VERY calm and was looking at me as if to say, “Hey, what are we doing? Why are we awake right now?” Which I think was the reason that I was scared but not completely panicked.

My dog and I went into the hallway, I turned on the hall lights and checked all the kids rooms, they were all sound asleep and safe (this was only about 1-2 minutes after the alarm initially went off).  We stood at the top of the stairs and I kind of looked at him and was like, okay, I guess we better go see what’s up?  I sent him down first.  He’s got a lot of protective fight in him and he would do well scaring anyone off.

He went down and I tip toed down behind him.

Test Question #4: You might think I’m an idiot right about now and think I should have called 911, yes?

Answer: You might be right. And I definitely would have, had my dog been the least bit agitated.

I needed to get to our kitchen door so I could get the alarm company’s phone number off the sticker on the door (fix #1 of emergency planning protocol: I now have it programmed in my phone), the alarm company who still had not called me by the way.

I got through to them and they asked for my name, address and password after which I said, “Aren’t you supposed to be calling me and shouldn’t you have called the police?” She said something about the alarm not having triggered their system. She could tell me that it was our kitchen door. I was standing at the kitchen door while I was talking to her and it looked fine to me.

Our alarm keypad is right by that door so she asked me to reset the alarm, by pushing our off code.  While I was doing that I said well how do I know that someone didn’t come into the house when I turned off the alarm upstairs and when I go to reset it they will already be in the house?  With that the phone went DEAD!


Have you heard the urban legend about people cutting your phone line and then when you call 911 or hmmm…the alarm company!!, they take down all your information but it is really someone working with the intruders taking it down so help never arrives?

YES? Me too! And that is what was going through my head. I’m surprised I didn’t drop from a heart attack again.

Two seconds later my mom calls on my cell phone and says that my dad is on his way over, I had forgotten to call them back but I would have asked him to come anyway.  They don’t live far so he was there in a couple of minutes.

I called the alarm company back and spoke with someone better, who explained to me that we had it set up with a two minute delay before it would trigger the system at the alarm company which is why they had not called me. It never actually registered with their system. So they recommended that if it went off again, that I wait the two minutes. Right. (fix #2 of emergency protocol – no more delay).

My dad went through the house, inside, outside, looking under cars across the street with a flashlight, in my car, everywhere anyone could be, he covered.  By the time he left I was totally comfortable that if someone had been trying to break in, they were scared off, likely by the outside blaring of the alarm. They certainly weren’t anywhere in the house.

There were 3 factors in all of this that made me think everything was okay and the police were not needed:

  1. Number 1 and the one I put most of the weight in, was my dog’s demeanor. He has a history of hearing and freaking out over the quietest noises and he was unusually calm.
  2. The door where the alarm was triggered has a crazy secure locking system and was completely untouched from what I could tell so I was sure it had not been opened.
  3. My dad checked EVERYWHERE, there was no way anyone was in the house.

It made me realize, however, that for all my mental preparation, my plan was severely flawed by assuming certain things about how our alarm system worked. Now, in a different situation, if my dog had been freaked out, I would have just called 911 immediately and bypassed the alarm hoopla. In fact if it happens again, I might just call them anyway.

I’m not trying to freak the crap out of you, but I think these are things we all should all think about. I’m generally clear headed in tense situations but the middle of the night, I realized, is a whole different game.

Have you ever thought about what you would do if you were woken up in the middle of the night by your house alarm going off?  Have you had this happen to you?  What did you do? Do you have an alarm? Do you use it?

Roscoe v

Dedication: I would like to thank the loyal companion and lord protector of our house, our dog, without whom I’m not sure I would be able to keep it together at night.  You’re the best, Roscoe P. Coltrane.







  1. Emma says

    Oh my, I couldn’t read this fast enough to see what happened at the end. Well done Roscoe and to you for venturing down the stairs. Very brave. We don’t have an alarm system, but if hubby is away, I leave a pair of his biggest shoes by the front and back doors outside (ha!) and I sleep with my phone right next to me with emergency number on screen ready to call if needed!

  2. NICOLAS says

    Our house alarm went off even though it was not on. 07/10/2015. The time according to my camera is : 03:22:58 am. Some car drove past our house at this time AND 12 second later (03:23:10 am) the alarm went off. This is not the first time that this happen to us. I hope this might help finding out what is happening.
    That car was pretty noisy (possible some modifications done to it). The sad thing is I have work today and I did not have enough sleep. Something is really worse checking And no body ever have to put up with.
    Our alarm is ok and functioning well. It has two functions. 1- away function and 2- isolate function. If you set your alarm to the second function (isolate) only indoor motion sensors will not function. But anyone trying to get in by opening windows /doors etc will trigger the alarm (assuming they are connected to the alarm system.
    NOTE: IF alarm set to AWAY function while you are at home any movement (if fan/Ac is ON playing with curtains/vertical blinds) or people and pets walking past sensors will cause the alarm to go off. (as motion sensors would be on)
    Thank you.

  3. Monica says

    OMG, an hr ago my alarm went off (it never has in the middle of the night) and boy was I scared! I got out of bed and didn’t know what to do! We have fire arms in our house, well I still didn’t know what to do! I didn’t know if I should get my gun or turn off the alarm. This thing was ringing so loud! I finally turned the alarm off, opened my bedroom door and slowly walked towards the stairs and my son comes out of his room, “what’s that, it woke me up”. Now I can’t go back to sleep. Turns out it was a truck that triggered the alarm. While the alarm was ringing a sound, of what I pictured being an army tank l, was also sounding outside, even the ground was vibrating a little. I just feel like I failed protecting my children. I realized we didn’t even have a plan of what to do if this happened. My son should not have come out of his room and I was supposed to have gotten my fire arm. The one that didn’t come out of her room was my daughter. My Chihuahua didn’t even bark! Not at all a good situation. In the morning I will make it a priority to have a family meeting and come up with a plan. I also have been begging my busband to get us a German Shepherd and he has refused. Thank you for you post! Everything you said you were feeling when your alarm went off is what I felt.

  4. Me says

    I have never experienced my alarm system going off, though I do have experience from my neighbour’s system going off. I was outside and i heard a soft beeping. I thought it was coming from straight across the street, but it was coming from diagonally across the street. I ran up to the house and heard the alarm. Few mins later, The residents of the house, my neighbours, came. They went inside the house and the alarm stopped. Then, a few mins later, it went off again. We had our contractor come and shut down the alarm via fuse box. A few weeks later, The dad found out it was just a faulty detector, filled with dust from construction. My conclusion is that you could have a faulty detctor.

  5. Irma says

    Wow this senecio just happened to me almost exactly! My husband is out of town (of course) and only is once or twice a year! Anyway alarm goes off at 5am. But my kids wake up and my Sweet drags teenager finds a bat or something wooden and starts to go downstairs. We followed closely but my heart was racing and I’m trying to stay calm in front of them. We too have dogs and they were in their room downstairs and didn’t bark at all so I’m thinking it had to be fine or they would be going crazy! My son checked all the doors and windows and each was locked. I called my husband and he didn’t answer either. Ugh I don’t know what to do. Maybe it’s a low battery. Going to start researching!!

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