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Tips for using a community alarm

Here are some more tips on getting set up and using an alarm.

Wearing a portable trigger

It's safest to wear the trigger whenever you're up, so you can call for help wherever you are. Take it with you if you get up in the night and when you use the bathroom - almost all triggers are waterproof, but check with the provider. Most also come with different holders, so you can wear them whichever way suits you best. Some holders broke in our original tests, and we told the manufacturers this. The triggers were found to be strong and durable, though.

Choosing your helpers

If you decide to have your alarm calls sent through to family or friends, make sure you choose people who live or work nearby. They should also be willing to be called out at any time.

If your helpers have telephone services such as call minder or caller identification, tell the alarm centre. If they have an answering machine, it should be switched off whenever they are at home.

Giving out your keys

Whether your alarm calls go to a control centre or directly to friends and relatives, the person who comes to help you will need a key in case you can't let them in. To make sure they'll always have access, don't bolt the door from the inside - instead, double-lock the door and give your helpers both keys.

If you're using a scheme that sends out mobile wardens to help you, they might ask that you arrange for two neighbours to hold copies of your keys for them. Alternatively, the scheme might keep the keys themselves. In this case, they will be locked up at the centre or in the warden's van. For security, they should be coded rather than labelled with your address.

Setting off the alarm

You should press the alarm button whenever you need help or reassurance. Try it out from time to time as well - it will remind you how to use it.

Never worry about being a nuisance. Sometimes just talking through your problem can sort it out, and the alarm centre will only send someone round if you need them. Friends and relatives are more likely to worry if they think you're reluctant to bother them.

Cancelling a call

If you set off the alarm without meaning to, it's possible - but not always easy - to stop the unit from dialling out. Don't take the risk of rushing to do this. It's much better to let the call go through and explain to the staff or your helper when they speak to you.

Last updated: October 2012

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