Most alarm customers are aware that they have a PANIC button on their keypad. Many of them do not realize that there may also be a “Duress Code” or silent alarm, aka “Hostage Code”.
If you’re not sure if your alarm system has it, you need to call your alarm company to see if they have any indication of it being programmed into your panel. If you own an older alarm system it may be difficult to tell, and even if there is one programmed chances are you may not know what the Duress Code is (usually 4 digits). A Duress Code is different than a Panic button in that it is silent. A Panic button generates an audible alarm sound (Siren) which is good if you want to try and scare an intruder out of your home or cause a lot of ruckus in hopes that a neighbor or passerby will hear that something is wrong. A Panic Button also sends signals out to the alarm company as well.
A Duress code on the other hand is very similar to a panic but it does not generate the siren noise. Not only that, most keypads will pretend to shut off, or turn off when the user enters the duress code so if an intruder see’s the actions, it will appear as though the alarm is OFF. For example, if someone were to follow you into your home and order you to turn your alarm off and you walk straight over to your alarm and enter your Duress Code, then the keypad should play along and turn OFF. The Honeywell Lynx Plus keypad will actually speak and say “SYSTEM DISARMED” for those of you who have a talking keypad (Voice descriptor announcer).
A Duress code alerts the alarm company that this is a serious signal. It could mean a number of things. A person being held at gun point, a person being robbed or some other crime where the homeowner does not want the intruder to know that an alarm signal is going out. It may be a situation where the user wants a Police response but does not want the robber to know that help is on the way due to fear.
There is no playing around on a Duress Code because a user has to go out of their way to enter the special 4 digit PIN number into the keypad. Your Duress Code will be different than your alarm’s main master code. We at America’s Ultimate Security program a Duress Code for our customers but the customer can change Duress code at any point in time to a unique Duress code of their liking. If you press a Duress code, most alarm dispatchers will not even bother calling to verify it; they will just notify the local authorities that it is a Duress signal. Most law enforcement agencies will run a code 4 or a code 3 to respond. They will be aware that they are going on a duress code call because the alarm companies will advise that.
If a user calls the alarm company to advise the duress code was a mistake, don’t be surprised if they police show up anyway.
A Duress code is like a hold up button that banks, convenient stores and other businesses may use. It’s in the same category. When officers respond to a Duress code, you can expect more than one squad car showing up, and, be prepared to come out with your hands up. Police do not play around on a Duress code.
To reset your Duress Code most alarm panels allow you to enter your main 4 digit master code, twice, then press OFF if necessary. That should reset your security system and clear all signals.
If you are planning to get a new alarm system installed you want to make sure your dealer or technician programs your keypad for the Duress code. Almost every brand of keypad is capable of having the Duress code programmed. If the installer doesn’t program your alarm system for a Duress code option then it doesn’t do you a lot of good. Hopefully you do have some sort of PANIC button programmed at least.
If you are in the Texas area and would like us to upgrade your old alarm system, we might be able to help you if you are not in a contract with another alarm company. Visit our website here at www.TexasBestAlarms.com.
Leave us a comment if you have any questions.
This BLOG is written by Jimmy Maddox, employed by America’s Ultimate Security. The opinions and advise are strictly his and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the company, AUS Inc., ADT Security or any other company that may have been implied.