Thursday February 13 2014

Safety: What to do when your alarm is triggered

Alarms can sometimes be a nuisance when they

Alarms can sometimes be a nuisance when they buzz on continously. 

By Mustafa Ziraba

At a few minutes past midnight on Saturday while I was getting into Guvnor I walk past a UAU series Harrier with the alarm blaring away. I do ask myself why would one leave their alarm on and get into the discotheque? Perhaps is the new car syndrome at work. While most new car owner purchases from the local car electronics shop are purely for entertainment like a sophisticated in car entertainment system, an alarm is always somewhere on the list and its sole purpose is to protect one’s investment. Additionally many alarm buyers are those that have had several run-ins with thieves who make off with the popular parts like side mirrors, indicators, headlamps, window buttons etc.

Different makes
Alarms have come a long way from the systems that merely sounded when a door was opened improperly. They now flash the car’s lights, disconnect the ignition, and act as keyless car entry systems. Some can even use a computer interface to completely customize their performance. Alarms use a combination of techniques, the most common being motion sensors and light detectors. Some even can start a car from 20 metres away or more, and if you set your A/C before you got out the last time, your car will be just right when you’re ready to go.

Alarm systems come with a wide range of features. An essential option is a panic alarm, which sets off the alarm via a button on the keyless remote. Dual remotes are handy for cars that generally have more than one driver.

Remote starters
Remote starters are operated from a small controller that is designed to fit on a key holder. Most systems come with two remotes to accommodate two drivers of the same car. They can work on their own, but remote starters work more securely and efficiently when used in conjunction with a car alarm system. Not only can they be programmed to start the engine, but also they will perform basic functions like unlocking a door or opening the boot with the touch of a button.

Check to see that the package you are looking at will work on the type of car you have. This is quite important as installing an incompatible system can cause bigger problems like short circuits, mysterious battery drainage and the like. Far more important is to have a qualified or fairly experienced person to have it installed. Observe your car’s behaviour after installation, that way you can tell if the installation was successful or it has messed up with the other car systems.

Just a deterrent
We have to remember that an alarm is really a deterrent, nothing more. People generally do not respond to them, so do not expect that someone shall always come running out of their home to stop a would-be thief. One reason why people ignore alarms is because almost always they are false alarms. I have always recommended to not draw attention to the car by not leaving anything worth stealing visible.

One of my neighbours had both of his cars broken into in broad day light because he left laptops in them. Alarms are useful if you are close to your car such as in your house, but they are pretty much useless in public parking. See there are two kinds of thieves in Uganda, there are the smash and grab who break your window and grab something inside. The other type are the opportunist thieves.

They get into your car when you leave it unlocked or it is parked in just the wrong place. Both kinds are not worried about your alarm as they know that when car alarms go off, no one even turns their head and looks. As the car owner you have to be aware of your alarm and you should be the one to act when triggered.