So you’re sending your child off to a college dormitory, and while the newly minted freshman may feel anxious and nervous, you probably have concerns too. Some might be simple, like whether he or she can do laundry independently, but a lot are related to external dangers. Nowadays, higher learning doesn’t happen in a threat-proof vacuum, so you as a parent should at least consider looking into alarm devices from your local home security store for keeping dorm rooms safe.
Between reports of campus gun violence, drug-related offenses, and on-campus sexual assaults, even the top schools in the US are not free from crimes. Averaging more than 240 reported campus burglaries from 2010 to 2012, there’s real reason for security concern. While many campuses are doing what they can, it’s often not enough. With that in mind, you’ll definitely want to learn about the best alarm devices for dorms.
Start with the sounder
Of course, the core of all alarm devices is the sounder. You basically want something with a loud decibel output to scare trespassers and alert people in the area. And now, even the most basic DIY security system can go further than that.
1. DSC Alexor PC9155 two-way wireless panel
The DSC Alexor PC9155 from your local home security store alarm features an 85dB onboard siren; for perspective, that’s louder than a garbage disposal or a diesel train moving at 45 mph from 100 feet away. In the close quarters of a dormitory, it is plenty loud. It can be connected to a variety of wireless keypads and remotes. Arguably, its most important feature is bidirectional communication: when the system is armed or disarmed from a two-way wireless device, the device should receive a notification confirming that the process was completed correctly.
2. Honeywell Lynx Touch L5210
Another option is the Honeywell Lynx Touch 5210, which is a large touchscreen alarm panel. Like the Alexor system it has a built-in 85db sounder and it can be connected to wireless keypads and remotes. In addition, it has a POTS phone auto dialer system that can send a signal via phone line to a central monitoring service station. That’s basically a security service you can pay to constantly monitor your kid’s area for trouble and alert the proper authorities—whether it’s area police, the fire department or campus security. Of course, you’ll probably want to do a bit of research to make sure that the monitoring service you sign up for is reputable and decent.
3. GE Simon XT alarm
A third alternative that you should find in a decent alarm system store is the GE Simon XT alarm system. Like the Honeywell Lynx Touch, it can be programmed to work with a range of wireless devices, and it is capable of sending alerts to a central monitoring station. One thing that arguably puts it a step above, though, is that it supports off-premise telephone control, allowing your child to arm or disarm the system, as well as perform a host of other programming activities, via telephone.
Keep alert with electronic eyes and ears
Most pieces of security equipment aren’t meant to keep intruders out; their function is to alert authorities and other people if and when they break in. Of course, that can only happen if they detect intruders in the first place. To make sure that your kid is ready and safe for college, you have to think about the appropriate sensors and surveillance cameras to install—preferably ones that need no hardwiring so they can be easily set up.
4. DSC Vanishing Wireless Door Window Transmitter
The problem with a lot of sensors and detectors is their size: they’re so bulky that they can’t be hidden properly, so they can be seen by intruders from outside. The DSC EV-DW4975 wireless mini door/window contact solves this problem. Its profile is so thin—the device is less than a quarter of an inch thick—that it can be installed with minimum visibility on most windows. The device is compatible for use with DSC alarms.
5. Ademco 5800SS1 Wireless Shock Sensor
Many crimes in dormitories involve forced entry: an intruder smashes a glass window pane or breaks a lock in order to gain access to a dorm room. A great way to guard against that is to install a shock sensor, which would detect violent impacts on a surface. The Ademco 5800SS1 is a terrific option. You can put it on the flat surface, and it can be linked to compatible Ademco alarm systems.
6. Alarm.com Indoor Wireless Fixed IP Camera w/ Night Vision
Strictly speaking, the Alarm.com Wireless Camera doesn’t act to trigger any alarms, but this video surveillance system does give residents a valuable heads up so that they may trigger the alarm off-site. This camera has HD 720P resolution, picking up images up to 20 feet away and can still show intruders in the dark. It also offers a variety of recording and live stream video options. Of course, to enjoy such features, you’d have to subscribe to the appropriate Alarm.com video services.
7. Honeywell IPCAM-WL Camera IP for Total Connect
Honeywell also provides a variety of home surveillance cameras, which you can utilize as a subscriber of the Honeywell Total Connect video service. You can keep your child safe by using the service in conjunction with the Honeywell IPCAM-WL stationary camera. It looks similar to a webcam, so you can have your child set it up on his or her computer workstation in the dorm—a great way to provide discreet protection. Like the Alarm.com camera, it can be set up wirelessly and functions well in low-light conditions.
Keep calm and pack a panic button
Of course, sometimes even the most reliable sensors can be defeated. Some intruders can deactivate the sensors in place, while others find ways to circumvent them altogether. And in some cases, attackers come in when the sensors are off. In those instances, you want to give your child a way to activate the alarms manually.
8. DSC WS4938 Single Button Wireless Panic Alarm
If you’ve got a DSC alarm with 433MHz wireless capability, you can equip your kid with this device. It’s a one-button trigger that can be worn on a neck strap or clipped on to one’s clothing. It’s water-resistant, so it can be kept on hand even in the shower. Pressing and holding the button for two seconds will activate the associated alarm.
9. Honeywell 5802WXT-2 Personal Panic Transmitter
Those working with a Honeywell alarm can get peace of mind from this two-button device. It can be worn on a pendant, a wristband, a belt clip or a key chain. It’s also water-resistant, and the fact that both buttons must be depressed for alarm activation reduces the possibility of a false alarm, which can be very important to save your child from potential embarrassment.
10. Ademco 5869 Wireless Hold-up/Panic Switch
This panic switch, which can be used with other Honeywell alarm systems, is a good backup option when one has to sound the alarm discreetly. Intruders may disable the sensors and detectors, and they may take away your child’s personal panic button. But if he or she has this button stuck under a desk, behind a closet or placed in one of dozens of other possible hiding places, they may be able to trigger the alarm without the intruder noticing.
College experience is a great adventure, the first step towards freedom. For many kids, college dorms serve as a taste of life in the real world. Some may make dangerous decisions, and it’s best to ensure your kid’s safety. An environment of independent and unsupervised learning encourages experimentation, which means your child and others may do things that can put them at risk. As a parent, your responsibility is to let your kid go, but make sure he or she stays safe.