- False alarm
A false alarm, also called a nuisance alarm, is the phony report of an emergency, causing unnecessary panic and/or bringing resources (such as emergency services) to a place where they are not needed. Over time, repeated false alarms in a certain area may cause occupants to start to ignore all alarms, knowing that each time it will probably be a fake. The concept of this can be traced at least as far back as Aesop's story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, where many episodes of a boy falsely yelling "wolf" caused the townspeople to ignore his cries when a real wolf came. In addition, false alarms have the potential of diverting emergency responders away from legitimate emergencies, which could ultimately lead to loss of life.
In industrial alarm management, a false alarm could refer either to an alarm with little information content that can usually safely be eliminated, or one that could be valid but is triggered by a faulty instrument. Both types are problematic because of the "cry wolf" effect described above.
The term "false alarm" is actually a misnomer, and is regularly replaced by the term "nuisance alarm." When a sensor operates, it is hardly false, and it is usually a true indication of the present state of the sensor. A more appropriate term is nuisance, indicating that the alarm activation is inconvenient, annoying, or vexatious. A prime example of this difference is burglar alarms being set off by spiders. (A spider crawling on a web in front of the motion detector appears very large to the motion detector.) 
One tragic example of the consequences of continued false alarms was at Boland Hall at Seton Hall University on January 19, 2000. Months of false fire alarms caused many students to start ignoring the fire alarms. However, when an actual fire broke out, three students who ignored the fire alarms died and many others suffered injuries.
Likewise, after too many audible car alarms are found false, most people no longer pay attention to see whether someone is stealing a vehicle, so even certain experienced thieves may confess that these alarms would not deter them from stealing vehicles.
Intentional false alarms of any kind, especially through emergency notification systems, are very serious criminal offenses, and can result in very severe legal punishments.
False alarms could also refer to situations where one becomes startled about something that is later determined to be untrue.
- Bomb threat
- Burglar alarm#Enhanced Call Verification
- Culture of fear
- Emergency evacuation
- False positive
- Fire alarm
- Battle of Los Angeles
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
False Alarm (EP) — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda False Alarm EP de KT Tunstall Publicación 11 de octubre de 2004 Grabación 2004 … Wikipedia Español
false alarm — false a larm n a situation in which people wrongly think that something bad is going to happen ▪ Fire fighters responded to a false alarm at one of the college dormitories. ▪ The patient was okay it was a false alarm … Dictionary of contemporary English
false alarm — false alarms N COUNT When you think something dangerous is about to happen, but then discover that you were mistaken, you can say that it was a false alarm. ...a bomb threat that turned out to be a false alarm … English dictionary
false alarm — false′ alarm′ n. 1) a false report of a fire in progress to a fire department 2) something that excites unfounded alarm or expectation … From formal English to slang
false alarm — index hoax Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 … Law dictionary
false alarm — ► NOUN ▪ a warning given about something that fails to take place … English terms dictionary
false alarm — noun a warning that is given about something that fails to occur • Hypernyms: ↑warning * * * noun, pl ⋯ alarms [count] 1 : an alarm (such as a fire alarm) that is set off when it is not needed A false alarm drew firefighters to the school. 2 :… … Useful english dictionary
False Alarm (EP) — Album infobox Name = False Alarm Type = EP Type = EP Artist = KT Tunstall Released = October 11, 2004 Format = Vinyl album Recorded = 2004 Genre = Alternative rock Length = 15:31 Label = Relentless Records Producer = Steve Osborne This album =… … Wikipedia
false alarm — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms false alarm : singular false alarm plural false alarms a situation in which you think that something bad is going to happen, but it does not … English dictionary
false alarm — 1. a false report of a fire in progress to a fire department. 2. something that excites unfounded alarm or expectation: Rumors of an impending transit strike proved to be a false alarm. [1570 80] * * * … Universalium