May 172018

Robert Monk of the Berkshire panel is asking for help with the following please.


We have been asked to help the parents of 16 yr old with Downs Syndrome and autism who needs 24 hr supervision. He has the habit of leaving the house on his own and his parents want some way of knowing when he is leaving home.
I have suggested 2 options:

1 – A perimeter alarm system like a burglar alarm or shop door warning with sensors on each external door.

Pros: Does not need the client to carry a transponder

Cons: Cannot discriminate between client and others, so others will have to remember to suppress the alarm each time they pass the perimeter (father works nights, so returns at odd hours).  Loud and indiscreet, neighbours will know what is happening, unless we use a system that sends a message to a smartphone. Once he has left home, there is no way of tracking him.

2 – A GPS location tracker that advises the parents when the client leaves a pre-defined area by calling their mobile.

Pros: Can be used anywhere, at home, visiting friends, in the park, Disneyworld, etc.  Discreet alarm on smartphone.

Cons: parents believe the client will be reluctant to carry a transponder at all times.

Any better ideas would be appreciated.

Robert Monk

Berkshire Panel


  6 Responses to “Alarm to notify parents when teenager is leaving the home”

  1. All good ideas, thank you. keep them coming.
    One idea suggested to me elsewhere is to keep the door locked with a key hung nearby (for emergency situations, the client has to be able to exit) which sets off an alarm when removed (eg. in an alarmed cabinet). Only the client will need to use that key, others will have their own.

    • Seems a good idea and would be pretty easy to make too. Just need to make sure the alert latches and whatever method is used to reset it can’t be done by the client (e.g. reset it with keyswitch). People would have to remember not to leave keys in the door of course, but they are probably used to not doing that anyway given the situation.

  2. 1) Give everyone else a transponder that will automatically unlock the door that they are proximate to.
    Otherwise, the doors remain locked.

    2) Give everyone else a transponder that de-activates an alert system that warns that the door is being opened.

    3) Disguise the transponder by putting it in something that he will want to carry all the time. An ornate belt. Hopefully the parent(s) will know of something that he can be given that he would not then want to be without.

    4) A weight-sensing front door mat. Unless others are a similar weight – it will give a definitive result even before the door has been opened.

    5) As part of the “Smart Home” system, there are sensors that will not only detect when someone is in a particular area but also, who they are.

  3. Assuming he has to be supervised at all times, that would suggest initial effort needs to go into something that tells the parents he has gone out. Do they have a burglar alarm system? – as they can often be programmed to chime the entry/exit zone even when the alarm isn’t set. Quick temp fix!

    A simple way to create an alarm for the door would be to buy a 1 channel fob operated relay unit with several fobs (just search on “remote control relay” on ebay). Rig that up in series with a door reed and a sounder. Child goes out, sounder goes off as soon as door opens. Parent goes out or comes back in, just has to remember to disconnect sounder with the fob unit when opening and closing the door. If required, a simple bi-stable latch circuit could keep the sounder on until reset so he couldn’t go out so quickly the alarm might be missed.

  4. Hi Robert
    I think you need to reverse the problem and simplify with no transponders or GPS.

    If each external door from the house was fitted with an intruder reed switch that sounded an alarm if the door was opened that would be the starting point.

    The trick will be to disarm the alarm transiently when someone else uses the doors.

    This could be dome externally by a door bell button placed in a position where it would not confuse normal callers as a legit door bell.

    Internally many options: Secret button, pin pad, magnet and switch, secret pressure pad somewhere perhaps not even very close to the door.

    Or by RFID keyfob technology if you want to get all fancy pants.

    Id be reluctant to have a loud alarm unless there was good reason Id use just door chime(s).

    Hope that helps, good luck

    Graham Law
    Leicestershire & Rutland Remap

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