An alarm (French: À l'arme - "To the arms") gives an audible or visual warning of a problem or condition.
- burglar alarms, designed to warn of burglaries; this is often a silent alarm: the police or guards are warned without indication to the burglar, which increases the chances of catching him or her.
- alarm clocks can produce an alarm at a given time
- Distributed control manufacturing systems or DCSs, found in nuclear power plants, refineries and chemical facilities also generate alarms to direct the operator's attention to an important event that he or she needs to address.
- Alarms in an Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Monitoring system, which informs the bad working state of (a particular part of the) system under monitoring.
- safety alarms, which go off if a dangerous condition occurs. Common public safety alarms include:
Alarms have the capability of causing a fight-or-flight response in humans; a person under this mindset will panic and either flee the perceived danger or attempt to eliminate it, often ignoring rational thought in either case. We can characterise a person in such a state as "alarmed".
With any kind of alarm, the need exists to balance between on the one hand the danger of false alarms (called "false positives") — the signal going off in the absence of a problem — and on the other hand failing to signal an actual problem (called a "false negative"). False alarms can waste resources expensively and can even be dangerous. For example, false alarms of a fire can waste firefighter manpower, making them unavailable for a real fire, and risk injury to firefighters and others as the fire engines race to the alleged fire's location. In addition, false alarms may acclimatise people to ignore alarm signals, and thus possibly to ignore an actual emergency: Aesop's fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf exemplifies this problem.
=Etymology= "Alarm" came from Old French 'à l'arme' = "to the weapon", telling armed men to pick up their weapons and get ready for action (because an enemy may have suddenly appeared).
larum in German: Alarm
larum in French: Alarme
larum in Hebrew: אזעקה
larum in Croatian: Alarmi
larum in Dutch: Alarm (apparaat)
larum in Portuguese: Alarme
larum in Swedish: Larm
larum in Turkish: Alarm