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How to set up Alexa Guard on your Echo for extra security

Alexa's got a handy, albeit limited security feature waiting for you to tap into

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Alexa Guard is a free feature of Amazon Echo devices, like the Echo Show 5 (second-gen) and Echo (fourth-gen), that has the power to alert you to the sound of security threats like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, and breaking glass when you’re away from home. You can unlock even more Echo security features available when you pay for Alexa Guard Plus, like using Alexa to call for emergency help.

The features aren't a substitute for DIY alarm systems or professional monitoring, but they can provide an extra layer of safety to your setup by alerting you to small problems before they turn into big ones. Here's what you need to know about Alexa Guard and Alexa Guard Plus to use the services effectively with your Echo devices.

What is Alexa Guard?

Alexa Guard is a no-cost, sound-detecting security feature available on all Echo smart speakers and smart displays that uses the device’s built-in microphones to listen for smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, and breaking glass when you’re not home. To get the most out of Alexa Guard, it’s best to have several Echo speakers (or smart displays) sprinkled throughout your home to maximize coverage.

In the Alexa app, you can decide which sounds you want to activate for notifications. Push alerts are then sent to your mobile phone when your Echo device hears any of the available noises you've selected. (Currently, Alexa Guard can’t filter out racket from pets, which may accidentally trigger false notifications.)

Once you receive an alert, you can click through to open the Alexa app to either drop in live on the action or review the recorded sound clip for more information. Alexa Guard can also pair with your smart lights to turn them on and off randomly, giving the appearance you’re at home when you’re not.

What is Alexa Guard Plus?

Alexa Guard Plus comes with all of the listening benefits of Alexa Guard and adds even more perks. The paid plan, which costs $4.99/month or $49/year, can keep an ear out for footsteps or closing doors and send push alerts to your phone if these noises are heard when you’re away.

Guard Plus also has enhanced safety features to help deter unwanted houseguests, like mimicking the sound of dogs barking when motion is detected outside on a compatible device like a Ring video doorbell or sounding a siren on your Echo device to deter possible intruders when activity is detected inside.

Guard Plus also gives you voice-controlled access to an emergency helpline; simply say, “Alexa, call for help.” Trained agents will be waiting on the other end to request the assistance of emergency responders based on the information you provide during your call. Currently, Guard Plus is included with Ring Protect Pro alarm plans. Amazon has plans to bring Guard Plus to other smart home devices from Abode, Scout Alarm, Resideo, A3 Smart Home, and Wyze down the road.

How do I enable Alexa Guard and Alexa Guard Plus?

The Amazon Alexa and Amazon apps.
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

Enabling Alexa Guard and Alexa Guard Plus begins in the Alexa app.

1. Open the Amazon Alexa app.
2. Tap More in the bottom right corner.
3. Tap Settings > Guard.
4. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the setup of your device’s Guard feature.
5. To upgrade to Alexa Guard Plus, continue in the Alexa app and tap the Settings icon in the top right corner.
6. Tap “Learn More.” This will open up the Amazon app.
7. Select the monthly or annual paid plan and submit your payment details.

After checking out, submit your emergency (home) address. The subscription will not be active until this step is completed. From there, you’re free to start making the most of your Guard Plus feature. A free month of Alexa Guard Plus is available for first-time sign-ups.

How do I use Alexa Guard and Guard Plus?

When you leave, set Alexa Guard mode to “Away” in the Guard section of the app. Or, for a hands-free alternative, you can tell Alexa “I’m leaving” to command the system to pivot into a monitoring state.

In the Alexa app settings, you can customize features like which of your Echo devices you want to work with Alexa Guard. As touched on above, if you have connected smart lighting, you can choose specific lights for the feature to automatically toggle on whenever you enter into “Away” mode.

To reiterate, Guard won’t take the place of a home security system. It does, however, offer the ability to arm your existing Ring Alarm or ADT security system whenever Guard goes into “Away,” mode. And with Amazon Astro, the company’s yet-to-be publicly released home monitoring mobile robot, you’ll someday be able to connect your very own security guard to patrol the hallways while you’re away.

Unless you’re in the market for constant, unnecessary updates while you’re moving about your own home, it’s crucial to revert the Guard feature into “Home” mode whenever you return to your dwelling. Doing this, either by going into the app settings or saying “Alexa, I’m home,” will prohibit Guard from keeping an ear out for problematic sounds until you toggle it to “Away” mode once more. Currently, automation of Alexa Guard modes using geofencing is not possible.

While Alexa Guard and Guard Plus won't make your home a modern-day Fort Knox, they can be incredibly useful features to incorporate alongside other smart security devices to help ensure that your space feels safe, even when you’re not around.

Privacy

Amazon Echo speaker muted
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

Red lights illuminate on an Echo device, like the fourth-gen Echo (pictured), when the speaker's mic is muted.

In the same way an Amazon Echo speaker or display is always listening for its wake word, Alexa Guard, when enabled, is always listening for the sounds you tell it to. You can delete your Alexa Guard alert history in the Guard section of the Alexa app. Alexa Guard subscriptions can be canceled at any time in the app, too.

If you don’t want your Amazon speaker listening, press the mic mute button on the top of your Echo speaker (or tap the top of your Echo Show display).

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