Category Archives: Home Security

Keeping an Eye on Things: How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Security Cameras

Home security technology has come a long way, especially now that video cameras are easily integrated into home security systems. If you’re adding cameras to your home security, below are 10 tips to help you make the most of them.

Think through where you need the cameras
Rather than putting up cameras helter skelter, be careful in your placement. Better placement improves your coverage but also reduces the number of cameras you’ll need. This applies to inside and outside your home. Think through what you want to be able to see. Do you need a camera inside to keep an eye on pets, kids who get home before you do, or an elderly parent prove to falling? Outside, do you have an attractive nuisance like a pool to monitor? Also think about people approaching your home. You don’t want a view of someone only once they are at the front door, but while they are approaching it too.

Use the right cameras for different locations
Interior cameras differ from those meant for exterior use. For one thing, exterior home security cameras are built to be weather-resistant. Put the right camera in the right place.

Install home security cameras for maximum visibility
To maximize the area your cameras can see, install them approximately seven feet high and pointed at a slight downward angle. This also helps with motion detection because the camera has the wider view and will be triggered sooner.

Install in high-traffic areas
Put cameras where people are most likely to go, but also think about where burglars are most likely to enter and install cameras to monitor those locations. Research shows burglars are a lot less subtle than you might expect:

  • 34% of the time they enter through the front door
  • 23% of the time through a ground-floor window
  • 22% of the time through the back door

Use a video doorbell
You’re probably planning to place a camera near the front door because it’s the most common place of entry—even for burglars, as we noted above. Consider making it a video doorbell. That way you can know if UPS delivered your package, or see who is at your front door when the doorbell rings and you’re at work.

Install cameras out of reach
You want your cameras to be located higher up so you get a better view, but the higher the better so they are out of reach of burglars too. After all, your camera won’t do much good if a burglar can simply reach up and pull it down or cover it up!

Keep cameras out of the elements
Your exterior video camera will be built to resist the weather, but that doesn’t mean you should install it where all the weather will hit. You could very well be obstructing your own view if pouring down rain obscures the camera lens.

Be mindful of the light
Don’t install any cameras to point at light like toward a bright porch light or a window because you’ll get a poor quality image if you do. Keep shadows and shade in mind too when deciding where to install your home security cameras.

Choose wireless
WiFi and wireless video cameras are easy to install and to move around if you realize you need a better location.

Connect to your smartphone
Connectivity is one of the biggest benefits of today’s wireless home security cameras because you can see what’s happening from your smartphone. A security camera can send you alerts on your smartphone when motion is detected or a door is opened. This makes it easy to know when the kids get home from school too.

Also consider installing cameras at your garage or any outbuildings if they are outside the range of the cameras you’ve installed for your home security. Because the cameras are there to help you keep an eye on things, and the more you can see, the better!

Think You Can’t Afford Home Security? 3 Ways Home Security Pays for Itself

According to Statista, less than one-third of Americans have a home security system. Is that because they think they can’t afford it, or that it’s a luxury item or only needed by the very rich? If so, that thinking is misguided. It’s all a matter of perspective. Once you understand the true value of protection and peace of mind, it doesn’t seem expensive at all. And if a family is dishing out a couple hundred dollars a month for cell phones, the cost of a home security system pales in comparison.

Besides, a home security can pay for itself. Here’s how:

1) It can minimize fire or water damage
Your home security system can include monitoring for fire, smoke, carbon monoxide and even flooding. In situations where minutes count, like a fire, your home security system can get help to your house faster to minimize damage to your home, property and possessions.

2) It can keep a burglar at bay
A home security system can’t guarantee your home won’t be burgled, but it can decrease the chances. A burglar strikes every 13 seconds in the U.S. and homes with an obvious home security system are less likely to be targeted. How does that pay for itself? By preventing the costs of a theft. Studies say thefts costs about $2,000 to replace stolen items, but your time has value too. A home burglary will mean a lot of time on the phone and dealing with paperwork, plus the psychological damage done to you and your kids sense of safety. And that’s expensive!

3) It can lower your homeowner’s insurance premium
This is not a guaranteed cost savings, but worth looking into because many insurance companies will discount your homeowner’s insurance if you have a home security system.

It’s not all that much money
Maybe none of these cost-saving arguments really matters, however, if you consider how little a home security system costs compared to other common household expenses. A home security system costs an average of $35 per month depending on your vendor and features. That’s a little over a dollar per day. In comparison, most people spend far more than that on gas for the car, restaurant meals, and even fancy coffees: 10 coffees at $3.50 a pop adds up to $35. What’s worth more, 10 lattes or a safe and secure home?

When you look at it that way, is a home security system really that expensive?

Spring Cleaning Isn’t Enough: 3 Tips for Making a Household Inventory (Just in Case)

With spring fast approaching, the urge to clean follows close behind. Sure, you throw out clutter and unwanted clothes, but what do you do with the stuff you’re planning on keeping? This is where a complete inventory of your home comes in handy. In the event of an emergency, an up-to-date household inventory may save you thousands of dollars in insurance claims.

For new homeowners, itemizing all your possessions may only take up a single afternoon. Yet for those of us that have been living at the same residence for many years, a home inventory can be intimidating and easy to keep putting off. Don’t get overwhelmed! We’re here to help: Check out these 3 tips to overcome your inventory insecurities.

One: Starting With The Basics
Narrowing your focus to one room of the house at a time is essential. Giving your attention to only one contained area, such as a bedroom closet or a bathroom, can break up what seems to be one large task into several smaller tasks. Once you’ve begun organizing items room by room, it’s important to make sure to include relevant information like estimated value or the make and model of the item. If you know where you purchased the item, be sure to include that as well. Start with closet or room, and don’t move on to the next one until that first one is done. Soon, you’ll have worked your way through your whole house!

Proving With Pictures
In the digital age, our phones can do a whole lot for a homeowner’s day-to-day peace of mind. Creating and saving a photo library of your items could help immensely with replacement in the event of a fire, theft or other disaster. Make sure to include these images with the notes you took while itemizing everything.

Habits for Your House
Now that we have a more complete and compiled list, there’s no reason to let it go to waste. Get into the habit of recording any new purchases and your household inventory will stay up-to-date. Storing receipts and recording serial numbers will also do you a world of good in keeping proof of value. If you happen to purchase a new item that is particularly valuable, it might be a good idea to have the item appraised so you have proof of the estimated value. Practicing these habits now may even help your family members to do the same later, and soon it could become second nature to update your inventory.

Although no one wants to think about a potential theft or disaster and the insurance claims that will follow, it’s best to be prepared. If you’re not sure where to start even after these tips, check out this list of different home inventory apps you can use right from your phone. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged. An entire home inventory may seem daunting, so don’t be afraid to piecemeal the list and leave it incomplete if you need to step away from the clutter. Let’s welcome spring more organized than ever before!

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

3 Ways to Make Theft Prevention Part of Your Daily Routine

When leaving for vacation, we take all kinds of precautions. We hire a pet-sitter and have them bring in the mail every day. We pack a huge suitcase with enough clothing to survive the apocalypse. We make sure every door and window is locked and secure for the two weeks we spend getting away. All this effort for less than 4% of the year is great, but what about the other 96% of the time that we aren’t traveling? Because burglaries don’t just happen when you’re clear across the world

Three out of every five home burglaries happen during the day while people are away at work or school. You probably won’t think to take as many precautions before you go to work as you do before you go on a vacation. So here are three easy ways to make theft prevention part of your daily routine.

One, Don’t Be a Show-Off
Now, this doesn’t mean you should be ashamed of having nice things, only that while you are away from home, valuables should be stored and put away out of sight. While cleaning up any clutter, make sure that jewelry, cash and small electronics can’t be seen from any windows. If you’ve recently made any large purchases, such as a new TV or gaming system, break down the cardboard boxes they came in before putting them out on the curb for recycling pick up–so no one sees the evidence.

Two, Knock Knock…Anyone Home?
Making it appear that someone is home is a great way to deter break-ins. Leaving lights on a timer not only fools potential burglars but also allows you to come home to a nicely lit environment. (And a home automation system makes this incredibly easy to do.) If you’re out running errands and will be back in a few hours, you could leave the radio or the TV on for noise. If you have an extra car, consider parking it in the driveway instead of the garage for the day when you’re gone, to trick any would-be burglars into thinking you’re there.

Three, Invest in Home Security
There’s no shame in getting some help from professionals! Only 17% of homes have a home security system, and yet 90% of convicted burglars say they would avoid a home with an obvious alarm system. Whether you’re doing a quick grocery store run, heading to work for the whole day, or heading halfway across the world on vacation, you can have peace of mind that your home is safe with a professional home security system.

It may not be New Years, but it’s never too late to make some changes to your routine. By incorporating just a few small habits into your morning before heading out the door or investing in a home security system, you can help keep your home safe and secure. And maybe with all the comfort you get from a burglar-free home, you can push through that work stress until it’s time for your next vacation…

Porch Pirates Now Part of the Holidays: Here’s How You Can Fight Back

It must be the holidays, because porch pirates are in the news again! In the same day, I heard about porch pirates in my part of the country (the Pacific Northwest) and Jersey City, where police are planting GPS tracking devices in boxes that look like Amazon deliveriesin order to catch thieves.

Porch piracy on the rise
Sadly, porch piracy is definitely increasing during the holiday season. One report released says 25.9 million Americans have had a package stolen during the holidays. That number was 23.5 million in 2015. And since Americans are doing more shopping online and will continue to do so, those “porch pirates” have plenty of booty to grab from front porches.

Ways to thwart thieves
Although you can insure packages in case they are stolen, what you really want is the package, right? That means you must take steps to thwart the pirates in the first place. Rather than risking packages getting delivered but never making their way to you, because someone absconded with them first, try these tips:

  • Use your home security system to see who is at your door and to unlock the door if it’s a package delivery. With the right home security setup, you can do this remotely—even while at work.
  • Choose to have your package delivered to a nearby Amazon locker, or have packages shipped to your local UPS store.
  • Have packages delivered to you at work or to a neighbor or family member who will be home when you’re not.
  • Look into getting your own P.O. Box at the post office.
  • Require a signature to confirm delivery.
  • Track packages while they’re en route and change the routing if you need to based on where you’ll be.

And now for the fun part…
The porch pirate topic isn’t all bad news. If you’d like to see someone get revenge on porch pirates, watch this 11 minute video of Mark Rober, a NASA engineer and YouTube star, doing just that. Rober spent 6 months designing and building a device that not only sprays glitter all over the thief when the booby-trapped package is opened, it also sprays fart spray and has four camera phones rigged to catch footage of the events while they unfold. Warning: If you watch the video, note that the thieves often use bad language when the booby trap goes off, although it’s all blanked out.

Porch pirates are now the new normal, but we can take steps to fight back…or maybe that NASA engineer will mass produce his booby trap, and we can put pirates off forever! We’ll only need a lot more glitter and fart spray…

8 Helpful Holiday Hints for the Last-Minute Mayhem

Although not everyone is in it for religious reasons, 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas, and that means the countdown is on. To help you stay safe (if not necessarily sane) during the last few days before Christmas Day, we’ve pulled together a list of eight posts you’ll find useful—but might not be thinking about because baking and wrapping is top of mind! 

1. Prepping your vehicle for road trips
If holiday travel is on your agenda and you’re headed over the river and through the woods, make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip—especially if you might encounter winter weather. 

2. Protecting your packages
Porch pirates are real: 23 million Americans have packages stolen from their front porch each year. Definitely read this post if you’re getting packages delivered and you’re considering ways to keep them safe, because you’ll get tips for thwarting the porch pirates who’d like to make your packages into their booty. Or find out if you need a service like Amazon Key or if your home security system will protect your packages for you. 

3. Getting teens to town safely
If you have college students who are homebound for the holidays by car, go over the safety advice in this post to ensure safe travels. If they are traveling by plane or train, see this post for excellent advice to share with them. 

4. Making sure Fido will be fine
If you’re traveling and your pets will need looking after, follow the advice here on finding a good pet sitter and ways to prepare your pet and your pet sitter before you leave. Read more…

5. Decorating with a safety-first mindset
This post offers holiday safety tips to use throughout your home as you’re decorating! Also see tips for keeping your Christmas tree fresh and less fire-prone. 

6. Staying safe if you’re still doing your shopping
Many of us are still shopping up until the last minute! Read the tips in this post to make sure you’re safe, whether shopping online or in person. Although the advice is specific to Thanksgiving weekend, it applies to the whole holiday shopping season. 

7. Taking safety into account when buying toys
All toys are not created equal and some pose a bigger threat than others. Before you start your toy buying, review the safety tips in this post to ensure the toys you give will be both fun and safe. 

8. Giving home security as the gift that lasts all year
If you’re stumped for gift ideas, consider home security. This post explains why it’s an excellent gift the whole year long. Read more…

Despite the decline in the religious reasons for celebrating the holiday, Christmas is still a major event for most Americans, making it a busy time of year that can lead to mistakes and missteps. Review this list of posts for reminders, and stay safe this holiday season and into the new year! 

Have Yourself a Greener Little Christmas…with Gifts that Last

The environment is top of mind for many this holiday season, after a year of horrendous natural disasters. That might mean we’re a little greener in our Christmas preparations this year. And even if wildfires and hurricanes aren’t pushing us to be greener, the rising awareness of plastic waste should be. As we switch to re-usable grocery bags and restaurants stop offering straws, we are paying more attention to that waste. And now is the time to do it, because the amount of trash we throw away in the U.S. increases by an estimated 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

Yes, that makes the holiday season an excellent time to step back and figure out ways to make less waste of all kinds…starting with gifts. To help you get greener, we offer four ways to give gifts they’ll love—with less waste.

Give quality gifts
Choose a higher quality product if it will last longer, and most definitely avoid kitschy things that no one really wants anyway. (Hint: If it looks like it belongs a White Elephant party, it belongs at a White Elephant party.) Spend a little more and give a little less if you have to make up the difference in price. When you spend more for a higher quality product that lasts, you benefit in the long run by cutting down on waste.

Restrict your buying to local, independently owned shops
One way to cut back on waste is by driving less and spending more locally. It’s easy to go online and go on a splurge, buying things people might not need or want and generating lots of plastic shipping material that gets thrown away. Try shopping locally and you’ll make less waste while benefiting your local economy. (We are trying an experiment at our house this year: We are taking the money we saved for Christmas out of the bank as cash and only using that to do our Christmas shopping, forcing us to shop at brick-and-mortar stores and not online.)

Give gifts that keep on giving
It might not be glitzy but a gift like home security is a gift that keeps on giving without generating more waste. It’s something useful and much appreciated. It doesn’t take up any room or need storage, but it gives plenty of peace of mind. And it’s a gift that causes the recipient to think of you every time he or she uses it. Home security can be a priceless gift that keeps on giving. If not home security, maybe it’s a subscription to a publication, or a donation to a charity, or something else your loved one would appreciate.

Wrap naturally
Although we’ve been saving and re-using the same Christmas wrapping bows for years now (and admittedly, some are looking haggard and worn!), we are transitioning to all natural materials for gift wrapping. Check Pinterest for ideas, and you’ll see how gorgeous this kind of gift wrapping can be!

As our awareness of plastic waste increases, organizations and businesses are taking steps to decrease the amount of that waste. You can read updates on the fight against plastic waste at the National Geographic website. And you as an individual can take your own steps to reduce waste by going a little greener with gifts this season!

What’s New in Home Security? We Look at the Latest in Locks

If your car is new enough, you probably don’t have a key to unlock the door or even to start the engine. Instead, you have a “proximity key” which means something you’re carrying will unlock your car door for you when you are close enough.

As someone who drives an older car with an old-fashioned key, I can’t quite wrap my head around that yet, but I’d better get caught up soon because door locks for houses are going high tech too!

A home security or home automation system is a smart way to protect your home, but—as we’ve said before—it’s not enough. You must take other steps too, including secure door and window locks. And those locks are getting ever more sophisticated while offering multiple advantages as high-tech locks. You can lock or unlock your door remotely using your smart phone when necessary. You can assign a temporary code to a non-family member who needs to access your house—say a neighbor who’s feeding the cat while you’re away. You can get a notification when the lock is used. And those are just a few of the new-fanged features!

When your lock’s looks count…
Your lock is a security feature, but it’s also prominent on the entry point of your home, so appearance might be of utmost importance to you. If you care about appearance and you want a lock that looks like a lock, you can find them. Some smart locks can be opened with a code on a keypad, as a keyless entry, or with a key, but they have a classy low-tech “lock look” even though they’re high tech on the inside.

When you want high-tech features with a low-tech look
Some new-fangled locks do double duty when they look like a regular deadbolt but are all high-tech. You can even find locks with a place to insert a key, but they work via a biometric scanner that’s hiding behind an innocuous looking lock. You put your finger under the scanner to gain access.

When you want your high-tech lock to have a high-tech look
Other new locks look as high tech as they perform–all sleek and streamlined, screaming they’re high tech and not pretending to be anything but!

Of course, you have other options for locking your front door that are low tech, and those options are fine too, as long as you’re using high-quality locks and the whole family is diligent about locking them. But if you want something more sophisticated, one of these high-tech options might be the best choice for you!

Tips for Getting Lit Up Before the Dark Days Arrive

October is here, Halloween is fast approaching, and daylight savings will end November 4th. Yep, it’s time to look at lighting! Use the tips below to make sure your lighting is adding to your home’s security, both inside and outside your home.

Inside your home
With a home automation system, you can put your lights on timers so they turn on when it starts to get dark, even if your house is empty. There are two safety reasons for having your lights turn on automatically.

  1. The lights turning on all of a sudden makes it look like someone’s home, to help deter burglars.
  2. When the lights are already on, you or your kids can see when first coming in the front door, reducing the risk of trips or falls in the dark.

Also take a walk around as dusk falls to evaluate your lighting needs. Are there dark corners or stairs that would be safer with better lighting? Are there nightlights for anyone who gets up to use the bathroom or get a drink of water during the night? Fix any problems spots you find, to decrease the chance of accidents.

Outside your home
Good lighting outside will also help deter burglars and reduce accidents, but it’s a little trickier because you’ll have to experience the dark spots to know where you need to make adjustments. Do your assessment when it’s dark and check for the following:

  • Are sidewalks and pathways clearly lit, for your family, but also for visitors?
  • Is the path to your shop or detached garage clearly lit?
  • Are there dark areas by doorways or windows where someone could hide while breaking in?

As you’re improving your outdoor lighting, keep in mind these three tips so your yard doesn’t end up looking like a brightly lit runway:

  1. Use motion sensors to provide light only when and where needed. Perhaps a soft light is enough most of the time, but a motion sensor can turn on a brighter light as someone approaches the house.
  2. Be wary of really bright lights that shine like a spotlight because they will also create dark shadows—and you want to avoid that.
  3. Be a good neighbor and make sure your lights are not annoying or pointing into anyone else’s yard.

And now? Now let the darkness come. You’re ready…

Home Security: Not the Most Glamorous Wedding Gift, but Perhaps the Most Thoughtful!

August gone and the fall season looms near. Where did the summer go? I can’t tell you, but I can tell you it’s no longer the season for weddings. Nope. September and October are now the most popular times for weddings, with 19% of weddings taking place in September and 14% in October. That means if you’re getting a wedding invitation, it will probably be for a fall wedding. (We have one on our calendar for September!)

If you’re wondering why we’re talking about weddings as the month of September approaches, it’s because we have an unusual wedding gift idea for you: home security. Sure, it’s not a glamorous gift, but it is a thoughtful one.

Making home security doable
Although Americans are waiting longer to get married, with the average age now 27 for women and 29 for men, there’s still a chance they will be living on tight budgets, especially if they are buying a house. Adding a home security system to their monthly expenses probably won’t be a priority once they’ve taken on a massive mortgage payment.

If you’re older and your financially established, you can give home security as a wedding gift, with the monthly cost easily less than the cost of a dinner out. You’ll hardly notice the cost of the monthly fee. Then later when the young couple is financially more stable, they can take over the payments. In the meantime, you’ve helped to keep them safe, and they’ll get into the habit of having the home security system, making it easier to budget for later.

Keeping clutter at bay
A home security system also makes a practical wedding gift because it doesn’t add to our ever-growing collection of “stuff.” The peace of mind it provides is not tangible like a dinner plate or throw pillow, but then again, who can put a price on peace of mind? Yet it takes up no room, doesn’t need storage space, and won’t someday end up at a garage sale.

If you’re headed to a wedding this fall and you want to avoid working your way through the dreaded online registry, consider home security instead. Learn more about the benefits of the gift of home security, a gift that keeps on giving—peace of mind, that is, without causing clutter.

View all of our security plans and features!

Customer Reviews

I feel so much better knowing my family is protected! I spoke with SafeStreets USA in the evening and a technician was able to come install the system for me then for my parents first thing the next morning. Very impressed with his knowledge and care!

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We had our ADT system installed by SafeStreets USA and were really impressed with the service we received from our technician. He was very friendly and answered all of our questions on the system and how it worked. He set everything up in a couple of hours and was a real pleasure to talk with []

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