Tag Archives: alarms

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?

5 Ways to Make Your Home Less Attractive to Burglars—so They Pass You by

We usually don’t think about home burglaries until it’s too late. It always seems like something that will happen to someone else, right? But with a home burglary taking place every 13 seconds in the U.S., there’s a very good chance that someday that “someone else” will be one of us.

The time to take action to prevent a burglary is before such a tragedy strikes. And prevention is probably easier than you thought. One of the most important steps you can take is to simply make your home less appealing to a burglar looking for an easy target.

We offer five such tips below. While these tips shouldn’t take the place of a traditional home security system, they may convince a burglar to pass by your house and choose a different target instead:

1) Get a fence
Burglars want to get in and out of a home within a few minutes. Having a fence to jump over can be a huge deterrent, especially if it’s a metal or wooden picket fence with pointed tops. A fence can definitely make a burglar think twice about breaking into your home because they could be injured or get hung up on the fence posts as they try to clear it. One caveat to this, however: Don’t make your fence so tall that it blocks your house from the street. With a fence like that, a burglar will be more tempted by your property because—once over the fence—they can work in privacy.

2) Leave the dog outside
If you have a dog, get a “Beware of Dog” sign and display it clearly. Move the doghouse into a visible spot in the yard and let the dog run around (weather permitting). A burglar wants to get in and out of a home as quickly as possible, and a dog introduces many variables. A burglar won’t know if a dog is friendly, or will bark loudly or even attack. When a dog is on the premises, the burglar will likely move on to the next target.

3) Trim bushes and shrubs
Burglars like places to hide while they break in, so trim any bushes or shrubs that are getting big enough for a grown man to hide behind. Focus on those shrubs near entry points like doors and windows, and remember to do the same for garage doors and windows too. A couple of hours with a pair of hedge clippers should be sufficient time to eliminate any hiding places and make your house less appealing.

Install bear traps and trip-activated nets
Just kidding! You don’t need a lawsuit on your hands.

4) Light walkways
Although most burglaries happen during the day, your house is at risk during the night time hours too. Plenty of outdoor lighting that will expose anyone sneaking on to your property can make your home less appealing to a burglar. In addition to other exterior lighting tips we’ve offered in the past, consider adding small solar lights along your driveway and walkway. You can buy these in packs at any major hardware store. The solar panels charge internal capacitors during the day, then emit a low-level LED light at night, thereby increasing the visibility in your yard without being distracting. This will make potential burglars easier to spot, which will turn them away to an easier target.

5) Put away your ladder
Burglars usually break in through the front door (34%), first-floor window (23%) or back door (22%). But every once in a while they will get in through a second story window if they have access (2%). For that reason, you should stash away your ladder rather than leave it where a burglar can use it to reach that open window.

Final thoughts
These are simple steps you can take to make your home less appealing to burglars without much effort, and they say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To take yet another step to protect your home and make it a challenging target for burglars, consider investing in a home security system equipped with motion sensors, cameras, and door and window sensors. Modern plans may be less expensive than you think, and peace of mind is priceless.

Burglars Getting in Through the Garage? Yep! It’s That Easy

Some time back, a YouTube video showing how to break into a garage in 6 seconds went viral. Then videos showing how to prevent such a break-in proliferated, including this Texas news clip.

The idea is that a burglar quickly and easily gets into your garage, then shuts that door and gains effortless access to your house. Yes, an open garage door is noticeable, but if it is then closed quickly, chances are it won’t be noticed. And the burglar is in. Even if the door between your garage and house is locked, the burglar is now able to take his or her time breaking through that door to gain entry. A home security system would set off an alarm, but most burglars are fast, in and out of a home in between 8 and 12 minutes, which gives them plenty of time before the police show up.

Although the garage door is not the most common way to break into a home—thieves use the garage to gain access to a house 9% of the time—you as a homeowner want to prevent any kind of access point to decrease your chances of becoming a victim. And much of the advice for preventing garage break-ins is the same as general home security advice. So we offer tips below that are specific to your garage and your house both…

Make your house less appealing
Burglars don’t choose houses at random. They know exactly what they’re looking for. Decrease the appeal of your house and garage with these tips:

  • Cut back trees or shrubs by the road that give burglars a place to hide while they break into the garage. If you have a tall fence curbside that provides cover, consider replacing it with something shorter that neighbors and passers-by can see over.
  • If you have a detached garage and a burglar might be tempted to steal from that, not your house, don’t keep expensive equipment out in the open where it becomes an invitation to break in.
  • Make it look like someone is home. Keep the spare car in the driveway, not parked on the road. Use your home automation system to have lights turn on and off automatically. Have packages delivered to your workplace rather than left on your doorstep.
  • Make sure your home security system sign is clearly visible from the road.
  • Double check your lighting by going out at night and looking at your house and garage from the street. Does your lighting leave shadows where a thief could hide while breaking into your garage?

Practice prevention
Sometimes the old sayings are the best sayings, and in this case, a pinch of prevention is worth a pound of cure definitely applies.

  • Even if you won’t be gone long, keep your garage doors locked, both the large door on the front of the garage and any regular doors used to access the garage on foot, either from the outside or from the house. Use heavy-duty locks. Also make sure any garage windows also have better locks than the factory-installed kind.
  • Take advantage of the remote capabilities of your home security system to double check that the doors are locked when you’re not at home.
  • Install home security cameras in obvious places where a burglar can see they’re going to be seen while trying to break in.

Much of this advice applies to other outbuildings too, even if no one can gain access to your house through an outbuilding. They can still steal expensive tools and violate your property while erasing any sense of security you once had. In that way, home security measures should be comprehensive, taking into account more than your house to include any part of your property that is vulnerable—including that sturdy looking garage.

Stay Ahead of the Curve with a Home Security System

In the United States, over 2 million home burglaries are reported each year, with a home burglary taking place once every 13 seconds. Time how long it takes you to read this short blog post. How many burglaries happened during those few minutes?

Shocking, right? But perhaps not as shocking as this statistic: Only about 10% of Americans live in homes with home security systems. Given that homes with home security are much less likely to be broken into, why do so few people have home security systems?

Even burglars say home security systems deter burglars
Homes without a security system are three times more likely to get broken into and most burglars say they avoid homes with obvious home security systems, such as a yard sign out front. If we do the math, we find out that 90% of the homes in the U.S. are three times more vulnerable than the other 10%–which probably makes the other 10% even safer because burglars have plenty of unprotected houses to choose from!

You’ve probably heard the ADT slogan about the yard sign being a line in the sand, and we’ve written about the power of that statement in another blog post. When you realize that only 10% of homes are protected and how much of a deterrent that protection provides, you can see that that yard sign wins because it wins the battle upfront when the burglar passes on by.

If you’ve been thinking about a home security system and you’re still undecided about whether or not to make the investment, maybe it’s time to be ahead of the curve and join the minority that has a home security system—before you unwillingly become part of the group that has already been burglarized.

The costs of a home burglary: more than you think
A home security system does not have to be an expensive investment, and when you compare the costs of the peace of mind to the potential costs of a burglary, all of a sudden it seems cheap. Statistics say the average burglary costs a homeowner about $2,000 in lost goods. That might not sound like much, but that’s because it doesn’t take into account other costs, including:

  • The costs of replacing broken doors, windows or doorjambs
  • The trauma of the invasion, which can take years to recover from
  • The irreplaceable value of family heirlooms
  • A higher homeowner’s insurance premium

Without a home security system and your own “line in the sand” in the form of a home security sign in the front yard, your home ranks among the 90% of American homes that lack that protection—and it’s much more appealing to burglars as a result. Wouldn’t you rather stay ahead of that curve and move on into the 10%?

Tips for Protecting Your Vacation Home When It’s Sitting Empty

Your vacation home: Out of sight and out of mind perhaps, when you’re not there, but not out of danger! How do you make sure your home away from home is safe when you’re not there? Try these tips…

“Fake” your vacation home like your regular home
When you’re going away, you make sure your regular home is cared for in your absence, right? Someone tends to the lawn, waters the flower beds, gets the mail, picks up any packages on the front porch… In short, you make sure your home looks like you’re there even when you’re not.

Take that same approach with your vacation home, if you can. Logistics are going to come into play, obviously, meaning a cabin in the woods is less likely to get (or need) regular maintenance compared to a beach house with a lawn. But do what you can to make your vacation home appear to be regularly visited if not occupied.

Buy even better locks!
Some vacation homes are more like brand-new and expensive luxury homes than “cabins,” so it could be the locks on those doors and windows are already top-of-the-line. But for every other kind of vacation home, you might want to double up on this part of your vacation home security. Invest in really good locks for your doors and windows, and remember that this applies to any outbuildings and garages too.

Get to know your neighbors
We recently gave this advice regarding your regular home, but you’ll also benefit from knowing your neighbors so they can keep an eye on your vacation home for you.

Across the street from our farm is a tiny yet adorable one-room cabin on the river. The owners are only there for a day or two at a time, and the cabin sits empty all of the other days. Getting to know us (the neighbors) was one of the first things they did when they bought the place, and it has worked out well for them. When a tree fell on their property and into the road during a storm, we alerted them and cleared the road. When the river rose and was inches from flooding the cabin, we kept an eye on it for them. And we regularly take our dog over to their place for a dip in the river on hot days, per their request, just so anyone watching will see activity and people around. That gives us a place to cool off the dog and them some peace of mind.

Install a home security system
A home security system is a must for any home that sits empty, whether it’s your regular home or your vacation one. But your vacation home might need it even more, for the security reasons but also because you can have flood monitoring and smoke detection too. And with a home automation system, you can schedule lights and a radio to turn on and off to give the appearance that the home is occupied. (Just be sure to keep the curtains closed.) Best of all, with video monitoring, you can quite literally keep an eye on the place…even when you’re far away, daydreaming about your next chance to get away to that home away from home.

Going on Vacation? 5 Ways to Make Your Empty Home Look Anything But

You’ve earned your vacation and you’re looking forward to it! But don’t get so caught up in your plans for getting away that you forget to secure your home before you go. And part of securing your home is to make it appear that you’re still there. Since installing cardboard cutouts or mannequins as silhouettes against windows is only a short-term solution—until the burglars figure out that those “people” never move—here are five other ways to make it look like you’re occupying your vacant home while you vacate your way to some rest and relaxation.

Tip 1: Get a house sitter
The absolute best way to make it look like someone is in your house is to have someone in your house. This works even better if you have a dog that would otherwise go to the kennel while you’re gone. With the house sitter occupying the house and the dog barking alarms, you now have two deterrents to burglary.

Tip 2: Leave a car in the driveway
A car in the driveway definitely gives the impression that someone is in the house. If you have an extra car that you normally park on the road or in the garage, park it in the driveway so it’s easily seen. If you only have one car, consider getting a ride to and from the airport so you can leave your car conspicuously in the driveway.

Tip 3: Hire someone to take care of your lawn and yard
This tip is a little trickier because it would be better if you hired someone well before you left, not just for the week or two that you’re gone, for two reasons. One, if someone is watching your house, they’ll know there has been a change in the routine. Two, you want to make sure this person or company is reliable before leaving your yard in their care. Now, if you can follow tip one and find a house sitter and this house sitter will keep up with the yard maintenance, you’re twice blessed!

Tip 4: Keep the electronics going
If you don’t have a house sitter, or even if you do but they are gone for work, use timers and/or your home automation system to keep lights and electronics like radios and TVs turning on and off.

Tip 5: Keep your vacation to yourself…
…at least until after you get home. As we’ve said before, broadcasting your vacation via social media is the same as telling the world your house is sitting empty. So don’t. Save your vacation pictures until you get home and then share them. That way you can make sure you’re only sharing the best of the best, besides, rather than inundating friends and family with far too many photos.

It only takes a little effort to provide a lot of protection, so put in that effort now and enjoy more peace of mind while you’re away.

Home Security Systems Then and Now–Is It Time for an Upgrade?

We humans have always protected our homes and families. It’s innate in us, this desire to defend our property and loved ones. How we have gone about it has changed, however, and in recent years, it has changed dramatically. If you haven’t looked into home security systems lately, or you’re thinking it’s time to upgrade yours, here’s a rundown of the dramatic changes we’ve seen in home security systems in recent years…

From one job to many
Home security systems used to have one job and one job only: sound the alarm when a break-in occurred. This alarm would be audible within the home and also notify the home security provider so they could dispatch police.

Today home security systems help to protect homes and families against intruders as well as other threats such as carbon monoxide poisoning, fires and flooding.

In addition to being able to recognize these other threats, home security systems have also evolved from home security systems to home automation systems. That means homeowners can use them to regulate lighting, heating and cooling, in addition to monitoring home security.

From one trigger to many
Home security systems used to be limited in scope, recognizing that a door or window was opened and triggering the alarm.

Today’s home security systems include motion sensors, video cameras and more to enable more thorough home security. Cameras can be placed outside the home and inside, enabling more security coverage. That means garages and other outbuildings can be monitored as well.

Features such as video cameras also allow for real-time monitoring. Someone shows up at the front door while you’re at work? You can see who it is via the camera.

From onsite to remote
And you can see who is at the front door while sitting at your desk at work because today’s home security systems can be monitored and managed remotely, requiring only an Internet connection to see what is happening. In addition to the video access, this remote monitoring lets homeowners lock and unlock doors, control lighting and heating, and more, all from a computer, tablet or smartphone that is Internet-enabled.

From hardwired to wireless
Finally, another huge evolution in home security is the the switch from hardwired—requiring hours of installation time to drill holes and run wires—to wireless. Sometimes hardwired is still the right setup for some homes. However, wireless has many advantages, not the list of which is the fast installation time (no drilling required) and the fact that you can take your home security system with you when you move. (See seven advantages of wireless home security systems.)

As with everything, it seems, technology drives significant changes in how we work, live and play—and that includes in how we protect our homes and loved ones. If your home security system is old and limited in scope compared to what’s on the market today, it might be time for an upgrade.

Wireless vs. Hardwired Home Security: 3 Situations Where Hardwired Is the Best Choice

We are big believers in wireless home security. Don’t let the title of this post mislead you and make you think otherwise. However, although we have touted the benefits of wireless home security systems in the past with our post on 7 reasons for wireless, there are times when a hardwired home security system might make more sense.

In an effort to make sure we’re sensitive to the other side of the wireless vs. hardwired discussion, here are a few times when hard-wired might be the better choice…

Peace of mind
Some people are concerned that a wireless home security system can be hacked. Although that’s highly unlikely due to the encryption used by any reputable home security provider, the fear of data being vulnerable might be enough to make a hardwired home security system the better choice. After all, if you’re not at ease with your home security system, what’s the point of having it?

Ease of use
For the tech-savvy consumer, the remote access to and control of a wireless home security system might be the ultimate in ease of use. What could be easier than downloading an app and locking your front door or checking a home surveillance camera while at work, right? For some of us, however, that’s not ease of use but utterly confusing. Some of us, particularly those who are older, are going to have an easier time navigating a hardwired home security system.

Weak WiFi
A wireless home security system relies on the Internet. For people with a less-than-ideal Internet connection, wireless might not be the best choice. Where we live, we had satellite Internet for years until we finally had DSL installed in our area two years ago. Before the DSL, our Internet connections were intermittent and spotty. We would not have had reliable home security if we’d tried to use a wireless system back then. For anyone who has Internet connectivity or WiFi issues, a hardwired system might be the best choice.

None of these reasons diminishes in any way the benefits of wireless home security, with its ease of installation, flexibility, transferability, scalability and remote access and monitoring. However, that doesn’t make it the best solution for everyone all of the time.

The best way to choose between wireless and hardwired is to look at your own situation—including your security concerns and comfort level with technology—and to make a choice that’s right for you.

 

When Waters Rise: Safety Tips for Dealing With Weather-Induced Flooding

In our neck of the woods this morning, we awoke to standing water and flood watches on local rivers. Thanks to a dramatic rise in the temperature and a night of relentless rain, we had snow on the ground when we went to bed last night, and flooded fields and roads when we woke this morning. Yes, it’s February!

Our county has suffered several dramatic, deadly floods. Although those kinds of 100-year floods, as they call them–even though they can occur regardless of the calendar–are rare, lesser flooding still causes serious risk.

So let’s make a quick review of flood dangers and safety tips as winter winds its way through to spring and we face more wet weather ahead…

Be prepared
We’ve published several emergency-preparedness posts on this blog, and we won’t rehash them now. However, we will rehash the advice to be prepared, both at home and in your car, and with a contingency plan in place should a disaster strike while you’re at work. Remember that flooding can wipe out roads and take down trees, potentially leaving you stranded and without power. Are you ready for that?

Stay away
If water has risen enough to cross the roadway, stay away from it, on foot or in your car. If you’re on foot, note that Ready.gov says as little as 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and just 2 feet of moving water can sweep your car away.

Flash floods are especially dangerous—so dangerous, they are the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.

Turn around, don’t drown
Turn around, don’t drown is the saying to remember. Just 6 inches of water can stall your car, and as noted above, just 2 feet of water can sweep it away. Plus, you don’t know the road conditions under that water. Maybe there isn’t any road under that water!

Be safe and smart if you do have to drive through water
If you have to drive through the water, follow these tips from The Weather Network:

  • Slooooooow down. You’ll reduce the chance of hydroplaning, and you won’t be spraying water up on any oncoming cars.
  • Watch the other cars to see how they are doing. That might give you clues to how bad conditions are farther down the road.
  • Avoid any standing water with a downed power line laying on the ground, for obvious reasons!
  • Watch for debris the water might be carrying along, such as tree branches.
  • Note that your brakes will be wet and won’t function properly until they get a chance to dry out.

Get away
If the water start rising around your car but it’s not moving, get out and get to high ground. Don’t wait to see what happens, and don’t stay with your vehicle just because you think you should. Just get out and get up high, quickly. (If the water is moving, see above where it says just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down.) The trick is to avoid getting into that situation in the first place.

The rainfall that can cause flooding often leads to landslides and mudslides as well. The CDC web page offers safety tips worth reviewing for these situations.

You might also want a home automation system with flood detection, because not all flooding is caused by natural disasters, and—no matter the cause—you will want to be warned right away of the impending danger if you’re not home.

How a Home Security System Protects Your Family From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide. How much do you know about it—and how dangerous it is? Over 400 people die every year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, in large part because it’s odorless, colorless and impossible to pick up without a detector.

Carbon monoxide 101: What you need to know…
Carbon monoxide (symbol CO on the periodic table) sounds benign but it isn’t. It’s produced by innocent sources such as vehicles that burn fuel, gas stoves, fireplaces, and even furnaces. None of those are unusual or dangerous on their own, per se. The problem is, CO can build up in your home and poison you, your family and your pets. And if your home has gas appliances, a wood- or gas-burning stove, or an attached garage, you’re at a higher risk for CO issues.

Many of the symptoms of CO poisoning are flu-like, including headaches, dizziness, weakness, an upset stomach, vomiting and chest pain. Confusion is another symptom. It’s called poisoning because it is, and it can kill you even before you recognize the symptoms if you’re sleeping, which makes a carbon monoxide detector an important safety fixture for your home.

Choose a home security system that includes CO detection
You can buy a carbon monoxide detector for your home, or you can choose a home security system that also monitors your home for carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, but newer home security systems are built with sensors that can detect it. If you’re in the market for a home security system, you’d be wise to include the carbon monoxide sensors, for the detection but also for the notification that happens. If CO levels get too high, an alarm goes off inside your home. In addition, the home security company will also alert you when levels get too high, in case you’re not home. And if you’re non-responsive, they will alert emergency services to be dispatched to your home to ensure you and your family are safe.

Sure, CO is innocuous enough that we can’t notice the smell, but it’s dangerous enough to be deadly. So take that extra step and make CO detection part of your home security package…for security and safety both.

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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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