Tag Archives: friends

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.

Beefing Up Home Security With a Low-Tech Solution: Your Neighbors

Yesterday evening, neighbors came by and showed me a picture of a sign now hanging two miles up the road. The hand-written sign says there have been thefts and suspicious activity in the area, and asked people to keep their eyes open and call the sheriff’s office if they see anything strange.

Those same neighbors share our concerns with the goings-on at the house that’s between our place and theirs. We try to let each other know when we see something unusual, such as a new vehicle parked nearby or bizarre activity—of which there is plenty—and there is peace of mind in knowing that we are watching out for each other. Thankfully we haven’t experienced any thefts yet, and I hope we’re decreasing the chance of thefts by being watchful and communicative.

Is it time for a neighborhood watch?
Still, after that conversation with the neighbors, I got to thinking about neighborhoods and neighbors, and how even out in our neck of the woods, where people live on land ranging from 5 acres to 100, it’s possible to connect with neighbors to keep everyone on alert and possibly safer. Hence, I looked into what it takes to make our homes even more secure with this low-tech option added to our high tech home security systems.

Here’s what I found…

Formal vs. informal neighborhood watch programs
At first I thought I would find tips on how to set up some kind of informal neighborhood watch program. However, it turns out that a connection with local law enforcement is key. In addition, regular, organized neighborhood meetings are also important. Both of those pieces make a formal program the better option.

However, I did find information at CrimeSolutions.gov that can be useful for anyone who prefers the informal way. According to that website, there are three components to an effective neighborhood watch program:

  1. First is the watch part, with neighbors keeping an eye open for suspicious activities and alerting police.
  2. The second is marking one’s property so it’s not easily sold if stolen.
  3. And the third is one we preach about a lot here at SafeStreetsUSA: doing a home security audit to ensure you’re doing everything you can to protect your family and your property. This means checking everything from locks to lights, remember, not just having a home security system installed (although we recommend that too!).

To start a formal neighborhood watch program
If you’re interested in establishing a formal neighborhood watch program, the National Neighborhood Watch program has a comprehensive website. There you can search for groups near you, find out how to start a new group and register that group, and even buy signs for everyone’s yards. If you want more information on getting started before deciding to do this, the National Crime Prevention Council has a thorough checklist for starting a neighborhood watch that goes into more detail.

Is a neighborhood watch right for you?
Doing this research, I also learned that the effectiveness of neighborhood watch programs is debatable when you look at the impact on actual crime rates. It turns out that the neighborhoods that need it the most because they have the highest crime rates are the least likely to start a program because they don’t trust their neighbors. Those neighborhoods with low crime rates already are more likely to start a watch group because they trust their neighbors.

Where does that leave my neck of the woods? I think somewhere in the middle. We shall see. I know for me that the peace of mind is worth a heck of a lot, so I’m hoping the neighbors will want to rally.

Put Safety and Security First This Holiday Season with Our Roundup of Thanksgiving Safety Tips

It seems like we were just ramping up for the start of school and all of a sudden it’s the holidays again! How does that happen?

Maybe the older I get, the faster the time goes… I have been warned of that fact. Regardless, it’s November and time to start thinking about the busy weeks to come, including thinking about safety.

To help you prepare for a safe and sane Thanksgiving weekend, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite seasonal posts and featured them here. We’ve covered everything from kids coming home from college to hanging holiday lights, so be sure to take a look…and to minimize your chances of anything bad happening during what should be a joyful time of—quite literally—thanksgiving.

Traveling teens
This is my first time experiencing a child flying home for the holidays, as our youngest is going to college on the opposite coast. She’s flying home for Thanksgiving, but no matter how your own teen is making the trek, check these travel and safety tips…and maybe send the post to your kid. I just did.

Thanksgiving security, travelling and cooking tips
This post is kind of a catch all of Thanksgiving safety tips, covering everything from traveling by car to the big family dinner to leaving your house empty to being safe in the kitchen if you’re the one doing the cooking. Be proactive today for a safer holiday by reading through these tips now, ahead of time.

Be ready for Black Friday
Are you heading out to hit the sales on Black Friday? Before you grab your car keys and head out the door, review our safety tips for keeping you, your car and your home safe that day…because safety and security are more important than any big sale!

Shop securely online
Choosing to do your shopping from home instead? You’re not alone! The numbers of people shopping online for the holidays is growing each year…which also grows the risk. Before you pull out your phone, tablet or computer, review our online shopping security tips. Sadly you’re probably more like to be a victim when shopping online vs. in person, so take all the steps you can to protect your identity and financial information.

Prepping your property
Plenty of people start their holiday decorating the day after Thanksgiving, which leads to all kinds of potential for fires or other accidents. Can you imagine a worse time of year for a disaster than the holidays?? Me neither! So be proactive to prevent any with these holiday home safety tips, covering everything from Christmas tree precautions to protecting your packages to hanging lights safely.

However your Thanksgiving holiday goes, whether you’re working or home, with family or on your own, looking forward to it or ignoring it, we hope you have a gratitude filled—and safe—day!


Black Friday Safety Tips: Ways to Keep You, Your Home and Your Purchases Safe on the Busiest of Days

Everyone has heard horror stories about Black Friday, because incidents happen every year. Shoppers deal with violence from other shoppers, car damage, and increased burglaries at their homes while they’re gone. And now that in recent years stores have increased the length of their sales–some starting on Thanksgiving and spilling into as late as Saturday–the time for crime is even longer too. From trampling to theft, some may wonder if the deals are really worth it—and they can be if you’re smart about your safety.

If you do choose to brave the crowds of other value seekers, here are some do’s and don’t’s to help keep your home, your car, and most importantly yourself safe.

Keep your home safe

  • DO keep some lights on that day as a deterrent. If you plan on camping outside a store early in the morning or being gone for several hours at all, make it look like someone is home—before you’re not.
  • DO make sure that all doors and windows are locked. Even with lights on, it’s best to be on the safe side and still ensure that all entrances are secured, and you might be in such a hurry to rush out the door for the sales that you forget these basics!
  • DON’T leave packages outside after your shopping trip, and don’t advertise expensive purchases. Break down large boxes as soon as possible to keep recent pricey purchases like televisions or appliances a secret from curious eyes.

Keep your car safe

  • DO lock all doors and roll up all windows in the parking lot, even if you only leave your car for a few minutes. Make sure to double-check they’re locked, in case you’re distracted.
  • DO hide purchases left in your car. The best way to do this is to leave shopping bags in your locked trunk or hidden under seats if they fit.
  • DON’T park near the busy buildings during the day, to prevent damage done by shopping carts or other cars. Parking will also be easier to find, letting you get in line to wait a few minutes earlier.

Keep yourself safe

  • DO wait to pull out your checkbook or wallet until needed. If grabbed prematurely, either your money or your information could be stolen.
  • DO carry your purse close to your body at all times or carry your wallet inside a front pocket.
  • DON’T buy more than you can carry at one time. If you know that you won’t be able to handle all of your purchases, ask a friend to accompany you shopping or a store employee to help you out to your car. (If you leave packages in a car, see the tip above about putting them out of sight.)

Some other tips to keep in mind whenever you’re out in a crowd include keeping your phone charged, setting meeting places if you’re shopping with a group (in case someone gets separated), and letting people know when you move from your known location.

By keeping your wits about you and paying attention to what you do on this hectic day of Black Friday, you can change one letter and make a sale safe.


4 Reasons to Give the Gift That Gives More Than Money Can Buy: Home Security

Aaaannnnddd…suddenly it’s November! Whoosh! I hope you didn’t blink in October, because you might have missed it flying by!

And now we’re into the month that the major holiday season starts, adding items to our to-do lists and stress to our lives. I don’t know about you, but every single year I vow—vow, I tell you!—to start prepping for the holidays earlier in the year. And how often has that happened? Oh right, never (yet, at least).

This morning I sat down to start thinking about gift giving—yes, to start thinking. That’s it. That’s as far as I got. I have nothing purchased, made or stored away yet. And that makes gifts top of mind for me right now, as the rapid countdown to the holidays begins.

Particularly top of mind for me are gifts that last. I find that the older I get, the more concerned I am with the practicality and longevity of gifts. When younger, I liked gifts with glitz. Now older, I have a lot more commonsense and I care less about the “wow” factor of a gift and more about the actual usefulness of it.

Which is probably why I think the gift of home security makes so much sense! This is the kind of gift that keeps on giving all year round, with a value you just can’t put a price on.

Below are my four favorite reasons why you should consider giving the gift of home security to someone in your family this holiday season:

Reason 1: Affordability
If you have kids who are grown and out on their own but still on shaky financial ground, you have kids who probably won’t take on the albeit small but still regular monthly cost of home security. Yet for less than the cost of dinner at a restaurant once a month, you can provide them with this peace of mind!

Reason 2: Peace of mind
Speaking of peace of mind, who doesn’t want to know their home and property are protected in some way? Yes, you could get them a Doberman instead, but feeding a Doberman each month is going to cost about the same as paying the monthly fee for home security. And the home security system won’t leave “messes” in the yard that must be cleaned up. Just saying.

Reason 3: Practicality
Just about everyone I know has too much “stuff,” including me. In fact, probably everyone I know has too much stuff, even my little four-year-old neighbor! So why give a gift that is just more “stuff,” no matter how useful it might seem at the time, when you can give a truly practical gift like home security? Nothing to take up room, but gives plenty of peace of mind (see reason 2).

Reason 4: Going green
I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to making far too much trash around the holiday season, and I am considered the most “green” of the green by my friends! Still, no matter how hard I try to minimize waste during the holidays, I get in a hurry so I’m lazy, and I’m dealing with packaging nightmares (from all of the packaging that encases some of these gifts as they sit on store shelves), and I have a dozen other excuses why I am such a waste maker during the holidays. The gift of home security, however, means I don’t have packaging to undo and toss.

Finally, consider a gift that causes the recipient to think of you every time he or she uses it. Those are the kinds of warm fuzzies a gift of home security can earn you every day of the year!

Home security: a priceless gift that lasts.

Stay Aware and Be Prepared: Tips for Keeping College Kids Safe on Campus

When those college kids head off to school this fall, you can’t send them with a home security system, but don’t you wish you could? Maybe an alarm system strapped to their bodies to protect them from any and all harm? My youngest will be headed that way next fall, and boy would I love such a protective device to attach to her, one with 24×7 monitoring!

Sadly, that kind of personal “home security system” exists only in my imagination (and I doubt I could get my daughter to comply anyway). Instead, I will need to settle for coaching her on good safety habits to practice while on campus, and really, these are good safety habits for anyone, at any stage of life.

Two of the biggest safety habits college kids can practice are to stay aware and be prepared:

Stay aware
Kids these days, right? Always looking down at their phones, always plugged into their music… It’s easy to mock them for this, but it actually is really dangerous behavior. Kids need to stay aware of their surroundings on campus, and that means the phone stays in the backpack while they’re walking and maybe they can get by with only one bud in an ear until they get to their next class.

It’s not just being careful with technology, however. Kids also need to learn their way around campus as quickly as possible so they are always walking with a purpose and they always know where they are—and then they need to stick to the beaten paths they’re familiar with.

They also need to be careful who their friends are, and to never, ever put themselves into a social situation where they don’t know anyone. It’s one thing not to know anyone else in your biology class, and quite another not to know anyone at that party off-campus where everyone is drinking.

And speaking of drinking, this is a huge one and maybe a difficult one to discuss with them, but kids need to know their awareness (and therefore safety) level is going to decrease with every bit of alcohol they consume.

Be prepared
Kids can also do some safety prep ahead of time, to help to protect themselves once on campus. In addition to learning their way around campus right away, they need to find out about security services, such as someone who can walk them back to the dorm if they’re studying at the library late into the night, or whom to call if something bad should happen. They should have emergency contact information loaded on their phones, and consider keeping pepper spray in their backpacks.

Although you’ll be spending a lot of time and money on getting them prepared and packed for their college days, you might want to invest in some self-defense training for your child as well, so they will be better equipped to defend themselves should something go wrong.

Also consider assigning them a little “homework” such as reading through the tips in this post on preventing sexual assault, because it will sink in better if they read it (and you perhaps quiz them) than if you’re only preaching this advice to them.

It’s also imperative that you and your child review some commonsense safety tips for social media usage—because they think they’re all grownup now, but you and I know they’re not, and a reminder about ways to be safety savvy online is a good thing, especially when they will be away from home and your watchful eye!

In addition, you can do some homework too. You’re free as the parent to do your own research, to discover how safe (or unsafe) a college is based on crime statistics and student opinions, and you might use this data to reinforce the importance of good safety habits. (You might even want to make this information part of the college selection process, if you haven’t committed to a school yet.)

All kids need good safety habits, not just college kids
Good safety habits can get started at any age, and in fact should get started at a young age if possible. If you still have younger kids at home not yet headed for campus, we have safety advice for them too that you might want to put into practice. See, for example, our tips on keeping kids safe on their way to and from school, safety tips for latch-key kids, and back-to-school safety tips for teens.

And be ever vigilant and diligent with your college student kids even after they’ve headed to their dorm rooms, reminding them to be safe, because it will be easy for them to forget all of your sage advice once gone!

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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!


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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