Tag Archives: new year

Are You One of the Many Going Green in 2018? Home Automation Can Help

Although Americans tend to say they are environmentally conscious more than they act like it, there is definitely a trend toward a greener America. From re-usable grocery bags to organic foods to hybrid cars, the signs that we’re sitting up and paying attention to the consequences of our actions are all around us. Even fast-food giant and mega brand McDonald’s is going green. When that happens, we know something is afoot!

If you’ve been contemplating ways to green up your life, maybe as part of your New Year’s resolutions, and you’re shopping for a new home security system, you’re about to have a win-win situation. That’s because a home automation system can help you to be more green and consume fewer resources (while reducing your utility bills, which is a nice add-on). Here’s how:

Home automation can green up your thermostat
Heating an empty home in the winter or cooling the same in the summer are both huge energy drains. But no one wants to walk into an icebox at the end of the day in January, or an oven at the end of the day in July. With a home automation system, you can have smart control over your home’s temperature, and use your energy wisely.

Your house can stay moderately warm or cool while empty, but then your furnace or AC can kick in before you get home, so you walk into a comfort zone, not a hot or cold one. If you have pets at home, or kids who get home from school before you get home from work, you can adjust the temperature accordingly—and automatically.

Home automation can cut your electric bill
Coming home to a dark house at the end of a long day can be a dreary start to the evening, and sap your energy even more than your work and commute already did. But you don’t want to leave lights on all day just so you can drive up to a cheerful sight once it’s dark out. That’s wasteful.

Enter the home automation system that lets you program your lights to turn off and on at scheduled times, so you can have the lights off while gone but come home to a cheerful, well-lit abode. And if you have kids who leave lights on when they leave, because that’s what kids do, you can turn lights off remotely.

A home automation system won’t include solar panels or wind energy or make your washing machine more energy efficient, but every little bit really does count. Imagine what a difference we could make if all 324 million Americans cut their energy usage by just a fraction: huge!

Finally, if you’re looking for other ways to be a better citizen in the year ahead, be sure to check out these 101 tips on going zero waste. Many are ridiculously easy to do. And again, every little bit counts!

Let’s Learn from 2017’s Costly Disasters, to Be Workplace Ready in 2018

By now, you’ve probably heard about or seen the headlines around the record-breaking costs of 2017’s natural disasters. According to the Washington Post, last year’s natural disasters caused $306 billion in damage. Most of that was damage caused by hurricanes, at $265 billion.

Although people come down on two sides regarding why we had so many and such costly disasters, there’s one point you can’t argue: the necessity of emergency preparedness. Regardless of the reasons behind these events, the fact is that disasters do happen, and in this day and age, there not all caused by Mother Nature. We can’t prevent the disasters, but we can be ready for them.

Emergency preparedness in the workplace
In this blog, we have posted many times on being prepared for disasters, whether they hit when we’re at home or away from home. Since many of us spend a significant amount of time at work, however, let’s also address emergency preparedness in the workplace. There’s a good chance that’s where we’ll be if something does go wrong, whether it’s a natural disaster like a tornado or a manmade one like a terrorist attack.

The Nonprofit Risk Management Center website is the place to start. There you will find easy-to-follow instructions for planning for evacuations—and the key word here is planning. Knowing ahead of time how evacuations will be carried out is absolutely critical to everyone’s safety. Instructions include planning for evacuations, including the alarm system that will be used; training employees on evacuation procedures; getting any visitors out of the building; making sure everyone is accounted for; designating emergency response teams; securing vital records and equipment and much more.

We highly recommend going to this page and using it as a resource. You’ll find two kinds of checklists, one for employees to follow should they have to evacuate, and one for your business to ensure you’ve covered all your bases in your planning and training. In addition, you’ll find links to other resources as well.

What if you’re not the boss?
Even if you’re not the boss or the business owner, this is information you need to know and to share with those who are in charge—or at least with your coworkers. Because the best way to handle a disaster is to be ready for it.

If you want to start with an assessment of your state of readiness, the Red Cross has created an online assessment for businesses and schools to use to evaluate how prepared they are (or aren’t) for an emergency. If you’re an employee, this might be a good starting place for raising awareness with management, and ensuring your workplace is ready.

And regardless of whether or not management decides to listen and act, you might also want to read these tips for emergency preparedness, wherever you are when disaster strikes.

Here’s to a less chaotic 2018, but to families and facilities being prepared nonetheless!

Photo by Benjamin Kerensa on Unsplash

9 Personal Safety Habits to Develop to Ensure a Safe 2017

Although there’s not one magic number for how long it takes to form a new habit as this book summary explains, one thing is for sure: Most of us start out a new year wanting to commit to some kind of positive change!

Eating healthier, working out more, cutting back on caffeine, reading certain books… The range of new habits we want to form is as varied as we are, and some of these are easier than others.

But while all of those types of habits will help to make you a better, healthier person, let’s talk about some ways to make you a safer person too, with some personal safety habits you can easily develop in 2017, and stick with for the rest of your life.

What is a habit? A habit is a regular tendency or practice. By making at least of few of the 10 suggestions below into habits this year, you will reduce your risk, to your property, yourself, your identity and more.

Safety habit 1: Lock all doors and windows all the time. This applies to your house, but also to your car and to your outbuildings like your garage and shed. And it means every door and every window, including upstairs windows and sliding glass doors. And it applies even when you’re home but perhaps in the backyard working in the garden, when you should at least lock the front door.

Safety habit 2: Change your passwords often and effectively. Americans are woefully pathetic about using safe passwords and woefully lazy about changing them. Protect your data and your identity with the easy-to-follow advice here, complete with a suggested system. (I followed these tips and I am now much better about my passwords!)

Safety habit 3: Make it look like someone is home. Although it’s not guaranteed to deter a burglar, making a house look occupied can help. Use automated lighting, either with timers or using your home security system. Keep a car in the driveway. Have a neighbor pick up packages. Close curtains on the ground level so no one can see in your windows.

Safety habit 4: Keep valuables out of sight. In our house, certain members of the family have a bad habit of leaving wallets and purses on the table in the front window. No, no, no, no. If it’s a temptation, make sure it can’t be seen through the window. This applies to your home and to your car.

Safety habit 5: Keep shrubs trimmed. Cut back any trees or shrubs that provide cover for burglars, then make it a habit to keep them trimmed. This means around your house and around any outbuildings someone might be tempted to break into.

Safety habit 6: Keep some information private. It’s shocking to me how much information people will share on social media, information that puts them at risk such as not being home, or having a spouse gone for a length of time, or being home alone, or leaving kids home alone. Social media is a public forum, no matter your privacy settings. If the public shouldn’t know about it, don’t post about it. Make it a habit to think about this before posting.

Safety habit 7: Postpone going public with your vacation photos. Sure, you want to get those photos posted on Facebook so everyone to know how much fun you’re having, but their jealousy can wait until you’re safely home again. Ditto for geotagging your photos.

Safety habit 7: Keep gas in your tank. This sounds like commonsense but let’s be honest here: How many of us have driven with the fuel light on in the last month? That’s dangerous. Any number of things could go wrong, and we’d be at risk because of a lack of gas. A neighbor once shared with me that he fills up his gas tank every Sunday after church, no matter how much or little gas he needed. Now that’s a good habit!

Safety habit 8: Protect yourself from identity theft by making these tips into regular habits.

Safety habit 9: Keep reading this blog! Bookmark it or look for the latest posts on Facebook, for weekly tips to improve your home and personal security.

Finally, consider investing in a home security system, if you haven’t already. It’s the one safety habit you won’t have to think about all year!

Our Top 8 Home Security and Automation Predictions for 2017

It’s that time of year again! That time when predictions are all over, from what will be the year’s most popular color to what will happen on Wall Street.

Over here in the world of home security, our predictions are a bit more pedestrian as we look into our crystal ball and think about what 2017 might bring about for homeowners like you and me.

We took a look at what pundits are saying, threw out the outrageous, and focused on those predictions that make the most sense for those of us who care about home security issues. Here are our top eight:

Prediction 1: Home automation will become more popular and widespread for controlling thermostats, lighting and even entertainment systems.

Home security systems have been evolving into home automation systems for a while now and will continue to do so in 2017, getting even more popular with the older generations—as opposed to being gimmicky and appealing only to the younger ones.

Prediction 2: Home security will get more comprehensive as homeowners choose to have more features. 

Our second prediction stems from the first one. As 2017 gets underway, customers will want even more of the additional features that are now available with home security and automation systems, like video surveillance on your smart phone, speaking to someone at your front door even when you’re not home, climate control and much more.

Prediction 3: Smart home technology will become commonplace, no longer seen as something for the geeky younger crowd.

When “smart homes” were first a thing, it was the techies and the young ‘uns who went for it first, but now smart home technology, like everything described in the first two predictions, will simply become what we’re used to—the new normal.

Prediction 4: Wireless will continue to be the first choice. 

Homeowners can choose between hard-wired and wireless home security systems. Wireless is a popular choice because it is flexible and doesn’t require drilling holes nor running wires. As more and more homeowners upgrade their systems or move and leave the hard-wired home security system behind, wireless will be the obvious choice.

Prediction 5: Video technology will become more commonplace in home security, including video doorbells. 

Yes, video doorbells so that when someone rings the doorbell and you’re not home, you can still see them and communicate with them. In addition, wireless video cameras that can go just about anywhere, indoors or out, are getting more common.

Prediction 6: Self-monitoring by homeowners will become commonplace. 

Although your home security system will come with monitoring by the vendor you’re buying from, homeowners get real peace of mind by monitoring their homes, family and properties themselves. Doing so from a smart phone will get even easier to do in 2017.

Prediction 7: Home security devices will get smarter, smaller and more efficient. 

Have you see how tiny the video surveillance cameras are now? That trend toward small—and therefore hidden—will continue.

Prediction 8: Voice control will become more common. 

Voice control is the ultimate in ease of use. By the end of 2017, you should be used to telling your home automation system what to do—so much so, you might forget which buttons to push if you don’t use your voice!

If you’re shopping for a home security or home automation system, keep these trends in mind. You’re investing in your family’s safety and your peace of mind. Make sure that investment is keeping up with the trends.

A New Year, a New You—Wait, That’s not You! 4 Steps to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

I heard a scary statistic recently: In the U.S. alone, about 15 million people are victims of identity theft every year. And as much as I would like to play ostrich in the sand and pretend it could never happen to me (or you!), the reality is, it very well could. In the past year at our household, we received notifications that our social security numbers had been comprised through a hack of our health insurance company and through a hack of a governmental agency tied to the military.

Talk about a helpless feeling! Reading those notification letters about the compromised data made me sick to my stomach each time, because there was nothing I could have done about either attack. My family’s personal data was not put at risk because of any oversight on my part, yet we are all potential victims just the same.

However, this has all added up to my decision to be more vigilant in protecting our identities in 2016, including paying attention so that we’ll know if someone’s identity is stolen. In case it’s useful to you, I offer up four of the steps we’re taking at our house for better identity protection…

Step 1: Carefully deal with the mail
My husband is adamant that we not toss mail with personal information on it into the recycling. I used to think he was being silly. I no longer think that. Now I go through every piece of mail to remove names, addresses and any other information like account numbers and all of that goes into the wood stove while the rest of the mail goes into the recycling bin.

Step 2: Minimize online shopping
My husband has also been adamant about not using debit cards to make online purchases, only credit cards. Since I don’t like using a credit card (because I can’t be relied on to pay off what I put on), I continued to use debit cards, but not any longer. However, I didn’t switch to using a credit card. I have simply tried to be more organized so I am less likely to decide to buy something online in a rush, even if that means going without. I have one trusted place I buy from online and I try to only buy from that place. An added bonus of this is that I am more likely to spend money in my local community as I shop the brick-and-mortars stores instead!

Step 3: Don’t carry personal information on you
I used to carry my social security card in my wallet. Hey, it’s the size of all of the other cards in my wallet, so I thought I was supposed to! Not only that, I used to carry my kids’ social security cards too. I no longer do, and it’s fine for me since I know my own number by heart. I don’t have the kids’ numbers memorized, however, but guess what? It turns out every single time I am asked for the social security number for one of my kids, on a school form or at the doctor’s office, I don’t actually need it. Every time I explain that I don’t carry the numbers on me and every time I am told it’s okay, they have the numbers on file. (Maybe it would help to reduce identity theft if businesses and organizations stopped asking for social security numbers when not needed?)

Step 4: Stay on top of our credit reports
I have heard or read this advice numerous times, and now in 2016 I am finally taking the advice to heart. I have set up a calendar reminder so I will check our credit reports twice a year at www.annualcreditreport.com. I will be checking not only my own credit report and my husband’s but that of my kids too, since they are just as likely to be victims of identity theft as the adults are.

As I said above, my family’s personal data has already been put at risk through no fault of our own, but I still want to minimize whatever risk is within my control—including staying on top of our credit reports in case one of us is victimized. I highly recommend you consider doing the same, since chances are some of us will be among the 15 million victims of 2016. And you can insert a sadface emoji here about that…

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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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