Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Best and Worst Places to Hide Valuables

Despite having the best home security systems in place, some people are forced to hide valuables inside of their home. This may be due to an untrustworthy family member living under the same roof or just may be attributed to living in a home with several roommates who allow a revolving door of visitors in and out of the home. While a bank is always the best place to store cash and a safe or a safe deposit box the best location for sensitive documents and other valuables, we realize that some prefer other solutions to protecting items of worth.

Recently, someone who has spent a lot of money on home security systems confided in me about a chunk of emergency cash stashed at a specific location, which they deemed to be quite safe. After a lengthy conversation about home security, however, I was able to get this person to agree to store their money at a safer location. The whole conversation, however, prompted me to wonder where other people hide valuables and how secure these hiding places are. Well, a quick Google search led to some interesting locations I’d never thought about and some I’d never use in a million years and here’s why:

Dirty Laundry

It appears that some people think that hiding cash and other valuables inside of dirty socks or underwear is a deterrent to burglars who would rather not go near smelly unmentionables. This doesn’t sound like the best hiding place to me, however. For one thing, dirty laundry is a pretty well-circulated hiding place on the web. Anyone with an interest in home security or learning the tricks of the burglary trade has likely stumbled upon conversations about hiding loot inside of dirty laundry. Hiding valuables inside of dirty laundry also just seems a little too accessible. I’ve been burglarized before and one thing that I recall, and that I’ve noticed in other burglary reports since then, is that burglars often tear through a home turning over drawers, emptying bookcases and, yes, even strewing dirty laundry about until they find something of value.

Kitchen

Growing up, my now deceased grandfather was famous for hiding money in all sorts of places including kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator and the freezer. In fact, for years I was of the mindset that cash wrapped in layers of plastic and butcher paper, and stashed in the freezer was a surefire way to fool thieves while hiding valuables. As I grew older, however, I realized that a lot of people stored cash in food boxes and even in freezers. Apparently, my grandfather’s kitchen safe wasn’t so safe after all. At one time people with high credit card debt were even being advised to literally freeze their credit cards in order to prevent their easy access and use. With this sort of common information floating about, I just have to believe that the kitchen, especially the freezer, is one of the first places a burglar would think to look.

A Child’s Bedroom

I once read an article where a reformed burglar advised people who insisted on hiding valuables inside of a home to do so in a child’s bedroom. According to this ex-thief, it was one of the last places that a burglar thinks to look since adult bedrooms are more likely to contain a profitable stash. In a previous post, I wrote about how my son walked in on a burglary in progress in our home. Of the two burglars surprised by his early return, he reported that one came out of his bedroom. See, these days kids have all sorts of expensive items like video game cartridges and consoles, televisions and even popular toys that are in high demand despite a limited supply. Despite a former burglar’s advice, I’d pass on hiding valuables in a child’s bedroom if I were you.

Good Hiding Places

So you may be wondering by now, just where can you safely hide valuables inside of your home. Again, it bears repeating that the best and safest way to protect cash and valuables is by placing them in a bank– either in an account or in a safe deposit box. It isn’t realistic, however, to place items that you regularly use in a bank, so the following are a few good places to hide such valuables inside of your home:

A Diversion Safe Water Bottle

Looks just like a regular water bottle, yet it is anything but. Instead, money and valuables can be stored inside of the bottle without even the slightest hint that it is serving this different purpose. In addition to using this bottle to hide valuables at home, it is also a safe way to store valuables while traveling.

Under the Carpet In a Room

By slightly pulling back the corner of a room’s carpet, a tidy stash can be hidden just beneath it. Even better is if a heavy piece of furniture can rest on top of the carpet. This technique probably won’t fool too many professional thieves, but if someone in your home has sticky fingers or you’re just concerned about the amount of strange traffic in and out, this hiding place may be worth a try.

A Diversion Safe Wall Clock

Not many people will take the time to remove an inexpensive wall clock to look for valuables. If anything, they’ll probably rely somewhat on the clock’s presence to determine how soon they should be leaving. A wall clock that looks ordinary, but that actually opens while offering a safe place to store small valuables can be an excellent hiding place for things like cash and jewelry.

The idea of hiding valuables at home is nothing new. We’ve all heard stories about backyard buried treasures and mattresses filled with cash. You may even be among those who stashes cash and jewelry away at home. Just remember, however, that a reliable home security system is always your best bet when it comes to protecting your treasures.

While we don’t want you to divulge all of your secret hiding places, we do look forward to hearing your thoughts about where or where not to hide valuables at home. Be sure to leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

The Devious Ways Criminals Gain Access to Your Home

Television shows and movies often depict burglars as sophisticated crime experts with high-tech tools used to bypass home security at a house or business. The truth of the matter, however, is that most burglars are teenagers, drug addicts or career criminals who make use of far less complicated means to gain entry to a home. In an effort to help you improve home security by outsmarting the criminal that may be lurking just around your home’s corner, we’ve comprised a list of some of the most popular ways thieves seek access to certain homes.

Stealing a Garage Remote

Increasingly, the beginning stages of some home burglaries are taking place at offsite locations. This is because thieves, spotting garage remotes attached to a car’s sun visor, are breaking car windows to steal remotes and auto registration paperwork containing an owner’s home address. Knowing that a homeowner is preoccupied at another location, burglars are racing to rob homes before owner’s even know that they’ve been targeted.

A simple solution to this is to never keep a garage remote on a car’s visor. It is also prudent to lock glove compartments so that paperwork bearing personal information and, thus, compromising to home security is not easily accessible.

Posing As a Salesperson

This is an oldie, but a goodie and, since it works so well for burglars, it is one home security warning that deserves repeating again and again. Pretending to be gardeners looking for new business, door-to-door salesmen or individuals raising funds for a worthy cause, burglars will often “case” a home by knocking on a homeowner’s front door. The goal here is to discover who is home at a certain hour of the day and, if lucky, to be invited inside of a home and note its floorplan. Some will even go so far as to ask to use a restroom in order to unlock a bathroom window with a plan of returning later through that particular entry point. Of course, if no one answers the door, burglars take this as an invitation to go a step further to actually break into a home that same day or on another day at the same hour.

Stealing Your Keys While On an Inside Job

In addition to covertly unlocking windows and doors from the inside while posing as a service person, thieves will also outright steal house and car keys left in common areas. To avoid this home security risk, never leave house keys hanging from a deadbolt lock or out in the open where others can easily retrieve them. Instead, develop a habit of placing keys in odd places that only you and your family know about such as under a table’s centerpiece, behind a picture on a mantle or inside of a particular coat pocket inside of your closet. None of these are completely safe places for hiding valuables once a burglar gets inside of your home, but they do make it difficult for a burglar disguised as a service person to do a little prep work by quickly swiping your keys when you’re not looking.

Open Windows

Surprisingly, despite repeated warnings, some still compromise personal and home security by leaving windows unlocked or open when away from home. Granted, these are often small windows, such as bathroom or basement windows, but an open window is an open invitation to a burglar regardless of its size. I’ve even heard of desperate thieves going so far as to have a small child squeeze through a window in order to unlock a front door.

Open Garages

It is not uncommon for some people to ignore home security by leaving a garage door open, particularly when the garage is attached to the main house, in order to allow extra ventilation or to make frequent trips between the house and the garage easier. Open garages are even sometimes left unmonitored as homeowners work in a backyard garden or in another area of the home while leaving wide open access to burglars. Not only are the contents of a garage, such as tools and appliances, attractive to a thief, but some are brazen enough to quietly enter a home, grab a few valuable items and exit without a homeowner even knowing what has taken place.

Spare Keys

We would think that in the year 2012 no one is still leaving a spare door key under a mat, iin a flower pot or above a door’s ledge. Despite home security warnings to the contrary, however, some people erroneously believe that they live in an area safe enough to do so. Trust us when we tell you that no area is immune to burglary and, thus, no key is safe in any of these locations. If you ever need to leave a spare key for someone or if you’re just afraid of locking yourself out of your home someday, leave a key at a nearby friend or family member’s home, instead. If this isn’t possible, you’re better off having to call a locksmith if you’re ever locked out as such would likely be less of an expense than losing your valuables to a burglar. Even better, consider installing a biometric reader such as the Adel Biometric Fingerprint Door Lock or a keyless entry system such as the Digital Deadbolt Door Lock.

Lock Bumping

Did you know that burglars can purchase modified keys on the Internet, which can be used to unlock your front door? Some are even skilled enough to create their own modified keys that, when tapped with a screwdriver or similar tool, unlock your door just like your regular key does. This technique is called lock bumping and is one that leaves no sign of breaking or entering, and hardly catches the attention of passersby. For more information on lock bumping and how you can prevent it, read our previous post dedicated to this subject.

What are some of the devious ways that you’ve heard of burglars gaining access to a home? Have you ever been a victim of one of these methods? What home security measures do you think work best against any of these methods?

Increasing Swimming Pool Safety

The recent drowning death of Rodney King should serve as a reminder to us all about swimming pool safety this summer. King, best known for receiving a videotaped beating from Los Angeles police officers in 1991, was described as an avid swimmer yet was found dead in his own swimming pool on June 17. While it is still unknown how King managed to drown in a pool where neighbors report that he swam so often, one thing is for sure: King’s death, just like all other swimming pool drowning deaths, are preventable.

By maximizing the security and safety measures at your pool, the chance of a drowning occurring at your home is drastically decreased. Ignoring the importance of swimming pool safety, however, can result in hefty lawsuits, permanent injury or, perhaps, even the death of someone that you love. Smart homeowners who appreciate home security, do not stop with burglar alarms and security lighting. Instead, these individuals work hard to assure that each and every risk to their home’s security, as well as the security of the people inside of the home, is minimized.

To increase the safety of your home’s swimming pool, the following are a few things you can do right away:

Install a fence around your pool. Keep unsupervised children and pets safe by erecting a sturdy fence around your swimming pool area. If you live in a remote area, a fence can also serve to keep wildlife, which can be a threat to your family’s safety, away from the pool

Install a swimming pool alarm. A device that immediately alerts you when someone has entered the pool is, by far, one of the best ways to prevent accidental drowning. Such a device is a must for any home with pets, small children, elderly or disabled persons.

Teach children about pool safety. Each year, scores of children die by falling into an unsupervised swimming pool. Others die, however, even while swimming in a supervised environment. Such often happens when a child’s hair or bathing suit becomes caught on a pool’s underwater equipment and thus pulls a child under. In fact, a number of years ago, we had a neighbor who visited a pool party filled with adults and children. Midway through the festivities, it was noticed that one child was missing. Having searched the pool and all over the house, it was hours before it was discovered that the child was actually at the bottom of the pool and hadn’t been noticed because of so much activity inside of the pool. For this reason, it is important to consistently teach and remind children about pool safety rules and to always, always keep a keen eye on young swimmers.

Never swim or sit in a Jacuzzi while under the influence of any legal or illegal drug that impairs your mental or physical state. Even the most expert swimmers can lose consciousness or become otherwise injured by a body of water when intoxicated. Avoid these accidents by not only vowing to avoid such states as much as possible, but by also keeping a close eye on other family members and party guests especially when alcohol is being served at your home.

Install outdoor lighting. Not only does exterior lighting support your overall goal of home security in terms of dissuading burglars, but security lighting also helps you see who or what is around your pool’s area. When swimming at night, it is important to have lighting inside of your pool as well as around it at all times.

Monitor your pool with surveillance cameras. If you are using a multi-channel surveillance system, we urge you to use at least one camera to monitor your pool’s perimeter. Obviously, such will help you monitor your family’s activity while swimming, but it will also serve as a deterrent for strangers who may want to use your pool without permission when you are not home.

Consider a keyless entry system for your swimming pool’s gate. Devices like the Lockey 1150 Keyless Entry Lever Handle Lock go above and beyond to keep unwanted or unsupervised swimmers out of your pool. (NOTE: If purchasing one of these from our Keyless Entry section, notice that there are left and right hand options.)

Don’t Let Your Pool Make You Sick

And while we are on the subject of swimming pool safety, we encourage you to also keep your pool as clean as possible with specialized equipment, such as the Mayday Water Pump. Infrequently discussed are issues pertaining to illnesses contracted while swimming, some of which can be quite debilitating. Most often, these illnesses are caused by pathogens in a pool, like E. Coli bacteria and Guardia. The Mayday Water Pump, however, works to keep these pathogens out of your swimming pool with a 99.99 percent rate of effectiveness.

Have any additional swimming pool safety and security tips to share? We look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments section below.

How to Create a Smart Home

Creating a smart home increases a home’s intrinsic value, as well as creates an environment of comfort, convenience and security. Also known as home automation systems, there are plenty of do-it-yourself projects and devices that can be used to customize your own smart home. Most devices in this category are affordable, as well as relatively easy to install and use.

What Is a Smart Home?

By now, most people have heard of smart phones, but not everyone is familiar with smart homes or how they work. A smart home is one where just about everything that operates on electricity inside of the home is on an automated system. For example, a typical smart home features lighting that is on a timer, as well as can be activated remotely; a home alarm system; a keyless entry system; indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras; and automatic temperature controls. A homeowner’s favorite music can even be queued so that it automatically begins playing when a room is entered. Appliances, such as coffee makers and televisions can also be programmed to turn on and off at specific times. Overall, the purpose of a smart home is to create an environment of absolute comfort and security.

Who Can Afford a Smart Home?

My curiosity about smart homes began with an article I’d read several years ago about billionaire Bill Gates automating just about every single electrical item in his home. Like most people, I assumed that such a home was reserved for the obscenely wealthy and, while it made for interesting reading, I sort of filed the information away in my “one day when I hit the lottery” file. In recent years, however, smart homes have become more commonplace. In fact, recently constructed homes often come equipped with this type of technology, but older homes can also enjoy the comfort and practicality of a smart home on a do-it-yourself budget no less.

Alarms, Surveillance and Beyond

Obviously, we feature several different DIY alarm and surveillance systems, which can be installed in a smart home environment. In addition to these systems, however, we also offer a number of home automation devices to help you create your own smart home. Whether you are building a new home and wish to integrate the majority of your automated devices now or whether you would like to transform your existing home into a smart one by slowly adding one device at a time, we can help you get started.

A Brief Introduction to X10

In learning how to create a smart home, it helps to familiarize yourself with the technology that makes it all possible: X10. Devices that are able to send or receive X10 signals are able to wirelessly communicate with other X10 devices. This technology is literally the heart and soul of home automation. When shopping for smart home devices, therefore, it is important to always look for its presence before making a purchase.

Home Automation Devices to Consider

Assuming that you have already installed your own alarm and surveillance system (and if you have not, that you are planning to do so soon), let’s discuss some of the other home automation products that you can self-install with the goal of creating a smart home. One of the most practical devices you may want to start with is one that controls your home’s lighting. The Chamberlain Remote Light Control is an excellent choice to begin with as it offers you the power to control your home’s lighting with a remote control unit. A device like this one means never having to enter a dark home again. It can even be programmed to work with other electrical appliances, such as a television or a home stereo system.

Another popular home automation device is an intercom system. Practical, easy to install and affordable, a home intercom system allows family members to communicate with one another from multiple rooms within a household. Such really comes in handy for active families living in a large or a split-level home.

Wireless intercom systems can also be used to monitor rooms or areas of a home, as well as provide musical entertainment for family members. For example, the DMC1 Music/Communication System Master features an AM and FM radio tuner that can be used in 15 separate rooms in addition to its intercom function. This smart home device also allows homeowners to monitor live audio in certain rooms within the home, which comes in handy for families with young children or aging adults. When privacy is desired, however, certain rooms can also be muted.

Beyond the Fad

Creating a smart home is not only a fun and convenient way to enjoy your house, but it is also a very practical DIY project for anyone hoping to make life easier and safer for single people living alone, aging adults and busy families. These homes are not merely a passing fad, but are the future of modern households with a focus on security. We encourage you to visit our Home Automation section for more information on devices that you can install yourself in order to create your own smart home.

Which home automation devices do you regularly use and which ones do you plan to install soon?

Common Home Security Mistakes: Showing Off Valuables

As part of the pleasant experience of owning a home, many people enjoy keeping valuable items around the house. Whether it’s a big-screen television or an extensive collection of fine jewelry, being able to enjoy a bit of luxury at home is ones common goal. But when these items aren’t handled properly, they can easily cause a serious security breach. Some burglars are merely tempted by the occasional easy opportunity to commit a crime, but as is more often the case, criminals can be highly trained and experienced, which means there are several attributes that tend to be looked for and singled out by burglars. Among these attributes the obvious presence of valuables especially those that may be easy to conceal or transport. Motives for breaking into a house differ from one case to the next, but in a significant majority of instances, criminals are looking for a quick and convenient means to make a financial gain, and your valuables are typically the easiest way to secure such a reward. Homeowners often advertise their valuables without being aware of what they’re doing, and this commonly made mistake can end up costing quite a lot of money –not to mention anguish and frustration.

A particularly straightforward way in which homeowners sometimes unknowingly advertise their valuables are simply by leaving them lying around the house. Some items, such as electronics or furniture, will naturally be placed around a home in clear view, but those items that can be concealed, especially if they are small and easily portable, are probably best kept out of the line of sight of windows and doors. Hiding all of one’s valuables may not be a practical course of action for most homeowners, and such a practice may not even be entirely desirable; after all, it’s nice to be able to enjoy one’s valuable possessions where they can be admired or used. Yet when criminals are able to identify the location of such items with ease, it’s far more likely that they’ll be confiscated during the course of a burglary or other crime involving a break-in. By stashing certain items like cash or jewelry in hidden places and at least keeping other items out of plain view from an outsider’s standpoint, homeowners can minimize their advertising to criminals.

A slightly less obvious way in which valuables are sometimes showed off to would-be burglars without homeowners’ knowledge involves a home’s garbage receptacles. Though many homeowners don’t give much thought to the contents of their trash bags, these contents can actually be used to tell a criminal a thorough and useful story about the home, its residents, and what items might be waiting inside. When new purchases of valuable items are made and people leave packaging materials, receipts, or other relevant items in the garbage, they may inadvertently advertise their purchases to criminals, making the temptation to break in and steal these items especially high. Putting relevant materials out only on days when trash pickup occurs is a wise idea for limiting the exposure of such purchases to unscrupulous eyes.

Bragging about the acquisition of new valuables can be a lot of fun, but engendering envy isn’t the only possible negative downside. It’s also possible to attract opportunistic criminals by bragging about recent purchases. Such an attraction might be caused when talking to others, such as neighbors, store clerks, or friends in public places, though increasingly, criminals are turning to the internet in order to find useful information about potential targets and their homes. Posting details of big new purchases on a social networking site or blog can potentially be a dangerous move, and while it’s not necessarily true that all bragging will result in criminal activity, people who are particularly concerned about the risk of experiencing a burglary or similar crime should probably avoid making a lot of noise about new purchases, whether it’s done online or around town. Keeping such communication private is a far more secure practice.

The ways in which homeowners often make mistakes in terms of their property’s security can be very surprising. Some of the seemingly most innocent or benign habits that homeowners have can actually lead towards an increased likelihood of being burglarized or otherwise victimized, and some homeowners may be shocked to discover their routines are undermining their security. Thankfully, changing these habits and exchanging them for more secure practices is usually a very easy and painless process, requiring a minimum of time to complete and enforce. By changing a few aspects of everyday home ownership and making a concerted effort to address the most commonly made mistakes like advertising valuables to thieves, many people can make their lives safer and crime-free.

Surveillance Cameras Squash the Burglary Business

Recent news reports of surveillance cameras being useful in the capturing of thieves and other criminals are what we all like to hear. These reports detail individual instances of security cameras either outright preventing crime or helping to put criminals behind bars. Either way, these stories are the reasons that we continue to encourage our readers to take a closer look at the idea of using video surveillance to monitor their homes and businesses.

Burglars Put On Social Media Blast

As more high-quality, affordable surveillance cameras make their way into consumer households, people find new and innovative ways of solving crime. For instance, the Los Angeles Times recently reported on a couple who is using social media in an attempt to find the thief who stole their car from their home during the early morning hours. By placing the surveillance footage on YouTube, the couple hopes to retrieve their vehicle along with a list of valuables that were left inside of the car. In time, we are sure that more people will follow suit and combine surveillance footage with social media in an effort to solve similar crimes.

Keeping an Eye On Security

Without a doubt, surveillance cameras are one of the best tools any homeowner can use to help secure their home, valuables and loved ones. Once upon a time, however, surveillance cameras were only found in medium to large business settings or were depended upon to monitor the homes of the very wealthy. In more recent years, though, security cameras have become quite affordable and are used by average homeowners who literally want to keep a close eye on the security of their home and family. Now, security cameras can be found in single family homes, individual apartment units and even dorm rooms. Easy to install, affordable and with so many options to choose from, surveillance cameras are quickly becoming common security tools in private residences.

A Camera For Every Need and Lifestyle

Cameras like Lorex Outdoor Accessory Camera with 2-Way Audio help people feel safer thanks to features that allow them to see who is approaching their property at any time of the day or night using infrared and LED technology. Not only does this camera record activity in the darkest of environments, but it also offers audio features that enable homeowners to see and hear what is going on around their home’s perimeter at the same time.

Other cameras, like the Lorex Live Snap Video Baby Monitor enable parents to monitor their children from a distance with relative ease. The Live Snap can also take still pictures of a child and store those images to an SD card for later use. Whether using a surveillance camera to catch a thief or to watch over a parent’s most prized possession, video surveillance devices are designed to be as practical as they are functional.

Selecting a Security Camera

In order to select the right security camera for your needs, it is important to first envision where you will place a camera and how many cameras you may need in order to monitor your entire home. We recommend placing cameras at all of your entrances, your driveway and garage, as well as position them to monitor any windows that may also appear to beckon thieves. In most cases, several cameras are needed to adequately protect a single family residence. In the case of the couple who placed video of their car being stolen on YouTube, the camera that captured the thieves was actually an extra camera left over after they’d installed several others around their home business. This leftover camera, however, was precisely the one needed to record criminal activity taking place right under their noses while they were at home.

Hidden Camera vs. Visible Surveillance

Some wonder whether it is best to attempt to hide a surveillance camera or if it is better to place one in plain sight. While there are pros and cons to each of these decisions, the final answer really just boils down to what it is a homeowner is trying to capture on tape. For instance, if trying to catch a nanny or caretaker suspected of stealing from or abusing a loved one, a hidden camera may be the best option. However, if trying to protect a home, in general, a surveillance camera placed in plain view might be the best choice as surveillance cameras are a known deterrent to crime. To decide whether to use a hidden camera or not, simply ask yourself what it is that you need a camera to do for you. Do you prefer to catch a person before or after a crime has been committed?

Surveillance Technologies

If you already have a home alarm, why not add a surveillance camera to your home security system? Our cameras offer the latest and best technologies including:

  • Infrared Technology
  • PIR Sensors
  • Multiple Channels
  • Wireless and Hardwired Systems
  • Audio Features

Perhaps you’ve shied away from installing a home surveillance system before believing that your home was secure enough without one or that cameras were too expensive. The truth, however, is that there is no such thing as being too secure at home and additional deterrents are never a bad thing. Most homeowners find that the cost of owning a home surveillance system is quite affordable and that it pales in comparison to the cost of being victimized at home without a camera to help identify an intruder.

Summer Safety

The days are getting longer and the nights are staying lighter out. This means that summer is right around the corner. With summer being ever so close it is very important to remember summertime safety. You want to insure safety among your families as well as in your home. Being aware of these safety tips can help you maintain an eventful and memorable summer.

Child Safety

Around this time of year many children spend time outside playing with siblings and friends. Parents are not always available to sit outside and watch their children. Keeping your child safe is a top priority for every parent. Thanks to the ongoing advances in our technology, keeping track of your children can now be a lot easier. There are now child locators that are extremely beneficial and easy to use. There are three in particular that can be bought within your home by visiting the Home Security Store’s website. By searching under child locator’s you will see that not only are they affordable, but they will help ease the worries of letting your children play outside without you being there to supervise. All of these have a GPS which make it very simple to see where your child is. These devices can be worn on your child’s wrist or on their shoe making it comfortable for them to wear. There is also the option of setting up a perimeter for your child. If they go outside of the boundary that has been set, the parent will be notified. These notifications can also be sent via text message. If your child gets lost the child locator has a feature that will enable them to notify you. The panic button feature that comes with these products will immediately notify the parent if their child pushes this.

If your child is at home with a baby sitter a lot during the summer there are also a variety of nanny cams and covert cameras that can be bought for an affordable price. When it comes to making sure that your child is out of harm’s way there are never too many precautionary steps that can be taken. Being able to place cameras, like a covert clock or alarm for example, can give the parent peace of mind knowing that everything is running smoothly at home. The covert cameras are a good idea because it allows you to test how trustworthy the person watching your kids really is without them knowing they are being watched.

Pool Safety

Although pools are a lot of fun, they can also be a potential danger. Having plenty of flotation devices around when people are in the pool, or any body of water, is key. You never know when a little one might cramp up or get too tired while swimming. Having the backup just in case something happens is a great idea. It is wise to be very cautions of children and teens while they are in the pool. It can take only a matter of seconds for a young child to drown, even in a shallow end of the pool. Having family and friends around makes it easier to become sidetracked with the conversations around us. Always keep an eye out when people are in the pool. Remember as well to never let anyone swim alone. Gates can be a big help to prevent accidents around the pool. While nobody is in the pool always keep the gate locked and make sure that the handle is out of reach to younger children. There are a number of things that you can buy to make you aware of any poolside accidents. There are gate alarms that will sound if the pool gate is opened without your permission. If they gate manages to be opened an alarm will sound making you aware of the opened gate. There are also sensors for both children and pets that will send a signal to a loud alarm if someone falls in the pool.

General Safety

Aside from pool and child safety, there are also general tips that will help you while having your summertime fun. Always remember to keep hydrated. Around this time of years people are doing a lot more exercise and outdoor activities. Women should have about 9 cups a day and men should have around 13. If you are engaging in a lot of physical activities it is a great idea to consume even more. Kids should drink about 4-8 ounces of water before they do any activities and about 12-16 ounces afterwards. A combination of a lot of water and sports drinks will prevent people from becoming dehydrated in the summer heat. In the summertime sunscreen is a must. Wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. It is important to reapply the sunscreen throughout the day being that it will wear off due to sweat and water. Keep babies safe in the shade and always protect their faces. Everyone should make an extra effort to wear hats and sunglasses to avoid being sunburned as much as possible. Another thing that people tend to forget to use around this time of year is bug spray. We usually don’t think about it until we have already become a victim to a tiny mosquito. Using bug repellents when hiking or camping will help prevent the risk of getting both West Nile Virus as well as Lyme disease. Be sure to also keep an eye out for bees. They are more likely to be around all of the sweet foods that are out at a BBQ, so it never hurts to double check what your about to eat. If you will be on vacations it may be wise to invest in a home security system to make sure that while you are gone your home is being monitored. Talk to a neighbor before you go on your vacations and have them look over the house for you. They should also take the newspapers off of your driveway and collect your mail so that your house does not look like an easy target for potential burglars.

Keeping your home and family safe are two very important things. Remembering these tips will help keep everyone happy and safe during this summer season.

Security Devices and Your Smartphone

As a fairly new term in the American lexicon, most people hear smartphone security and imagine a mobile application or some other specialized gadget designed to protect a mobile phone from being stolen or even vandalized by a cyber attacker. Smartphone security, however, can also be used in the realm of home security systems as mobile and home security technologies are combined to bring an enhanced range of functions to homeowners. Using smartphones, homeowners can experience new ways of remotely interacting with their home and even control multiple security layers while away from home.

The most innovative home security solutions make it possible for users to interact with multiple home security devices from a single smartphone. From arming an alarm while at a remote location to visually checking in on a sleeping child while in another state, smartphones interact with home security systems in very clever and productive ways. As more and more people gravitate toward smartphone technology, it makes sense to discuss a few of the best smartphone security options that are currently available.

Surveillance Cameras

From nanny cams to multi-channel surveillance systems, many of the cameras that we offer can also be operated from a smartphone. One such example is the Levana Digital Wireless Video Baby Camera with Online Monitoring, which allows parents to see and hear their child in real-time from a remote location. Several of our nanny cameras also allow pictures and videos to be downloaded to a phone or a computer where they can be saved or forwarded and shared with other loved ones.

Alarm Systems

Alarm manufacturers have also worked to create effective ways of creating smartphone security features. In addition to being able to arm and disarm a system from a mobile telephone, some systems also allow homeowners without a landline telephone to connect their alarm system directly to a smartphone instead. With this feature, homeowners needn’t worry about the possibility of phone lines being severed during a burglary attempt and communication between a system and a homeowner’s mobile phone is always available.

Smartphone Security Applications

While smartphone security features can be created and used to manage and control the levels of security in a person’s home, some technologies extend far beyond home security into the realm of personal security, as well. One such technology is the Guardly mobile security app, which can enable smartphone users to contact up to 15 different loved ones with a single key press. This mobile security app further allows college students to quickly connect with campus security in the event of an emergency as long as the college is a part of the Guardly Safe Campus Program. Available on today’s most popular mobile operating systems, Guardly also offers access to 9-1-1 operators in fewer keystrokes than would normally be required and the company maintains that its highly attuned GPS functions can help loved ones or authorities more accurately locate a person in possession of a phone with the Guardly application in the event of an actual emergency.

Deterrents and Smartphone Security

Deterrents used to discourage burglars are very important layers of home security. Devices that help homeowners control lighting are quite easy to install and are affordable for just about every budget. For example, the only installation skill needed for the Xanboo Wireless Light Dimmer is the ability to plug it into an electrical outlet. The dimmer can then be used to illuminate a room from a button featured on the device or a user can control a home’s lighting remotely from a smartphone. Not only does a homeowner not have to worry about walking into a dark house at night, but the Xanboo Wireless Light Dimmer can also be remotely activated as the sun sets in order to give passersby the impression that someone is actually inside of the home.

Do-It-Yourself Home Security

Several well-known home security companies have also begun to develop their own mobile security applications. Homeowners choosing to self-install their own home security devices, however, will be pleased to discover the various smartphone security options that are already available to them, as well. As the desire to operate home security systems via mobile telephones increases, homeowners and smartphone users can expect to see even smartphone security functions in the months and years ahead.

How to Find Which Home Security Devices Are Compatible With Your Smartphone

If you are interested in learning more about the exact devices that may be compatible with your smartphone, we encourage you to visit our main page right away. By simply typing the name of your operating system into our search engine, you will discover a variety of useful security devices that can interact with your particular smartphone. Remember, should you have questions about how to install any of these devices, our technical support team is always here to help.

In what ways do you currently use your smartphone to interact with your home security system? What kinds of security applications or smartphone security features would you like to see in the future?

Burglary Rates Are On the Rise

Across the country this week, multiple news sources are reporting on the increase of a single crime – burglary. In each reported instance, victims have been left to contend with a myriad of emotions ranging from anger and loss to extreme feelings of vulnerability, insecurity and anxiety. As though the loss of peace in one’s own home isn’t enough to bear, victims also have to deal with the loss of personal items of value and several are left with costly repairs due to property damage sustained while thieves forced entry. Perhaps worse, however, is the post-violation recognition that each of these crimes may have been avoidable.

A Sobering Epidemic

In North Seattle a marked increase in burglaries is being referred to as an epidemic. In New Jersey, law enforcement officials report serious concern about a continued increase in burglaries when compared to crime statistics in previous years. The story is the same in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as well as in Bonney Lake, Washington where burglary rates have risen an astounding 84 percent higher than they were at this same time last year.

The story is the same all over the country. Many attribute the rise in this particular crime to the state of the U.S. economy, which includes staggering unemployment rates, especially among teenagers, many of whom happen to be the sole perpetrators of these crimes. Regardless as to the motivation behind someone stealing from another’s home, the fact remains that burglary is becoming an increasingly popular crime.

Fearless Criminals

Among the most frightening of all of the burglary reports this week are the ones that took place while unsuspecting occupants were relaxing at home. In at least one such case in Seattle, young children were also present as a thief entered a home through an unlocked patio door. Fortunately, the family of four was not harmed as the burglar helped himself to electronic equipment and the family’s car, which was parked in front of their home. The particularly brazen individual charged with this crime has a prior history of breaking into another home as the home’s occupant was fast asleep.

Many of these crimes have also taken place in broad daylight. As we’ve reported in multiple posts, burglars have no qualms about posing as salespeople and knocking on the front door of a targeted home. Unanswered knocks are taken as a signal that the home is unoccupied and a burglary ensues. Such was almost the case in South Carolina recently when teenagers carrying rakes approached the home of an elderly woman. When a neighbor intervened by telling the group that the homeowner had help in raking her own leaves, one member of the group grew visibly upset by the neighbor’s interruption and later returned to that same neighbor’s home as an act of retribution. Fortunately, the neighbor was not home at the time, but his home was nevertheless vandalized by a teenager accused of also committing a number of burglaries in that same area.

Business Owners, Beware!

Homeowners are not the only ones being impacted by an increase in burglary rates. Business owners must also be aware of the very high likelihood of a break-in, particularly if premises are not secured by surveillance cameras and an alarm system. In Indiana, local churches are learning this lesson the hard way as more than 40 houses of worship have been burglarized in that state recently.

Invest In Crime Prevention

While this is not a time to blame victims, the truth in most of the burglary stories being reported is that homeowners did not take home security seriously enough to invest in an alarm system, surveillance cameras or other deterrents beforehand. In some instances, victims did not even practice the type of everyday common sense that most of us are aware of such as locking doors and windows. As is so often the case, these victims did eventually recognize a need for effective home security devices, but only after suffering a loss of peace and personal belongings, not to mention being stuck with repair bills for broken doors and damaged property.

How Will You Protect Yourself From Rising Burglary Rates?

As burglary rates continue to soar across the United States, we sincerely hope that each of you reading this will empower yourselves by investing in your own safety. A do-it-yourself alarm system is not difficult to install and, while alarm monitoring is an optional service, monitoring costs less than nine dollars per month and is highly recommended. We have done our best to educate you on the need for a home security system, as well as addressed many of your most common concerns about how to select and install the system that is right for you. With burglary, a largely preventable crime, rising in popularity, the question we pose to you now is how will you protect yourself from becoming a future victim of this very distressing crime?

How Secure Is Your Vacation Home?

Security for your primary residence should always be your top priority. If you own a vacation home, however, you should be just as concerned with keeping it secure, as well. While you may not keep very many valuables there, an intruder on your property can still be quite costly.

Why Security For a Vacation Home Is So Important

Vacation properties are often targeted for break-ins by teenagers, transients and, yes, even hardcore criminals. Even worse than your property being vandalized, however, is the thought of being surprised by someone in the latter category when you and your family arrive for a vacation. In addition to extensive property damage, you may also find yourself literally in harm’s way.

In today’s economy, sadly, even the barest of homes are also vandalized since copper piping, appliances and various fixtures can net a nice black market profit. Homes that are in secluded areas are often targets for these sorts of crimes, but unoccupied homes in well-populated areas may also be at risk. There are all sorts of reasons for securing a vacation home, but perhaps the most important is to provide security for your family while you are on vacation. Most of us go on vacation to get away from the hustle and bustle of life while relaxing someplace off of the beaten path. Unfortunately, our very relaxed attitudes about security during this time is precisely what some ne’er-do-wells bank on…literally.

Vacation Home Security Checklist

Take a moment to ponder each of these questions in relation to your second home:

  • Does your favorite getaway location have a working home security system?
  • Is your alarm system monitored by a reliable monitoring company?
  • Do you arm the system each and every time you leave the premises?
  • Are all of the door locks on your vacation home bump-proof?
  • Does someone collect your junk mail and door flyers while you are away?
  • Does your vacation home appear to be occupied even when you are not there? (Note: Lighting that is set to a timer can give the impression of someone being inside and possibly deter burglars. Even better, devices like the Fake TV Burglar Deterrent Device give the illusion of a television being on at night which can really help keep criminals at bay.)
  • Is your home equipped with deterrents such as security lighting, security stickers and placards, and surveillance cameras?
  • Are things like trees, shrubs and grass trimmed while you are away (especially near windows and doors since these provide an ideal cover for burglars)?

Securing a Vacation Home That Does Not Belong to You

As summer rapidly approaches, many of you will rent a vacation home from someone else. Understanding that the idea of installing a home security system is not an option for you, there are still a number of smart things that you can and should do in order to secure your family and your valuables while enjoying a vacation. The following are a few suggestions that we would like to share with you:

  • Upon your arrival, take a moment to make sure that all windows and doors are locked just in case a crafty burglar deliberately prepared his own entry point in anticipation of your visit.
  • Invest in a portable alarm system, such as the 2 in 1 Magic Door Alarm.
  • Do NOT rely solely on the existing door and window locks since you have no way of knowing who has keys to your vacation getaway. Instead, bring your own devices like our Guard Dog portable door guard alarm to make sure that no one can enter without your permission while you are inside of the home.
  • Always keep personal safety items, such as pepper spray, within reach while you are in the home, especially at night while you are sleeping.
  • Take several minutes to discuss issues of security with your family before heading outdoors to enjoy your vacation.
  • Find a secure hiding place for your valuables before you hit the beach, the slopes or whatever your vacation activity of choice may be.

We Don’t Mean to Make You Paranoid, But…

Don’t assume that burglars and violent criminals take very many vacations, because they don’t. You may attempt to escape your day job with a little rest and relaxation, but criminals are always on the lookout for their next payday. In fact, some of their most lucrative jobs are accomplished because of the lackadaisical approach many people have about vacation home security. So while we don’t want to risk spoiling your vacation with paranoia, we do want you to be aware that your family and your vacation home may be a target for a crime unless you take the necessary security precautions.

Now It’s Your Turn to Share

What is your best vacation home security tip? Do you have a story to share relating to personal and home security while on vacation? As always, we look forward to hearing your take on the subject below.