Monthly Archives: November 2012

How to Secure Different Types of Homes

Many homeowners are interested in securing and protecting their homes with the use of home security systems. But what if you do not own a house, can you still have security protection? What if you live in an apartment, condo, or possibly a mobile home and want to ensure that your humble abode is protected? There are actually many ways to secure your place, whether or not it is a house.

Any Home Can Be Secured

Living in an apartment or condo one may not think to secure it the way they may a house. But, those in a living situation in or like an apartment are just as vulnerable to burglary attacks. They may actual be more vulnerable because thieves may take into consideration that people do not always have alarms or security systems in their apartment type homes. Living on an upper floor can help ensure safety knowing that there are not as many entrance points for a burglar. But, not everyone can the option of living on an upper floor or even want to, and even if someone does live on an upper floor, there are still windows that can be potential break-in points. At Home Security Store there are glass break detectors that people can install that will sound of an alarm if the window is shattered or tampers with. There are some that are as low as $10. For more security, you can also purchase an alarm system or surveillance system. Keep in mind though to check with your complex managers that installing a home security or surveillance system is allowed. If anything though, window alarms and even door alarms are definitely beneficial. You can also purchase burglar deterrents and yard signs. Even if you do not have a yard to put a sign in, getting a sticker stating that your home is being monitored and placing it on your windows will help with deterring the burglar. Showing the burglar in any way that your home is protected or monitored will help keep away burglars.

Remember the Basics

Remember to always lock your windows and doors when you are not home. Never leave your door open or unlocked even if you are running around the corner for something or taking out the trash. In the time it may take you to throw your trash out, a burglar can easily take all of your valuables leaving no trace of who took it.

Best Place For A Spare Key

It is very important to remember to never leave a key anywhere outside of your apartment. Even if you have a hiding spot for it, someone can easily spot you hiding it and not even break into your home, walk into it. If you are comfortable with your neighbors and trust them, you can give them a spare key. The safest place to put a key is in your car and most of all with an employee in the front office.

Don’t Make Yourself a Burglary Target

It is best not to talk about new and expensive items out loud or while you are outside of your apartment. You never know who may be listening to your conversation or overhear what you are saying. Remember also to never leave out evidence that you had bought something that is pretty pricy. Do not leave boxes outside of your apartment or even on a porch or balcony. Doing so can give a burglar a first hand look at some of the nice things you own without having to break in. Take all empty boxes directly to the dumpster to avoid becoming a potential target.

What to do Before Moving in

There are a couple of things that one should do before moving into a new place. Assure that all lock on the windows and doors offer good security. You can also check and see with management that all of the locks are changed before you move in. If not, a previous renter could have possibly made copies of the key and still have access into your apartment. Make sure that your front door has a peep hole, this also is beneficial when you have random knocks at the door.

Tips for Those in Mobile Homes

Once you have moved in, it is a good idea to make an effort to get to know your neighbors. That way you can recognize familiar faces around your apartment, condo, or mobile home complex. If you have a mobile home, adding dead bolts to the doors and even putting secondary locks on the doors and windows will help protect against burglars. Many mobile homes come with yards, so yard signs are a great thing to have. You also want to make sure that you do not leave any tools laying around your yard that a burglar could use to pry open a door or potential entry space. Always try to make it look like someone is home. Whether you leave a light on in your front room or keep a radio on, pretending that you are home will usually scare off a burglar.

No matter what type of home you live in, there are a number of ways to secure it hopefully keep burglars away. We have to remember to to the obvious things when not at home such as closing windows and locking all doors. By taking these extra safety precautions mentioned in this article, our homes and belongs make us less of a risk to becoming the next victim to a burglary.

Home Safety while Teens are Home Alone

Generally it is not a good idea to leave a child under the age of ten home alone. It can be hard for a parent to know when it is the right time to lave their child home alone. But with good judgment and a plan, you and your child will be ready for when that time finally comes. Trusting you child to stay home alone gives them a sense of responsibility and confidence. But, leaving your children under the supervision of a teen can also pose some risks. Parents must consider how well their teen is with dealing with potential challenges and problems. There are some safety tips that can be established to keep your family safe. There are also some products that you can purchase for your home to monitor that all is well when you are not there with your children.

Give A Routine and Schedule

In order to avoid as much chaos as possible, it is a good idea to establish some sort of routine for your teen, especially if you plan on leaving your teen home alone over the weekend or for a longer period of time. Make your rules and expectations for your teen very clear. You may even want to set up rewards and consequences for following and not following the rules. By creating a schedule for your teen to follow while you are home alone allows for some structure even while you are not there. The schedule will also make them aware that even though you are not there, they still have rules and guidelines they must follow through on. Insuring your teens that the rules are for their safety may help them better understand why you may be so worried about leaving them home alone. Before leaving your child home alone for a long period of time it is a good idea to give staying home alone a test run. Leave your teen home alone for a short period of time and stay close by just in case anything happens.

Enforce Rules and Expectations For Your Teen

Although it is very important to have your children following the rules of the house, most importantly, you will want to go over important safety information with your child. Giving your child house rules not only for what to do and not to do around the house, but also rules for what to do in case certain situations arise. Make sure your children know not to open the door for anyone. Home Security Store offers the perfect thing to help you and the rest of the household to identify guests at your door. With the SVAT Hands Free 2-Wire Color Video Intercom System, you are able to safely identify visitors with audio and video before deciding to answer the door.

Have Backup Contacts

No matter how responsible your teen may be, chances are there will be a time when they are home alone that they forget to do something or need help. Always be available for them to contact you, or if you cannot be available, find a family friend or relative who is. Leave a list of contact phone numbers on the fridge for your teens just in case something were to come up. Have your children check in with you every now and then to make sure that everything is running smoothly. If you are comfortable with your neighbors, talk to them and see if it is okay for your teens to contact them in the event of an emergency. Having somebody close by that is there just in case can help ease your worry and also make your teen more comfortable knowing they have somebody close to go to for help.

Teens Understanding Your Home Security System

Be sure to familiarize your teenagers with your home alarm system. Not only should you show them how to arm and disarm the alarm, you want to give them more specific details about the alarm system. For example, explain to them the areas in which the security system protects. Inform them on the passwords for the alarm system in case something accidentally goes off or the alarm system calls. When your teens are home alone, they should be just as comfortable using the alarm system as you are.

Other Ideas For Insuring Your Teen is Safe

A great investment for parents to make to help put their minds at ease while leaving your children home alone is the Total Connect Remote Services by Honeywell. With this, you can be notified of activity throughout your home such as, when your child gets home from school, opens the door, and even disarms the alarm. With this setup, you can actually see live video of your home wherever you may be with the use of your smartphone. Not only can you see live video in your home, you can also control the alarm system from your smartphone as well.

Real Life Personal and Home Security Lessons I’ve Recently Learned

I witnessed a crime recently. Granted, it was a petty theft, but it was still an eye-opening experience. In the very Starbucks where I’m sitting now, two teenagers walked in, swiped a woman’s iPhone and ran like the wind. A bystander tried to grab one of the thieves, but he still managed to get away.

The following week, another crime occurred just a block away from a friend’s home when an intruder broke into a house in the middle of the night. When confronted by the homeowners, the intruder commenced to fire seven or eight gunshots before escaping through a back door and fleeing through a nearby dark golf course. Two occupants were wounded, but, thankfully, not seriously.

Just this past weekend, I also met someone at a women’s health event who began to share with me the importance of personal security items. I politely listened to this woman extol the virtues of carrying pepper spray, but I admit that I had no intention of making a purchase (I already have my own and highly recommend the Fury OC Pink Heart Lipstick Pepper Spray). The tears in her eyes, however, caused me to ask about her motivations in sharing this info. It was at this time that she shared how her daughter had recently been kidnapped, raped and beaten just five minutes from her home in Beverly Hills, California.

Two things that each of these crimes have in common is that they all happened in upscale neighborhoods and at times where each person was the least suspicious of people or their surroundings. Despite the fact that I so often blog on personal and home security topics, I admit to understanding how easy it is to ignore gut feelings or to become so distracted in a “safe setting” that we forget to exercise common sense security rules and advice.

The following are a few of the lessons these recent crimes and their victims have taught me:

Trust Your Gut

As soon as the iPhone thieves walked in, I knew something wasn’t right. They didn’t purchase anything, but briskly followed each other into the restroom. I glanced at them and made note of them bypassing the counter, but I immediately began to justify the scene by telling myself that perhaps they’d order before exiting or that they’d been seated on the patio all along and I just hadn’t noticed them.

My point here is that my gut told me something was wrong and I argued with it. This time it was just an iPhone, but the scene could have been far worse. What could I have done differently? In hindsight, quite a bit– like getting a better description of the guys, bringing the oddity to other people’s attention (a few people also noticed, but ignored their instincts, too) or even walked out of the store. The latter may sound extreme, but imagine if they’d been up to something more sinister? When it comes to personal security, we shouldn’t hesitate to overreact.

Practice Cell Phone Safety

As the heartbroken mom shared news of her daughter’s unfortunate attack, she advised me to not let my smartphone become a distraction in public. In particular, she warned against looking at phones as we exit and walk away from our cars. With heads down texting or reading, we are vulnerable to attackers lurking in the shadows while waiting for such a distracted victim. She also warned me to immediately start my car and lock my doors upon entering my car instead of fidgeting with a phone, connecting it to a charger or situating my purse and other items. The advice sounded good at the time, but didn’t really hit me until I got in my car later that afternoon and caught myself texting my husband before starting my car and locking my doors. I have no idea how many times I’d done that in the past, but I do know that, thanks to her advice, I’ll never do it again.

Never Rely On Others to Keep You Safe

I know this, but it was reinforced with a home-invasion happening so close to a friend’s home. See, he lives in a development where surveillance cameras are positioned at all entrances, as well as throughout the community itself. Their homeowner’s association also features 24/7 security that patrols the neighborhood, as well as a Sheriff’s substation located at the security’s main office. The home where the invasion occurred, however, was located almost directly across the street from this security station! Despite all of the extra security in an otherwise very safe neighborhood, a family was still victimized by an intruder.

Instead, these homeowners should have had an alarm system, their own surveillance cameras and motion-detected security lighting. According to my friend, no one knows why this particular home was selected but, at the very least, these security devices may have deterred the prowler. As it is, the intruder managed to not only enter the home without immediately sounding an alarm, but he was also able to escape under a cover of darkness.

What Have You Learned?

It’s unfortunate that any of these crimes occurred, but we can all learn from them in hindsight. Have you ever witnessed a crime or been a victim of one? What did you learn from these experiences? Please share your lessons in the comments section below.

Common Stolen Items

Do burglaries happen to specific households because of target items they have in their home? What is it a burglar is looking for when they are break into someone’ home? If we have what they are looking for, how can we deter the burglar and avoid being another victim to this crime? These are all questions we may ask ourselves when considering the safety of our home. Burglars typically look for items that are east to get rid of. Meaning that they can take them to a pawn shop or sell them on the streets for quick cash. These are a few of the main items that burglars look for when in someone’s home.

Cash

There are a few items that many people have within their home that are the perfect item to steal in the eyes of the burglar. Cash is always a hot item for burglars to steal. Burglars will always be willing to picked cash that they find within someone’s home. People are encouraged to keep as little cash out and about in their home. If for some reason you do have a lot of money around your home, get a safe that you can hide it in. cash is the number one item that comes up missing when someone’s home has been invaded. Aside from cash, they will also take piggy banks, wallets, and purses with hope that there is something that they can profit from inside. Keep in mind though, that burglars are not always looking for something to sell. Finding a credit card can have just as much value to them as well.

Computers and Electronic Gadgets

Computers, typically laptops are also something that burglars look for in homes. Many people these days have laptops, and we usually do not hide them or lock them up when they are not in use. Laptops, in the eye of the burglar, are very easy to grab and go. All that the burglar has to do is unplug the laptop and they are ready to leave. Another reason burglars take laptops is because they can sell it to a pawn shop or even on websites like Craigslist. It is easy to find someone who will buy a cheap, used, laptop that works well. Electronic gadgets are another thing that burglars look for. Most electronic gadgets are small and easy to take but in turn can give them a lot of money back.

TV’s

Oddly enough, TV’s are also another item that burglars attempt to steal. This may be surprising to some people because TV’s are so large, but it is still one of the more commonly stolen items. Finding a nice TV can bring in a lot of cash for the burglar. Even though it may be a risky move, burglars are willing to take that risk knowing they may get a lot of money in return.

Tools, Gasoline, & Guns

Tools and gasoline are items that burglars also look for when burglarizing a home. Tools, especially power tools, can be easily sold at pawn shops. It can be so easy to sell things these days with use of social networks like Facebook, or public classified sites Craigslist, or even Ebay, tools are something that burglars are always trying to sell or pawn. Not only can they sell the tools, they can also use them for future break-ins. Along with your tools, they will also steal guns. Guns can have a huge resale value on the streets. With the gas prices being pretty high, it is pretty obvious as to why burglars would take any gasoline they may have found in a home. Not only will they have money in the items they sold, they don’t have to pay for the gas it took for them to get around either.

How to Protect Your Home

For the most part, burglars want to take small items that won’t weigh them down and allow for a quick getaway. There are many things that we can do to prevent our family and our home from being a victim to an in-home burglary. It is wise to get a small safe to keep your most precious valuables in or items like guns. But, it can be time consuming and a pain to have to lock everything that a burglar may find of value away. Luckily there is another option that can prevent you from having to do that. By securing your home with the use of a home security system, you can leave your home worry free knowing that it is being monitored 24/7. Home Security Store offers burglar deterrents that will fend off a burglar. For example, with the Rex Plus Electronic Watchdog Alarm, you can scare off potential intruders with the sound of a real watch dog. The closer the intruder gets, the louder and more frequent the barking becomes. Securing your home with items like this can give you some peace of mind when you leave your home.

How to Choose a Safe Neighborhood to Live In

What Exactly Do You Want?

Buying not just a new home, but also your first home can be very exciting. At the same time though, it can also be stressful and very time consuming. There are many factors to consider when choosing the location of your home. Making a list of ‘must-haves’ as well as ‘would-like-to-haves’ can help you locate exactly where you want to live. Do you have children or plan to? If so, obviously the safety of the neighborhood is very important. What type of home do you want? Figuring out whether or not you would like a single-story home or a two-story home. Some people may prefer a custom made built home whereas others would like to have a historic home or a lot of land along with their home. These are questions that we may not initially think of, but if we narrow down what we want, finding a home will be less overwhelming and more fun.

Location, Location, Location

Check out the neighborhood you are considering to move to at various hours of the day. The dynamics of a neighborhood may change completely depending on when you’re there. It is also good to look at different hours because depending on where the neighborhood is locate, traffic in and around the area may be different based on the time. If your neighborhood is near a school, keep in mind the traffic that may be around your home in the mornings and afternoons. Knowing what the neighborhood is like at all times of the day can definitely help when making a decision of where to move. Not only will you want to look at the traffic of the area, if you have children, it is very wise to look at the surrounding schools. At times, people will pick the area they want to live in based of the school their child goes to or will be attending in the future.

How Far is Too Far?

You may also want to keep in mind what your daily commute will be from where you may want to live. Is it worth it to pay less on your mortgage but pay more for gas because of your commute? Think about how far you want to live from schools, churches, grocery stores, and your work place. Not only do you have do consider actual money costs of commutes, but time costs as well. Figure out how much money and time you are willing to commit to when commuting to and from work as well as other local amenities.

Who Will You Be Living Next To?

Talk to people who already live in the area you are interested in. if you are looking for a family friendly neighborhood, ask around if others feel it is one. Getting the opinions from who already lives there will benefit you greatly when making a decision for where you want to live. Consider who your neighbors may be. For example, you may love a house in a neighborhood, but your neighbors are younger adults who often have loud parties. This is a big factor to consider. When you move into your home, you are also moving into the neighborhood community and will most likely build friendships with the people living around you.

Ask About Safety

It is a good idea to get the opinions of not just the people living in the neighborhood. People may have different standards as to what is safe and what isn’t. Searching the web for information like police reports in the area, crime rates, as well as the amount of registered sex offenders in and around the area can help with making a decision. Even looking up things like foreclosures and evictions around the neighborhood is also a great idea. You can go to the local police and ask them about how safe they feel the area is. For the most part, they are called for problems and disturbances, so they will be able to give you a pretty accurate idea on how safe the area is.

Other Things to Consider

Some people prefer living in a gated community because they are free from solicitors and have a stronger sense of privacy. They also feel safer knowing not just anybody can come into the neighborhood. Although this is typically true, it is still a good idea to make sure that your family and home are safe no matter what type of community you live in. So for any new home owner, they should make it a priority to consider investing in a home security system will help to insure that  your home and loved ones are protected and safe. You can look at the many options for what type of security cameras are sold at Home Security Store. There are a number of things to think of when making a big purchase like a home. By staying organized and having your ideas on lists can help you get a better idea of everything you want and need!

The Popularity of DIY Home Security Systems is Growing

Throughout the blogosphere, from social media and even traditional news outlets, there is an indication that the popularity of do-it-yourself home security systems is growing. While precise reasons for this are unknown, an unofficial survey of news and discussions on this topic indicate that improvements in technology, as well as the cost-effectiveness of DIY home security projects are both very sensible explanations. A growing DIY home improvement trend, in general, may also play a role in the increased interest in DIY home security.

The Ease of Wireless Home Security Systems

A recent article on a website covering news in Florida suggests that DIY home security systems are receiving increased attention as new technology is easier to install and, thus, causing people to bypass well-known security dealers and expensive installation prices in favor of installing their own systems. We find this to be particularly true with wireless home security systems which do not require complex wiring procedures.

Technological advances have also made it possible for wireless systems to represent the same level of alarm quality as hardwired systems. Digital technology, in particular, eliminates a lot of the interference that earlier generations of analog wireless technology experienced. This is true for alarm systems, as well as wireless video surveillance systems.

DIY Hardwired Alarm Systems

Even hardwired systems can be self-installed. As the product reviews on the Ademco Honeywell Vista 20P Security System Kit that we offer in our main store will attest, most people find hardwired systems like these pretty easy and straightforward to install. Of those who find such an effort to be a challenge, the personalized tech support we provide helps make the DIY installation of even hardwired systems possible.

The Cost Effectiveness of DIY Home Security Systems

DIY home security systems also tend to cost quite a bit less than do alarm systems purchased through security dealers. Often, the alarm brands sold are identical to those that can be purchased from Home Security Store or another direct security retailer. Not only might systems cost less, but homeowners also save on the cost of labor for installation, as well as monitoring costs.

Typically, alarm monitoring can cost the upwards of $20 per month if contracted through a home security dealer. DIY home security system owners, however, can receive comparable monitoring services for less than half that cost. One of the main reasons people often cite for bypassing alarm monitoring (which we do not recommend that anyone do) is because of the high cost of monitoring through security dealers. It stands to reason, then, that homeowners would embrace DIY home security systems, which can be monitored for less than $100 annually.

The Latest and Best Technology is Also DIY

In addition to professional monitoring, a lot of DIY home security customers are taking advantage of new technology that allows them to self-monitor their homes. This is done through the use of alarm accessories and smartphone applications that make it possible to view a home– inside and out– from a remote location using a smartphone, tablet or a laptop computer. Many of these same devices also make it possible to access home automation tools in order to control other things in a home’s environment, such as lighting and heating.

Beyond alarm and monitoring accessories, however, people find value in DIY projects that heighten home security by doing things like changing a home’s locks, installing additional keypads or even adding yard signs and window decals indicating the presence of a home security system. Often overlooked in conversations of DIY home security– or home security, in general– these simple projects help add layers of home security which are very necessary in keeping burglars at bay. For example, biometric door locks, which are controlled by fingerprint, are definite deterrents…not to mention, they add a certain “cool factor” to a home.

DIY Home Improvement Movement Empowers Homeowners

The plethora of DIY home improvement television shows, blogs, websites and magazines also undoubtedly supports the popularity of DIY home security systems. Mediums like these have helped homeowners feel empowered about making improvements to their homes. By highlighting ordinary people with average skill sets who are committed to undertaking handyman projects on their own, the masses have learned that they, too, can learn how to improve a home’s value and security without paying the price for expensive contractors and installers.

Of course, we are pleased at the increasing popularity of DIY home security systems. We know that consumers can save money by going this route and we also know that quality does not have to be compromised when purchasing a system from a reputable DIY home security company. Homeowners deserve to have the best and strongest security at home, but they do not deserve being charged high markups for equipment, installation and monitoring.

Your Thoughts on the DIY Home Security Trend

Have you engaged in a DIY home security project? What prompted you to do so? Also, why do you think that DIY home security projects are becoming more popular? We’re always interested in your stories and comments, and we look forward to hearing from you in the space provided below.

5 Personal Survival and Home Security Lessons From Superstorm Sandy

As our nation and our Caribbean neighbors recover from Superstorm and Hurricane Sandy, we’d like to reflect on a few lessons learned from this disaster. May we all not just discuss the storm’s aftermath, but take these lessons seriously enough to take action toward protecting our homes and our families against similar events in the future. While there’s nothing any of us can do to prevent things like earthquakes, hurricanes and superstorms, the following are a few of the things we should all be prepared to do in order to minimize the loss of property and lives in the future:

1        Expect the Unexpected

Sandy first presented as a hurricane, which is common for the Caribbean, but highly unusual for the eastern coast of America at this time of year. As they often do, many expected the hurricane to break up before it hit America’s mainland. While Sandy did downgrade from a hurricane to a storm, no one could be prepared for the surges that would follow. Despite early evacuations and pre-storm states of emergency being declared in some cities, a lot of people assumed that they’d get hard rain, perhaps even a little flooding, but that Sandy would be a lot more bark than bite. Even those who took warnings more seriously were caught off guard by the storm’s intensity and the damage that ensued. The lesson here is to expect (and prepare) for the worst…even when the worst seems highly unlikely. Which would you choose to be: over prepared or under prepared?

2        Protect Your Family

At all costs. This means, if you can afford extra supplies, security devices, environmental controls and anything else that will help protect your family or aid in your survival, don’t skimp. There are plenty of other areas where you can cut costs in order to save money, but survival and security shouldn’t one of them. Also, when asked to evacuate or prepare for a disaster in some other way, it is important to do so and not choose to take unnecessary chances that you may later regret. While leaving one’s home, even temporarily, can be a major inconvenience, it’s the kind of inconvenience that saves lives.

3        Protect Your Valuables

Right now, think about all of the valuable items in your home that you’d hate to lose in a disaster. Also, think about the precautions that you currently have in place in order to possibly protect these items. Do you have flood, temperature and freeze sensors? What about surge protectors or an uninterruptible power supply? While smart homeowners who heeded warnings about Sandy had several days in which to move furnishings and valuables to higher ground, not every environmental threat will offer that much preparation time. Even having a few hours warning, however, can help you either prevent a catastrophe or at least offer enough time for you to rescue as many of your valuables as possible. Environmental controls offer these kinds of alerts and should be installed in every home.

4        Be Self-Reliant

During a large-scale natural disaster, police, fire and other emergency workers have their hands full. As we witnessed during Sandy’s rampage, hospitals can also lose power and medical staff are often overwhelmed and cannot possibly attend to every single person needing help. It is, therefore, important for every member of your family to have a separate survival kit like the Guardian 1 Person Deluxe Hunter’s Survival Kit. Remember to also be prepared by doing things like keeping your gas tank full at all times (or as full as you can afford in this economic climate) and keeping a backup generator at home.

5        Can You Unplug?

We live in a digital age where not only are we reliant on electricity for our survival, but, increasingly, we have also come to rely on computers and smartphones for everyday things that we didn’t even have to think about a decade ago. For instance, while glued to my television set watching Sandy’s devastation, I heard stories about people needing medications, but not knowing the exact names of drugs that had previously been prescribed because the names were stored on a database that couldn’t be accessed without power. There were also people who found it difficult to access phone numbers and other data that was stored in mobile phones that weren’t charged, were lost or that didn’t have service. The lesson here is to plan for an emergency by unplugging for several hours at a time, assessing and devising ways of surviving without electricity, phone or Internet connections.

United We Stand

One giant lesson that we continue to learn in times of disaster, like Superstorm Sandy, is that we are at our best when we stand together. Stories abound of neighbors helping others and people pulling together to survive one of the worst storms in the nation’s history.

If you live in an area affected by Sandy, know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. If you are not in an area impacted by Sandy, we encourage you to contact the various agencies that are assisting with the cleanup and restoration efforts and consider making a donation or volunteering your time in order to help our fellow Americans inch closer to normalcy in their everyday lives again.

Your Thoughts

Where you directly impacted by Sandy? If you could turn back the hands of time, what, if anything, would you do differently to brace yourself for a storm of that magnitude? As always, we look forward to your comments below.