Monthly Archives: January 2013

Beware of Risky Home Security Advice

Beware of Risky Home Security Advice

Across the web and in real life, people often discuss various home security strategies. While many offer good advice, such as installing a security alarm, security lighting and CCTV cameras, many offer advice that just does not work. In fact, some of the advice offered can be downright risky to use. The following are just a couple of examples of security advice which can actually lead to disaster if used.

Wasp Spray Is More Effective Than Pepper Spray

For some time, an email has circulated around the web advising people to use wasp spray to fend off an attacker instead of pepper spray. According to the email, wasp spray allows you to spray a criminal from a further distance than pepper spray would while momentarily blinding and choking an aggressor thus leaving time to escape. While wasp spray can have this effect, using it for security purposes is risky for a few reasons.

First, spraying someone with wasp spray can carry serious legal ramifications since federal law prohibits insect sprays from being used for anything other than their intended purpose. Some variation of this warning is usually printed on each can sold. Imagine intending to thwart an attacker, but being charged with a crime instead. Sound far-fetched? Well, not so much when you consider that numerous suits have been waged by criminals against homeowners. The most recent that comes to mind is the case of a 90 year old former sheriff’s deputy in California being sued for shooting back at an intruder who’d already shot the homeowner in the face. While cases like these are usually thrown out of court, lawsuits and criminal charges are often attempted against homeowners by brazen criminals.

Second, while pepper spray has been tested and proven to be effective when properly used to fend off an attacker, wasp spray has not. There is a reason why police officers and others who work in high risk occupations carry pepper spray on them while in the line of duty. To rely on a product that has not been tested and proven effective could very well place a user in grave danger.

Similar claims have been made about bear spray and we warn against those sprays for the same reasons. We’d rather you be safe than sorry, which is why we provide a number of different pepper spray options in the Personal Protection section of our main store. For those who were attracted to the idea of using wasp spray because of the distance it is reported to spray, first we must warn that not all wasp sprays are created equal in this regard. Also, we recommend a product like the Mace Pepper Spray Personal Model, which can be sprayed a distance of 8 to 12 feet. There’s simply no need to risk personal safety when products like this are so easy and legal (in most jurisdictions) to carry.

Turning a Webcam Into a Security Camera

Like everything else in the tech world, webcams have made incredible strides and improvements in the ways in which they operate. While great for video calls, these devices are not so great for home security. Still, advice on using a webcam for security purposes continues to circulate around the web and I’ve even noticed a number of video tutorials advising people on the particulars of configuring a webcam for this purpose.

We have to advise against using a webcam in this way, however. Just like our wasp spray warning, webcams weren’t intended for home security purposes. Besides, what’s the first thing a burglar is likely to steal out of your home? That’s right, your computer…webcam and all…is likely to walk right out the door with a thief in the event that you are ever actually burglarized. And we won’t even mention the fact that these are easy enough to disable by closing a laptop’s lid, smashing your machine or simply turning the computer off.

A single camera surveillance system like the SVAT Digital Wireless Camera with Receiver and SD Recording costs less than a couple hundred bucks, can be controlled remotely and can even record at night. Such a system can also be expanded to accommodate up to 4 cameras, which means that it can monitor a lot more than a single webcam can. When it comes to Skyping with friends, trust a webcam, but when it comes to protecting your family, a DIY video surveillance system is a far better alternative.

Tell Us All About It

Do you have questions about home security? In particular, do you have questions about non-traditional home security tips that you’ve been offered? Please feel free to use the space below to ask your questions or to warn our readers about risky home security advice not mentioned in our post.

Catfish Scam and Your Home Security

By now you’ve heard about the catfish scam which victimized University of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. As a headlining story extending beyond the world of sports, many have had a good laugh at the bizarre nature of the story and most believe that such a thing can never happen to them. Manti Te’o’s story raises a serious issue, however, and one that we all should be concerned about. For those of you who may live under a rock, allow me to give you the highlights of this fiasco and describe for you what a similar scam could mean to your personal and home security.

What’s a Catfish?

First, the ‘catfish’ label derives from a documentary-turned-reality-show by the same name. In the original film, as well as the MTV series, stories of people who’ve been duped by Internet hucksters is the main theme. In particular, people pose as someone other than who they are in order to lure people into romantic online relationships. Photos are exchanged, long in-depth phone calls ensue, email love letters are shared and, in some cases, money is even spent on things like expensive gifts and loans.

After a while, however, it is discovered that the person at the helm of this ruse is anything but what she or he pretends to be. For example, while a victim of a catfish scam may believe he is carrying on a long distance relationship with a beautiful young bikini model, he may have actually invested months or even years communicating with a beer bellied 40-year old guy named Bruce. Sounds funny, but it happens everyday and there are potentially thousands of similarly unsuspecting relationships taking place at this very moment.

In Manti Te’o’s case, he carried on a long distance relationship with a woman over the Internet who he claims to have fallen madly in love with. Last year, however, he was delivered a crushing blow after receiving news of the woman’s death at nearly the same time he was also, coincidentally, informed of his grandmother’s death. I turns out, however, that not only was the woman’s death a hoax, but she never actually existed in the first place. The entire relationship had allegedly been staged by someone playing a cruel joke on the NFL hopeful.

Don’t Become a Victim

Having turned a virtual corner, most everyone hitches a ride on the information superhighway these days. As regular Internet users, we can’t afford to simply laugh at these stories and their victims. That people go to such lengths to dupe others should be of serious concern to all, especially those of us who communicate with others via web forums, social media sites and blogs. This sort of communication can very well lead to a compromise in personal and home security. In order to avoid this, let’s all endeavor to practice the following precautions when interacting on the web:

Never Give a Stranger Your Home Address

Years ago, I made friends with a very nice woman online. When the holidays rolled around, we decided to exchange inexpensive gifts, but I was sure to only offer my mailing address as opposed to my home address. Although we’d interacted with each other for months and I (to this day) believe she is who she claims to be, I wasn’t prepared to take any chances with giving out too much personal info.

Likewise, tweetups and other meetups can also potentially lead to burglaries. If you plan on meeting people offline for friendship or otherwise, make it a hard-fast rule to never invite people to your home and to never even let them know your home’s location. Thinking like a thief, after obtaining a person’s home address, how hard would it be to invite someone to a phony social gathering only to rob them while they are away from home?

Never Offer Financial Assistance

Now, I don’t know if this happened to Manti Te’o, but I have heard other tales of people sending money to help people whom they’ve never laid eyes on before. Whether posing as a love interest or a friend in need, I can imagine clever thieves taking advantage of gullible people ready to help them out of emergency situations. As tempting as it may be to do so and as convinced as you may be that the person and their situation actually exists, my advice is to steer clear of sending money to anyone you’ve befriended online, but have never met face-to-face.

Don’t Tempt a Thief

It’s not uncommon for us to discuss recent gifts and purchases with others online. I’ve done it and I’m sure most of you reading this have, too. Consider, however, who may be listening and who may be taking an inventory of what is in your home in order to steal those very items from you in the future. Even when you think you’re on a safe platform consisting of friends, family members and their friends, remember that some burglaries are actually committed by a friend of a friend or other people who we may not suspect the least. In practicing good home security, let’s all commit to not posting photos or even mentioning our new acquisitions online.

Tell Us Your Stories

Has anyone ever tried to lure you into a catfish scenario? Have you ever heard of someone’s home being burglarized as a result of their online communication? We love exchanging stories with you, so please share yours in the space provided below.

Caught On Tape

Are you thinking about purchasing a surveillance system, but aren’t yet convinced that a security camera is what you need? Well, if you’re on the fence, allow us to point out a few recent cases where surveillance cameras have caught criminals in the act.

The Buckethead Burglar

First up, we have the case of Richard Boudreaux accused of burglarizing his former employer’s place of business. Realizing that he’d arrived at Kenney’s Seafood in Louisiana without a mask to conceal his identity, Boudreaux placed a bucket found at the scene over his head, instead. He may have only been able to steal a few hundred dollars, but, despite the bucket, surveillance cameras were the real heroes as they stole a glimpse of his face, which led to him being arrested at his home not long afterwards.

Double Trouble

In Lake County, Montana, one Robert Taylor was recently arrested for burglarizing Western Building Center. Luckily, WBC had surveillance cameras installed and images shared in news reports helped citizens identify Taylor as a likely suspect in the crime. This information also helped in solving an attempted burglary crime at nearby St. Joseph’s Medical Center since a further investigation of the videotaped burglary at Western Building Center matched surveillance footage showing Taylor trying to enter a locked area of that hospital.

YouTube Drama

A New Jersey couple became famous on YouTube when police posted surveillance video of them on the popular video-sharing website. Unfortunately, for Ahmet Islami and Marjorie Alva, the footage shared was of them canvassing a neighborhood where they are accused of breaking into a couple of homes. As we’ve reported here many times, burglars will often pose as salespeople or regular joe-blow citizens as they knock on a front door to find out if anyone is at home during the daytime (which is when a vast majority of burglaries occur). Well, the couple approached one home under the guise of wanting to retrieve a football from the owner’s backyard.

Sound innocent enough? Well, not so much. See, prior to the homeowner opening the door, his surveillance camera captured footage of Islami peering through the window and…get this…trying the doorknob! When others in the neighborhood cited similar incidents with the couple, it wasn’t hard for police to figure out who the culprits were. Posting the footage online helped them place names with the faces and the two were arrested shortly thereafter.

He Ran, But Couldn’t Hide

In Sierra Vista, Arizona, Michael Dale Arends was arrested after surveillance footage helped identify a car he’s accused of using in several burglaries. Police had identified the vehicle once before, but Arends managed to evade capture at that time. As he soon learned, however, the police are pretty diligent in these matters and eventually they were able to catch up with him again. In between their first attempt and the second, officers were granted a search warrant for Arends’ home where they found all of the evidence needed to connect him with multiple burglaries and other crimes. Eventually, they nabbed Arends who now faces a string of charges ranging from burglary to drug possession to being delinquent on his child support payments.

From Hard Drive to Hard Time

Now, in a lot of cases a criminal will avoid committing crimes in plain view of a surveillance camera. As we’ve shared many times before, even a fake video camera can be enough to deter a burglary. Some thieves are just plain hard-headed though (or too high to think straight) and will proceed with a burglary scheme despite a camera’s presence. Some will even try to destroy a camera, which is what happened with a trio of thieves broke into YouTube user FlashPitt’s home a few weeks ago.

Apparently, these thieves didn’t realize that a camera had recorded everything from them ringing the homeowner’s doorbell to eventually kicking his back door in. Upon realizing that they were starring in their own burglary production, the trio cut the wires to the surveillance camera and even poured bleach on it in an attempt to render it completely useless. While they did manage to short the electrical circuits, the camera’s hard-drive held up well enough for the footage to survive. After posting the video online, FlashPitt reports that two arrests have been made. The story doesn’t end there, though, as another YouTube commenter thanks FlashPitt for the video and informs that the same culprits are also accused of robbing her boyfriend’s home on the same night for which they will also be tried.

Food For Thought

So, if you’re not sure whether a home surveillance camera is a necessary addition to your surveillance system, think again. Imagine how each of these criminals would have likely continued their crime sprees had they not been caught on tape. Gone are the days of needing a specialist to install a complicated video surveillance system as today’s state-of-the art cameras can be self-installed in a single afternoon. Really, there’s no excuse for anyone with an eye on security not to have one of these precious devices installed right away.

So, What Do You Think?

Have you ever captured a crime on camera? We’d love to hear your stories as well as your thoughts on each of the ones we’ve shared, so take a moment to leave us a comment in the section below.

Tips On Recovering Stolen Property

If you’ve recently taken a loss due to a burglar bypassing your security system and stealing valuables from your home, this post is for you. While there are no guarantees that you will be able to get your belongings back, there are a number of things that you can do to increase the likelihood of this happening. For those of you reading this who haven’t experienced a recent burglary, you may want to take heed to a few of the tips offered below.

Having been burglarized before, I know how it feels to have your privacy violated and to feel as though your safety has been seriously compromised. Not to mention the anger and frustration that comes with losing items that you’ve worked hard for. In my case, I lost a lot of jewelry and while I understand that material items can be replaced, some of the items that I lost were inscribed pieces that had special meaning to me. Like some of you reading this, it was only after my home was broken into that I invested in a home security alarm with monitoring. Had I known then what I know now, I like to think that I could have avoided a burglary in the first place or at least gotten some of my valuables back, which is why I want to share a few tips with you.

Make an Inventory Of Your Valuables

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read our blog post on making an inventory of your valuables. Doing so won’t stop a thief from stealing your belongings (in the unlikely event that he gets past your security system), but it will increase your chances of recovering your stolen items. From photographing your belongings, photocopying receipts and keeping a record of serial numbers, keeping a good, up-to-date inventory list can go a long way in helping you recover items if you are ever burglarized.

Keep a Written List of Missing Items

Of course, the first thing everyone should do after being burglarized is to walk around your home and make a complete assessment of everything that is missing. Remember to check basements and attics if you have items stored there. Write a detailed list with a description of your missing items so that you can share this list with the police when you file a burglary report. If there are items that you do not realize are missing right away, immediately alert the police to update your report when you discover that they are gone.

Stay in Close Contact With Police

Make sure that your contact information is up to date with your police department and check in with them periodically in the weeks immediately following your burglary. In my case, several police departments held a private event where recovered items were put on display and burglary victims were invited to the event in order to determine whether any of their missing items were there. Unfortunately, mine weren’t in the vast collection, but I’m sure some of the attendees were reunited with their belongings at that time.

Yard Sales and Estate Sales

Yes, it happens. A thief breaks into a person’s home, steals their possessions and then attempts to sell them at an estate or yard sale. In previous blogs, we’ve shared how some burglars are familiar to homeowners as in being friends of a friend or even a neighbor. This happened not too long ago in Salt Lake City, Utah when Darrell Herzet and Delbert Hale burglarized Herzet’s neighbor’s home while they were out of town only to be caught when Herzet held a garage sale where police found his neighbor’s belongings. So, in the weeks and months after your home has been burglarized, be sure to stay abreast of what it is that your neighbor’s are actually selling at these events.

eBay, Craigslist and Kijiji

Just like with yard sales, burglars will also try to unload inventory on sites like eBay, Craigslist and Kijiji. These sites have value beyond merely searching for your items, however. Consider posting a listing on each of these detailing specific items you are looking for. I especially recommend this tip for rare collectibles that are hard to find (and risky to unload at a pawn shop). Offer to pay top dollar for these items and if you’re contacted by someone claiming to have precisely what you’re looking for, be sure to contact the police before attempting to negotiate any further.

Twitter and Facebook

Social media is great for finding things like lost friends and lost pets. It is also a good place to alert others about missing items. As you may have read, former Miami Dolphin football player, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson found this out firsthand when his wallet was stolen from his car last year. Immediately after the theft was discovered, Johnson complained about it on Twitter and, within a few hours one of his followers found the wallet and contacted him. Use these mediums to your advantage and immediately inform others about what has gone missing and ask followers to be on the lookout for your goods.

Pawn Shops

Scouring your local pawn shops is also a good idea. While pawnbrokers are in regular communication with police departments to be on the lookout for items reported stolen, you never know what has slipped through the cracks. Get out and do a little detective work yourself by checking all of your local pawn shops, as well as those in cities and towns near you.

Neighborhood Criminals

This one can be more than a little risky, so proceed with extreme caution. I wouldn’t suggest randomly approaching a criminal to ask about your stolen items, but some of you reading this may know your local drug dealers and other criminals (especially if they grew up in your area) or you may know someone who knows them. If this is the case, consider a direct approach in very politely (and without accusation) asking if your items made it into their hands. Or, if you suspect this to be the case, completely bypass approaching a criminal and report your suspicions to the police, instead.

When my son was in high school, he and a friend were robbed while walking home from school. Of course, we immediately went to the police and filed a report, but we also reached out to another young man in our neighborhood who was on friendly terms with a group of young people known for committing similar crimes. This young man went directly to the guys suspected of the theft and, within hours, my son and his friend had their belongings back. This was a risky and frightening experience, but it worked out for us (but not so much for one of the criminals who was arrested the following day).

Have you ever recovered property after it was stolen from your home, office or car? How did this you get your items back? As always, we look forward to your comments and suggestions below.

Keeping Latchkey Kids Safe

As a description, the term ‘latchkey kid’ often bears a negative connotation. I was a latchkey kid, however, and, chances are, that many of you reading this were too. For me, there was nothing negative about staying at home alone. I learned responsibility, independence and I earned the trust and respect of the adults in my family for being both. I can’t recall ever being afraid to stay home alone and, even if I were, I had a long list of neighbors and family members that I could call upon.

Parents working during the daytime while children are at home alone is nothing new. Times have changed, however, which means that more effort has to go into protecting children than it did decades ago when we were all allowed to stay at home alone.

The following are a few security tips targeted specifically toward households where latchkey kids live:

Timing Is Everything

The laws on children staying at home without adult supervision may vary between jurisdictions. In general, children who possess a certain maturity, a level of responsibility and who do not express fear at staying home alone are believed to be prepared to do so. The best security tip anyone can offer on this subject is to first make absolutely sure that your child is ready for this responsibility.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Some mobile phone providers offer services that help you track a family member’s whereabouts. If your child is old enough to carry a cellphone, see if your provider offers this service. There are also security devices that you can install in your home, which will alert you when someone has entered the home at a regularly scheduled time. Even better, such a device will also alert you when a person has not entered the home by a certain time. Installing other devices in the home, such as surveillance cameras also allows you to see inside of your home via your mobile device or computer at any time of your choosing.

Of course, you can also just purchase a GPS tracking device for your child to wear at all times. Security devices like the SleuthGear iTrail Passive GPS Logger are ideal for this purpose since they are small enough to fit inside of a book bag or in a child’s pocket. Using Google Earth and Google Maps, the device is able to tell you where your child is (or has been) at all times while it is being used.

Create a Panic Code

Some security devices, also allow you to create a special code that will alert a monitoring company of an intruder. It may happen that an occupant is being forced to disarm a system or is unable to make a phone call for help, but can quickly enter a code to alert authorities just the same. It is especially important to hire a monitoring service for this feature, which can be done for less than $9 per month.

Speak Frankly to Your Children

Often, we worry about frightening children when speaking to them about the realities of the world that we live in. Everyone parents differently, but a little food for thought is that if a child will be at home alone without adult supervision, then a child needs to be aware of the world in the same way that an adult is. It is important to find ways to have frank conversations with children about the importance of home security and the importance of following rules– especially when home alone.

Don’t Advertise

When I was growing up, myself and others who stayed at home alone after school often wore our house keys around our necks. These days, however, I wouldn’t suggest a child do the same thing. Even with a key tucked beneath a shirt, a criminal may still be able to identify that a key is being worn, which indicates that a child will be at home alone. Nowadays, I’d suggest that parents invest in access control devices, which require a fingerprint or a special code be entered before a door is unlocked. With these security devices, there is no need for a key and a child is not advertising that she or he will be at home alone.

Safety Above All

Being a latchkey kid can be a good learning experience provided parents follow tips like the ones detailed here. Security manufacturers have created devices which allow parents to do things like see inside of a home, track a child’s whereabouts and use technology in a variety of different ways to keep children and entire households safe. If your child stays at home alone, it is a good idea for you to note the many options that are available to you– from video surveillance to GPS protection– Home Security Store is here to help keep your family safe and to give you peace of mind.

Your Thoughts

Were you a latchkey kid? Do your children stay at home alone now? What suggestions do you have for our readers on how to keep children safe while at home alone?

6 More Common Home Security Failures

Recently, we shared a list of six common home security failures with you. Unfortunately, we have six more to share with you today. While we’re not here to judge you for these failures, we do hope that you’ll immediately change your approach to security after reading all twelve security mistakes that average citizens make, which make them particularly vulnerable to burglary or worse.

Ignoring New Technology

Just as updated mobile devices, computer operating systems and software are introduced to the market ever so often, so is new security technology. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to update your system every time a shiny new product becomes available, but you also can’t afford to ignore new security technology and what it may offer you. One reason that new security devices are developed is because thieves find ways to work around old security products. For example, the locks on your door may appear to be sturdy and efficient. Thieves have learned a technique known as lock bumping, however, which can allow them undetected entry into your home in a matter of seconds. The security industry’s answer to this criminal skillset is the creation of biometric locks which require your fingerprint (or that of a family member’s) to unlock exterior doors. So, while you might be inclined to ignore new technology like this, it really isn’t in your best interest to do so.

Focusing On a Single Security Threat

Often, people will focus on a single area of security, while ignoring several others. For example, one may focus on having a security doors, but neglect to install a good alarm system. While sturdy security doors are a strong defense against crime, additional defenses– including an alarm system, surveillance cameras, security lighting and a number of deterrents– is better. If you haven’t already done so, we strongly suggest that you read our home security checklist for a more comprehensive overview on securing your home.

Hoping For the Best

No one thinks that a burglary or a home invasion situation will happen to them. In fact, most people ignore the reality of crimes reported everyday or shake their heads in dismay at the misfortune of others while hoping for the best in their own lives. While everyone should “hope for the best”, they should only do so after preparing for the worst. A good strategy in securing your home should involve a backward-thinking approach such as envisioning the absolute worst crime that can happen in your home and then thinking backwards in terms of what you can do to prevent such an event.

Relying On Rover

Over and over again, I hear people brag about “living alarms” also known as dogs. Whether residing as pets or as sentries, a dog is not as reliable for security as most people might believe. In fact, people who rely too heavily on a pet for protection are actually placing that animal in grave danger. This is a personal pet peeve of mine since a beloved pet was nearly killed by a gunshot wound when I was a child. After the pain of injury, surgery and a long recuperation period, our dog survived, but others aren’t so lucky. Yes, a barking dog can be a good security alert and deterrent, but homeowners are advised not to rely too heavily on pets for protection, as other devices, such as monitored security alarms and surveillance cameras are more effective.

Trusting Others

Leaving your doors unlocked, inviting strangers into your home and allowing service people to work at your home while you’re away are all things that you could have done without consequence 40 years ago, but we live in a different day and time now. People who still blindly trust others are the most vulnerable to burglary, as well as other crimes including con-games and even violent crimes. This isn’t to label everyone as a criminal, but rather to remind you that some of the most trusted faces and even the (seemingly) nicest neighbors may, in fact, be the very people plotting to rip you off.

Thinking Like a Law Abiding Citizen

Most people can never imagine breaking into someone else’s home and stealing their belongings. As law-abiding citizens, we would never do such a thing. Sometimes it pays to think like a criminal does, though. Obey the law, yes, but viewing your security through the lens of a burglar can truly be an eye-opening experience. Taking a moment to sit down and plot the best way to gain access to your home helps to illuminate the weakest security spots that you need to shore up.

Your Turn

So what are some of the home security failures that you’ve been guilty of in the past? What did it take for you to realize you were making a security mistake? Which security failures did we leave off of our list? Tell our readers what you think about this topic in the space provided below.

6 Common Home Security Failures

No matter how many news reports of burglaries and home invasion crimes are published, many still refuse to take home security seriously. And even among those who do take measures to protect a home and its occupants, certain security oversights still exist. In an effort to stop you from compromising your safety, we’ve highlighted some of the most common home security failures below.

1. Believing You Are Safe

You are not. At this point, I’m tempted to season this truth with a soothing statement like, “I’m not trying to frighten you…”, but the opposite is actually true. I want you to be afraid, as fear, in this case, is a built-in personal security device. Fear is what can make the difference between life and death when applied to home security. To a lesser extreme, it can certainly make the difference between you being burglarized or not.

If you believe that you are safe, you tend to ignore signs around you that suggest otherwise. What signs you ask? Well, open a newspaper or simply Google news stories by searching words like “burglary”, “home invasion” and “robbery”. These crimes do not just happen to certain types of people, they can happen to anyoneincluding you. In fact, criminals will often observe people from a distance before striking and are prone to victimizing those who carry themselves in ways that suggest that they feel safe and that they are oblivious to their environment.

Simply put, don’t let your guard down. Always be aware of dangerous possibilities at home and take steps to secure your home accordingly.

2. Being Colorblind

A red flag is a red flag. It is not yellow and it is not green, it is red and it represents danger. What am I talking about? The tendency some of us have of ignoring warning signs. Someone sitting in a parked car outside of a neighbor’s house for too long; a random service person making an unscheduled and unexpected visit to your home; a salesperson at your door insisting that your security system needs an upgrade. All of these scenarios represent a security risk and, chances are, your gut immediately sounds an alarm when confronted with one of these. Still, we often attempt to downgrade a red flag to a yellow or a green one, or we may even attempt to completely dismiss it instead of trusting our instincts.

3. Leaving a Spare Key In an Unsecured Location

Instead of leaving a key under a flowerpot, on top of a door frame or inside of a mailbox, why not just leave it in the lock along with a friendly invitation for a burglar to waltz right in? After all, hiding a key in an unsecured location is just about effective as this suggestion. The days of being able to safely leave a key under a doormat are long gone, yet many are still practicing some variation of key stashing at home.

4. Being Too Sociable On Social Media

Granted, the world of social media is a relatively new reality, but it’s been around long enough for us to develop a common-sense approach to using it. Yet, even during a cursory visit to any of the most popular social media sites a criminal can likely gather enough useful information to keep him working pretty steadily. This is because we are far too relaxed in sharing things like our hour-by-hour location details, vacation plans and new purchases.

5. Being Unarmed

Nothing is more frustrating to those of us with knowledge about home security as to discover people who have alarm systems that they seldom, if ever, arm. While advertising the presence of an alarm is sometimes enough to deter a burglar, yard signs and window decals cannot alert you, your neighbors or your monitoring company of a brazen criminal who has ignored these signs. Bottom line: A security alarm only works if it is armed.

6. Relying On a Gun to Keep You Safe

Gun ownership is a hot topic right now and we don’t aim to sway positions in one direction or the other. We do want to point out, however, that solely relying on a gun for safety is NOT a good home security strategy. A firearm can only work if you can get to it in time, retain control over it and can get the bad guy before he gets to you. As most people are not expecting an intruder’s visit, it is easy to be caught off guard and fall victim to a criminal even with a gun in the home. If you legally own a gun, it’s best to think of your weapon as one of many security tools available to you as opposed to solely relying on it to protect you from burglary or bodily harm.

Your Turn

What home security failures have you observed in yourself or in others? How are you working to assure that you fix these failures? In your opinion, is society overly concerned about home security or are we generally slow to realize its importance?

Please leave your comments below and stay tuned for part two of this blog where we’ll share a few more common home security failures with you.

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Green Home Security Solutions

Wherever you side on the topic of global warming, the fact remains that we can all make a better effort to conserve energy and lower our monthly utility bills in the process. Although most home security devices require regular usage, precious energy resources do not have to be wasted. The following are a number of green home security tips to help you protect both your home and the environment.

Look For Items With LED Technology

Home security devices featuring a light-emitting diode (LED) light consume less energy than other products which do not have this feature. Most are familiar with the tiny colorful lights present on everything from televisions to mobile devices, which are useful in identifying things like the device’s power status, pending messages and so forth. Despite having seen LEDs so often in our everyday lives, many are still unfamiliar with how the technology actually works, however. While we won’t go into a lengthy explanation here, we will tell you that LED lights tend to last longer than other lighting sources and that they typically consume less energy in the process.

Several of the devices offered in our main store utilize this technology in order to help control your energy bills without compromising security. For example, our Lorex ECO 8 Channel Security Camera System With 18.5” LED Monitor offers you full home surveillance over a secured home network without creating a heavy electrical burden. Using LED backlighting on its monitor, the system allows you to always have a clear view of several areas in and around your home during the daytime and at night.

Consider Wireless Options

While hardwired home security devices are highly effective instruments designed to protect your home, wireless devices can be equally effective. Wireless security alarms and devices also require less support from your home’s electricity. Some may worry about the quality of security offered by wireless devices, especially in comparison to hardwired options. However, technology in this area has advanced to the point where modern wireless devices work just as well as hardwired devices do when it comes to securing a home. A notable exception is made for homes with a larger than average square footage, which may cause certain sensors and other devices to be positioned too far away from the unit’s main base. For most homes and offices, however, wireless devices provide strong protection and are excellent green home security solutions.

Install Environmental Controls

We’d be remiss in our suggestions for green home security if we didn’t speak to you about installing environmental controls in your home. Doing so allows you to have direct control over things like heating, cooling, lighting and the prevention of costly environmental mishaps. As such, every home and office should be equipped with things like water and flood sensors, and temperature sensors. Green home security devices like these will not only help conserve resources by immediately alerting you whenever there is a leak in your home or whenever the temperature is at a threatening level, but many can even assist you in controlling events remotely.

For more information on how environmentally-friendly devices like these work, we recommend that you visit the Environmental Controls department in our main store. There, you will find a variety of different options that provide you with ways to monitor and protect your home’s environment to assure that resources are not being wasted and that your home is not in danger of being destroyed by an environmental threat. For example, our Freeze Alarm Deluxe is designed to immediately contact you whenever ambient temperatures have risen or fallen to threatening levels. The system will also immediately alert you whenever power has failed in your home.

Not only will the Freeze Alarm Deluxe allow you to remotely check the temperature of your home, but it will also let you preheat or precool your home so that it is the right temperature for your arrival. Admittedly, that’s not the most environmentally sensitive use of this feature, but walking into a warm home after freezing outdoors is sometimes a good option to have!

Make Green Home Security a Priority

As you can see, home security devices can be environmentally friendly. While a plethora of products exist in this category, the most important tip for using green home security is to make it a priority in your life. This means thoroughly researching your options and making selections with this benefit in mind. Becoming a conscious consumer is the absolute best way to assure that you purchase home security devices that are as easy on the environment as they are on your wallet.

Comments Welcome

What are some of your green home security solutions? Your thoughts and ideas are appreciated and we encourage you to leave them in the comments section below. Should you have more detailed questions about specific green home security solutions, our tech support team is always ready to help.

Is Your Home Safe From the Environment?

While we want all of our readers to keep home security as a top priority in 2013 and beyond, we don’t want you to think that burglary is your only concern. Environmental damage presents a severe threat to your home and you safety, especially in light of severe weather events that have recently occurred. Not to worry, though, we’ve considered a number of possible emergencies and are here to remind you of a few concerns that are most worthy of your attention.

Throughout the nation, the weather has changed and, in many places, much cooler temperatures have now become the norm. Even those who are living in warmer, more tropical climates must be concerned about tropical storms and the damage that they can bring. If you haven’t already done so, we strongly advise you to think about the following:

Are Your Pipes In Danger of Freezing?

Of course, there are things that you can do to prevent your pipes from breaking during freezing temperatures. Covering your pipes with insulation is always a good idea and, more than likely, if you live in an area that is prone to cold temperatures, you’ve already taken this precaution. If you live in an area where temperatures only occasionally fall below freezing, however, you may be less prepared for an event such as this. Either way, we highly recommend that you seek to avoid to this potentially costly damage by taking proactive steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. Installing temperature controls like our Freeze Temperature and Power Out Alarm/Flood Alarm can help alert you whenever temperatures fall below a preset range or whenever water is leaking anywhere in your home. Devices like these are easy to install on your own and they do not require additional wiring.

Have You Established a System to Prevent Flooding?

Frozen pipes aren’t the only situations that may cause a flood to occur in your home. Often, these mishaps occur as a result of basin or sink overflows or may even be due to undetected appliance leaks. A good water and flood sensor, however, can immediately alert you whenever a leak is present. Every home should have items like these installed in laundry rooms, bathrooms, basements or anyplace where water is used.

Are Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors Up To Date?

Most homes are equipped with smoke detectors and some have even installed carbon monoxide detectors. Certainly, if you don’t have either, we strongly encourage you to purchase these items right away as, without them, you are placing your family in grave danger. If you have them in your home, however, today is a good day to test them in order to verify that each unit is in working condition. You may find that a simple battery change is in order or you may even need to update a few of your units, especially if you haven’t done so in several years.

Do You Have Fire Equipment?

Is your home equipped with a working fire extinguisher? How about an up to date fire alarm? The simple installation of these items can literally save lives. Other items that you want to be certain that you have in case of a fire or other emergency are a ladder, a sturdy flashlight and a special fire blanket. Each family should also discuss escape routes and key emergency procedures, as well as practice drills several times throughout the year.

Business and Vacation Properties

As an added reminder, please keep your office and vacation properties in mind when considering how to secure your home against environmental threats. Vacation homes, in particular, should always be equipped with freeze and temperature alarms that actually call you on the phone to alert you of a possible disaster instead of merely sounding an alarm. Some devices, such as the Freeze Alarm Deluxe, also employ a bit of home automation in terms of remote temperature control for your maximum comfort.

We’re Here to Help

Should you have any questions about environmental protection in your home, our tech support team is always ready to help. While keeping in mind that all of the suggestions we’ve provided can be easily implemented as they are very basic DIY projects, there’s really no excuse for leaving your home vulnerable to environmental mishaps. Also remember that, as we start a new year, our previously published home security checklist is also worthy of your review.

We hope that the coming year brings you nothing but the best. We also hope that you are wise in protecting your home, your valuables and your family against dangers of all sorts. As we always have, Home Security Store promises to continue doing our part in providing you with the best in quality DIY home security products.

We Love Hearing From You

Have you ever sustained environmental damage to your home? What losses did you suffer as a result and what advice do you have to share with our readers? Your comments are not only welcome, but we often find them to be quite useful. We look forward to hearing what you have to share on the subject of protecting our homes from the environment in the comments section below.