Monthly Archives: January 2014

Is Your Family Protected From Fire?

house-fireUsing a fire alarm or smoke detectors to protect a home from fire is just as important as using a burglar alarm to protect against intruders. Your home security practices must cover all bases, which is why we do our very best to offer so many safety and avoidance tips on subjects like home invasions, environmental disasters and break-ins. Sadly, a number of recent fire-related deaths in the news prompt the writing of this post. We want to do our best to make sure that you have the tools needed to survive a fire should one ever break out in your home.

Do You Have the Right Equipment?

Most homes are already equipped with one or more smoke detectors. In fact, in most places throughout the United States these life-saving devices are legally required to be installed in public buildings as well as in private homes. While smoke detectors are commonplace, how many of you know what kinds of devices you have in your homes and why this information is so important?

Ionization Vs. Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

An ionization smoke detector sounds an alert whenever it detects smoke which has originated from an actual flame. A photoelectric smoke detector, on the other hand, sounds an alert whenever smoke from a smoldering source has been detected. Of the two, a photoelectric alarm typically costs more, but is highly recommended in order to alert homeowners against dangers such as a cigarette smoldering on a mattress (which an ionization alarm may not detect soon enough to allow an occupant to extinguish the threat or escape).

While both types of alarms are important, if you inspect your smoke detectors and find that you’ve only got the ionization type (which are the most common types found in homes likely due to their cost), we strongly urge you to also install a photoelectric device such as the GE Interlogix Wireless Smoke Detector featured on our main page. Doing so helps increase your security against both types of threats.

Advice On Your Home’s Smoke Detectors

At least one smoke detector should be placed in the hallway near the bedrooms in your home. Remember to place a separate detector near bedrooms that are far apart or located on another floor. A detector should also be placed in common areas, such as a living room or dining room, too. Consult your local fire agency or state and federal resources for more advice on where detectors should be placed in your home.

For wireless devices, keep an adequate supply of batteries on hand. Smoke detectors will emit a warning sound (often a brief chirp) when a battery is losing power. Use a product like Smoke! In a Can Detector Test Spray once per month in order to ensure that your device is working properly. And never ever disable or disconnect an alarm unless you are changing its batteries.

Install a Fire Alarm For Better Fire Protection

Certainly, every commercial business should install a fire alarm, but these may also come in handy for residential use, too. If you live in a large house, a dormitory or a multi-unit dwelling, an alarm like the Edwards Fire Alarm Pull Station just might be a lifesaver someday. As these alarms are activated manually, an occupant can immediately alert everyone within earshot of the piercing signal whenever a fire danger is recognized.

Fire Safety Is Home Security

According to the United States Fire Administration, nearly 2,500 people were killed in residential fires in 2011 and more than 14,000 people suffered from house fire injuries. The material damage from these fires also resulted in losses totalling several billions of dollars. As disheartening as these figures are, the fact that most fires of this type can be prevented is even more frustrating. While most of our conversations about home security revolve around possible threats from the outside, these numbers help underscore the very real threats that smoke and fire present to our homes and our families.

For Questions and More Information

Ordinarily, we can answer all of your questions about specific home security devices and how to complete a DIY installation. And while we are well-versed on the smoke detectors and fire alarms sold on our main site, different jurisdictions enforce different codes concerning the installation and placement of these devices. Therefore, should you have specific questions about installing a smoke detector or a fire alarm in your home or at your business, please visit the National Fire Protection Association’s website.

Comments About Your Smoke Detector or Fire Alarm?

When was the last time you tested your smoke detectors or your fire alarm? Do you have additional batteries on hand so that you can immediately replace your current ones when they run out? Do you have questions about the features offered with a smoke detector or a fire alarm sold in our store? Did we leave any important information out of this post? We look forward to continuing this discussion after you’ve left your comments in the space provided below.

If you’re ready to improve the safety of your home with a new fire alarm or smoke detector, check out the full selection at Home Security Store. We offer great deals on the most reliable fire protection essentials, and we’ll ship your order in as little as one day. Protect your home and the people you love. 

 

Ralph Winn

5 Unusual Home Security Essentials That You Need Right Now

watchdog alarmAlarms and surveillance cameras are the essentials of a good security system. But what makes a truly great security system? If you’re serious about protecting your home, business or other property, you’ll want to look beyond the keypads and the motion sensors, and implement some savvy safety measures you might not have known existed. Here are some of our favorite home security supplements that you may want to consider adding to your digital shopping list.

Fake TV Burglar Deterrents

It uses no more energy than a standard nightlight, but it emits the same kinds of light patterns that you would see projecting from a television onto a window in the middle of the night. Criminals will think you’re watching television, even if you’re fast asleep in your bed or far away on some tropical vacation. This is an extremely inexpensive but effective way to keep the burglars from entering your home.

Locking Window Bars

You want to sleep with the window open to let the cool air in, but you don’t want uninvited guests climbing into your home while you sleep. The solution? Locking window bars, also referred to as burglar bars. These security bars can easily be adjusted to give you just the right amount of air without enabling intruders to gain entry. They’re childproof, burglar proof, and simple to install.

Diversion Safes

A diversion safe won’t prevent intruders from entering your home, but it will prevent them from finding some of your most treasured valuables. These ingenious devices are designed to look exactly like everyday objects: hairspray bottles, shaving cream cans, books and even clocks, but they’re actually used to conceal valuable objects like cash, jewelry and small electronic devices.

Watchdog Alarms

It’s no secret that dogs make excellent burglary deterrents, but what if you don’t have a dog? Or what if your dog sleeps even more soundly than you do? In that case, it’s time to get your paws on a good watchdog alarm. These alarms can detect a human presence through glass, doors and even walls, and they use highly realistic barking sounds to ward off intruders. As you can imagine, they’re far more effective than the classic “Beware of Dog” sign.

Deadbolt Protectors

Are you familiar the concept of lock bumping? If not, you should be. Criminals use devices known as bump keys to gain entry to locked doors, including deadbolts. Anyone can purchase a bump key over the Internet, and unless you have the proper lock bumping protector on your door, you may be vulnerable right now.

Protect Your Home

Protecting your home doesn’t have to be as expensive or complicated as installing an intricate hardwired alarm system with 16 surveillance cameras. Even the little things can make a huge difference. Whether you’re investing in a dummy camera, a yard sign or even an imaginary watchdog, you can achieve renewed peace of mind and a more secure perimeter using the simplest of tools.

Police Use GPS to Locate Burglar after Home Invasion

GPSAs it turns out, GPS is good for much more than just getting lost on the freeway. One Arizona man recently learned this the hard way, and will have plenty of time to think about it from behind bars. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, 37-year-old James Yunis of Chino Valley was busted after burglarizing a home in Phoenix, which in itself is nothing out of the ordinary. The suspect got away with some undisclosed jewelry and electronics, but the police were able to track him down because one of the stolen goods was fitted with a GPS tracking device.

GPS Works

At Home Security Store, we’re constantly saying how GPS tracking technologies can be used to secure valuables, and that’s why we’re proud to carry popular GPS devices like the Tracking Key Pro Micro GPS Tracking System and the Tracking Key Micro GPS Tracking System. But news stories like the one out of Arizona remind us that such precautions aren’t merely hypothetical. Everyday people are really benefiting from these technologies.

A Burglar Learns a Harsh Lesson

According to the article, the victim of the robbery contacted police after tracking his stolen goods with his GPS system. Officials then paid a visit to the home of the alleged burglar, and found the stolen goods under his bed. The home reportedly belongs to Yunis’s father, who allowed police to enter and search the premises. The suspect was taken into custody, and the victim’s items were returned. If only every home invasion story could have this kind of happy ending.

Using GPS to Your Advantage

There are some important lessons to take away from this story. First, if you’re 37 years old and still living with your parents, a police raid is the least of your worries. Second, GPS is an excellent way to secure your valuables. Today’s GPS devices are remarkably accurate, and they’re small enough to fit just about anywhere. You can discreetly place them inside backpacks, laptop cases, jewelry boxes, and even your car. In fact, even most experienced car thieves won’t even think to look for a miniature GPS device hidden on the vehicle, so in that regard, it can be even more effective than LoJack (which professional thieves immediately disengage).

Give Yourself the GPS Advantage

Just like that savvy homeowner in Arizona, you can give yourself the GPS advantage easily and inexpensively. Home Security Store carries a wide variety of high-tech GPS solutions at affordable prices, and some of these sophisticated systems are even capable of tracking and recording the routes taken – such as in a vehicle. We’re living in the era of James Bond technology, but if you’re still living like Fred Flintstone, it may be time to bring your personal security into the 21st century.

Points of Discussion For Your Next Neighborhood Watch Meeting

Neighborhood_Watch_MeetingBefore you put the finishing touches on the agenda for your next neighborhood watch meeting, we’d like to offer a few suggestions of our own. In addition to concerns unique to your area, there are a few additional home security issues that you should be aware of. For one, did you know that some city police departments are no longer responding to certain burglar alarms? There’s good reason for this, so keep reading to find out why. Also, consider discussing a very thorough study indicating that areas densely populated with burglar alarms experience lower burglary rates.

(Note: If you do not have a neighborhood watch group in your area yet, read our article on how to start one and consider the following topics for your first meeting.)

Local Police Departments Deliberately Ignore Burglar Alarms?

This sounds like a bad Internet rumor, but it’s completely true. Cities like Los Angeles and Milwaukee are fed up with responding to false alarms and will no longer respond to one that has not first been verified as legitimate by a monitoring company or the alarm’s owner. While policies like these may seem drastic to some, consider that in Los Angeles false alarms in the past have counted for upwards of 90% of all alarm responses. And, in Milwaukee, the citizens of that city agreed that something needed to be done as nearly 97% of some 30,000 alarm responses were deemed to be false prior to their policy change. Since ignoring unverified alarms, however, Milwaukee’s false alarm response rate dropped to only 38% of 620 responses being false in 2012.

Before meeting with your neighborhood watch group, you may want to check with your local police department to find out if any similar policy changes have taken place in your area. If not, find out if this might be a concern in the near future and how your group can help reduce the false alarm response rate in your city. For more tips on how to do so, read a couple of our earlier posts on this very subject.

Is Your Alarm Monitoring Company Properly Registered?

Taking the conversation about alarm responses even further, in Colorado Springs police are not required to respond to certain alarms even if they are verified as being legitimate by a monitoring company. It should be noted that this policy applies strictly to alarm monitoring companies that are not properly registered or that have allowed previously granted permits to lapse.

Once again, speak to your local police department about their policies with regards to the permit status of alarm monitoring companies. For your neighbors who have alarms monitored by companies that are not in good standing, strongly suggest that they change services immediately. We highly recommend Alarm Relay which has more than a decade of UL certification to their credit and offers top-notch monitoring for a mere $8.95 per month. Your neighbors will thank you for passing this recommendation on as they’ll save money on this service (other companies charge hundreds of dollars per year) and can rest assured that alarms will always be responded to by your local authorities when called upon.

How Do You Feel About Non-Response Issues?

Whether these policies apply to your city (yet) or not, specifically ask your group how they feel about law enforcement agencies not responding to alarms. Ask how they think criminals will take advantage of these positions. Lastly, discuss strategies to ensure that no one in your group has an alarm that is ignored by authorities.

Burglars Avoid Neighborhoods With a Lot of Alarms

I recently ran across a study conducted by Rutgers University, which concluded that neighborhoods where “burglar alarms were densely installed” experience lower burglary rates. Most reading this already know that alarms are the hands-down best deterrents for protecting a property against burglary, but this study suggests that crime can be lowered, overall, in areas where neighbors ban together in taking a hard stance against crime by installing home security systems in every home on the block.

You may even want to suggest a DIY weekend for everyone without an alarm system to install one. Share with your group the affordable options offered here at the Home Security Store and how easily you were able to install your own system. For those of you who already have an alarm, who want to further secure your homes and who want to stand in solidarity with members participating in the DIY weekend event, we suggest expanding an existing system with security lighting, glass break detectors, CCTV cameras or any of the other DIY home security items featured on our main site.

What’s On Your Agenda?

What else do you plan to discuss at your next neighborhood watch meeting? Do you have any other important points of discussion you’d like to share with our readers? Make note of anything that we may have missed or simply share your thoughts on our agenda suggestions in the comments section below.
Ralph Winn

The History of the Burglar Alarm

first-alarm-systemEver wonder about the history of the burglar alarm? Okay, perhaps not. Now that we’ve brought it to your attention, though, you’re probably a wee bit curious about the background of this lone device which eventually created today’s booming home security industry. You may also be surprised to learn about the unique connection that the burglar alarm shares with the history and evolution of the telephone.

The Inventor

Originally patented by Unitarian minister Reverend Augustus Russell Pope in 1853, the first burglar alarm was a relatively simple electro-magnetic device. Battery operated; an open door would set a spring in motion, which would then cause a bell hammer to repeatedly strike a loud bell. Door and window sensors would later be created in order to connect these entry points to an alarm through a series of wires. Originally this was not the case, however, and individual alarm devices were needed for each window and door in a home.

The Visionary

Despite Pope being on record as the true creator, it was Edwin Holmes who is actually credited as being the father of today’s burglar alarm. Turns out that Reverend Pope was a great inventor, but ailing health and poor marketing skills prevented him from doing much more with his creation. It was Holmes who purchased Pope’s patent sometime between 1857 and 1858 and it was Holmes whose name is cemented in history for bringing the burglar alarm to the masses.

A door-to-door salesman turned shopkeeper specializing in household goods, Holmes did not originally plan on a career in the home security industry. Believing in the need for such a device though, he purchased the patent after his own business, which he shared with his brother, was declared insolvent by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Considering his own position, it can be said that Holmes really took a leap of faith with the burglar alarm and aren’t we all glad that he did?

The Home Security Industry is Born

It wasn’t long before Holmes established a brand new business centered around introducing the burglar alarm to the general public. The Holmes Burglar Alarm Company (later changed to the Holmes Electric Protective Company) initially catered to the Boston area, but soon expanded to several other cities. In several stories, it has been noted that Holmes regarded New York as being a haven for the well-to-do in addition to being a high crime area, particularly for burglaries. As his Massachusetts-based home security business continued to grow, he eventually moved his family to New York where he opened a new division of his company.

With a strong marketing background, Holmes was considered a master at convincing people that they needed burglar alarms both in their homes and at their businesses. At this same time, electricity was not yet widely used in households which were mostly still being lit by candles and gas lamps. That these very first burglar alarms were powered by electricity means that such a technology was not easily understood, nor was it regulated to protect consumers. Holmes would not be deterred by the public’s lack of experience with electricity and alarms, however, and went on to publish frightening accounts of big city crimes in order to illustrate the need for his product. His marketing campaigns proved to be quite successful and, eventually, Holmes had established a network of more than 1,000 burglar alarms in New York.

The Burglar Alarm’s Role in the Telephone’s History

Along with starting the first home security company, Edwin Holmes was also the first to install a telephone switchboard at his Boston offices before using a similar system in his New York office. Prior to his vision for a more effective system for business communication, Holmes used Alexander Graham Bell’s hand phone. With these early instruments, a caller used a special line to leave a message at what was known as a central station and an operator from that station used a separate line to then deliver that message to its intended recipient. This method resulted in multiple telephones physically being housed at a station for incoming and outgoing messages.

Holmes son, Edwin Thomas Holmes, however, soon realized that existing wiring for the alarm system at their own business (which were already being used for telephone communication during business hours) could also be used as a switchboard system where multiple phone lines could run through a single location on a switchboard and an operator could connect a hand phone to plug into any of these lines. Messages would still be relayed through an operator, but this unique way of wiring a system eliminated the physical need for multiple telephones and also allowed businesses to house their own switchboards.

For a time, Holmes served as president of Bell Telephone Company, which would later become American Telephone and Telegraph Company (today known as AT&T Corp). This same company eventually bought Holmes’ thriving home security business and the rest is, as they say, history.

All Eyes on You

Do you have anything to add about the history of the burglar alarm? What are your thoughts about the future of the home security industry? The home automation industry? We look forward to reading what you have to share in the space provided for your comments below.

Ralph Winn

A Burglar In Your Bed?

Just when you think that home security crimes can’t get anymore bizarre, a story like this one comes along to prove you wrong. I’m sure many of you heard this week’s dumb criminal story about a Santa Ana, California burglar sleeping in a victim’s bed. What you may not have realized (at least I didn’t when I first heard about it) is that the victim was already in the bed…fast asleep! Can you imagine waking up to discover that someone has broken into your home and joined you for a little late-night snooze?!

The Story

For those of you who missed this one, according to Los Angeles’ ABC website, a man was awakened in the middle of the night when he felt something touching his leg. Okay, that’s creepy enough, but upon further inspection this poor guy discovers that the bedroom intruder is none other than his 20-year old neighbor, Ruben Diego Ortega. After chasing this familiar criminal out of his home, he discovers that he’s been robbed. Of course, he calls the police and leads them to Ruben’s front door at which time the 20-year old confesses.

As for seeking out his neighbor’s bed for a rest, Ruben says he got sleepy on his way out of the home and it sounded like a good idea at the time.

Home Security Lessons

Oh, the lessons we can learn from this story:

  • Sometimes your neighbors are burglars
  • Burglars get sleepy on the job, too
  • Arm your security system at night
  • Keep your doors and windows locked at all times
  • Drugs make you stupid

For clarity’s sake, no one’s reported it, but I’m just assuming that this guy was on drugs. What else explains his unique style of burglary? Lucky for him, though, he’s probably got a little detoxification period in his future.

But Seriously…

Never let your guard down as home security is nothing to play around with. This guy could have just as easily been a murderer, a rapist or could have just simply robbed his neighbor blind. That he managed to break into the house and lie down next to his victim without immediately awakening him should be terrifying enough to make us all think seriously about strengthening our home security systems to make sure that such a bizarre event never takes place in our homes.
Ralph Winn

4 Simple Things You Can Do to Increase Your Security Today

Manos entregando una casaWhether you have an uneasy feeling at this moment or have just discovered us while looking for immediate ways to better secure your home, you’ve come to the right place. You see, minor breaches in home security may be threatening your home and your family right now. Here are a few adjustments that you can make right away in order to decrease your chances of a break-in.

Lock Your Windows

Locking your doors and windows are the first defense against an unlawful intrusion. While most people know this and are pretty diligent about locking doors, many leave things like bathroom and basement windows unlocked or even slightly ajar. Understanding that you may prefer a little extra ventilation in these areas, keep in mind that unlocked or open windows are among the primary breaches that a burglar looks for when trying to enter a home. Take a couple of minutes to walk around your home right now and make sure you haven’t committed one of these basic security failures.

Turn Your Alarm On

Some people are of the incorrect notion that they only need to arm an alarm system at night or when they are away from home. What they do not seem to understand is that a significant number of break-ins happen during daylight hours and may even occur while a resident is inside of the home. For this reason, it is best to keep your alarm system armed at all times whether at home or away.

Turn Your Exterior Lights On

Burglars prefer a cloak of darkness. It helps to shield their deeds from passersby and helps to prevent people from getting a good description of them while they work. More sinister criminals will also use a shield of darkness for stalking, assault or peeping tom activities. While you may want to shave a few dollars off of your monthly electric bill, you may also be placing yourself in grave danger. Turn your outdoor lights on this evening and consider installing UltraEye Halogen Motion Sensor Lights in the very near future.

Turn Your Television Off Tonight

How many of you reading this cannot seem to fall asleep without background noise from a television or a radio? You’re not alone in doing so, but you may be putting yourself at risk simply because this sort of background noise may be drowning out other noises that you need to hear…such as an intruder attempting to break in. While the light from a television may give the impression that someone is home and awake inside the house, it is far better to use a silent deterrent made for this specific purpose, such as the Fake TV Burglar Deterrent Device sold on our main site.

Give Us Your Best Advice

What can you offer our readers who are looking for simple ways to increase home security? Did any of these suggestions make you think twice about your own approach to security? Do you have any questions about the tips shared here?
Ralph Winn

Home Security Offers Independent Living Options to Seniors

seniorsHome security devices can make it possible for seniors to live independently in their own homes. There are exceptions, of course, but the installation of things like alarms and surveillance systems can prolong the amount of time that the average senior citizen can live at home alone. If you are a senior citizen or if you are fond of an aging adult in your life, pay close attention to some of the technologies which help make independent living a reality for so many in this age group.

Alarm Systems For the Elderly

- Burglar Alarm Systems -

Burglar alarms are a smart choice for everyone, including senior citizens. Individuals in the more mature stages of life are sometimes targeted for burglary as they may be seen as frail and easier to intimidate or overpower. Just as it would for a resident of any age, a properly installed burglar alarm creates a barrier of protection between a senior and the outside world. Additionally, alarms with panic buttons enable seniors to immediately call for help in case of emergency.

- Medical Alert System -

By their very nature, medical alert alarms exist to bridge the gaps between users and those who may assist them in a time of need. Some of these specialized devices even come with pendants, which can even be worn on a person’s body so that help is never too far away. With the press of a button, seniors are able to engage in two-way communication with a loved one or with emergency personnel.

Alarm Services For the Elderly

As we’ve discussed many times on this blog, alarm monitoring is essential to good home security. Many avoid this optional service due to cost, however. This is understandable since most alarm companies inflate the actual cost of this service in order to increase their own bottom lines. Seniors living on a fixed income are probably even more prone to skip these costs even though doing so may very well be to their detriment someday.

With alarm monitoring, someone from a remote location is able to respond to an alarm just moments after it is triggered. This response begins with a call to the homeowner, before it is escalated to the attention of one or more designated contacts and, ultimately, to law enforcement if necessary. To an aging adult, this service is invaluable and does not have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, through our main store customers can access this service for a mere $8.95 per month.

Audio-Visual Security

By installing security cameras in and around a home, seniors can always have a visual on every area of the household. Camera systems with remote capabilities also allow loved ones to see into a home in order to check on a resident’s security and well-being at any given time. This sort of home security also acts as a deterrent to would-be burglars…especially those intent on targeting elderly homeowners.

In addition to being able to see inside of a home, IP cameras like the Lorex Vantage Stream Wireless Network Camera allow for two-way audio in order to remotely communicate with a person inside the home. Affordable equipment like this may help alleviate fears about an adult of a certain age falling down or becoming ill while being unable to reach a telephone. From any web-enabled device, loved ones are able to remotely watch what is going on inside of a home and even communicate with whomever is there.

Protection Against Fire and Gas

Threats of intrusion are not the only ones that residents need to safeguard themselves against. Carbon monoxide poisoning, fire or excessive smoke inhalation can happen to anyone. Special care should be taken to protect seniors who live alone from these types of emergencies.

Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are a must in every home. As people age, it is incumbent upon everyone in that person’s life to ensure that these technologies are up to date and in proper working order. Outdated devices can be immediately replaced at a low cost and with very little DIY time commitment.

Independent Living Preserves Self-Respect

Being able to remain in one’s home for as long as possible helps promote confidence and self-respect in aging residents. Fortunately, today’s home security devices are budget-friendly, easy to install and easy to operate. Depending upon an existing security system, most peripheral devices can also be added onto an alarm in order to create a more robust home security system that protects seniors preferring to live on their own.

What Did We Miss?

Are you a senior citizen who lives alone? Do you have concerns about an aging member of your family living alone? What would you like to add to this post in order to educate our readers on home security devices that assist seniors in living independently?

Ralph Winn

5 Winter Home Security and Safety Tips

Cold-safety-tipsAcross the nation, people have experienced record setting cold temperatures this winter. Even in areas where records have not been changed, chilly temperatures have been a factor in numerous emergencies, accidents and incidents involving property damage. Freezing temps have even been blamed for a few deaths.

Home Security Store is headquartered in Southern California and while this state is best known for its sunshine and warm beaches– and our winter nights aren’t nearly as cold as they are in some parts of the country– by our own standards, it has even gotten quite cold and uncomfortable especially here at night lately. Certainly, this is the time of year when everyone, no matter where you live, can benefit from a few winter home security and safety tips.

Use a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Weather events resulting in evacuation are rare, but they do occur and most people are caught totally off guard by them. In these situations, the aftermath is often as stressful as the actual event. Should you ever have to abandon your house due to a severe storm, you may encounter very dangerous conditions upon your return home. Besides things obvious to the naked eye, such as flooding and structural damage, your home may also present a less obvious, but dangerous threat by way of a carbon monoxide leak. The best and safest way to protect yourself and your family against this deadly hazard is to install a carbon monoxide detector such as the Wireless CO Detector Kit found in our store.

Protect Your Pets

During extremely cold temperatures, if possible, bring your pets indoors.  If you own a dog that provides outdoor security, consider installing security cameras, outdoor lighting and a good alarm system, instead. In the event that your pets do have to stay outside at night, however, then look into building or purchasing a heated shelter for them. Beware also of wild animals, such as coyotes, bears and wildcats, which sometimes find their own food sources to be rather scarce during the winter and may venture into your yard for food.

Keep an Emergency and First Aid Kit Handy

It is wise to have an emergency kit like the Mayday Deluxe Emergency Honey Bucket Kit on hand for each member of your family year round. But it is especially important to have one during periods where you’re more likely to experience stormy conditions. In addition to food, water and other necessary supplies, this particular emergency item also provides you with a first aid kit, which may come in handy if a storm or snowy conditions result in an injury. It is always a good idea to keep at least one of these in your car, as well as in your home, at all times just in case.

Candles and Flashlight

Always keep a good stock of emergency candles (and something to light them with) on hand, especially during the winter, in order to stay prepared for power outages. A heavy duty flashlight, such as a MagLite, is advisable. If you already have a flashlight of this caliber (and, actually, you should have several), make sure that its batteries are fresh and that you have enough spare batteries just in case you find yourself in the dark for a prolonged period of time.

Check On Elderly Relatives and Neighbors

Think about how difficult it is when you are forced to drive or take public transportation during a storm. Or even how difficult (and expensive) it is to keep your house warm during the winter months. Now, imagine if you suffer from arthritis, poor vision or are living on a fixed income. For many of your elderly relatives and neighbors, the winter months can be quite depressing and physically difficult to survive. Keep them in mind when applying all of these cold weather tips to your own household and offer them a hand whenever you can.

Read, Share and Learn More

Hopefully, these tips will be of some use to you as we still have several weeks to go until spring when temperatures will slowly begin to rise again. Bear in mind that even if you do not live in an area affected by severe storms and cold spells, think of loved ones who do and pass this post on to them. Also, advise them to check out the ‘Environmental Controls’ section of our main site in order to select devices to help them avoid damage due to flooding and freezing temperatures.

For more cold weather home security and safety tips, see our earlier post on how to protect your house during the winter months.

What Do You Think?

How has this winter’s cold impacted your home? Your family? Your daily life? What important advice did we leave out of this post? Your thoughts and ideas help make this blog a more complete resource and we look forward reading to what you have to share below.
Ralph Winn

Beating the Odds Of a Break-In

breaki-inIf it hasn’t happened already, it’s a safe bet to assume that your home– or the home of someone close to you– will be broken into at some point in time. Think about this for a moment. I ask you to do so, not because I want to instill fear in you and not because I want to put a damper on your day. I’m asking you to pause and think about this statement, because most people refuse to do so and are, therefore, vulnerable to a crime which can be prevented by facing reality and taking action.

Is Your Home a Burglary Candidate?

Do you live in a house, apartment, trailer or condo? Do you rent a room in someone else’s home? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you are a candidate for a break-in. Anyone anywhere can become the victim of a burglary…at any time.

Tips For Avoiding a Break-In

With the reality of your potential burglary out of the way, here are some of the things that you can do right now to keep criminals out of your home and to better secure your family and belongings:

Change your locks – When was the last time you did this? Did you change your locks when you moved in? Do you really know how many people have keys to your home? (TIP: You can avoid ever having to change your locks again in the future by installing one of the keyless entry systems found in our main store.)

Strengthen your barriers – How sturdy is your front door and its frame? Since a lot of burglars simply kick a door in, it is necessary to have a door, frame and jamb that are all able to withstand such force.

Lock your windows – Don’t rely on the manufacturer’s latches for your windows as these can often be pushed out of place or rendered ineffective with other methods of the burglary trade. Instead, use pin locks on all sliding glass doors and windows, and even consider something like the Lock-it Block-it Home Security Burglary Bar for Windows.

Trim your hedges – Burglars love spaces where they can hide in wait or where their activities may be shielded by passersby. All of the hedges around your doors and windows should be low enough to prevent either of these from happening.

Install a two-way video intercom – Burglars have long since figured out that they can be in and out of your home in less time than it takes for the police or someone else to come to your rescue. They’ve also figured out that the element of surprise works in their favor. Who suspects that a criminal will stroll right up to your front door in the middle of the afternoon, ring your doorbell and push right past you? You do! Which is why you should set time aside to install a device like the Samsung Video Door Intercom, which makes it possible for you to see and communicate with whomever is at your front door without having to actually open it yourself.

Change your routines – Burglars pay careful attention to your schedule for their own time-management purposes. Confuse them by changing your routines as often as possible.

Invest in deterrents – We’ve said it a million times, burglars are lazy. Quick, easy, fast and low-risk are the types of jobs they specialize in. Yard signs, window decals, fake cameras and other deterrents are a total buzz kill for them.

Install a home security system – At the very minimum, you should have a burglar alarm with door and window sensors for every possible entrance into your home. Good security lighting and surveillance cameras also help create a strong security system. If you cannot install all of these components at once, start with a good burglar alarm that can be expanded to accommodate other devices and add other ones as soon as possible.

Keep your system armed at all times – Remember, criminals are watching. Sometimes, they are people who know you well enough to know that you don’t always arm your system. Whether you are at home all day every day or whether you are taking a quick jog around the block…keep your system armed and ready to protect you at ALL times.

Take security into your own hands – You police department, neighborhood watch members and private security team cannot watch your home 24/7. Protecting your home is, therefore, ultimately your responsibility. Step up to the plate with DIY home security devices, which allow you to have the best in home security without having to pay inflated costs for equipment, installation and other services (like alarm monitoring).

Go ‘Overboard’

As you become more aware of the need for home security and begin taking steps to better secure your property, friends and family members may think you’re going a bit overboard. Not to worry as this is a good thing. Remember…

“Just because I’m paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get us.” – Thomas Pychon (From his book Gravity’s Rainbow)

Hopefully, burglars will also take note. In realizing your focus on home security, any random thief with a lick of sense will view your home as too much of a risk and far too difficult to break into. Most will want to bypass your home in favor of someone else’s home…someone who is not expecting them and who has not gone ‘overboard’ in securing their home.

Ralph Winn