Category Archives: Home Security Articles

Plan Now: Emergency Strategy for Caregivers

The road of life has its share of bumps, ruts and potholes. We do our best to avoid the hazards, but sometimes it isn’t enough. No matter how hard we try, we’re bound to brush up against some unexpected circumstances.

For a caregiver, routine is a recommendation. Most professionals encourage a caregiving structure. And while no two days are exactly the same, there’s a certain rhythm that many caregivers come to expect with their dependents.

Now that the Baby Boomer generation has begun to retire, the number of retirees and caregivers has increased. While improvements in technology, especially in the home security field are happening all the time, some things are unavoidable and even the most advanced technology can’t stop an emergency from happening. Home automation and medical emergency notification features are technologies that may make your life as a caregiver easier.

So what happens when there’s a shakeup at home?

Have a contingency plan.

If you don’t have a contingency plan, now’s the time to make one. Grab a pen and some paper and walk yourself through the possibilities. It can be a tough conversation to have with yourself, but it could also be the one of the most important.

Ask yourself these questions:

How safe is the house to begin with? What kind of security is already in place? If you have all the right bells and whistles, then make sure you know how to use them. Know what tools you can use to help your care recipient through his or her day, and then think about what else you should have. If you need to leave for periods at a time, you might want to look into security systems.

Where are the first aid supplies located? If your care recipient needs certain medications or treatments, you should know where to find them. Put together an emergency bag that contains everything you and your care recipient would need if you were forced to evacuate the house.

What are the risks? Your plan should reflect your physical location and the type of care you’re administering. Is weather a factor? What about less-recognizable things like air quality or carbon monoxide? No matter how big or small, it’s important to account for every potential pitfall.

What should I do in the event of a fire? A house fire forces you to act quickly while keeping your cool, which isn’t easy. Avoid panicking by setting some ground rules for you and your care recipient beforehand. Follow all the standard fire safety guidelines, and establish the fastest exit route from any given room. Investing in fire safety equipment as part of the home is also a good idea.

Who can cover me in the event of an emergency? You have a responsibility as a caregiver, but there are times when your health has to come first. If you need to get yourself to a hospital or take a day off, who can take over for you? Once you have someone in mind, reach out to him or her and arrange a line of communication.

How to Choose a Home Security Provider

Neighborhood home

Making the choice to include a home security system for your family as part of your household is a big decision. The next and possibly even bigger decision is choosing which home security provider will be monitoring your home.

Some homeowners choose to go the DIY route and install their home alarm system themselves. There are pros and cons with do-it-yourself projects, of course, especially if you’ve never done one before and have no previous knowledge of electrical wiring, equipment and carpentry. You could save money if you’re well-versed in what you’re doing, but you won’t have 24-hour monitoring from a professional security company like you would when you sign up with a home monitoring company.

What do you want in a home security company?

Of course every homeowner wants a reliable, dependable home alarm company with a trustworthy   Installationreputation. This doesn’t mean they have to be a recognized national brand, but there’s a reason why their names are so familiar. Smaller, family-owned companies may not be able to offer you all the features and capabilities you want in a security system, but it’s always a good idea to research all the potential companies you’re considering.

Here are a few important things to consider when looking for the best provider for your needs:

Price: You may have a budget in mind for the total amount you want to spend on equipment,           installation and monthly monitoring fees. However, the technology and features you want could also affect the cost, so first decide what’s more important – the amount of money you want to spend or the features and technology that you definitely want to incorporate into your home alarm system.

Home Security TechnologyFeatures/Technology: Some security systems include essential equipment that gets the job done with minimal technology and equipment. However, if you want all the bells and whistles and the newest industry technology, you may end up paying more upfront and each month for it. Many home alarms also have both wireless and hard-wired

 

Recommendations: Word of mouth and personal references are always a guaranteed way to get  Neighbors talkinginside information about the different providers you’re comparing. But if you don’t know anyone personally who owns or uses a certain company’s service, you should still diligently research them to find out as much information as possible before signing a contract for home monitoring services. Online reviews are a good place to start because you’ll find customer testimonials and consumer reviews. Check out the Better Business Bureau, too, for reliable information.

The decision is ultimately yours, but make sure to do as much research and ask around as much as possible before choosing the right home security provider for you.

 

Sustainable Food Production Can Also Help Keep Burglars at Bay

Even though we found out that there are six more weeks of winter weather in the upcoming forecast, people are still visiting their local home improvement and gardening stores – and they’re not just stocking up on ice melt. Just because warmer weather isn’t right around the corner, it doesn’t mean it’s too soon to start planning your spring garden. Learn how you can combine beauty with function and even feed your family with this resourceful gardening concept.

People do many things to maintain a green lifestyle and reduce their carbon footprints. But what if you could do something to help the environment, save money, put food on the table and keep the bad guys out of your yard? You can, and it’s called sustainable food production.

This concept can involve something as easy as edible landscaping – planting fruits and veggies in your yard as a food source. Even if you have no more than a patio, you can grow herbs and spices and even some vegetables in pots. The end result? A homegrown harvest without GMOs and other harmful effects of mass food production.

Three reasons you should grow a sustainable food source                        Gardening tools

There are many reasons to grow your own food, including the fact that it’s easy. Different varieties of plants and edibles can grow in almost every type of climate. Depending on the growing season where you live, you could end up having a large yield of produce throughout the year.

When you buy food at the grocery store, many times you’re purchasing items that have traveled hundreds or thousands of miles before reaching your shopping cart. It takes energy to transport food from the farm to your fork, and transportation means emissions. Food that travels a long distance may require refrigeration, processing or both. Also, fertilizers and synthetic chemicals are oftentimes used in mass production of both animal and plant-based foods.

It all adds up to more greenhouse gas emissions and larger carbon footprints. However, growing your own food means that you know exactly where dinner comes from and how it was cultivated. It also means that you’re doing your part to keep the environment safe.

Help protect the earth and your home

Blackberry vine

Blackberry vine

Sea buckthorn

    Sea buckthorn

Many plants, vines, trees and other vegetation can provide more than a sustainable food source and something pretty to look at. Certain varieties can even provide a level of protection for your home.

Take thorny or prickly fruiting plants, for instance. They can brighten up your yard and deter trespassers from coming onto your property. Even home security companies recommend cultivating thorny plants to discourage intruders. What burglar wants navigate an obstacle course of thorns and stickers?

Examples of these scrumptious sentinels include:

Prickly pear cactus

Prickly pear cactus

  • Citrus trees (lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange)
  • Blackberry and gooseberry vines
  • Sea buckthorn (produces orange berries)
  • Prickly pear cactus
  • Honey locust

Go green and save green


“Going green” can help you save the other type of green – money. By growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs, you won’t have to purchase them from a supermarket.

A quick, easy and inexpensive way to get started with an edible landscape or sustainable food source project is to start with herbs and spices in pots. You can grow them both indoors and outdoors. Once they mature, you may even have enough to dry and store for the fall and winter months so that you’ll have them all year round.

Remember to plant a variety and rotate them to maintain a balance and protect against crop failure.

While sustainable food production may sound like a big undertaking, you can actually make it a backyard enterprise. You’ll not only save money and reduce your carbon footprint, but you may even help make your home more secure with the right kind of edible landscaping choices.

Winter Woes 3: Groundhog Forecasts Six More Weeks of Winter for 2014

Groundhog DayEvery year on February 2, the nation holds its breath to see what the furry prophet – Punxsutawney Phil – will forecast for the remainder of the winter season. Will he see his shadow, retreat back to his hole which means winter  will continue for six more weeks? Or will he be a shadowless groundhog and can we expect spring to be right around the corner?

Whether or not you believe in the folklore surrounding the groundhog’s forecast, one thing you should take seriously is the threat of winter weather to your home. Severe damage can be caused if you don’t properly winterize your home and yard. So whether you’ve not done these things around your house this season yet, or you’re planning on doing them next winter – go ahead and take these precautions today, especially if we’ve got six long weeks of winter ahead.

Tune up your heating system

Although it should usually be done at the beginning of the season, having a professional HVAC HVACtechnician inspect your heating unit can help save you from headaches (and save you money) later. They will perform an extensive evaluation of your system and make any necessary recommendations to help get you through the winter. Depending on the company you purchased your heating equipment from, you may be eligible for free or discounted inspections.

Some do-it-yourself techniques include keeping an eye on your thermostat to help save money on your energy costs. The programmable kind can help regulate the amount of heat you’re using and are available for as little as $50.

If your home has ceiling fans, you can use them in the winter months as well as the summer ones. Simply reverse the direction of the blades to move in a clockwise direction. This helps circulate rising warm air back into the room.

Insulate

There are numerous ways to better insulate your home during the colder months. While caulking unsealed openings and holes and applying weather stripping are tried and true methods, there are also plenty that aren’t expensive and that you can do yourself.

Winter windowPlastic window insulation kits are only a few dollars and are available at your local hardware or big box store. Window plastic can act as a buffer against drafts and help your home hold heat.

Another easy way to dodge drafts and trap heat is by adding weather stripping to the bottom of entryway doors. If you haven’t got the time or resources for this type of project, simply placing a tightly rolled bath towel under a door will do the trick. Or you can get creative and make a “draft snake” that essentially does the same thing – keeps the cold air out!

Get energy efficient

While these suggestions may seem pricey, they will end up saving you a lot over time. Plus, the amount of energy – and money – you can save makes putting some money down up front worth it in the end.

Installing storm windows and storm doors can increase your home’s energy efficiency by more Installing insulationthan 40 percent. They seal drafts and reduce cold air flow into the home, plus they allow for more natural light to come into your home, too.

Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances, specifically your furnace for multiple benefits. Not only can you save anywhere from 15-20 percent when you purchase an Energy Star-certified appliance (compared with standard models), but you can also receive tax credits and it can improve your home’s overall value, too.

All in all, it pays (or rather, helps you save) to make these changes to your home during the colder months. While historically Punxsutawney Phil’s weather forecasts have only been 390 percent accurate in the last 120+ years, if he is by chance right on the winter lasting for six more weeks, you’ll be ready!

 

 

 

Winter Woes 2: Home Is Where The Heat Is

Unless you call Hawaii home, then you probably live somewhere that’s experiencing frigid Winter weathertemperatures and/or snow from a nor’easter, a polar vortex or some other weather system that’s bringing arctic blasts of air and winter weather.

As temperatures dip and you and your family cozy up to a fire or some other heat source, remember these important safety tips – the last thing you want is to end up a cautionary tale.

Fire safety

According to the American Red Cross, house fires tend to increase during the fall and winter seasons and December and January are peak months. During this time people decorate their homes (some of which include lights, electronics and candles), people may have fire places they’re using, as well as other heating devices, like space heaters. While the holidays and colder months may be the more common times when home fires occur, they can still happen at any time.

To help keep your home and family safe from home hazards like fire, learn these important fire safety tips for your home, and make sure to teach them to your family, too.

  1. First and foremost, every level of your home should have working smoke detectors installed. Place them near or in bedrooms, too. Check smoke detectors at least once a year to make sure they are properly working. It’s also a good idea to change the batteries once a year, too.
  2. Read and follow the instructions on any heating equipment you use.
  3. Heaters should always be placed away from flammable materials, chemicals and other appliances.
  4. Never leave space heaters on or running when no one is in a room or throughout the night when you sleep. This also goes for fires in the fireplace.
  5. Never place items, such as clothing on a portable space heater when it is in use.

Space heaters

If you’re thinking about purchasing a space heater for an alternate source of heat this winter, consider what the different types are and which one is best for your home before making your decision.

Propane and gas heaters – This type of heater is available in freestanding or attachment models. They are portable and a small amount of propane can go a long way so they’re ideal for heating small spaces quickly. Be cautious of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide from occurring with these heaters, though.

Propane heater

Electric heaters – Most common and widely available heater, also the easiest to operate. Most have automatic shutoff feature to avoid overheating.

Electric heater

Infrared heaters – Most energy efficient kind of portable space heater and also the least likely to pose a safety risk. Internal heating elements in infrared heaters never get hot enough to ignite, making them less of a fire risk.

Additional ways to help protect against fireFire place

Properly functioning smoke detectors are just one of many ways you can help prevent fires from occurring at your home. Other types of home security equipment, such as sensors can also monitor carbon monoxide levels, dangerous amounts of heat, flooding or freezing in your home.

Help protect against these and other types of accidents from happening at your home all year. And remember to be extra cautious with any type of space heater you use this winter to heat your home – following safe practices with heating devices will not only help make your home warmer, but also safer.

Trials and Tribulations of the Web: Online Safety, Security and Best Practices

You may not think there’s much of a correlation between what you do on Facebook and the security of your home, but if you take a cue from businesses that utilize social media to promote their products and services, you’ll see that there are clear guidelines on what you should and shouldn’t do.  Social Media Button

Both a business owner and a homeowner have people and things they are responsible for and want to protect – whether that’s protecting a reputation as a trustworthy company in a certain industry, or a family and a house.

But social media can hinder that in ways people might not even think about when they’re posting a favorite photograph or sharing a link to an article they just read. For businesses, behaving badly on social media sites, such as carrying out shady scams or campaigns can definitely hurt you as a brand. Some common scams include posting fake job listings, contests or prizes in an attempt to retrieve people’s private information such as their username and password. This is very similar to identity theft, which is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country.

Similarly, homeowners who unknowingly reveal personal information on the web may be making themselves targets for criminals. This is not so much behaving badly as it is making bad decisions. Remember – you never know who is looking back at you through the cyber stratosphere – whether you’re a big brand, small business, resident or otherwise.

Social media “no-no’s” for business and homeowners

Large corporations and small business alike use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to engage and connect with consumers, promote new products and grow business. People use social media much for the same purposes – they connect with friends and family, post updates about their lives and share thoughts and feelings. However, both businesses and residents should be wary of what they’re sharing and with whom.

It’s also important for business and homeowners to remember to use social media responsibly – whether it’s tweeting on a company’s behalf or sharing your photos from the holidays. Keeping safety and security at the forefront of your purpose will help avoid any issues with your company’s brand or your personal life.

Office setting

 

For businesses:

  • Use secure passwords. Make sure that your business implements a social media management system that allows employees to log in with the same usernames and passwords they use for company email. This prevents hackers from logging in and potentially destroying the brand’s image.

 

  • Create a social media training program for your employees. Educate the social media managers at your company on security and compliance issues they must follow. It may be a good idea for interns or entry-level employees who perform social media tasks to send their posts to senior management for approval, especially when the reputation of big brands is on the line.

 

  • Consolidate all social media outlets. Unify all of your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. accounts so that posts can be published from one secure interface.  smartphone picture

For homeowners:

  • Adjust your privacy settings to the highest setting. Only friends, family and people you know should be able to view your personal account.

 

  • Double check any personal pictures before you post them online. Make sure when you post photos to crop out or obscure any personally identifying images, such as your home’s address or your car’s license plate.
  • Never post a status update that reveals vacation or travel plans. Criminals trolling social media sites will be tipped off of your absence, making your empty home a prime target for a burglary. (Home automation is an effect way for people to check in on their homes when their away – they can control lighting, thermostats, security cameras and other home security equipment).

 

Winter Woes: Home Hazards to Avoid This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to be merry, but before you get into the eggnog and Grandma’s famous fruitcake, consider some common – and some very serious – hazards that could turn your holiday from merry and bright to an evening you may wish the Grinch would have stolen instead.

Educate yourself and your family on some of the more prevalent risks in and around your home during the holidays. From tinsel and trees to turkey and all the trimmings – you’re sure to have a safe and happy holiday season when you’re aware of these possible dangers, how to avoid them and how to react to them if they should occur during the most wonderful time of the year.

Deck the halls (safely!)

Many winter holidays and celebrations incorporate lights and  candles as part of the décor.
But a glowing tea light can quickly turn into a burning blaze if left unattended or if it’s lit near certain types of hazardous materials.

  1. If you have a live Christmas tree in your home, be sure to water it regularly.  A dry Christmas Tree with lightsChristmas tree makes a prime fire accelerant and according to the NFPA, “The risk of fire is higher with natural trees than artificial ones. Researchers found that dry natural trees burned easily but trees that had been kept moist are unlikely to catch fire unintentionally.”
  2. When burning candles, keep them away from combustible or flammable materials. This includes holiday decorations, Christmas trees, curtains or any other substance that could quickly catch or spread fire. The same applies with electric heaters – keep an eye on them and leave enough room between them and other appliances or flammable materials.
  3. Check your smoke detectors and fire safety equipment during this time of year. Winter Holiday candlesholidays, and winter time in general, means people are keeping their households heated, entertaining guests, and using wires, lights and candles for decorative purposes. This is all the more reason to make sure you have properly installed fire and smoke detectors, and a working fire extinguisher. A burnt meal in the kitchen, Christmas tree fire or any other number of fiery accidents could take place and you want to be prepared.

Follow these tips about fire safety during the holidays, and for fire safety tips throughout the year, visit the National Fire Protection Association website.

There’s no place like home for the holidays

Christmas lights Christmas lights and decorations are as popular on the outside of the   home as they are on Christmas trees and other indoor decorations. However, electric lights, power cords and cables can pose more than one risk to both people and your home. In addition to exterior decorations, make sure none of these other outdoor items/scenarios become a danger to you, your family, or guests.

 

  1. Replace faulty lights and extension cords. Throw out old, worn electrical cords to avoid electric shock or a fire hazard.
  2. Keep all paths clear. Outdoor decorations, specifically all those twinkling lights, can not only Front of house winterbe a fire hazard, but their electrical cords can be a tripping hazard (or even a chewing hazard for crawling children inside the home). Make sure sidewalks, walkways, driveways, steps are clear of debris, ice, snow, and tripping hazards such as extension cords, lawn ornaments and holiday decorations.
  3. Pine needles should be kept away from your home. Many homeowners use pine needles to keep their flower and tree beds  protected during the winter. But if not done carefully, this flammable material could easily cause a fire that could spread to your home. Leaves and debris are also fire starters that can be found in your yard, so keep them away from your home, too.Pine needles

Ring in the New Year safely with friends and family at your home this holiday season and remember to always put home safety and security first.

Thanksgiving Safety Tips: From Turkey Meals to Black Friday Deals

thanksgiving

If Christmas is the grand finale, then Thanksgiving is the first act – and it is definitely a big opening act. But before you carve the turkey and enjoy some homemade pumpkin pie, make sure you’ve got all the necessary safety measures in place – from cooking the big meal to the shopping for the next big deal.

And if you’re out of town for the holidays, don’t forget to lock up tight and secure your residence before you jet set or pile in the caravan for the long haul to your loved one’s house. The last thing you want to come home to is a house that’s been broken into and ransacked, so take security precautions before you head out for your holiday vacation. If you have home security with home automation, features like ADT Pulse® let you check in on your home

A recipe for safety: Tips in the kitchen

Whether you’re cooking the old-fashioned way or trying a new cooking technique, remember a few important safety tips when you’re making your way around the kitchen.

  • Don’t walk away from a stovetop while you’re cooking. Water could boil over, hot oil could scald or something could catch on fire and not only ruin your holiday meal but worse – cause damage to your house.
  • cookingHave fire safety equipment close by. Fires can happen while you’re cooking, baking, sautéing, boiling or broiling so make sure to have a fire extinguisher and a box of baking soda handy (for grease fires). It’s also a good idea to have smoke alarms installed inside or close to the kitchen, too.
  • Keep sharp edges away from children. This includes knives, blades on appliances like food processors, as well as anything dangerous like lighters and electric cords. Preparing a big Thanksgiving meal is a fun pastime for the entire family. But be sure to give little ones easy, safe chores – like washing fruits and vegetables or stirring ingredients that aren’t hot.

Mall madness: Stay secure while you shop

The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. In fact, some stores even open their doors on Thanksgiving evening to attract shoppers sooner with big door-busting deals. If you’re one of the 140 million go-getters who plan to be out and about at the local shopping mall hours after your Thanksgiving meal has digested, be sure to stay on your guard – even if some of the prices are hard to look away from.

  • Prevent vehicle vandals. Lock your purchases in your trunk and when you’re ready to leave the mall, have your keys in hand so you’re not fumbling around to find them. That’s the perfect time for a criminal to strike.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. The second you let your guard down, you give a criminal an opportunity to snatch your wallet, grab your purse or pull one of many swift tricks over on you. Keep an eye out for suspicious individuals in the crowd, hanging out in parking lots or near ATMs, and report them to a security officer immediately.
  • Surf the web safely. If you’ll be making purchases online, choose companies you know and trust or online vendors you have shopped with before. Offers that seem too good to be true probably are – and they’re oftentimes hackers trying to scam your personal information.

 

 

Three Tips to Add Value to Your Home

new home

As a homeowner – not home renter – you are deeply invested in the value of your property. In this topsy-turvy economy where the real estate market – although apparently recovering – is anything but stable, it’s important to find ways to boost your property’s value. This article provides a few tips and tricks to help you do just that. Consider the following:

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