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Home Security Checklist

by Amy April 13, 2018

Be prepared with a home security plan before disaster strikes. The more prepared you are, the better chance you have of protecting yourself and your home. Though the best type of security is a home security system, there are many different ways to reinforce the security within your home.

  1. Exterior Doors

Reinforce all exterior doors. Consider replacing plastic or aluminum doors with solid wood or a metal clad. If your door has glass inserts, make sure they are reinforced with security glazing. Security glazing is a strong and durable plastic that will keep intruders from breaking the glass to enter your home. The door hinges also need to face inside your home. This way an intruder can’t access the pins and take the entire door off the frame. Keep exterior doors closed and locked when not in use, even if you’re only leaving for a few minutes. The same rule applies to your garage door.

  1. Lighting

All driveways, pathways, and entry points must be lit. Consider installing motion detectors throughout your property that will turn on exterior lights when activated. This will help scare away any potential intruders. If you go on vacation, make sure you apply timers to your interior lights. This will make it appear as if someone is home even when they are not.

  1. Windows

Use a supplemental lock for your windows with a key operated device, sometimes known as a sash lock. This will keep the window from being forced open from the outside. You could also try out safety bars to completely ensure windows cannot be opened.

  1. Outdoor Security

Landscape with security in mind. Keep your shrubs and bushes trimmed so there is no place for any intruder to hide. Make sure there are no dark areas to hide in as well. Keep your gate latched and shed doors locked. Keep your lawn mower, lawn tools, and grill out of sight on your property. If an intruder sees expensive equipment on the outside, they know to expect expensive valuables inside.

  1. Vacation

When away for an extended period, have someone look out for your home. Make sure the lawn is maintained and bushes are trimmed. This also applies with snow, ensuring it is shoveled. Suspend newspaper deliveries and mail service while you are away as well. You do not ever want to give the appearance that your home is empty.

  1. Inventory Possessions

It is important you have an inventory of your homes valuable possessions. This should include a photograph of each item and the identification numbers inscribed by manufacturers.

Have a plan to keep your home secure. A home security system from My Alarm Center does more than just make you feel safe, it keeps your home from being an easy target. 

Cycling In Philly: Safety Tips For City Bike Riders

by Amy April 2, 2018

There are many things to keep in mind when cycling in the city. With lots of commuters, heavy city traffic, and it being necessary to ride beside larger cars and trucks, it is important to abide traffic laws and be aware of how you can stay safe while on a bicycle. Here are a few tips to stay safe while cycling in the city.

  1. Wear Proper Safety Gear

Always wear a helmet. You never know what to expect when riding through the city. A helmet can be the difference between life and death.

  1. Always Bring A Lock

If you plan on using a bike for your daily commute, you need to make sure your bike is safe, the same way you would lock your car. Purchase a good U-Lock and a good cable leash so that your bike can be locked up and stored safely while you aren’t using it.

  1. Purchase A Headlight and Rear Reflective Light

Especially if you plan on biking at night. Without these essential tools, it is difficult for cars to see you. There’s actually a law in Philadelphia which requires you to have these lights on your bicycle.

  1. Don’t Wear Headphones

It’s important to remember that bicycling with headphones is considered illegal. You will have a hard time hearing all the movement around you in order to stay aware and safe.

  1. Follow Cycling Laws

This includes the helmet and headlight rule but also traffic rules. Don’t attempt to ride down a one-way street in the wrong direction or to ride on the sidewalks. A red light is still a red light, not a stop sign, even if you are not driving a car. Failure to follow proper traffic laws is dangerous for yourself, other drivers, and pedestrians.

  1. Be A Defensive Driver

It’s important to assume other motorists and pedestrians won’t follow the rules they’re supposed to. You need to be just as cautious as if you were driving a car in the city.

  1. Learn To Change A Flat Tire

This is always a possibility when traveling in the city. Know how to fix this problem, especially if you’re using your bike a few miles away from your home.

  1. Consider Purchasing A Medical Alert Bracelet

This device will guarantee that if your bike is involved in an accident, help will be on the way. This could potentially save your life when riding your bicycle.

Overall, it is important to remember that you are considered another driver on the road. Even with heavy traffic, remember to stay in your lane and stay visible to all the other cars. Ride defensively and safely while in the city. Make sure to always wear a helmet and remember to lock up your bike, even if you’ll only be away for a few minutes.

Change Your Clocks & Test Your Home Security System

by Amy March 6, 2018

Don’t forget to change your clocks during Daylight Savings Time this year. In fact, while you’re at it, Daylight Savings Time is a good reminder to test your home security system as well. When changing all your clocks, take the time to check if your home security system is working properly.

To Test The Signal Communication With The Monitoring Station:

  • Call your home security system supplier and ask to have your home alarm system put in “TEST” mode.
  • To avoid the deployment of emergency services, you MUST put your home alarm system in “TEST” mode.
  • Set your home alarm system as you normally would. Wait until the delay time has expired and the home alarm system is set.
  • Open a door or window that is connected to your home alarm system. Once the siren begins to ring, wait at least forty-five seconds then disarm the security system.
  • Call your home security system supplier back to confirm that the signal has been received and request that your security system be taken out of “TEST” mode.

To Test The Operation Of Door Sensors, Window Sensors, and Motion Detectors:

  • Verify that the security system is in “READY” mode and NOT ARMED. The alarm system must be disarmed to avoid accidental emergency dispatch.
  • Open each door or window with a door sensor, window sensor, or motion detector one at a time.
  • Check that the security system keypad displays the door or window you are testing is open, you may have to press the “STATUS” or “READY” button depending on your type of home security system.
  • Close the respective door or window. The security system keypad should revert to “READY” mode.
  • Repeat this procedure for each door sensor, window sensor, and motion detector in the security system.

The changing of the clocks is the perfect time to make sure everything is working correctly in your home. Continue to regularly check your home surveillance system to ensure it is working properly.

 

Tips For A Safe Valentine’s Day

by Amy February 12, 2018

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to celebrate with your significant other or even yourself. But you should make sure that your special day is a safe day as well. Many burglars are aware that people do not spend the evening at home, so make sure you’re well prepared before enjoying your romantic night out.

  1. Don’t Share Your Plans On Social Media

By announcing your romantic getaway to all of Facebook, you’ve also alerted the world that you won’t be home for a few days. Resist sharing your plans with others so that your home won’t be advertised as vacant.

  1. Lock Your Doors And Windows

Ensure that your home is always locked up tight. Don’t leave windows unlocked. This includes upstairs as well. Make sure everything is actually locked before leaving.

  1. Keep Lights On

Especially if you’re planning to be gone for several days. It makes your home appear occupied even when it’s not. If you have lights on timers, or any home automation features, make sure to take advantage of them.

  1. Keep Small Amounts Of Cash

Valentine’s Day is a crazy busy night for many people. Everyone has specific plans. Protect yourself and your wallet by keeping your valuables on your person to a minimum. If a tragedy occurs, at least it was only a small amount to lose.

  1. Be Careful At Home

If you’re not into a big night out or a weekend getaway, make sure that you’re being careful when dining in. Make sure that you shut off the oven and blow out the candles before going to bed.

  1. Walk In Populated Areas

A romantic walk is the perfect way to end the evening, but also make sure you’re staying safe. Don’t wander down dark alleys or areas that aren’t well lit. Burglars and pickpockets know this is a busy night.

  1. Install A Home Security System

If you’re worried about your home while you’re away for a long weekend, give yourself peace of mind by installing a home security system. My Alarm Center is a security system supplier that will monitor your home 24/7 and immediately notify emergency personnel as soon as they detect an intruder.

My Alarm Center wants to remind you to have a safe and special Valentine’s Day. Use these tips to make sure you and your home stays safe throughout a very exciting evening.

Protect Yourself From Bluetooth Hackers

by Amy February 8, 2018

Many people believe that being hacked is not easy and unfortunately this is not true. Many people also believe they will not be hacked because they do not have any essential information, but this is false as well. A hacker can find out more than you’d think just by hacking into your cell phone. Be cautious and protect yourself from being hacked by following these safety tips:

Protect Your Home Devices

1. Turn Off Your Wifi And Bluetooth

Hackers can see if you keep these features on your phone on at all times. The reason why this is important is because they could view what networks you have connected to before and can spoof them and trick your phone into connecting to Wifi and Bluetooth devices that hackers carry around. Once in control of your device, hackers can bombard your device with malware, steal data, or even spy on you.

2. Use Two-Step Authentication

Many major internet websites will provide a login option for two-step authentication. Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn are a few of these companies that will ask you for a secret code that is sent through text message to your cell phone, to log into your account. This is a great form of protection because even if someone manages to guess your password, it would be impossible to login without having full access to your phone.

3. Create A Smart Password

Consider using various characters and numbers sporadically throughout your password. Make sure this is something you will be able to remember. The more unique your password is, the less likely someone will be able to guess it.

4. Guard Your Home Wifi

Setting up your home wifi system is an important way to stay protected. First, change the password to the wifi network. Do not continue to use the random password that is written on the side of your router. When asked what type of security encryption standard you’d like to have for your network, choose WPA-2.

5. Don’t Hide Your Wifi Signal

If your home router asks to “Hide The SSID”, click no. This means that all your devices will always be looking for a new network to join. It could also mean that you are joining networks that are not safe.

Protect Your Bluetooth Devices

Scammers gain access to cell phone users by hacking into your cell phone using Bluetooth. To protect yourself consider these tips:

1. Create A Good Password

To prevent your Bluetooth from being hacked, always use a minimum of eight characters in your pin.

2. Use “Not Discoverable” Setting

Switch Bluetooth into “not discoverable” when you are not using it.

3. Be Cautious Of Other Devices

Do not accept any pairing requests from any unknown devices. This is very important because this is how a hacker gains full access to your cell phone including calls, texts, pictures, credit card information, and any other important information your phone contains.

4. Be Cautious Of Ways To Get Hacked

  • Bluejacking: This is one of the most common ways that people are being hacked. This is when a hacker searches for discoverable devices around them and sends spam in the form a text. This method is usually harmless but is more annoying than a significant security issue. This method is specifically used for different types of spam messaging and does not give hackers access to your phone or its contents. The best way to handle this mode is to ignore messages if you receive them. If you keep your Bluetooth setting on “non-discoverable” then you should not have many problems with this form of hacking.
  • Bluesnarfing: This type of hacking can lead to a hacker gaining access to your private information on your smartphone. A hacker could potentially purchase software that allows them to request information from your device. It is possible for this to happen when you are set to “invisible” or “non-discoverable”, but it is much less frequent due to the time, effort, and money needed to complete this type of hack.
  • Bluebugging: If a hacker uses bluebugging, then they have received full access to your cell phone. They can see all your photos, apps, contacts, texts, and phone calls. This type of hacking is only feasible with older phones with outdated firmware. Newer smartphones are less likely to have this happen because of constant security updates.

While your wireless security system protects your home and those within it, it doesn’t necessarily protect the software within your home. Be smart when using your Bluetooth devices so that they are not vulnerable to a hacker waiting to prey on your network. Take the time to avoid being an easy target for a hacker.

How To Place Security Cameras

by Amy January 30, 2018

The placement of home security cameras is just as important as having them. My Alarm Center is strategic when deciding the location of your surveillance system.

Security cameras are installed at the front door, back door, and near first floor windows.

These locations are the most common entry points for intruders, according to statistics from the Bureau of Justice. Cameras are placed above doors and windows, outside your home, and facing downward. This way the camera can view a few feet in front of the opening. Exterior cameras have night vision and are waterproof. Some can be placed in the interior of the home, looking out, so that there is a view of the windows and yard outside.

Cameras have full view and are in focus.

The range of the camera determines the interior placement of cameras. Anything with a range of around 45 to 75 degrees should be aimed to specific areas like a doorway or garage entry door. Cameras with a full wide view of 75 to 180 degrees allow you to see a full room with just one camera.

Cameras watch over any valuables.

If you have a safe within your home, the camera is angled so that it can be seen. Any important hiding places are guarded with a camera as well. If there is a break in, this will help determine what was taken.

Cameras are kept out of reach.

It’s important cameras are kept in an area where they can’t be easily tampered with. If an intruder can break the camera or cover it, it will not be beneficial. Cameras are placed in areas that aren’t obvious but will maximize the view.

Cameras are connected to your home security system.

Security cameras can work strategically with your home security system and home monitoring to protect your home. They’re also great for home automation, allowing you to check home security feeds any time you wish.

Cold Weather Safety Tips

by Amy January 17, 2018

The winter season has arrived and it is important to stay safe throughout this bitterly cold period. My Alarm Center wants to remind you to prepare accordingly for the cold weather.

  1. Pay Attention To The Forecast

Pay attention to your daily and weekly weather forecast. Look out for low wind chills and winter weather advisories. This will help you dress accordingly if you must go out, pick up the supplies you may need, and prepare your home for the harsh elements.

  1. Plan Ahead

Plan for weather conditions that you do not expect. Keep an extra coat or blanket in your car. Keep extra food in the house. If your job is outdoors, plan a warm-up break. You never want to be caught off guard in the cold.

  1. Protect Your Home

A bad winter storm could knock out your power or even your heat. Generators and space heaters are wonderful to have but be cautious when using them. Space heaters should always be kept three feet away from anything flammable. Generators should never be hooked up to the homes internal wiring. The safest way to use a generator is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to it. Be cautious of your pipes freezing as well. When water freezes it expands and can cause a burst pipe. Flood monitoring can be used to keep you aware of any leaks before they turn into a flood. If you do lose heat, keep sinks running a trickle of water to help prevent pipes from freezing.

  1. Winterize Your Home

Consider installing weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows to protect your home from losing heat throughout the season. Insulate water lines that run along your exterior walls to help keep your pipes from freezing.

  1. Dress Warmly

Dress in several different layers. Ideally, your outermost layer will be wind resistant. Make sure to wear a hat or insulated gloves. Keep your face and neck warm with a scarf.

  1. Seek Shelter When Necessary

When the wind chill is low it can do significant damage to your body. Make time to get out of the cold and limit your time spent outdoors. There’s nothing like a warm home on a cold day. If you want to keep your house warm but not have the heat on all the time, you can use a smart thermostat with your home automation system to keep the heat low when you’re at work and warm your house up right before you get home.

  1. Stay Dry

Stay as dry as possible when it’s cold outside. Wet clothing chills the body much more rapidly. If you begin to sweat from the multiple layers, remove your outer layer or unzip your coat.

  1. Keep Active

The more physical activity you’re getting, the warmer you’ll be. Walking or running will help you naturally generate body heat.

  1. Be Aware

Be cautious of signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Children, the elderly, and anyone with circulation problems are more susceptible to the cold. The use of alcohol, tobacco, and certain medications will also increase susceptibility to the cold.

The Signs Of Hypothermia

  • A drop in body temperature.
  • Shivering, confusion, and loss of muscular control.
  • Loss of consciousness.

What To Do

  • Get the person inside and gently remove any wet clothing.
  • Lay the person flat and avoid rough handling, especially if they are unconscious.
  • Warm the person gradually and slowly, with any available sources of heat.
  • Seek medical attention immediately.

The Signs Of Frostbite

  • Skin appears white and waxy and is hard to the touch.
  • There is no sensation and the area feels numb or is tingling.

What To Do

  • Get inside a warm place.
  • Warm the area gradually with body heat or warm water.
  • Get medical assistance immediately.

My Alarm Center wants to remind you and your family to stay safe throughout the winter season. Remember to check the local weather forecasts and dress appropriately for the current winter conditions. If you notice signs of hypothermia or frostbite, make sure you contact medical personnel as soon as possible.

Tips For Better WiFi

by Amy January 2, 2018

There are many reasons your home wifi could be running slow and many ways to make it go a little bit faster. If you’re having problems with slow speeds and bad reception, try a few of these tips to increase your internet’s capabilities.

  1. Start With New Hardware

Ensure your network connection is reliable. Make sure you are using up to date equipment. Our technology has changed rapidly over the last several years, so old technology doesn’t always work to full capacity.

  1. Pick A Good Spot For Your Router

Make sure your router is in an open area without any obstructions from walls or other electronic devices. Some electronic devices have the capacity to block the wireless signal. The best place to keep your router is on a flat surface without anything else near it.

  1. Ensure You’re Using The Correct Wireless Channel

If several routers in a close area are using the same wireless channel, they can easily reduce the speeds of your wifi. Choose a channel that has as little signal interference as possible. Your router will include instructions on how to change your wireless channel if you do not know how to change it.

  1. Avoid Interference From Other Electronics

A wireless signal can be blocked by many different devices including cordless phones, microwaves, and televisions. Make sure your router is positioned away from any large electronics.

  1. Wifi Security

When installing your wireless router, set it up as a secured connection. This means you’ll have to provide a username and password to receive wifi from the router. If you use a good password, it will be difficult for any neighbors or strangers to hack your wifi. You can also hide the SSID, which is the name of your wifi. It will not appear as an option to log on to though. You’ll have to enter the SSID manually.

  1. Control Bandwidth Applications

Someone in your home may be hogging the bandwidth signal if they’re constantly streaming movies or video games. You can control the quality of service to prioritize certain applications.

  1. Install A Wifi Extender

A wifi extender is essentially a second router that will capture the wifi signal and allow it to reach further. This is especially helpful in a home with brick walls or other blockers to the wifi signal.

  1. Restart Your Wifi On A Regular Basis

It is important for your wifi to be turned off and rebooted on a regular basis. This will allow it to update. It is possible to set it on a rebooting schedule so that it turns off in the middle of the night when you’re not using it.

  1. Switch To 5GHz

Most wifi providers offer a dual band router, which gives you two different signals to connect to. 5GHz is a faster signal than 2.4GHz, but 2.4GHz has a wider range. Older devices might not be compatible with 5GHz. 5GHz is a less congested signal than 2.4GHz, which makes it ideal for those living in condos or apartments.

  1. Turn Off Eco Mode

Some routers are made to save energy though they have the tendency to reduce your wifi speed and signal. Turn off the power saving, or eco mode, to restore the proper speeds to your router. These may be on by default and do not save a significant amount of power.

It’s important to have a fast wifi connection. Make sure you protect your wireless signal with a secured connection and utilize these tips to improve your wifi speeds.

Home Security And Holiday Guests

by Amy December 14, 2017

During this wintry season, many people have guests stay with them to enjoy and celebrate the many holidays. Your home security system can be a great tool for keeping your home and your guests safe and unharmed. Ensure this holiday season is a cheerful time for all with these recommended home security solutions from the home security experts at My Alarm Center.

  1. Use Automatic Locks

The holiday season is a joyful season for family, gifts, songs, and celebration. The holiday season, unfortunately, is also a time for theft. You should never leave your doors unlocked, even if you are home. To ensure that only the guests you invited are entering your home, use automatic door locks that lock themselves after a few moments and can only be accessed with the proper temporary codes.

  1. Security Cameras

Your security system cameras help keep everything and everyone inside your home safe. You can monitor your home through any smart device, like your smartphone, and keep intruders away from your property. If you feel uncomfortable about a guest staying in your home, you can also use your security cameras to make sure guests are not in places that they should not be.

  1. Personalized Security Codes

Your home security service has different access codes for family members and different access codes for guests. No one can enter or exit without the proper code and you can even see who is coming and going. Their temporary access code will work for the limited time that you set it for. This way they won’t have access to your home throughout the rest of the year.

Your home security service will put you at ease throughout this stressful holiday season. Your home security system will keep you from having to worry about the safety of your valuables or whether or not any guests are going through your personal stuff. If anything happens, you’ll know about it.

How Fire Alarm Monitoring Saves Lives

by Amy November 20, 2017

With fire alarm monitoring, you can be certain you’re safe in case of a fire as an alarm monitoring center will be alerted as soon as a fire alarm or smoke detector is triggered. The monitoring center will then alert the fire department and make sure everyone has safely gotten out of the house. With the holiday season quickly approaching, it is important to remind your family of emergency procedures and make sure that you are prepared in case a fire does occur.

Fire Alarm Monitoring:

Many people assume that this would be a pricey purchase, which it is not. Most home security systems now come with fire monitoring which can include smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors. Fire alarm monitoring alerts you as soon as your home detectors are activated, even if you are not home. Fire alarm monitoring is a system designed to make sure everyone has escaped from a fire successfully and to send help immediately.

Smoke Detectors:

Make sure smoke detectors are installed in every level of your home and close to sleeping areas. It is even recommended to have a smoke detector in every bedroom of your home. These alarms are loud enough to wake your entire house and will make sure you have plenty of time to get out of the house if there is a fire.

Escape Route:

It is important to have a plan before a fire breaks out, so when an emergency occurs you’ll know exactly what to do. Have a strategy for every member of the house and plan to meet at a designated area outside of the home. It is recommended to have two full plans of escape. Consider purchasing escape ladders that can be attached to windows for upper level bedrooms. Practice your fire escape route with your family, so everyone can feel comfortable with how to handle this scary situation.

Stop, Drop, and Roll:

If you are ever on fire, stop, drop, and roll on the ground until the fire is out.

Stay Low:

If ever caught within thick smoke, crawl along the ground to escape safely.

A situation can go from bad to worse in seconds. Be prepared and make sure you alert your family of what to do in case of a fire emergency. A fire alarm monitoring system will keep you fully covered in case of a fire emergency. The holiday season can put you at risk of many different types of unfortunate fires, so be careful and take the time to prepare in case of an emergency fire situation.