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Fire Safety Tips For Homeowners

by Amy December 6, 2018

It is important to remember that even a small fire can spread within minutes, and it can take more time to escape your home than you think.  These tips can help you stay safe in case of a fire.

Cooking: Ensure that the burners and stove are always turned off when you are finished cooking. Be especially careful when cooking or frying with oil and grease. Make sure that all clothing and other combustible materials stay far away from open flames. Our fire detection systems can alert you when burners are remained on.

Heating: Make sure there are at least 3 feet of clearance between space heaters and any flammable objects. Also, ensure wood burning heaters and fireplaces are properly maintained and cleaned on a regular basis.

Candles: When using candles, be smart about their placement. Never leave an open flame unattended or near children. Extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to sleep.

Smoking: Indoor smoking is the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths in the United States. If you must smoke inside, make sure you never smoke in bed and always fully extinguish cigarettes when finished. Keep matches and lighters away from children. Never place ashes in a trash can where they can ignite a fire; instead, wet them down and dispose of them in a metal container.

Appliances and Furniture: Furniture can catch fire very quickly. Take special care with placing furniture near heat sources. Electrical malfunctions account for about 6% of residential building fires. It is important to check electrical cords and to replace them if they are damaged.

Smoke Detectors: Ensuring that your smoke detectors are working properly is a huge part of ensuring your safety. Check that you have a smoke detector in every room in which people sleep and outside of the sleeping area. Test the detector once a month by pushing the test button until it beeps. If your smoke detector needs a new battery or is malfunctioning, take care of it as soon as possible. Smoke detectors older than 10 years need to be replaced and batteries older than six months should be changed as well. If you ever hear the fire alarm, it is important that you immediately leave your home.

Fire Extinguishers: Make sure that you purchase one. This is a necessary item to stop minor fires before they spread. Ensure that the fire extinguisher is up to date and working properly. Familiarize yourself with PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep) on how to properly use a fire extinguisher.

Close Doors: Avoid leaving doors propped open because closed doors can slow the spread of a fire.

Clutter: Do not leave any shared spaces cluttered. This could block your escape, especially at night or in a smoke-filled room, when it is difficult to see clearly.

Escape Plan: Creating a fire escape plan is very important and will allow you to be ready in case a fire ever does occur. Identify all possible escape routes from your home and establish a meeting place outside, a safe distance from your house, with your family. Conduct your own fire drills, both during the day and at night.

Prepare yourself and do your part to ensure that your home will never be in a dangerous fire situation. Take our fire safety quiz and know just how secure your home is.

Avoid Hackers When Holiday Shopping Online With These 10 Tips

by Amy November 13, 2018

Why deal with the hassle, stress, and dangers when shopping online? Your inbox is most likely already flooded with deals that you can’t afford to miss out on. But holiday shopping is as productive for cybercriminals as it is for online retailers. Pay attention to your online transactions and follow these tips to protect your personal information and stay safe while shopping online during the holidays.

  1. Shop From A Secure And Trusted Device
    Never shop from a tablet, phone, or computer that doesn’t have antivirus software. Not only could it be infected by malware, but any information entered into an unprotected device, including credit card numbers, are at risk of being stolen. Always use a protected device with up to date protection software.
  2. Shop Using A Secure Connection
    Your data and information can easily be stolen if a hacker controls the network you’re shopping on. It’s recommended to shop only from your own secure network instead of a public network. Also make sure any website you’re on has the HTTPS lock symbol in your URL window, instead of HTTP.

  1. Don’t Shop On Browsers
    Hackers could trick you into clicking on a false link if you’re trying to shop in a browser. It’s much safer to use trusted online retail sites or applications. If you’re going to shop on a browser, trusted experts recommend Mozilla Firefox, as it has the strongest privacy tools of all the browsers out right now.
  2. Some Deals Are Too Good To Be True
    If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Cyber criminals know that people are looking for the best possible prices and will often lure unwitting victims into a trap with fake deals. Never open attachments in emails promising unbelievable deals and only use trusted vendors when placing your orders.
  3. Review Bank Statements
    Most banks and cards will refund you if your information has been stolen, so it’s important to keep an eye on your bank statements and make sure there haven’t been any mysterious purchases made. If there have been, call your bank or credit card company immediately, notify them of the purchase, and place an immediate hold on your accounts.
  4. Don’t Use Debit
    Credit card fraud can be frustrating and common, but believe it or not, credit cards tend to offer more protection from cyber criminals than debit cards do. If you can, use credit cards while doing your online shopping then immediately pay off the balance with your debit. This is much safer than using your debit card directly.

  1. Use Unique Logins
    Yes, it’s a pain remembering more than one login but if you use the same username and password for every retailer then a hacker only has to get the info for one to be able to access all the others. It’s recommended you use different login details for every retailer you shop with and keep the info in a Word file, so you don’t forget.
  2. Make Passwords Difficult
    Additionally, passwords should always be as long as possible and use a mix of upper case, lower case, numbers, and symbols. If you’re having trouble remembering all your passwords for each retailer, feel free to use a password manager to help.
  3. Read the Privacy Policies
    Each website has its own privacy policy. It may be tedious but it’s a good idea to read each one thoroughly. Some sites might seem okay but will sell your information to the highest bidder.
  4. Use Two-Step Verification
    It can be tedious, but two-step verification adds an extra layer of security to your account by making you verify yourself even if you know the password. They might ask for an email or phone number or a special code sent via text. This type of verification could easily stop someone from making all their holiday purchases on your account.

Your security and safety are most important to us. Follow these tips to stay safe and stay shopping for the best deals during the holidays.

How To Best Protect Your Home And Car This Halloween

by Amy October 30, 2018

According to a study conducted by the Boston Globe, crime rates increase by 50% on Halloween night. If you’re out trick-or-treating with the kids, burglars could take advantage of people being away from home and the unfamiliar traffic and pedestrians typically out on Halloween. Protect your home before going trick or treating. Use these tips to stay safe and enjoy the fun sideo of this spooky evening.

General Safety Tips:

  • Choose your trick or treating venue or neighborhood wisely.
  • Take steps to protect your vehicles.
  • Provide plenty of light in walkways.
  • Make sure your trick or treaters are visible.
  • Avoid distractions while walking and driving.

Protect Your Home:

  • Provide plenty of lighting around the exterior of your home to make it easy to see people who approach your home and so visitors don’t stubmble on anything unseen.
  • Place decorations strategically so that they will not be a tripping hazard. Avoid extension cords if possible.
  • Keep all unsupervised points of entry into your home locked. It is a good idea to have your security system activated, even if you are just outside. You may not be aware of someone trying to break into your house while you’re handing out Halloween candy.
  • Leave all valuables out of sight.
  • Let your neighbors know that you do not plan to be home so that they can keep any eye out for anything suspicious.

Protect Your Vehicle:

  • Keep in mind that car theft increases as well on Halloween, so protect your vehicle. Park your car in your garage or at a well-lit area in a trusted neighborhood.
  • Remove all valuables from your car and never leave any in sight, espeically money or a purse, even for a few minutes.
  • Lock all the doors and roll up all the windows.
  • Set your alarm on your vehicle.

My Alarm Center provides security monitoring that will allow you to stay safe all year round. Plan for Halloween so that you can guarantee your home will be safe, even if you plan to celebrate somewhere else.

5 Causes Of Holiday House Fires And How To Prevent Them

by Amy October 26, 2018

The holiday season is supposed to be the happiest time of the year, but, every year, hundreds become the victims of unfortunate holiday fires. Fires during the holidays account for 34% greater property loss and 70% more fatalities than average. Don’t let fire ruin your holiday and follow these tips to ensure a safe holiday season for you and your family.

  1. Cooking

The holidays are all about big meals, and the most common culprit is food left unattended during cooking. Ensure that you have a working fire extinguisher rated for all types of fires and that all the smoke detectors are working properly throughout your household. And be sure you know how to operate the fire extinguisher.

  1. Candles

Candle fires are four times more likely during the month of December. To reduce the risk of fire, maintain a foot of space between candles and anything flammable, including your Christmas tree. Set candles on a sturdy base or cover them with hurricane globes. Do not leave candles unattended, especially near children. Also, consider using flameless LED candles instead of real ones. They flicker, just like an actual candle, but there’s no risk of anything catching aflame.

  1. Decorative Lights

Do not use any decorative lights with frayed or cracked wires. Refrain from stringing any more than three strands of lights together on one outlet. Ensure lights are not placed near any heat sources or anything that could potentially overheat. When placing lights outside, avoid using nails or staples as this could damage the wiring. It is also recommended to take lights down within 90 days as they could be damaged by environmental factors.

  1. Christmas Trees

It will take less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to become engulfed in flame. To minimize the risk of a Christmas Tree catching fire, water the tree every day. If a tree is well watered, it is almost impossible to ignite. Regardless of how often you water the tree, it will begin to dry out after four weeks. When setting up the tree, even an artificial one, make sure it is far away from any heat sources, like fireplaces or radiators. Lastly, make sure the Christmas lights on the tree are always turned off when you go to sleep at night or leave your home. You smart home can automate when to turn your lights on and off.

  1. Fireplaces

Remember to have your fireplace inspected every year by a professional chimney inspector. Soot can harden and become flammable, so this inspection is indispensable. Screen in your fireplace to prevent any hot embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet.

Be cautious and careful when choosing how to decorate your home this holiday season. Make sure that anything potentially flammable is kept far away from heat sources and electronics. If your fire alarm sounds, immediately leave your home, even if you do not know the cause of the alarm.

My Alarm Center wishes you a safe holiday season with your family.

Could These Crazy Home Security Ideas Work?

by Amy October 5, 2018

Some people use more common ideas like wireless home security systems, but some others have taken it to the next level. Here are some of the craziest home security ideas.

  1. Robot Spy Dogs

Regular dogs can scare away potential robbers when you are not at home, but a robot spy dog can do even better than that! These faceless robotic creatures are built to maneuver over any terrain and are more than enough to frighten away even the most stolid of burglars. Some of them even take video and can talk!

  1. Cell Phone-Operated Locks

Once in a while, you might lock yourself out and forgot the keys in the house. With our home automation services, you can install a smart door lock, which will allow you to lock and unlock your door with the press of a button on your smartphone.

  1. Tweeting Laser Tripwire

This laser tripwire tweets every time it’s been touched. It will even take a photo of the intruder, tweet that photo, and then continue to monitor the intruder with the surveillance system. This device makes it impossible for any intruder to go unnoticed.

  1. Personal Drone

Drones are the wave of the future, and your personal drone will live in its own mini home that looks just like a mailbox. This neat gadget can launch itself into the sky, record video, and then return to you all on its own! Perfect for keeping an eye on suspicious persons that may be around your home.

If you’re not interested in some of these wilder ideas, My Alarm Center provides a home security system that allows you to protect your home and your family while also giving you the opportunity to utilize home automation and come up with some crazy home security ideas of your own.

Keep Your Dorms Safe With These Campus Security Tips

by Amy

College makes you feel safe because there are always people around, but it is important to know how look out for yourself. Everyone can help to make college campuses safer. If you are a victim of violence in any way, make sure that you contact your local campus resources or local police station for help.

Increasing On-Campus Safety:

Know Your Resources

Call 911 and know the phone number to Public Safety in case of emergency. Make sure to have access to the campus health center and the campus police station. Also keep note where emergency phones or other emergency stations are located.

Stay Alert

When moving around campus, always be aware of your surroundings. Especially when walking home from class at night. Consider inviting a friend to join you when walking around. If you are alone, only use headphones in one ear so you can still be aware of your surroundings.

Location

Many social media sights allow you to share your location with many different people on your friends list. Consider disabling your location functions so that you can ensure that no one can follow you or track you.

Trust

A college environment can form a false sense of security. Make sure that you are careful with your valuables and don’t rely on people you don’t know.

Be Secure

Even though college may not seem like a dangerous place, lock your doors and windows at night. Keep your door locked during the day as well, especially if you’re not there and even if you’re only using the bathroom. Never leave your belongings in a public area.

Increasing Safety Outside Campus:

Plan Ahead
If you’re going to a party, make sure to plan ahead. Leave and return with people that you trust. Agree to watch out for each other and keep in touch if you get separated. Don’t leave anyone alone or behind.

Don’t Leave Your Drink Unattended
Don’t take a drink from anyone you didn’t watch make it. If you go to the bathroom or walk outside, take it with you. It is important to remember that if someone tampered with your drink, you probably wouldn’t know it as most substances have no color, taste, or odor.

Know Your Limits

Keep track of how many drinks you’ve had and be aware of your friends’ behavior as well. Know your limits and know when you’ve had enough. If someone is ever drinking too much, make sure you contact help immediately.

Trust Your Instincts And Be A Good Friend

If you see a friend in a situation that doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Look out for your friends and they will certainly return the favor.

Know When To Say ‘No’

If you’re ever in a situation that you don’t feel comfortable in, it’s okay to leave. You aren’t obligated to stay in a place where you feel unsafe. If you feel the need to lie to protect yourself, some good excuses to leave are to help another friend or family member, an urgent phone call, not feeling well, or having to be somewhere else by a certain time.

My Alarm Center can provide extra security with home security system installation for off campus housing.

Do You Need A Safe?

by Amy September 7, 2018

There are many different types of safes, so it’s important to know what kind of safes there are before you can decide what type of safe you will need.

Types Of Safes:

  1. Home Safe: Your basic safe. Built to withstand burglary and fires. Usually opened with a combination lock.
  2. Gun Safe: Gun safes are the most common safes bought by homeowners. They are the most popular and biggest of all noncommercial safes. Some can hold up to forty-five rifles while most are only big enough to hold one handgun.
  3. Biometric Safes: These are safes that only open with a fingerprint scan.
  4. Wall Safes: This type of safe is built into the wall so that a painting or other wall covering will conceal it. It is usually about the size of [FILL IN HERE] and contains two or three shelves.
  5. Digital Electronic Safe: These operate by using a digital keypad to open the door.

Safe Specifications:

  1. Burglar Resistant: Most safes are designed to be burglar resistant, but some can withstand more than others. Descriptions include an estimate of how long it might take a burglar to get inside a safe and what type of tools could be used to open it—like power saws, cutting wheels, and torches. The most sophisticated and burglar-resistant safes can even withstand explosives, such as nitroglycerin!
  2. Fire Resistant: Not every safe is designed to remain intact during a fire. Those that are make the perfect repository for important documents. Fire-resistant safes include insulated drawers and lids that can withstand 450 degree heat for up to four hours.
  3. Water Resistant: These are designed to keep out any moisture or dust and are usually used for sensitive collectables.

Lock Types:

  1. Combination: The most commonly used form of lock. Can only be opened if the correct numbers are input in the correct order.
  2. Key: These safes can only be opened by a specific key. This adds an extra layer of security as the key to the safe can be hidden far from it.
  3. Electronic: These safes either come with a keypad for digitally entering the combo or a biometric scanner. These are harder to crack than the mechanical lock.
  4. Time Locks: These locks can be programmed to only open at a certain time.

With more than 2,000,000 homes being burgled every year, it’s easy to understand why so many rely on a safe to protect their jewelry, cash, and personal documents. Always protect your valuables and considering getting a safe to do so.

Senior Citizen Home Security Tips

by Amy

As you get older, it often becomes more difficult to live on your own. You may tend to forget things, which could be potentially dangerous. Accidentally forgetting to lock the front door, or to turn the oven off, could present a costly or dangerous threat. However, being a senior citizen shouldn’t mean relinquishing your independence, either. Here are some tips from My Alarm Center for retaining your independence and keeping your home secure as you age.

  1. Home Security

Home security systems help senior citizens live safer lives. Should any of the alarms sound, including burglar, fire, and carbon monoxide, the proper authorities will be notified, and help will be sent immediately. With home automation, a loved one can help keep an eye on appliances and door locks.

  1. Smart Lighting

Smart lights can be programmed to turn on as someone enters a room and shut off when they leave—eliminating the potential dangers of walking through a dark room and saving electricity, too.

  1. Smart Locks

Regardless of how safe your neighborhood is, you should always keep your door locked. Refrain from leaving an extra key outside the house. This is a common way intruders enter a home. Smart locks make sure the house is always locked and can be remotely unlocked in case someone forgets their keys.

  1. Peepholes & Doorbell Cameras

Don’t be taken advantage of by strangers. A front door with a peephole lets you know who you’re going to face once you open the door. Use one in tandem with a doorbell camera which not only allows you to see who is at the door but lets you speak with them as well.

  1. Keep A Phone Nearby

An older loved one should always carry a cell phone with them. In case of an emergency, they need a way to contact help. Even if they are not technologically savvy, there are simple phones available with features like large numbers that make them senior-friendly.

  1. Medical Alert System

With a medical alert system, elderly homeowners are protected in case of an emergency. The device is very simple and, with the press of a button, will contact emergency personnel. It is especially helpful during a fall or some other event that would leave them unable to move or get to a phone. Different models are offered in necklace and bracelet form.

By installing a home security system, senior citizens will have the ability to live safely on their own.

Signs That A Burglar Is Targeting Your Home

by Amy July 26, 2018

To prevent your home from becoming a target, it is important to know the signs that burglars look for when they pick a target. There are many things to watch for but here are a few that should immediately make you think twice.

  1. Strangers Snooping Around

Don’t become paranoid every time a person walks by your house, but if you see someone who is snooping around, make sure to call your local police. Do not attempt to confront them on your own.

  1. Random Strangers Knocking On Your Door

One of the oldest tricks to get into your home is to just knock on the front door. They could ask to use the bathroom or even try to sell you a fake product. Be wary of any strangers that ask to come inside.

  1. Uncertified Workers

If you choose to have work done on your home, make sure the workers are certified. In some instances, a burglar may see workers coming and going and use it to enter your home. Make sure you contact the company if you are unsure of a worker’s legitimacy.

  1. Unsolicited Fundraisers Or Religious Workers

A twelve-year-old girl selling Girl Scout Cookies isn’t going to be a threat to your home, but other solicitors should always be treated with caution. Burglars are looking for any opportunity to see the inside of your home. Always check who is knocking before you open the door to a stranger and remember you are not obligated to open your door for anyone.

  1. You See Someone Taking Pictures Of Your home

Smartphones make it easy for people to canvass your house and create an intrusion plan. If you see anyone take a picture of your home, you need to immediately act. Notify local law enforcement and document what you see. If possible, take a picture of them as well.

  1. Stickers Or Flyers

If you’re finding a bunch of stickers or flyers on your front door it could be a potential danger. Burglars will attempt to use this method to see if a home is well guarded or not. This, of course, is not always a signal that someone is trying to break into your home, but it is something to keep an eye out for. If you’re going to be away for a period, have someone watch your home to ensure nothing is piling up on the front lawn.

  1. Strange Markings On Your Home

Many burglars will use subtle markings to identify a house they are casing. This could be a string placed on the house or the lampposts. If you see an unexplained marking, move it immediately.

It’s important you’re aware of what is going on around your neighborhood. You can protect your home and your neighbors by keeping an eye on anything that may seem out of place. Communicate with your neighbors so they can be aware as well.

Home Security Tips For Frequent Travelers

by Amy

Most times when people go on vacation their mind is filled with all the things they don’t want to forget that they forget about the house they’re leaving behind. There are over two million burglaries a year in the United States and it is very important to keep yourself from becoming a victim.

  1. Monitor Your Home

Install a home security system. This will provide you with full video surveillance that you can access from anywhere with your smartphone.

Even if you have a home security system, make sure you have someone keeping an eye on your home, whether it is a neighbor or a friend who is staying over while you’re gone. It is a good idea to keep a set of eyes on your home while you are away for an extended period.

  1. Make It Appear As If You Are Home

Make your home appear as if it is always occupied. It’s not a good idea to leave a yard untidy and a mailbox exploding with mail. Make sure your yard is being tended to and stop your mail and newspaper services. Keep lights on inside the home as well and consider using timers that make it appear as if the house is lived in. Ask if your neighbor will park their car in your driveway while you are away. This would deter a burglar from attempting to enter a home since they believe someone is inside.

  1. Don’t Publicly Announce Travel Plans

You don’t want the wrong people figuring out you won’t be home. Avoid posting about any planned trips on social media, so that any potential burglars will not be tipped in your direction.

  1. Take The Garage Door Opener And GPS Out Of Your Car

If you plan to travel without your vehicle, make sure you remove the garage door remote and the GPS from your car. These things could tell someone where you live and give someone access to your home when you are not there.

  1. Be Prepared For A Disaster

Have information about your valuables available if a disaster does occur. Having documents is important for insurance purposes. Before leaving for vacation make sure you review your insurance policies and keep a full record of your valuables and possessions. Documentation of your belongings should include a picture and serial numbers of the products.

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