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Monitored Fire and CO Detectors vs. Standard Alarms

by Amy July 27, 2016

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Traditional smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are commonplace across homes in the U.S. These alarms are considered the basic, necessary alert to indicate a fire or CO concern, but they are only as useful as the audible alarms they emit; if no one is present at the time of the alert, the property, valuables, and pets are at the mercy of a neighbor or passerby and their ability to alert local emergency authorities quickly.

The alternative, a professionally monitored fire and carbon monoxide system, means the difference between a few minutes of response time and potentially hours.

See the benefits of a professionally monitored fire alarm and CO detector system:
1. Linked to a central monitoring system, a monitored alarm will summon the appropriate help immediately, whether you are home or not, or are unable to hear the alarm.

2. Many times, occupants of the home are suffering from CO or smoke inhalation and may not be conscious enough to contact local authorities; a monitored system removes that risk.

3. Children, elderly individuals and pets may be unable to contact emergency response services in the event of a home fire or carbon monoxide situation; a monitored alarm system can be their voice.

4. Not all fires damage the entirety of the home, but if left unattended by a professional, those fires can potentially impact the majority of the property over time. If quickly acted upon, both the home and personal belongs can be saved in many cases.

5. Gain peace of mind of knowing whether you are home or away, that your home and its occupants are professionally protected in the event of a fire or CO detection.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 84% of fire related deaths are due to home fires. Carbon monoxide kills an average of 400 Americans each year, as reported by US Product Safety Commission office. The risks are real and the security of your family is number one. My Alarm Center is proud to offer monitored fire alarms and monitored CO alarms across the U.S., from Seattle to Philadelphia. View the monitored fire alarm video for more information on the difference between a standard alarm and a monitored home alarm system.

8 Vacation Security Tips for your Home

by Cassie July 11, 2016

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It’s difficult to go away for an extended amount of time and not worry about the security of your home. By taking precautions before leaving, you gain peace of mind and improved home security. Here are 10 ways to prepare your home’s security for an upcoming vacation:

1. Ask a friend to keep an eye on your home
The key objective to finding a house sitter is to continue to make the home appear occupied. If you don’t plan to have someone stay in your home while you are gone, it is a good idea to have someone stop by at least once a day or minimally ask your neighbors to keep an eye out. By asking a friend to remove the mail, adjust lights and take care of the trash pickup, it shows that the home is occupied which can deter an intruder. Of course, make sure you choose a reliable and trustworthy person to monitor your home . Have trouble finding someone to keep an eye on your home? You can always consider adding a home automation system for advanced lighting control, helping to make your home appear occupied with custom scheduling. Make your house a smart home and enjoy the added benefits of climate control as well as state of the art security monitoring with real time alerts.

2. Don’t post vacation plans on social media

Even though you are excited for your upcoming vacation, it’s safest to share your experience after you’re back. If you post about your upcoming trip, you’re sharing that your home will be vacant in the upcoming weeks on public networks, which is a security risk . Also, refrain from posting photos during your getaway, no matter how beautiful, until you return home. Giving away your current status is another security risk for your potentially vacant home.

3. Stop your Mail service
Contact your local Post Office and place a “stop” order on your mail. A few days’ worth of mail piled in your mailbox or at your door step is a clear indication that no one is home to pick it up. The same idea applies to newspapers. If you have a difficult time stopping either service, ask a friend or neighbor to retrieve your mail and papers.

4. Remove spare keys
Make sure you remove spare keys that are hidden on the outside of your property. If they are tipped off that no one is in the house, an intruder will be tempted to look for a spare key. Avoid the risk of someone finding the key by removing it entirely. With digital keypads, you can remove the need for spare key placement, but still enable your pet sitter or neighbor to access your home.

5. Keep the landscape trimmed
In order to keep the house appearing occupied it is important to maintain normalcy from the outside. If you are a diligent homeowner who keeps their lawn in great shape, keep up this routine. If you plan on being away for an extended time period, hire someone to cut the grass while you are away. Leaving the yard untidy is a clear indication that no one is around to take care of it.

6. Make sure you lock up
It may seem obvious, but make sure you lock all windows and doors. If the deadbolt to the garage is usually left unlatched, now is the time to lock it. With the home being fully locked, it becomes less attractive as a target to intruders who are looking for a quick entry point. Double check your windows and doors upon your departure.

7. Protect your vehicle
If you are leaving on an extended vacation and parking your car at the airport or elsewhere, make sure it is in a secure location. Also, remove the garage door opener from your car. This could provide an access point into your house if an intruder gets into your vehicle.

8. Install a home security system
Installing a home security system provides you peace of mind with 24/7 professional monitoring , alerting local authorities to any security breaches. Plus, alarm systems deter potential intruders from entering your home. Additionally, home security systems can alert you remotely if there are any movements or changes within your home, even when the pet sitter does not arrive.
Before you leave for vacation, make sure you take the necessary precautions to prepare your home. Just a few minutes of preparation could save your home from any unexpected visitors and provide you peace of mind for the duration of your tip. Enjoy your vacation and ensure your home will be safe and sound until your return.

Alarm Monitoring Center Response Times: How Much Do They Matter?

by Cassie February 19, 2015

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While researching alarm systems, you may come across a lot about alarm monitoring center response time. And while the concept sounds very important (and it is!), you may not quite understand what it means in the context of security systems.

So, let’s break it down and provide a clearer understanding of what this measurement means and how it may affect you as a home security system subscriber.

Response time, as defined by the alarm company industry, is the measurement of time that the alarm monitoring center processes alarm “events.” This means that when a signal is sent to the monitoring center (e.g., your alarm goes off), the amount of time it takes for the monitoring center to respond and process the event is considered the response time.

When reviewing response times of home security companies and doing a side-by-side comparison, it is essential to understand that most companies report and publish an average response time (and the times can range from one just a few seconds to a few minutes). So of course, not every single response will be on the low end, but a shorter response time is better for everyone and it truly is a measurement of concern when reviewing your options.

One thing to keep in mind is that the response time from the alarm monitoring center can differ from the response time from authorities; however, these times are not independent. In most cases, a quicker response from the monitoring center will result in a quicker response from the attending emergency teams.

So what affects an alarm company’s ability to respond in a timely manner and why are some home security systems offering quicker response times than others?

For the most part, a sufficiently staffed and well-trained force that can handle alarm system traffic will result in quicker response times. A response team equipped with the right technology and training will add to the efficiency and keep the response times consistently low. If any of these factors fall below satisfactory, they could potentially create a negative effect on response times and therefore, slow down the process.

At My Alarm Center, a BBB accredited monitoring company, we have quick response times that average  60 seconds or less and we have the formula to make it happen. We have best-in-class monitoring, a well-trained team, top technology, and 24/7 accessibility, which translate into lightning fast response times. We pride ourselves on being able to quickly alert emergency response teams and get to our customers as soon as possible.

While response time isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a home security system, it is absolutely one aspect that can make a big difference in a time of need.

Should You Buy a Home Security Alarm System or Home Automation System from Your Cable Company?

by Derek June 26, 2014

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It seems like you can buy a security alarm or home automation system from just about anybody these days.

 

Your cable TV company will sell you an alarm system. They’ll even bundle it in a package with your internet, phone and TV programming.

 

Your utility company will sell you a home security system. You most likely won’t get a discount off your power bill but you will have more to read about in their monthly billing stuffers.

 

In the grab for more of your cash, cable companies and utilities companies are entering the home security burglar alarm and home automation business in record numbers. Even a search engine (Google) owns a home smoke detector company!

 

Why their interest in home security, emergency services, and automation? Two big reasons:

 

  1. Marketing research indicates that Americans are going to buy more home security, home security monitoring, and automation systems…they view it as a “growth market.”
  2. The home security and automation industry consists of many locally owned and operated companies, not large national corporations. Cable and utility companies know that most of their competitors in the home security business don’t have the multi-million dollar ad budgets like they do.

 

Now while competition in any industry usually benefits the consumer, where does it leave you?

 

Most likely, not in a position of security and safety that you need to be.

 

Security, safety and home automation is too important to leave in the hands of large corporate conglomerates.

 

You see, specialization is a good thing. Doing one thing allows people and companies to develop expertise, perspective and insights that transfer into better goods and services for you.

 

Protecting your home and family members is too important to leave it up to a “jack of all trades, master of none” type of company. You need to rely on security experts, companies that focus on security alone!

 

There’s a reason why the fire department doesn’t provide law enforcement services. The guy that bakes the world’s best cakes probably isn’t qualified to serve a five course meal and just because you have a successful baseball team doesn’t mean you’ll win at soccer.

 

Think about this for a minute. If someone is trying to break into your home, who do you want protecting it…people that specialize in protection or a company known for long wait times for customer service?

 

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, published by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, condemns the services of big cable companies. The average security company scores in the high 70s on the index while the average of the cable companies was just 65! Internet companies (many of which also provide cable) scored a paltry 63! It gets worse…customer satisfaction with these subscription TV providers fell 4.4% in the past year alone. The scores are amongst the lowest on the entire Index!

 

Most of the cable and utility companies offer a highly limited selection of home security systems and home automation systems. Most won’t work for larger homes. And there is nothing unique about the security technology and automation services that they do offer – you can get the same exact things from companies that specialize in the industry, not just from those that dabble in it.

 

When you need to rely on an alarm system service provider for your family’s safety, go to the specialists in your local community. That makes sense for car repairs, it makes sense for home repairs and it makes sense for home security and home automation. Click here for more information.

15 Top Tips for Preparing Your Home for Summer

by Derek June 19, 2014

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After the winter we’ve all gone through, most of us are ready for summer.

 

Here are our top 15 tips of things you can do to get your home ready for this summer:

 

1. Clean your dryer vents. Clogged vents cause warm air to circulate back into your home. Simple cleaning of the vents prevents this from happening.

 

2. Clean, inspect and repair your window screens. You’ll want to enjoy the summer breezes without dust and bugs, so make sure your window screens are ready.

 

3. Trim back trees and bushes. Before summer is in full swing and foliage growth fills in, prune back any trees or shrubs that might obstruct the view from a window or become a good hiding spot for someone looking to check out whose home.

4. Check the fridge. You’ll want plenty of frosty cool beverages this summer so now’s a good time to clean the condensing coils and to make sure the refrigerator is working properly.

 

5. Inspect the roof. Check the flashing, caulking and shingles so your home can withstand the summer storms. Check for continuity on the plane of the roof and on the ridges. Make sure everything is tight and sealed. One of the best ways to identify potential back ups is to go out during a heavy rain and look at the water flow through the gutters.

 

6. Organize the garage. If you are like us, lawn chairs, games, coolers, floatation devices and more summer fun stuff is in the garage. Now’s a great time to organize the garage so things are handy when you are ready for fun!

 

7. Use compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs. Not only do these bulbs use less energy, they give off less heat than other bulbs. Using CFL bulbs will help keep rooms cooler. Now that the sun is shining a brighter light bulb is less necessary.

 

8. Reverse the ceiling fan. Summer months mean that you want the ceiling fan to blow air down to give the room a breeze to make it feel cooler. This is the opposite direction of winter. Make sure the direction of the blades blow air down.

 

9. Use the exhaust fan when taking a shower. The purpose of your air conditioning unit is to replace warm, muggy air with cool air. A steamy shower can create muggy conditions that spill out of the bathroom into other areas of your home. The exhaust fan can remove those steamy, muggy conditions while saving on your air conditioning costs.

 

10. Put shade by the air conditioning units. Plant a tree or place some shade over your air conditioning units to help them run more efficiently.

 

11. Put a vent or fan in the attic. Attic vents or fans help pull hot air off your ceilings, keeping your house cooler (and making it more tolerable to go in the attic!).

 

12. Get ready to barbeque. Most homeowners enjoy cooking outside in the summer. Get the grill and all of your supplies in good order for lots of summer fun.

 

13. Check the caulking around openings to your home. Doors, windows, vents, and other openings can slightly separate from the frame of your home. Seal them to keep the cool air in and the warm air out.

 

14. Replace the HVAC filters regularly. Blocked air filters reduce the ability of your air conditioning system to push and pull air through the registers. Allergens are higher in the summer months as well. Change your filters every 30 days or as recommended by the maker of your air conditioner.

 

15. Insulate. Proper insulation around doors and windows keeps warm air out. Make sure weather stripping is intact and providing a good seal around the door.

 

And here’s a bonus tip. Now’s a great time to check your home security system. My Alarm Center Alarm Company has technicians in your local community that can come and inspect your security system to make sure things are working properly. Call us toll-free at 855-334-6562 to schedule an appointment.

Small Business Owner Benefits from Security Camera System

by Amy June 17, 2014

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Scottsdale small business owner Dave West couldn’t believe what was happening before his own eyes.

 

West, owner of a Scottsdale health club called Koko FitClub, watched two members abuse the exercise equipment at his business.

 

Right in the middle of the day, right in the middle of the club, right in front of his face.

 

“I was stunned,” said West.

 

Although all of this was happening right before his own eyes, West was NOT at his health club at the time. He was observing this abuse in real-time right from his smartphone.

 

“I contacted my manager on duty and he stopped the problem before it got out of hand,” says West. “I saved my equipment.”

 

West is typical of many small business owners who have found security camera systems ideal for their business.

 

West uses his security camera system viewed through his smartphone to:

 

  • Determine if an alarm system activation is real or a false alarm.
  • See what’s happening at his club through live video at anytime from anywhere.
  • Determine staffing levels at various times of the day/week.
  • Observe employee behaviors, especially how they interact with each other and customers.
  • Slash theft.

 

“I’ve even looked in on my club when hiking at the Grand Canyon,” said West.

 

If you’d like to bring this level of security and flexibility to your small local businesses operations, contact the small business security experts here at My Alarm Center. Call us at 855-334-6562

Two Home Security Service Scams to Be Aware of This Summer

by Cassie June 12, 2014

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There are two common home security company scams home burglars are currently using to gain access to your home.

 

In the first, burglars pose as animal control officers. They’ll come to your door and ask to inspect your backyard for snakes.

 

While one of them distracts you in the backyard, the other goes inside your home to steal.

 

Keep in mind, it’s very uncommon for city workers to show up unannounced. If this happens to you, be sure to ask the workers to identify their supervisor and call the city office right away to verify the visit. Don’t let anyone enter your home or property without first verifying their need to be there.

 

The second scam to be aware of comes via your telephone.

 

Burglars pose as telemarketers representing a home security company. They call you to ask questions about your home security to find out if you are vulnerable.

 

If you get a call like this, tell them you have a monitored home security system connected to a monitoring center and security camera system. Thank them for their call and promptly hang up.

 

If either of these things happen to you, it’s wise to report the situation to your local authorities.

7 Safety Tips When Your Home Is For Sale

by Amy June 5, 2014

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Did you know that when you put your home up for sale it becomes more vulnerable to burglaries? That’s why you need burglar detector alarms even in empty homes.

 

Listing a home for sale means lots of strangers in your house, everyone from real estate agents, prospective buyers, neighbors and others. It’s easier for thieves to find out what is in your home and when it might be vacant for them to do their dirty work.

 

Here are some things you can do to keep your home safe from harm while it is on the market :

 

1. Take an inventory | Digitally record the possessions in your home prior to placing the home on the market. Do a room by room inventory of all items so you know what you have. This digital record will be very useful in the event of theft or emergency.

2. Contact your security company | Let your home security company know that you’ll be selling your home. This is a perfect time to verify your contact information should you or your representative need to be reached in the event of emergency. Your security company can also review your options concerning the sale of your home and the home security system.

 

3. Train your realtor | Give your realtor their own code to use the alarm system. That way you can track when they’ve been there and for how long. This code can also be easily deleted when it is no longer needed. Make sure your realtor knows how to properly arm and disarm the system. Your realtor also needs to know how to cancel an alarm with your alarm monitoring center.

 

4. Work in pairs | Some people sell their home without using a realtor. In these instances it is always wise to work in pairs. Don’t show your home alone. This gives strangers a chance to take advantage of you. Always have someone with you when showing your home. To avoid the risk of being attacked from behind, allow visitors to enter rooms before you do.

 

5. Keep a log| Insist that your realtor keep a log of all people that enter your home, especially during open house showings. It’s wise to have your realtor ask to see a photo ID for all who enter during an open house. Don’t allow people to wander unattended through your home.

 

6. Protect the valuables | Portable electronics, jewelry, spare keys, wallets, etc. are all valuables that need to be protected when showing your home. Keep these things in drawers or closets so they don’t become easy targets for dishonest people.

 

7. Inspect your home after each showing | Criminals may use your open house or visit to your home to plan for future crimes. They’ll get to know the home, they’ll check out what you have, and they may unlock door locks or windows for use in their return visit. Check your home after each showing. Make sure nothing appears out of order. Check to make sure all doors and window are locked, and that no security system motion sensors have been blocked by something to reduce their coverage range.

 

 

 

Selling your home can be hectic enough without having to deal with criminal activity. Don’t allow your home to be an easy target. Follow these tips for better protection with home security companies.

How to Answer Your Door with Home Security in Mind

by Amy April 15, 2014

 

Many of us have taught our kids to never open the door for a stranger. How many adults take those same safety precautions before answering the door?

Sure, we all want to be friendly and courteous. Yet not everyone coming to your door may have the same good intentions. In today’s society, you can’t trust that the person on the other side of the door is a friendly visitor.

Here’s what you should do when you hear a knock at your door:

·         Use a security camera system to see who is at the door. Make the camera visible. A camera could deter someone with devious intentions. The camera itself will allow you to see who is at the door.

·         Interact with the visitor using an intercom. This is an effective and affordable way to talk with a stranger without actually answering the door.

·         Look out a window. If you don’t have a home security camera system watching the area outside your door, look out a window adjacent to the door. You can see who is there without them knowing you are home. Based upon what you see, you can make a decision about how to proceed.

·         Talk through the door. Ask the visitor who they are and what they want behind the closed and locked door. Ask for identification. A legitimate visitor will understand and be happy to share ID with you.

·         Use a door chain. A chain lock provides some security while allowing you to open the door enough to get the visitor’s identification for review. You can also use the chain lock to accept a small package or special delivery envelope.

·         Send them home. If an unwanted visitor calls, or someone visits claiming to have an appointment you can’t verify, send them home. Tell them you’ll call to schedule their visit for another time.

·         Use your phone or system camera. Take a picture of the visitor and email it to a friend. Call the company the visitor claims to represent to make sure things are legitimate.

·         Trust your instincts. If your gut is telling you that something is wrong, then don’t open the door.

It only takes a second for a criminal to seize an opportunity to bring you harm. Be cautious. Be safe

Four Wireless Home Security Tips for Your Second Home

by Amy April 10, 2014

 

The start of spring brings the high season for second homes. It also poses a dilemma for second home owners.

When you are not at your second home, how do you keep it safe? Not only are there threats to the home from humans (vandalism, burglary), there are also natural disasters and plumbing emergencies. Second homes by their very nature are often several hours from first homes and the greater the distance, the greater the wireless home security system complexities.

With popular vacation home rental sites like Flipkey.com, Airbnb and Vacation Rentals by Owner, many homeowners recoup some second home costs by renting to vacationers. These rentals pose even more home security risks: how do you deliver and retrieve keys and how do you make sure renters haven’t trashed your place?

To simplify the home security and protection of your second home, we offer these tips.

Install a Complete Home Security Alarm System

Advances in technology make home security systems an attractive protection option for second homes. Cellular technology has eliminated the need for traditional phone lines for alarm system monitoring. Protect doors and windows, plus make sure to include interior motion detectors, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detection. Your best protection against burglar and vandalism at your second home is with a monitored security system.

Include Security Camera Systems

Security camera systems are highly affordable, and they allow you to look in on your second home from your smartphone or any other web-enabled device. This means you can check in on your home from anywhere at any time. You can also record activity, which is highly useful if you need to prosecute any criminal activity. Want to see if you place has been trashed by vandals? Simply look on your phone and check! Security cameras outside your home are a must. Inside cameras are great even if you don’t rent your place to others.

Add Home Automation Features

Home automation features can integrate with your second home security system. You can remotely control and monitor temperature settings, which can help keep pipes from freezing without wasting energy. You can lock and unlock doors, turn on and off interior lighting, and a variety of other convenient options for second home owners. Set it up to run automatically or control it through any web-enabled device.

Maintain a Lived-In Look

Keep things up-to-date while you are away. Hire a service to periodically check on your home. Use your home automation system services to turn on and off lights at designated times. Have your service or neighbors pick up any flyers or newsletters left on your property. Have a service keep the property in good repair while you are away. And make sure to use a yard sign and window stickers from your home security company so criminals know that your property is protected.

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