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Home Security Solutions Make It A Happy (And Safe) Halloween

by Amy October 15, 2013

 

The days are getting shorter, the air is becoming cooler, and brilliantly colored leaves are falling from the trees. Halloween is almost here. The kids’ excitement is growing with each day closer to the costumed, freakishly fun holiday. Before you get too busy buying the candy, figuring out your kids’ costumes or even what you want to dress up as, read on for some helpful tips to keep everyone safe at Halloween.

Get Scary Safe at Home

Although Halloween is intended to be a ghostly good time for children (and grownups, too), it’s important to remember that it also can be an ideal time for burglars and vandals because of preoccupied and distracted homeowners, and can pose an increased risk for injuries.

• As an answer, keep your home well lit inside and out. Adequate lighting will not only deter burglars but also help prevent falls by trick-or-treaters. Consider motion sensor lights or spotlights that can be controlled on a custom schedule through home automation services.

• Clear any debris from sidewalks and your yard to ensure a clear path for little ghosts and goblins.

• And because the occurrence of fire increases around Halloween, the U.S. Fire Administration advises against using candles as decorations. If you use jack-o-lanterns to light your pathway, make sure to use a battery-powered light that’s tested for safety by a laboratory in your pumpkin to avoid a fire.

• Don’t forget to lock all windows and doors even if you’re the one doling out the candy. If you’re not going to be home, let your neighbors know and make sure your alarm system is set.

• If you have an alarm system, use it even if you’re home. Think about spot lighting the alarm signage for extra security.

• Remember that when you’re out trick-or-treating with the kids, you can check on your home via your smartphone with MyHome home automation services.

• Find out what time your community ends Halloween festivities, and be sure not to open the door to strangers after the curfew.

• Report any suspicious activity to your local police or sheriff’s department.

• Keep your pets confined on Halloween night for their safety and the safety of others. Many pets are scared by people in costume, so it’s best to keep Fido and Fluffy in the house, away from others.

Frightening Street Smarts

Of course, you also want to keep your family safe while hunting the neighborhood for candy. So it’s best to remind children before they head out to stay with a group, says the National Crime Prevention Council. If they’re younger, they should stay with a parent. If they’re older, they should stay with their group of friends and not branch off.

• Be sure to have a plan in place in case someone gets separated.

• Set a time limit for kids to be out trick or treating and map out a safe route with them.

• Ensure the kids understand to stay in well-lit areas and not enter the homes or cars of strangers.

• Attach reflective tape to costumes and bags to help others easily see the trick-or-treaters.

• Make sure they have flashlights that work before they conquer the streets.

While Mischief Night is a night known for pranks and tricks—where toilet paper, shaving cream and eggs on homes and property can often come into play—and may sound funny to kids, be sure to remind them not to engage in those activities as they’re considered vandalism.

Keeping all these tips in mind will no doubt bring a safe night of fun and loads of smiles along with overflowing bags of candy.

Homeowners Confronting Burglars

by Amy December 17, 2012

We are excited to continue the series of guest blogs by Peter Rogers, Co-Founder & Senior Advisor, of FrontPoint Security Solutions.  Peter has more than 20 years of home security experience, including leadership positions at some of the country’s most prominent alarm companies.

Wireless Home Security – More Warnings on Confronting Burglars: Topeka, Kansas Police Offer Strong Advice

Every police department in the US agrees on this important advice: do not, under any circumstances, confront a burglar in your home. The big problem is that you don’t always know that an intruder is in your home when you walk through the door – especially if you have no alarm system or monitoring service to alert police, and scare the burglar off. It’s a dangerous situation when you enter your home thinking all is well, and encounter someone in the act of stealing your cash, jewelry, or electronics. When you have no warning, as happened in this story from Gary, Indiana, the results can be frightening – or as in this case, fatally tragic.

A Gary man came home from work for lunch Friday, and was shot and killed when relatives say he interrupted a burglary in progress. Relatives are grieving as police search for the killer of Jerry Hood, 48, shot in his home on 8th Avenue about noon Friday. Hood was declared dead on the scene at 1:05 p.m. Friday and died from multiple gunshot wounds in a homicide at his home, the Lake County, Ind., coroner’s office said in a news release. According to relatives, Hood was a hard-working family man. He was a single father raising a teenage girl—who has now lost both her parents.

Typical: a day-time burglary, when intruders expect that nobody is home. As is usually the case in these situations – and I could cite countless more from daily crime reports – chances are there was no alarm system in the home of the victim. In fact, only about 20% of US homes do have a monitored alarm system that can trigger a police dispatch. Imagine how much safer you would feel when entering your home at any time of day or night, without worrying about who might be there. And with interactive monitoring services, such as those offered by today’s best alarm companies, you can also receive a text or email any time a door opens, telling you which door. That’s the kind of protection more people are looking for, as home intrusion statistics continue to get worse across much of the US.

Topeka Police Offer Advice – and Caution

During a 48-hour stretch in early October, a handful of Topekans appeared to be anointing themselves honorary lawmen amid a rare set of circumstances in which two families interrupted burglaries and helped to apprehend the alleged intruders by giving chase. The two suspected burglars ultimately were arrested by police and are due back in court Thursday for hearings. Capt. Brian Desch said the Topeka Police Department doesn’t have a policy regarding burglary victims running down intruders, but officials discourage people from trying to make an apprehension on their own.

It’s Not Worth Risking Your Life

For every story where a burglar is caught, Desch said in a recent interview, there are an equal number that lead to residents suffering injuries or getting killed. “In our view, no property is worth the price of a human life,” he said. Desch acknowledges “there is some value” in following a burglar while relaying to dispatchers crucial information, but preferably from a safer distance to lessen the danger.

Police recommend that when interrupting a break-in, unless victims are physically confronted or threatened, people should be the best witnesses they can while removing themselves from a potentially dangerous encounter. “Burglars will do a lot once cornered in a house to try to get out,” Desch said.

A Case in Point

On Oct. 5, Edil Castillo pulled up next to his house on S.E. 10th with his long-time girlfriend and her 16-year-old nephew. Castillo flushed an intruder out of his home and pursued him, but not before police said the teenager was punched and had a handgun pointed at his face. Officers later arrested the suspected burglar after he had eluded Castillo in a lengthy chase. This is an example of when an outcome could have drastically shifted for the worse if the suspect had pulled the trigger, Desch said. “We’d rather you call us and we’ll make sure your house is safe before you go into it,” he stated.

More Good Advice

Recent cases don’t lead Desch to believe Topekans are growing so fed up with property crime as to become reckless in an effort to try to curb it. Far more often residents first call authorities to report an intruder may be inside their home before acting in another way, he said. Police will arrive, clear the house and then go back in with the residents. Crucial to being a good witness is making use of this era’s technology. Desch said most people have cell phones capable of taking video or photographs. Snap a quick picture of a suspicious vehicle and its license plate, he said, or shoot video if people come running out of a house.

One important recommendation often overlooked by police is the fact that a monitored home alarm system can prevent these confrontations in the first place. And that’s why so many more homeowners are shopping for true peace of mind, and why electronic security is included on this list of Top 10 Home Security Tips. With only one in five homes protected by a monitored alarm system, and a burglary occurring every 14 seconds in the US, there are still lots of homes – and homeowners – left to protect.

Home Safety Tips for the Holidays

by Amy December 3, 2012

 

Home Safety & Crime Prevention Tips for the 2012 Holiday Season

Each year as the holidays approach, we are often distracted by the hustle and bustle of festivities.  So, we’d like to share some tips for keeping your home secure and your family safe with My Alarm Center Home Security Services, whether your plans include travel, entertaining or relaxing at home this year.

Home Security & Safety Tips for the Holiday Traveler:

Homes are certainly more susceptible to intrusion when homeowners are traveling, especially for an extended period of time. Here are a few home security tips to help ensure your property is safe, and your home doesn’t become an easy target for burglars while you’re out of town:

Make it look like your home is occupied and active.  It is not necessary to invest in gadgets to make your home look lived in, such as those on FakeTV, featured in Wired Magazine’s Gadget Lab holiday travel safety article this November. Many home security system providers now offer interactive home monitoring and remote home automation – like MyHome, by My Alarm Center – that enable control and management of lights, climate, alarm systems, and surveillance cameras via your mobile device.

Maintain your property.  Simply keeping your driveway and paths clear of snow by arranging for snow removal is important for your own personal safety, and also discourages burglars because it signals someone is home.

Check your outdoor security equipment. Severe winter weather could damage your outdoor equipment. Test your system regularly, and ensure that sensors and video equipment are always free and clear of snow.

Make sure holiday lighting doesn’t create an unsecured entry point to your home. Running a cable from inside the house often requires you to open a window, which is an ideal entry point for a burglar.Use outdoor electrical circuits to run your holiday lighting.

Home Security & Safety Tips for the Holiday Host:

Keep valuables secure when hosting guests. Holiday parties are a great opportunity to welcome new friends and family members. Ensure valuables are stowed away and lock up items that could pose a threat to children such as medicine and gun cabinets.

Dispose of gift packaging.  Don’t advertise the contents of your home to burglars, dispose of your gift packaging in black bags so a burglar can’t see what new goodies are in your home.

Personal Safety Tips

Protect your identity. Always shred your receipts (but not important warranty information). Don’t give burglars a chance to steal your identity.  Investing in identity theft protection services through companies like TrustedID, a My Alarm Center partner, is an effective option to help protect you against identity theft not only during the holidays but all year-round.

Stay in the know. Keep aware of crime trends locally (especially as crime tends to increase during the holidays); it’s often helpful to follow local crime alerts and updates via local authorities and via sites like Patch.com and others. For example:

·        Patch.com for Bellevue, WA outside of Seattle, Washington

·         Patch.com for Radnor, PA outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Doing holiday shopping? Thieves are out shopping too.  Don’t buy more than you can carry to your car in one trip, as thieves are often on the lookout for shoppers making multiple trips to their car. Seattle Police recommend making sure that anything of value inside your car is stored completely out of sight. The Philadelphia Police department advises shoppers to be aware of crime risks in-person as well as online, listing several helpful tips to keep purchases and credit and debit card data secure during the holidays. Local news sources like CBS Philly post even more great tips to ensure holiday shopping safety such as how to avoid becoming a victim of the latest trends in scams, or fake Facebook promotions and even mobile apps designed to gather personal data.

Have a tip you’d like to share? Email us at blog@myalarmcenter.com with suggestions for our next holiday safety blog post!

Thanks for taking time to observe these simple tips, and enjoy a safe and wonderful holiday season.

Happy Holidays,

Your Friends at My Alarm Center

Tips to Keep Kids & Homes Safe This Halloween: October 2012

by Amy October 24, 2012

Halloween is a favorite time of year for us here at My Alarm Center Home Security Services, and we know it’s a favorite among our customers. 

At the end of a successful Halloween night, our kids are back home, glowing over their hit of a costume and comparing trick-or-treat bags stuffed to the brim.  Thanks to modern home security solutions from My Alarm Center, our homes are safe and nothing is missing – except for the candy we intended to give away, that is!

To ensure that’s the kind of night kids and parents experience once again this Halloween, the folks here at My Alarm Center have put together some tips to keep kids safe while out trick-or-treating in homes and neighborhoods, and to keep homes safe and personal property secure.

First, make sure to take advantage of tips posted by your local police department – which often list crime prevention recommendations specific to enjoying Halloween festivities in your area. For example, the Seattle Police Department lists a series of tips on their web site that includes recommendations like knowing your treater’s route for the evening, and making sure jack-o-lanterns and anything with an open flame is safely out of the way in areas where treaters might get crowded, to avoid a hazard.

The Philly Police Blog –  by the Philadelphia Police Department – published a great list this year aptly named “13 Commonsense Tips for Making Halloween Safe for Everyone.”  Tips include checking to make sure treaters’ masks aren’t obstructing vision, and even considering hosting or attending a Halloween party for those looking for an alternative to trick-or-treating.

Some areas –  like Bergen County and Passaic County in New Jersey – have been enforcing curfews, as reported here by CBS. Although not ideal, this helps ensure kids are safe in areas where crime has risen around this time of year, and makes sure kids are accompanied by a parent or guardian after dark.

For more tips, visit the National Crime Prevention Council’s web site this October, which just so happens to be National Crime Prevention Month!  Here, you can even find links to printable posters and games by crime fighting dog McGruff – a fun way for kids to learn how to stay safe this Halloween.

If everyone in your household is headed out this October 31st, then make sure the only spooky things worth mentioning are your costumes by taking a few small precautions to ensure your home is secure.

Oh, and one last tip…Have a great time and a happy Halloween!

-Your Friends at My Alarm Center

 

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