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Fire Safety – Christmas Trees, Lights & Candles

by Tammy December 18, 2014

12.18

 

 

The Christmas holiday season is a time of year that we should be spending with family and spreading joy to all of our loved ones.  During this time of year it may be easy to overlook some of the fire hazards that come along with the decorations of the season.

The NFPA estimates an average of 230 American homes are damaged each year by fires caused by ignited Christmas trees.  Another 150 home structure fires are caused by line voltage decorative lights.  Together these fires cause an average of 15 deaths, 38 injuries and $26.7 million dollars in property damage each year!  These sobering figures cannot be ignored and safety precautions need to be taken to help ensure you and your loved ones have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Here are some great tips we would like to pass your way to help you keep your holiday fire free.

  1. When choosing a tree be sure to pick one that is a fresh as possible. Look to see your tree has green, semi-pliable needles.  Dry needles have a much higher possibility of catching fire.  Cutting down the tree yourself is the best way to ensure its freshness.
  2. If you have an artificial tree be sure it is labeled Fire Retardant by the manufacturer.  While having a real tree might bring a sense of holiday authenticity, the simple fact of the matter is that artificial trees are much less likely to catch fire.
  3. Before putting your real tree in a stand be sure to cut off at least 2 to 3 inches of the base to expose some fresh wood.  This will allow the tree to stay moist and prevent dryin gout.  Be sure to check the water level of the tree every day.  A real Christmas tree will be very thirsty in the dry winter months.
  4. Choose where you place your tree wisely.  Never place your tree near any heat source like a fireplace, radiator, heating vents, hot lights or candles.  And of course never place your tree in front of any exit.  In case of a fire you want to make sure you have a clear path to get out of the house.  Another suggestion is to place your tree somewhere that the tree cannot be knocked over by the family pet or playing children into a heat source.
  5. When choosing lights for your tree and extension cords be sure that they are rated properly by an independent testing laboratory and are UL-listed.  Some lights are intended for indoor or outdoor use only.  Today’s LED lights are a great choice as they do not create any heat. We hope it should go without saying, but never use real candles to light up your tree.  This is an old tradition before electric lights were invented and we highly suggest you do not attempt this.
  6. Once you have your new lights selected or have pulled out the lights from storage, be sure to check them well for any loose bulbs or damaged wires. If you can replace the bulbs be sure to unplug them before doing so to avoid any shock.  If the wires or plugs are defective, replace the entire string.  Don’t risk a fire due to an electrical issue as this is the number one reason trees ignite.
  7. When you are ready to plug in your lights, be sure not to overload any one circuit.  Plug a maximum of 3 light strings together.  If you are using LED lights, consult the manufacturer’s suggestion on how many strings you can safely plug into each other to create one chain.  It is highly suggested that you plug all lights into a surge outlet protector instead of directly into a wall outlet.  Lastly, always remember to shut off the lights before going to bed or leaving the house.
  8. If you will be decorating the outside of your home than be sure to choose lights that are intended for outdoor use.  Using indoor lights that are not designed to be used for outside weather can result in them shorting out or even worse.  Don’t run the risk of electrical shock or a fire hazard by using indoor lights outside.  If you are unsure if your lights are safe for outdoor use than look for the color-coded UL logo on the packaging.  A green logo is only safe for indoor use while the red logo can be used inside or outdoors safely.  The same safety precautions need to be taken with any extension cords that are being used.
  9. Once the festivities are over and the holiday has come and gone you are better off taking the tree down as soon as possible.  Real trees do not last that long and the needles will quickly begin to dry out making them a fire hazard.  The majority of fires involving Christmas trees happen after the holiday and not before.  It is also suggested that you remove outdoor lighting immediately after the holiday to reduce any risk of fire and to help preserve the life of your outdoor lights.

While Christmas tree fires are not a common occurrence, when they do happen the damage is usually significant as can be seen in the video at the end of this article.  These fires can also leave a significant scar on the memory of the holiday itself.  We hope that you find our tips useful and have a safe and happy holiday season with your family, friends and loved ones.

Home Fire Safety for Pets: Prevention and Planning

by Amy October 21, 2014

10.20

You might be surprised to hear that an estimated 1,000 home fires are caused each year by the family pet and more than 500,000 pets are involved in fires each year where they were not the cause.  The family pet is considered by most to be an equally important member of the family unit, yet our four legged friends are often overlooked when planning a fire escape plan and taking fire prevention steps.

In this article we discuss some easy to follow steps to help pet owners create a safe environment for pets, as well as some action plans in the unfortunate event of a home fire while your pet is home alone.

Monitored smoke alarms – If a fire breaks out in your home it can be a matter of minutes for a small flame to turn into an inferno.  Monitored smoke and carbon monoxide alarms give you the quickest way of alerting the fire department in the event of an emergency.  Not only can they save your pet’s life, but it can also be the difference between minimal damage and a total loss of your home.

Keep an eye on all flames and fire sources – Everyone knows that pets are inquisitive by nature and can easily be intrigued by open flames.  You always want to extinguish any open flames that you cannot keep an eye on.  This includes the stove top, candles and especially your fireplace.  Unattended pets should never be left alone with around any open flames and, pet or no pet, you should always extinguish any fires or candles before leaving the house.

Secure stove knobs – Many electric stoves are controlled by digital panels, but most gas ranges are controlled by easy to turn knobs.  Removing the knobs or securing them with gas knob locks can give you piece of mind knowing they cannot be turned on by accident.  According to fire inspection statistics, cook tops are the number one culprit when it comes to home fires caused by pets.

Purchase candle lights – There are battery operated candles that have light bulbs instead of a wick and can produce the same soft glow.  Investing in these instead of traditional candles can keep your pet safe from knocking them over and starting a fire or torching their tails over a lit candle.

Make your home pet proofed – Pets are like small children and are guaranteed to get into almost everything.  That is why it is a good idea to do a thorough walkthrough of your home to look for any potential hazards like loose wires or exposed electrical wires.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Use a pet alert window cling – One of the most inexpensive and effective ways to keep your pet safe is to install a pet safety window cling to a front window of your home.  Keeping an updated cling with the number of pets that are in your home can be a priceless tool for firefighters.

Leave pets near an entrance to your home – If possible, it is a good idea to crate your pets near the front or back doors of your home when you leave.  This will make it easy for them to be found by firefighters.  If your pets are allowed to freely roam the house, you may want to consider closing off bedroom doors or any rooms of your house that a pet could potentially run into and hide.

Confine your younger pets – Puppies, kittens and other baby critters should certainly be kept away from any fire hazards.  It is probably best to crate them or keep them in a gated area.  Again, this will make it easier for firefighters to find them and it will also keep them safe from causing any harmful mischief while you are gone.

Include your pets in your escape route. – Your pet will probably not know what to do in the event of a fire which means you need to do the planning for them.  It is a great idea to keep extra leashes and collars near every exit of your home.  This way you will be prepared and your beloved pet will not be able to flee once they are outside.  Leashes and collars are also a good visual cue to let firefighters know there is a pet in the home.

Wood Stove Safety Tips

by Amy October 14, 2014

10.02

Despite the EPA’s ban on the majority of wood burning stoves in America, 2.4 million American homes still use wood as their primary heating source according to the 2011 US Census Bureau’s survey statistics.  This equals approximately 12% of homes in the US!

With October being fire safety prevention month, we feel like this is the perfect time to provide some valuable information on the proper usage and maintenance of wood burning stoves.  Many more homes will use fireplaces as well during the upcoming winter months and this information will be beneficial to those homeowners too..

Choose the Correct Fuel – When choosing the type of wood to burn in your stove it is always advised to pick a hardwood like maple, ash, beech, oak or hickory.  Hardwood, in comparison to softwood, burns much slower and will deliver much more heat.  The wood you will eventually burn needs to be split and dried for a minimum of one year before burning.  Certain climates with very low humidity like the deserts of Arizona may only take 6-8 months to dry out your wood, but a year is recommended.  Hardwood that is well seasoned will show obvious cracks in the end grain once properly dried and sounds hollow when tapped against another piece of dried wood.

Create a Cleaning Schedule – At least once every year you should clean your stovepipe and chimney using a wire brush.  You can also use controlled, high temperature fires occasionally to help burn off any build up in your wood stove.  We suggest that you do not use the salt-based chemical cleaners to do the job, as they can create quite a mess unless you are very familiar with its application process.  We highly recommend that you never use heavy objects tied to a rope such as bricks or chains to try and clean your chimney.  This can cause significant damage.  If you are not confident in your ability to perform this cleaning task you may want to pursue help from a professional chimney sweep company.

Watch for Creosote Buildup – Modern, air-tight stoves often burn fires at low temperatures to help preserve fuel.  The temperature in the flue will commonly be between 100 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. At these low temperatures the heat is not strong enough to carry all of the combustible gas particles completely out of the chimney.  These particles then condense inside the walls of your stovepipe and chimney as creosote.  Creosote can form in 3 different states.

  1. Creosote can form as a sticky liquid that will eventually run down into the fire and be burned off on its own.
  2. Creosote can form as a dry, flaky black deposit that you will be able to brush off with a stiff wire brush.
  3. The third form Creosote can take is a solid tar that becomes glazed over and can be next to impossible to remove.  Chances are that you will need the help of a professional to have it thoroughly removed.

To help combat creosote buildup it is suggested that you install stovepipe thermometers to help you monitor low flue temperatures.  You should also always keep your air inlets on your stove open.  Restricting the air supply only helps creosote to form which can eventually lead to a chimney fire.

Protecting Your Home from the Outside – One of the best safety tips to protect your home is to install a mesh screen spark arrester on top of your chimney.  This will help to prevent any rogue sparks from exiting your home and starting a fire outside.  You will also want to make sure all tree branches near your chimney are removed or cut back to a safe distance.  Keep your roof clear of any flammable debris like pine needles and leaves.  The last outdoor safety tip is to keep your wood pile at least 30 feet from your home.  You don’t want a cord of wood to catch fire near your home.

Protecting Your Home from the Inside – It goes without saying that you will need a minimum of one smoke alarm in every room of your house.  These alarms need to be tested at least once a month to ensure they are working properly.  The installation of the wood stove itself needs to be vented properly with all vent pipes extending a minimum of three feet above the top of your home.  Also be sure that all materials near or on your wood stove are fire resistant.  Combustible personal items left too close to wood stoves are common culprits for household fires.

Using Your Wood Stove and Building a Fire – Always use the proper fuel to start a fire.  Clean newspaper and small kindling work the best. Never use a flammable liquid to start a fire in your stove.  Cardboard, trash and other debris should not be used to start or fuel your fire.  For best results burn a hot, bright fire.  You can adjust the intensity of the heat by adjusting the size of the fire.  As the fire burns down to coals you will want to rake the coals into a mound toward the wood stove door and air inlet.  Do not rake the coals flat.  To increase your fire’s intensity it is suggested you add three pieces of wood at a time.  Place them on or behind the mound of coals you have created.  Try to avoid adding only one piece of wood at a time.

When it comes time to remove the ash be sure they have been allowed to cool completely before disposing of them.  You will want to keep the ashes in a metal container with a tight cover.  Always store these ashes at least 10 feet from any flammable structure and never empty them directly into a trash receptacle.  It is also advisable to soak the ashes with water before finally disposing of them.

Discover What No One Ever Tells You about Home Smoke Detectors

by Derek October 9, 2014

10.09

Everywhere you turn people tout the safety offered by home smoke detectors. Fire safety officials, government officials and retailers throughout the country rave about home smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

There’s something about most of these smoke and carbon monoxide detectors however that you don’t know, vital information that impacts your safety.

Most smoke detectors will simply burn up with your home. They won’t summon the fire department to send help for you or to fight the fire.

The vast majority of smoke detectors for sale at big box stores and other retailers are designed to only make a sound upon activation inside your home. The hope is that the sound will notify the occupants that a fire is present so they can leave safely.

They aren’t designed to summon help when needed. They aren’t designed to eliminate fire damage at your home.

That’s why it’s best to have monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. These detectors send an alarm signal to an alarm monitoring center when they detect smoke or carbon monoxide. They also activate a loud siren inside the home to let occupants know it’s time to leave the home due to a fire emergency.

Monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can be tied into most burglar alarm systems, making them quite affordable and practical for the average homeowner. They’ll also notify the monitoring center if they’ve lost power or are operating on battery back-up.

You can get monitored smoke and fire detectors from any reliable home security company. We’d be happy to help you too. Feel free to call us at (855) 334-6562 for more information.

It’s Fire Prevention Week – Help Spread the Word That Monitored Home Smoke Detectors Save Lives!

by Cassie October 7, 2014

10.01

Fire Prevention Week is October 5-11, 2014. This week is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association. This year’s theme is “Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month.”

Fire Prevention Week was established by President Woodrow Wilson as a way of commemorating the Great Chicago Fire. The Great Chicago Fire killed more than 250 people and left more than 100,000 homeless on October 8-9, 1871. This fire forced Americans and fire officials to change the way they viewed fire safety and fire prevention.

Nearly 40 years after the Great Chicago Fire, it was decided to commemorate the anniversary of the fire with a day to keep the public informed about fire safety and fire prevention. The importance of high public awareness of these issues was emphasized by expanding this awareness program to an entire week during a period in which October 9 falls.

Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record.

At My Alarm Center, we’ve developed an interactive checklist you can use to see how safe your home and family is from accidental fires. It is part of our efforts to keep people informed about fire prevention and fire safety.

We’ve also developed a printable checklist tool to help make your home safe from fire, and we’d be happy to send you free wall clings to remind people to turn off appliances and practice fire safety.

Use sound fire safety and fire prevention practices in your home. And if you’re interested in getting monitored home smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, call us toll free at (855) 334-6562 for more information.

13 Tips for Outdoor Grilling and Barbequing Safely

by Amy July 3, 2014

grillblog

Most people have fond memories of outdoor barbeques. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and steaks – all enjoyed in beautiful summer breezes with family and friends.

But with this fun comes the risk of fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments respond to 7900 home fires each year involving grills, hibachis or barbeques. About one in three of these fires start on an unenclosed porch or exterior balcony.

All of us at My Alarm Center want you to fully enjoy outdoor grilling this summer. Follow these tips to avoid the risks of fire and other accidents:

  1. Study the owner’s manual. Review the owner’s manual of your grill each grilling season. It’s packed with tips and pointers to operate your grill in a safe manner.
  1. Follow local codes. For electrically operated accessories and outdoor kitchens, follow required grounding and building code rules and regulations.
  1. Inspect your grill to make sure it is in good working order. Make sure your grill is free of rust and holes. For propane grills, check the gas tank hose for leaks. Simply apply water and a light soap to the hose. A propane leak will create bubbles. You may also smell leaking gas. If you smell leaking gas or see the soapy bubbles and still have a flame, turn the grill off and get it serviced by a professional. If the leak or flame does not stop, call the fire department immediately.
  1. Only use grills outdoors. Place them well away from your home, away from branches and deck railings and out from under eaves.
  1. Make sure your grill is stable. All parts of the grill should be firmly in place so that it can’t be easily tipped over.
  1. Keep kids away from the grilling area. Keep pets away too. Both increase your risks of accidents.
  1. Keep starter fluids out of reach of children. Only use charcoal lighter fluids. Never add flammable liquids to an active fire. Keep lighter fluid away from heat and flame sources.
  1. Wear appropriate clothing. Clothing should not have loose strings or loose parts that could easily catch fire. Use flame retardant mitts when handling your grill.
  1. Use long-handled utensils. They reduce your risk of your clothing catching fire and of you getting burns while cooking.
  1. Be prepared to extinguish flames. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. If one is not available, baking soda, sand or water are other good options.
  1. Never leave your grill unattended. It only takes a second or two for a problem to start.
  1. Let the grill cool off. After grilling with charcoal, make sure the coals are completely cool before disposing of them in a metal container. Never attempt to move a hot grill. Make sure your grill is fully cool and clean before putting on a protective grill cover.
  1. Clean your grill after each use. Remove grease or fat buildup on the grill surface and the trays below the grilling area.

Summertime is fun time. Enjoy your outdoor grilling, enjoy your friends and family and follow these tips for outdoor grilling safely!

Fire Safety Tips for Senior Citizens

by Tammy June 3, 2014

 

The risk of dying in a fire or suffering an injury is greatest for aging Americans.

There are many reasons that seniors are more at risk of a home fire injury than others. These reasons include:

·         Hearing or visual impairments which delay detecting the presence of a fire.

·         Loss of physical mobility and dexterity.

·         Medications which slows decision-making and reaction times.

·         Older homes. Many seniors live in older homes with aging wiring and overloaded outlets.

·         Memory loss which causes seniors to leave the stove on or forget to turn off electrical appliances.

·         Many use space heaters and alternate forms of heat.

·         Unmonitored smoke detectors.

Tips to Keep Seniors Safe

Not only are these fire safety tips ideal for the elderly and their caregivers, they’re good tips for all.

Get monitored home fire alarm smoke detectors and home carbon monoxide detectors | A monitored smoke or carbon monoxide detector is different from the “change the batteries at Daylight Savings Time” smoke detectors you get at a big box or your local hardware store. Monitored smoke detectors can summon professional help when needed. The typical smoke or carbon monoxide detectors from a larger retailer only make a noise at the detector, in hopes that the home’s occupants will hear the noise and leave the home. The big problem with this is that the detector can’t summon help, which means it simply burns up with the rest of the home. And many seniors are hard of hearing, especially at night when they’ve removed their hearing aids and go to sleep. Contact a reliable home fire protection company like My Alarm Center for monitored home smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You can even tie home security and other home automation functions in with the fire alarm for a complete senior home protection package.

Check electrical cords | Make sure none of them are frayed and that all are in good condition.  None should be running under carpets or plugged into overloaded outlets. And check the outlets to make sure none of them are overloaded.

Have an emergency fire evacuation plan | Fire preparedness planning saves lives. It’s important that aging adults know what to do in the event of a fire emergency. Review escape routes and factor in a person’s mobility to plan a route that’s practical and effective.

Window and door signs for oxygen and compressors | If oxygen and compressors are used in the home, make sure people are informed by posting signs on the doors and windows. These can be dangerous in the event of a fire and signs allow the fire department to understand potential hazards inside the home.

Check the appliances, especially portable space heaters | All should be UL approved with the latest safety features. Look for a tag on each appliance…most are at the end of the cord.

 

Clean out the dryer | Dryer lint traps are big fire hazards and many seniors forget to clean out the trap. Periodically have a caregiver and/or family member check the trap to make sure it is free of lint.

Strategically locate fire extinguishers | Place fire extinguishers in high risk areas like kitchens, laundry rooms, workshops and basements. Make sure the extinguisher is the right weight and is easy to use for the senior citizens in the home.

Keep things clutter-free | All hallways and doorways should be free of clutter and debris. This enables people to get out of the home quickly and easily without increasing their risks of injury.

Fireplace Safety Tips for Homeowners

by Amy February 6, 2014

 

The cold winter chills means that more of us are using our fireplaces. The U.S. Fire Administration says that about one-third of all Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as their primary heating source.

While a toasty fire can be soothing and comforting, it also comes with certain risks. If your home has a fireplace, there are certain precautions you need to take to protect your home and family.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America shows that there are more than 24,000 chimney fires in U.S. homes each year. Heating fires account for 36% of all home fires in rural areas.

Here are some fireplace safety tips to protect against home fires:

·         Get your chimney, fireplace or wood burning stove inspected. Have a certified chimney specialist check the chimney, fireplace or word burning stove annually.

·         Keep it clean. Keep the area in front of the fireplace or stove free from flammable items.

·         Clean the roof. Make sure there is nothing on the roof that could catch fire from a spark. Keep your roof clear of leaves, twigs and bird’s nests.

·         Store firewood away from your home. Experts suggest firewood should be stored at least 30 feet from your home.

·         Use only seasoned hardwoods. Never burn paper, cardboard or flammable liquids. Always burn seasoned hardwoods.

·         Open glass doors. Let the mesh screen keep embers inside the fireplace. Keeping the glass doors open allows warm air to flow into your home.

·         Close glass doors when not in use. This prevents cold air from the chimney from getting into your home.

·         Get smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The best kinds you can have are monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed by a professional home security company. These detectors are different than smoke detectors you can buy from a big box home store. They’re more sensitive plus they can be monitored to summon help when needed. The big box detectors aren’t as sensitive and they can’t summon professional help.

      Never, ever leave your fire unattended. In the event of an emergency, get your family out of the home and contact 911. Don’t try to extinguish the fire yourself. Get help.

My Alarm Center protects homes and families just like yours with smoke and carbon monoxide fire detection systems. Call us at 855-334-6562 to learn more about monitoring service from My Alarm Center.

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.

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

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