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Safety Facts Featured City: Philadelphia

by Cassie April 2, 2015

Philadelphia Home Security

Philadelphia: the city of brotherly love. It’s a beautiful, historic city with tall buildings and many art museums and sculptures. Some of the most famous celebrities originate from Philly, such as singer/actor Will Smith, comedian Kevin Hart, actress Grace Kelly, singer Billie Holiday, and many more. And while this beautiful city is a great place to roam and explore, it isn’t without the normal city dangers. However, by following some basic public safety rules, you and your friends can enjoy the stories that this historic city has to tell.

Philadelphia continually strives to make their city a safe environment for all those who inhabit the area and for those visiting its grand landmarks. Violent crime offenses, such as homicides, rape, robbery and aggravated assault declined a total of seven percent last year. Property crime, such as burglary and theft, declined one percent. Overall crime offenses dropped a total of three percent from 2014. The Philadelphia Police Department has a strategy to continually decrease crime using intelligent policing, prevention, collaboration, and continuous improvement.

The local government also takes safety issues into their own hands with programs to help protect and keep the city safe. The City of Philadelphia offers programs from citywide to specific neighborhoods to programs specific to the youth of Philadelphia to help keep the streets and people of the city safe.

 

  • PhillyRising is a program dedicated to helping neighborhoods with higher crime rates and creates relationships with members of those communities to help improve the quality of life.
  • The city sets up many youth programs for kids to learn and explore. They include programs for elementary age children up to high school kids to help them gain experience and education to move forward in a career path. Philadelphia also uses these programs to help feed children during the summer months when school is no longer in session.
  • Town Watch programs are dedicated to preventing crime and drug crimes. Operation Town Watch Integrated Service (TWIS) members include “neighborhood, crime, community, town and block watch groups; law enforcement agencies; state and regional crime prevention associations; and a variety of businesses, civic groups, and concerned individuals working to make their communities safer places in which to live and work.” Communities with town watch programs reduce the crime rate about 16 percent.
  • Safe Streets is an organization with Public Safety Ambassadors routed throughout the city, trained in public safety, crime prevention, emergency first aid and CPR, interpersonal relation, customer service, and city services. You’ll see walking escorts, vehicle services, homeless outreach and public hazards tracking – such as potholes or street sign issues.

And if all these safety programs still have you on edge about roaming about the city, Movoto Insider conducted a study on the safest neighborhoods in Philadelphia metropolitan region. Cherry Hill, NJ topped the list at number one, followed by Manayunk, Roxborough, Torresdale, and East Falls as the top five. A few of the criteria used to determine the safest neighborhoods were crime per 100,000 people, percentage on non-family households, and family friendly amenities, including parks, museums, and family services. See a complete list of the best family neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is a city filled with opportunities, fun, and family friendly activities with its many museums, parks, and historic places to visit. With a reduction in crime rates, a police strategy, and many city programs, Philadelphia is the perfect city to visit and explore. To learn more about home security options in Philadelphia, click here.

New Home, New Security: A Simple Safety Checklist

by Cassie March 24, 2015

A Home Security Checklist for when you are Moving to a new home

 

If you’re gearing up for a move, you’re not alone: America is considered a highly mobile nation – and the statistics aren’t talking about our cell phone usage. In fact, about 11-12% of Americans move to a new home every year and about 35% have moved in the last five years.

Some people are lucky enough to stay in a beloved neighborhood, moving simply to upgrade their digs – or downsize, depending on your family’s situation. But if you’re among the millions who will be moving to new neighborhoods, cities, or even states, you’ve likely wondered what your new community will be like: Will you get along with your neighbors? Will your kids like their new schools? And will your family be safe?

While only time can reveal the first two answers, we can help you with the third. You can take the same smart precautions no matter where you live, and complete the same safety measures before you move, to keep your family safe and your new home secure.

1. Research the Neighborhood

Before you sign a lease or purchase contract on a new home, research the neighborhood: Ask at the local police department about crime statistics. Check the state’s sex offender registry. Speak with your home insurance company; their rates are partially based on neighborhood risk. Talk with the Neighborhood Watch, if there is one. And use your eyes – look for a neighborhood that is well kept, and where you feel safe walking around.

2. Change the Locks

Whether you rent or buy, it’s a good idea to change the locks (or have the landlord change them for you) before you arrive. Even if you rent from a great landlord or bought your home from incredible prior owners, you never know who might have the key: friends, family, maintenance workers, etc. Be safe and change all the locks, including deadbolts, on your home.

3. Check the Windows

Windows, not doors, are the choice entry point for many burglars. Replace any broken locks, screens or window frames. Verify that no windows can be opened from the outside.

4. Test Your Smoke & C.O. Detectors

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors save lives. Before you even move into your home, verify that all your detectors are properly functioning and are either electrically powered or have fresh batteries. Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years and at a minimum, you should have one smoke detector per floor, one at the top and bottom on stairways, one outside every sleeping area, and one in every bedroom.

5. Tour the Neighborhood

Familiarize yourself with your new neighborhood: what cars are parked there day and night? Where are the closest police and fire stations? Where’s the nearest hospital? If there’s a Neighborhood Watch, attend a meeting. Introduce yourself to the neighbors. Drive around side streets. The more you know about your neighborhood, and the more you’re known throughout your neighborhood, the safer you’ll be.

6. Plan – and Practice – Your Escape Route

You already know the importance of creating an exit plan, in case of fire or other emergency. One of the first things you should do when you move to a new home is establish a new plan – and practice it.

7. Install a Security System

An alarm is one of the single best theft deterrents out there, and you should really install your home security system before you move in. But it’s never too late. So whether you’ve been in your home for a day, a week or a month, get on the phone and get the system installer over as soon as possible.

5 Tips to Keep Your Home Secured While You’re Away on Vacation

by Derek March 19, 2015

Home Security Tips While You Are Away On Vacation

When you go away, be it for a long weekend or a two-week marathon vacation, the threat of burglary often sneaks into mind. And yes, while you shouldn’t let your travel excitement blind you to the threat, you also shouldn’t let your fear of thievery spoil a much-anticipated getaway.

So go ahead, plan with abandon. Get excited. And in the meantime, take a few precautions. Get your home ready for your time away. Follow our 10 burglarproofing tips below to keep your home safe, secure and protected, and then go enjoy your time away. Have a great trip!

1. Create the Illusion of an Occupied Home

You know what they say: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In that vein, one of the most important things you can do while you’re away is, well, to pretend you’re not away. There are a few ways to go about this, but the safest – and simplest – is to hire a pet or housesitter. (Pro tip: If you have a few pets, a petsitter can be more economical than boarding at the vet.) You could also hire a neighborhood kid or ask a friend to check in.

The reason we recommend a housesitter is because there’s more to an occupied home than someone occupying it: If you normally mow twice a week, you should (via your housesitter) continue to mow twice a week; if you normally close the curtains at night, you should continue to close your curtains every night; if you normally remove empty trash cans from the curb after trash day, you should continue to remove empty trash cans from the curb after trash day. You get the drift.

2. Talk to your Neighbors

Even if you hire a housesitter, clue some trusted neighbors into your absence. They’ll keep their eyes open for suspicious activity and, in the absence of a housesitter, help remove telltale flyer buildup at the front door, park a car in your driveway, pick up packages, and complete other small tasks to help your house seem occupied. Be sure to leave an emergency contact list with your closest neighbor.

If your community runs a neighborhood watch program, be sure to notify them that you’ll be away and ask that they keep an extra eye on your home.

3. Hold Your Mail (& Newspapers)

We know, we know – we sound like a broken record. But at the price of repetition, I’ll say it again: you don’t want your house screaming, “I’m unoccupied!!!” With that in mind, you definitely don’t want a growing pile of mail, magazines and newspapers pouring out of your mailbox and piling up on the lawn.

Luckily, this is mostly an easy fix. Just contact the USPS and ask them to hold your mail; it’s free for 3-30 day periods. (You can even request a mail hold online.) Call newspapers and pause service while you’re away. But keep in mind, other things can also pile up on the doorstep: packages from UPS or DHL, phonebook deliveries, door-to-door flyers, and more. If you don’t have a housesitter, ask a neighbor to keep your front door clear of these burglar dead-giveaways.

4. Turn on Timers

If no one’s staying at your house, invest in some timers. Set your lights (including outdoor floodlights), TVs and alarm clocks to go on (and off) at your regular times. Believe it or not, well-timed timers can fool even observant would-be thieves.

5. Lock Up (& Hide the Hide-a-Key)

Okay, telling you to lock up before vacating the premises may seem obvious, but bear with us. Yes, of course you want to lock your doors and windows – but I’m talking about a little more than that!

First, start by turning every, single deadbolt in the house. Next, disconnect or disengage your garage door, and secure it shut with a combination lock. (This also prevents burglars from using universal garage door-openers to sneak into your home.) Lock, block and/or secure pet doors large enough for a person to crawl through. And then, put sensitive documents, jewelry and valuables into a fireproof safe.

Finally, remove your spare key. Yes, really. The last thing you want is for a savvy burglar to figure out you’re away, and then find your spare key. And really, that faux rock (or even plastic dog poop container) isn’t fooling anyone; thieves are crafty and know all the tricks. So ditch the hide-a-key and hand the spare over to a neighbor, at least for the time being.

The above advice is great start to keeping your home safe while traveling, but there’s even more to come. Stay tuned for an additional five tips, coming soon!

What The Heck Is Cellular Monitoring? We Explain.

by Tammy February 24, 2015

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Ever hear the horror story of a homeowner who was robbed in Philadelphia and the home security system failed because the burglar was armed with a pair of pliers and cut the phone line to disarm it?

While that particular story could be fictional (you know, it happened to a friend of a friend), these stories have some foundational truth and they originated back when landlines were the norm. The idea of a snipped phone line was a real threat since the phone line was the heart of system. In that time, if you had a home, you had a landline. And if you had a security system, it was most likely tied to the landline.

Today, while landlines are still used, the technological evolution has transformed our primary means of communication away from the rotary dial wall phone to a digitized LTE-enabled touchscreen device (or flip phone with keypad if you are old school).

In the 21st century, there is an ever-increasing amount of homes relying solely on cellphones for telecommunications. Now, almost 25 percent of Americans live in homes without a landline, and that figure doubles when looking at the stats that include young adults (25-29). And therefore, security systems have also evolved and no longer rely on the hardwire to operate. Instead, they use cellular monitoring.

Cellular monitoring and cellular monitoring systems are considered the new home security standard. Using cell towers and wireless technology, this type of monitoring system sends signals in emergency situations. But, in spite of some mythical beliefs, cellular monitoring will not affect a cell phone plan. In fact, cellular monitoring doesn’t even require a homeowner to have a cell phone because it uses its own dedicated network to send and receive signals.

In addition, because of the lack of hardwiring, this kind of security system does not require any wires or drilling. With advanced features, homeowners are able to control their home directly from their smartphones – they can arm and disarm the monitoring system, access live streaming video surveillance, control light and temperature, and even get home entry notifications and an archived entry log.

Because of these perks, a cellular monitoring system is an efficient way to protect your home. Whether the landline gets cut or the power goes out, there is still a guarantee that an emergency signal will be sent. And if a homeowner decides that a landline is no longer beneficial or cost effective for the household, it won’t affect the cellular security system.

Watching These Videos Will Convince You about the Value of Home Camera Surveillance Systems

by Tammy October 16, 2014

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Ever wonder if home security camera systems are useful in catching criminals? Take a look at these videos and judge for yourself:

Burglar Kicking Door Open

Dallas Burglary Suspect Caught on Camera

Forcible Home Entry in Raleigh, N.C.

Law enforcement and crime prevention officials agree that home camera surveillance systems are quite useful in preventing crime. They also aid in criminal prosecution.

A little known benefit of these systems is that they reduce false alarms and generate faster police department response to alarm activations. The reason is that you or your alarm monitoring company can watch the real-time video to determine the extent of any criminal activity.

We’re interested in learning how home security, home cameras, home automation or home fire detectors have made a difference in your life. Tell us and you could win a $100 Visa Gift Card.

Has a security system prevented a burglary in your home?

Do you use home automation to monitor your home or to slash energy costs?

Has a monitored fire detector or carbon monoxide detector helped prevent a disaster?

How else does home security or home automation add convenience and give you peace of mind?

Share your story with My Alarm Center and you could win a $100 Visa Gift Card! Get all the details and information on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MyAlarmCenter/app_451684954848385.

How to Review Your Home Security

by Tammy October 2, 2014

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When was the last time you took a good look at your home security?

Remember back when you had your home security system installed? I’m sure you had at least one discussion with your home security system representative about protection details like window openings, door openings, glass protection, pets, access to your home, crime in your area and lots of other issues.

From that information, your home security representative designed a system to protect your home and family. And if you are like most people, you haven’t thought much about it since.

It’s a good idea to review your home security plan and system. . Half of all homeowners have major renovation projects planned in the next two years. Lifestyles change, crime trends change and law enforcement response to alarm conditions change.

Is this the right time for you to take a look at your home security? Take our quick quiz below to see if you should take a look at your home security – no matter how long you’ve been with your current alarm company.

Do any of the following 7 statements apply to you?

  • You can’t remember the last time you spoke with your security company.
  • You’re not confident that your current security system will adequately protect your family against break-ins, fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Your home security system has been monitored and serviced by the same provider for more than 5 years.
  • You’ve completed or are considering one or more major remodeling projects since installing your home security system.
  • You’ve added a pet to your household.
  • You don’t know if your personal property or collections are adequately protected.
  • You’re not sure if you are getting maximum allowable insurance credits for your home security system.

If any of these statements apply to your current situation, it’s time for you to get a home security review. Contact any reputable company (like My Alarm Center) to arrange your review today.

5 Traits of Excellent Home Security Companies

by Cassie September 25, 2014

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As someone who has worked in the home security industry since 1983, I offer you the top five traits of outstanding home security companies:

 

1. Zero Mistake Mentality.

With security, there are no second chances. Excellent home security companies recognize that your home security system and alarm monitoring must work exactly as designed, each and every time it is needed. They use only the finest security equipment and procedures and hire the very best people to help protect you.

 

2. Passion.

Employees of the home security company must have a passion for home security and protecting people just like you. Passion drives them to excellence in each and everything they do. Spend some time talking to technicians and office personnel of a company. You’ll quickly be able to spot those disenchanted with their jobs or their profession.

 

3. Segment Specific Knowledge.

Excellent home security companies specialize in what they do. They spend time sharpening their knowledge and craft until they become home security system experts. They understand the latest in home security and home automation technology and apply it properly to bring the most benefit to you.

 

4. Community Involvement.

Outstanding security companies work hard to make the communities they work in safer places to live. They support community initiatives to cut crime and help residents. They are active participants in trade associations that promote home security best practices. If a home security company is not active in supporting its community or industry, don’t do business with them.

 

5. Commitment to Customers.

Sure, everyone talks about providing good customer service. Excellent companies actually do it. Check online reviews about the company. Look for testimonials on their website. Ask for a list of customers you can speak with about their service. Check with the Better Business Bureau and state licensing agencies.

 

When investing in a home security system, the company you choose is the most important decision you make. Select wisely, and look beyond the price to see the company protecting you and your family.

4 Simple Ways to Boost Your Home Security

by Amy September 23, 2014

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There are very simple steps you can take to boost your home security, and the first one is understanding how you may be vulnerable.

To figure out where you are vulnerable, you have to assess your security needs and weaknesses. That means reviewing your behaviors, needs and present measures so you can formulate a security plan.

Less than 25% of all homes have a security system, and even less have a home security plan. To get a handle on your home security, follow these guidelines:

  1. Check the crime stats in your neighborhood. Location can play a role in crime levels. Check with your local police department for crime information in your neighborhood. Learn the types of crime being committed and determine your risk levels accordingly. You can also get information on how the crime level compares in your community with other cities from Sperling’s Best Places.
  1. Improve the locks on your doors and windows. Use deadbolt locks on all doors except sliding doors. Use high quality solid metal with no screws exposed on the exterior. Make sure the throw bolt is at least one inch long. Invest in special keyed locks for sliding doors and windows, which you can easily find at your local hardware store.
  1. Join a neighborhood watch group. These programs build strong neighborhoods. They reduce crime and help home values. Contact your local police department about joining or starting a neighborhood watch program in your area.
  1. Invest in a good home security system. We wrote about how burglars select which home to rob, and the evidence is overwhelming that they avoid attacking homes with a home security system. Investing in a monitored home security system can be your best move to boost home security. And with many systems being wireless and portable in nature, you can even take them with you should you move!

Little actions make big differences. Take these steps to boost your home security today!

5 Great Reasons to Contact Your Home Security Company

by Tammy September 11, 2014

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Some people only think about their home security company when they install a security system and when the alarm activates.

That’s not enough.

You should know your home security company like you know your neighbors. They’re the ones working to keep you safe and it’s simply counterproductive to only interact with them when it’s time to pay your bill or in an emergency.

Here are five very good reasons to contact your security company:

  • You’re leaving on vacation. Make sure your home security company is properly prepared for your trip. Let them know how long you’ll be gone. Let them know if your house will be empty or if you’ll have a house sitter. Share with them any concerns you may have so they are fully prepared to do their best for you.
  • You are renovating your house. The smallest of home improvement projects can impact the way your security system works. Before installing new fixtures, cabinets, rooms or flooring, contact your home security company. They’ll assess the situation with you and, if necessary, most will send someone to your home for free to see if you need to modify your protection.
  • You need to update your emergency contact list. This list is kept on file by the alarm monitoring company so they know who to notify when you can’t be reached in an emergency. It’s important for your safety that this emergency contact list be accurate and up-to-date. We suggest contacting your home alarm monitoring company around Thanksgiving each year to ensure the accuracy of your information.
  • If you are moving. Any time you put your home up for sale, contact your home security company. Lots of false alarms are created by realtors showing homes for sale. Your home security company will review with you best practice tips to keep your home safe and secure while it’s being sold.
  • Anytime you have a question or concern. It’s perfectly O.K. to contact your home security company if you have questions. That’s what you pay them for and most companies would welcome your call. Make sure you are up-to-date using current home alarm technology. Ask about those home security camera systems you see everyone using on their smartphones. Use your home security company for what they are – your home security protection specialists.

Would you like more free tips about how to protect your home, yourself and your family? Then like My Alarm Center on Facebook. You can even leave us a message to simply say hello!

The Internet of Things

by Cassie July 15, 2014

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There is a big debate taking place among technology companies today.

These big conglomerates are developing technologies to use the internet to network and connect everyday objects, allowing them to send and receive data.

The technology is being referred to as “the internet of things” (IoT).

It all sounds kind of cool – everyday devices like coffee pots, thermostats, lights, TVs, hot tubs and just about anything you can think of could communicate and interact with one another using the internet. They could even work in conjunction with each other, and send useful data to users.

Experts argue that the internet of things would allow you to track and measure virtually everything. This will reduce waste, costs and loss. You’ll know when things need replacing, repairing or recalling, and if devices are past their prime.

You’ll also be able to control all these devices and access their information from your smartphone, tablet or any web enabled device.

There are a couple of hazards with the internet of things as well.

The big one is security. If your system gets compromised, people have access to your “things” and home. And in this era of data breeches (remember the credit card hackers that attacked Target?) that’s a huge risk.

The other big concern is personal privacy.

Many of the technology companies behind the internet of things also sell online advertising and other ad products. The more data they have about your behavior (from when you drink your coffee to when you flush your toilet), the more information they have to sell to advertisers. This potential invasion of personal privacy is also a real concern.

This technology is in its infancy and developments with it are happening regularly. Keep reading the My Alarm Center blog for trends and developments.

What do you think about the Internet of Things? Do you think you would use this technology? Leave us your comments in the space below.

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