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Summer Vacation Security Checklist

by Amy June 19, 2017

Summer is prime vacation season. It’s also prime season for home break-ins. Here’s an important checklist to make sure your summer vacation ends as happily as it began.

Follow the checklist below or click on the image to print:

  • Contact My Alarm Center and let us know you will be out of town
  • Have the post office hold your mail (go to holdmail.usps.com) or have a neighbor collect it
  • Make arrangements to have your lawn mowed
  • Remove hidden house keys
  • Test your system before you leave (visit myalarmcenter.com to learn how)
  • Check your alarm batteries (smoke, carbon monoxide, water detector)
  • Close interior doors to stop thieves from looking through your house (this also acts as a firebreak in case of a fire)

If you have the MyHome® home automation tool, you can also do the following from anywhere:

  • Remotely arm and disarm your system if you have neighbors or workers dropping in
  • Program your indoor/outdoor lighting and electronics to make it seem like you’re home
  • Keep an eye on your home through live videos and have activity reports sent to you

For more about how we can help keep your home safe this summer and beyond, call 855-334-6560 or visit myalarmcenter.com.

How Home Security Benefits Your Community

by Amy May 26, 2017

When there are more home security systems in the neighborhood, there are more cameras to watch the homes and more home alarms to alert the proper authorities of any crimes. Prevent any crimes in your community and help catch the criminals when they do happen to occur.

Exterior Security Cameras Can Watch The Whole Neighborhood

The more security cameras there are in a given neighborhood, the easier it is for detectives who may be looking for clues to help them solve a crime. The more an intruder is recorded on video, the easier it will be to identify them. Instead of having just one security camera spot an intruder, the police can investigate several of your neighbors’ security cameras as well. This community collection of exterior security cameras makes it very easy to catch any intruders.

Fire Can Spread To Other Houses, Fire Alarms Can Stop This

In case a fire does occur in your neighborhood, it is important to make sure the fire doesn’t spread from house to house. If houses are built close together in your neighborhood, then this is an all too likely possibility. Having a monitored fire alarm will alert you and the fire department immediately when there is a fire, making sure that help is on the way before the fire has the chance to spread to anyone else’s property.

Crimes Let Crooks Know The Neighborhood Is Vulnerable

When an intruder is successful in breaking into a home, they know exactly where the neighborhood is vulnerable and there is a chance the community could be victimized again. If your neighbors have home security systems it makes it a lot harder to steal anything and will prevent your neighborhood from being a target.

Once you install your home security system, talk to your neighbors about getting a home security system as well. Help keep your neighborhood safe from crime.

Summer Home Security Tips

by Amy May 24, 2017

Home Security Tips for Summer

 

The weather conditions during the summer season encourage homeowners to naturally become a bit lackadaisical with their home security. Opening doors and windows for that summer breeze and causally straying over to neighbors houses, all the while, leaving their home at risk for a break-in. Homeowners can protect summer fun, personal possessions and family members with several easy security precautions. Check out these summer home security tips:

Door Security

Doors should be locked to keep intruders out of a home regardless of the season. You may be resting on a chaise lounge chair after cutting the grass and then suddenly fall asleep on a cozy backyard patio. The back door to your home and the door to your garage may be unlocked while you are napping after your chores. Those doors could have been locked with a gentle push from your finger. Or even more convenient and safe, home owners can rely on home security systems with automation, which can automatically lock your doors with a remote feature, without worry. Also, surveillance cameras can be used to detect prowlers who are near a front porch or a driveway.

Windows Security

Windows are not typically used for entering a home but do provide an excellent opportunity for an intruder while you’re attempting to get a cool breeze before bed time. You should remember to close and lock all windows, especially before you leave your home. The small effort that you will use to lock those windows will be much less than the effort that you will use if you are forced to repair damages after a burglary.

Garage Security

A homeowner may not lock a garage door while he or she is using a hedge trimmer to trim a bush. The door may not be locked while the grass is being cut or while the homeowner is using a garden tiller in a vegetable garden. You may wash your car and then suddenly go inside the house to quickly answer the phone. If the garage door is not locked, then an intruder could easily steal power tools from your garage or enter at a later point if you neglect to close up securely when you’re finished working or relaxing outside.

Fence Gate Security

The gates for fences should also have high-quality locks, which will provide you with an additional layer of protection. An intruder would be forced to open the gate before having access to the doors for your home. Gates and doorways are excellent locations for motion sensors. If an intruder is on your property, then the motion sensor would activate a light, which would provide favorable conditions for a surveillance camera, and even better yet a deterrent!

Deck Security

The warm weather conditions can lull homeowners into a false sense of security because there are fewer problems while the flowers are in bloom. Family members may go to the backyard deck for quiet moments and for quality time. The lawn furniture, gas grills and bicycles on backyard decks can attract thieves. A Home security system discourages thieves and reduces the risks for a home break in.

As summer settles in, make sure to protect your home and protect your family with these home security tips.

Securing Your Home For A Spring Vacation

by Amy May 1, 2017

Everyone deserves a good spring break but it’s hard not to worry about the safety of your home while away. Take the time to prepare your home so that you won’t have to worry while enjoying your vacation!

Hire A House Sitter If Possible

Houses are frequently targeted because an intruder knows that no one is home. Hire a house sitter to stay in your home while you’re away. That way your house will never appear to be empty.

Don’t Post That You’ll Be Away On Social Media

It’s not smart to post on social media that you’ll be gone. Anyone can see exactly when you’ll be absent and you’d be surprised how easy it is to find out someone’s address these days. Make sure you aren’t advertising that your home is empty and an easy target.

Notify Police You’ll Be Gone

Let the local police know you’ll be away so they can periodically send an officer by to make sure the house is safe. They are more than happy to do so.

Take The GPS Out Of Your Car

If you’re leaving your car at an airport, or anywhere while you’re gone, make sure to take out the GPS. A thief could break into your car and find your home address all too easily. They are aware you aren’t at home and they could use this to their advantage.

Keep Expensive Items Out Of Sight

Move any expensive valuables out of sight while you’re away. Most times, thieves will inspect your home through your windows and see what they could get. Don’t give them the opportunity. If they don’t see anything they want it may deter them from attempting to intrude.

Get Sturdier Locks

If you’re concerned about the strength of your locks, make sure you have them repaired before you leave. Be sure all locks are reinforced so there is no easy point of entry.

Have A Neighbor Pick Up Mail

Ask a friend or a neighbor to retrieve your mail while you’re gone. An overflowing mailbox is a clear sign that no one is home and hasn’t been for several days.

Have Someone Mow The Lawn

Another clear indicator that no one is home is an unkempt lawn. If you’re going away for an extended period, make sure someone is keeping up with your lawn.

Disable The Garage Door Opener

Turn off your garage door opener so that no one can hack it and enter your home through the garage.

Timed Lights Make It Seem Like You’re Home

Consider putting some interior and exterior lights on a timer. This way it will turn them on and off throughout the day and make it seem that someone is home. Be careful of leaving lights on for days at a time, as this could be another indicator that no one is home.

Upgrade Your Home Security

If you do not have a home security system, it is recommended to get one. This is the most efficient way to check up on your home and know it is safe when you’re away.

Wireless Security Lets You Monitor Your Home

Once you install a home security system, you can take advantage of home automation. A home automation system allows you to access your home security cameras at any time, from any place. You can also install motion detectors to be triggered if someone is inside your home.

Take the time to prepare your home and keep it safe while you’re away. Install a home security system so you can always have peace of mind, even if you’re halfway around the world.

Tips For A Smooth Moving Day

by Amy March 30, 2017

Moving is one of the most stressful things you can go through. Between forgetting to pack the little things, all the last-minute reminders, and everything that needs to be set up in your new home, you could probably use these tips to make your moving day a smoother one.

When You’re Packing Up

  • Look over the Bill of Lading. This is the contract you have with the moving company. Make sure it says exactly what terms you agreed to and ask any questions you have before the movers put anything in their truck.
  • Supervise packing. Even though movers are professionals, keep an eye on them while they’re packing up. You will know that all your possessions are packed properly and being treated with care, easing your stress.

Checking Your Home

  • Make sure to do a full walkthrough of the house to make sure nothing is forgotten. Go through every room, even the attic and crawlspaces. You wouldn’t want to leave anything behind just because it is out of sight.
  • Check for any damage the movers may have caused. This needs to be documented so that you don’t have any problems while your house is being sold.
  • Have cash ready for tips and for any tolls you may go through on the road. Being prepared will ensure your stress stays at a minimum.
  • Make sure the movers have your phone number in case they get lost on the way to your new home.

Your New Home

  • Do your best to beat the moving truck to your new home so that you don’t get charged for any extraneous fees from the moving company.
  • Do a walkthrough with your real estate agent. Make sure that everything you agreed upon is up to date and everything is where it’s supposed to be.
  • Check the utilities in your new home. Ensure that power outlets are working properly as well as showers, toilets, and sinks. If you discover a problem early in the day, it will give you a chance to address it before you try to sleep at night.
  • Tape names to the doors to assist the movers. Make a clear plan for them to follow so that you don’t have to move boxes from room to room.
  • Don’t schedule your cable installation or home security installation for your moving day. This is too much to deal with, particularly if you must deal with any unexpected challenges. Plan to have these set up the day after you move in or contact My Alarm Center about having home security set up before you even move in.

Moving day is always stressful, no matter how much planning you put into it. Do your best to be as organized as possible and stay hydrated. Remember, it’s okay to take breaks and grab a snack if you need one.

Securing Your Garage

by Cassie January 24, 2017

Locking your front door is something of a ritual to you at this stage of the game, right? You retire to your bedroom, curl up with a good book, and sleep soundly knowing that you’ve locked your doors and are protected. But have you ever considered your garage door? It may look like a veritable welcome mat to someone trying to take your valuables. However, security systems and other measures can be taken to keep unwanted guests on the outside.

Don’t Leave Your Garage Remote In Your Car

If your door has a remote open feature, do not leave the remote in your vehicle no matter where it is parked. A quick visit to any local home improvement store to replace your larger remote in favor of a transportable keychain remote will give you added peace of mind knowing that there is no access to unlock your garage door without your knowledge. Just match the brand and the year and be sure to read the manual for activation instructions.

Lock The Doors And Windows

Be certain that all windows are in the lock position. For added measure, you can install pre-made bars or fashion steel pipes to either side of the windowpane to create a barrier. If you have a connecting door from your garage to the main interior of your home, be sure that the lock on this door is always fastened properly.

Cover Windows

Burglars are usually on the hunt for access points, but are also attracted to low hanging fruit. To that end, installing curtains or blinds to your windows can help divert unwanted attention from your home. If blinds are not an option for you, an opaque wallpaper will distort any activity inside your garage.

Motion Detector Exterior Lights

Motion sensor lighting can scare away bandits and alert you in enough time to intervene in any situation. The infrared lights sense body temperature and anything that moves. You can adjust the timer for the length that any given light will stay on and give the illusion that you are home and awake.

Install A Security System

After you’ve taken proper precautions, you’ll want to consider installing a home security system. My Alarm Center security alarms can help catch prowlers off guard and alert you and the police to their misadventures.

The safety of your family and property is important. Follow this guide to protect your assets and sleep the night away knowing that your home is protected on all fronts, inside and out.  

6 Benefits Of Home Security Systems

by Amy December 7, 2016

There are many advantages to owning a home security system. They help keep your family safe, let you focus on the more important aspects of life, and give you peace of mind. Here are some other reasons to consider a home security system:

  • Protects Valuables

The alarm alone is enough to deter an intruder. However, once the alarm has sounded, the police are immediately notified and dispatched so your home is kept safe at all costs.

  • Helps Save Energy

Nowadays, home security systems also include many home automation features. This system will allow you to monitor your energy usage and shut off utilities when you are no longer in the room. This leads to lower monthly bills and less wasted energy.

Saving energy isn’t the only advantage of home automation. You can change the lighting, temperature, music, TV, and control numerous other aspects of your home from a device as simple as your smart phone.

  • Lowers Insurance

Many insurance agencies give discounts to members who have a home security system. This is a great way to cut down on expenses.

Fire and carbon monoxide detectors are vital features of any home security system. They can detect dangers that you can’t, such as invisible, poisonous carbon monoxide. As soon as the alarm has sounded, emergency services are on call to help. These detectors provide an indispensable advantage to protecting your family from emergencies that are usually out of your control.

  • Remote Surveillance

Remote surveillance allows you to watch your home at any hour of the day from any location. You can view the live feed from the wireless security cameras through an app on your smart phone. It can even alert you when people leave and enter your home – a great way to keep an eye on the kids whether you’re on vacation or just at work.

Home security systems are an investment. The right systems can keep your valuables safe while saving you money in the process. They also give peace of mind and let you know someone will always be there in case of an emergency. Protect your family, yourself, and make life a little easier by adding a security system into your home.

Purchase Guide For Home Safes

by Cassie October 4, 2016

In order to keep your valuables safe inside of your home, you may want to consider purchasing a safe. There are many different features provided by different types of safes, and it is important to purchase a safe that will fit your specific needs. Freshhome.com provides useful feedback on the purchase process.

Home Safe

Purchase Guide For Home Safes

1.Determine what valuables you will store.
Determine the types of valuables you plan to protect inside the safe, and gather these items together. One essential document that should be contained inside of the safe is an inventory of your possessions. This way, if there ever was an incident, you have an inventory to prove what you own. To determine the rest of the safe’s contents, start with important paperwork. Identify documents like birth certificates, passports, and legal paperwork. Any important business investments or financial documents should also be included. Expensive jewelry and external hard drives are contents that should be included as well.

2. Determine what size you want.
Once you determine the quantity and type of valuables you will be storing, you should have a general idea about the size you will need. It is also a good idea to determine the location of the safe in your home before you purchase it. A common size in-home safe is usually about 1.2 or 1.3 cubic feet, which would contain stacks of 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper, stacked up to 12 inches in height. Determine the height, width, and depth of your valuables to choose the best safe for your needs.

3. Determine what you need to protect your valuables from.
Different safes are designed to protect their contents from different disasters. Some are designed solely for theft or water damage, and others are to protect from a fire. These features are provided and are available in various options.
Fire Resistant: It is very common for homeowners to pursue purchasing a safe in order to protect their valuables from a fire. Safes are tested to determine what type of material they are supposed to protect and how long they can withstand heat. For storage of different contents, the inside of the safe needs to be kept at a certain internal temperature in order to offer protection. Paper documents can be protected at an internal temperature of up to 350 degrees. If you plan to store old tape recordings, the internal temperature can only reach 150 degrees. The storage of CD’s or DVD’s need to be preserved at 125 degrees. A big factor is how long the safe can withstand a fire. Most commonly, home safes will provide around 30 minutes of protection.
½-hour fire protection at 1550°F or 843°C
1-hour fire protection at 1700°F or 927°C
2-hour fire protection at 1850°F or 1010°C
Theft Protection: The average amount of time that the common safe can withstand an attack is around 15 minutes with household tools. The average 1.2 or 1.3 cubic-foot scale weighs close to 100 pounds when it is empty, so it would be very difficult to steal the entire safe. Many safes include bolt down kits and also provide options to be concealed in a wall or anchored on a concrete floor.
Water Resistance: Water protection is usually included with basic fire or theft resistant safes. Some safes are submerged in water to be tested in an accurate simulation of flooding. Other safes are only water resistant and can maintain flooding for up to one hour.

4. Determine the type of safe you need.
Small safes are usually less than 0.8 cubic feet in size. Medium-sized safes are usually larger than 0.8 cubic feet. Large safes are between 1.2 and 2.0 cubic feet. Extra-large safes are anything over 2.0 cubic feet in capacity.
Wall Safe: This safe is known to be lightweight and usually of smaller size. These work well for storing paperwork and photographs.
Floor Safe: This is a bulkier option, but gives the most flexibility with features. Larger items can be stored and the weight of its content is not an issue.
Weapons Safe: Specialty weapon safes are designed differently than the average floor safe. These are equipped with extra locks, pry-proof metals, and locking bolt technology.
Lowes.com provides tips on the best size safe for you and what the storage capacity of different safes are.

5. Determine what kind of lock you need.
There are two options for locks when purchasing a safe: Dial and Digital. Each has advantages and disadvantages so it is important to evaluate them before your purchase.
Dial Locks: These locks are traditional turn-dials. They are opened by rotating the dial to the right and left to input the combination. This is seen as the most reliable option because the possibility of an electronic failure is eliminated. However, if the combination is forgotten, then a professional is needed to reset it.
Digital Lock: This is the type of lock usually used in hotel safes. They open with the input of a numerical pin. This is an easier way to open the safe and allows you to have access to your belongings quickly. This safe has a drawback of needing to replace the batteries regularly in order to lock it effectively.

6. Determine where to put it.
The best place to put the safe varies depending on the design of your home. Statistics prove the master bedroom of a home is the first stop for intruders in most home security breaches. It is recommended to keep the safe in a different location for this reason. The basement provides the best protection in case of a fire, but also could be damaged in the case of flooding.

7. Determine your price range.
A basic fire chest normally costs around $25 at most local retailers. This would be able to hold a normal stack of documents. An average home safe of 1.2 or 1.3 cubic feet costs around $150 to $300. Anything of a larger scale is more expensive and if it includes different features like drawers and shelving it will also add to the price tag.

8. Determine where to purchase the safe.
Home safes are available at many retailers including Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Sears. There are also many options listed online and through Amazon.com.

Once you determine that you would like to purchase an in-home safe to protect your valuables it is important to evaluate these tips in order to make the right purchasing decision. The size of the safe, the contents it will hold, and what levels of protection are needed are important to evaluate before you make a purchase. Worried about your valuables? Add a primary layer of protection for your valuables with My Alarm Center’s home security systems. We provide professional home monitoring for properties from Philadelphia to Seattle.

8 Vacation Security Tips for your Home

by Cassie July 11, 2016

vacation security

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.

5 Secrets Home Burglars Are Keeping from You

by Cassie April 13, 2016

Home Break In

It is every home owner’s worst nightmare. Returning home from a relaxing vacation with your family only to find your home has been ravaged and ransacked. Every drawer is turned over, photographs litter the floor, household items destroyed, and prized personal belongings are just gone. Why me? What could I have done to prevent this from happening to me? Should I have gotten one of those home security systems and security cameras?

Prevent this from happening to you. Here are five secrets burglars don’t want you to know to prevent a home security breach:

1. They watch your house. You may remember them. That friendly passerby walking his dog that waved when you walked out to get the mail wasn’t just a new face in the neighborhood, he was staking out your house. What could he see when your door was open? Nice furniture, big TVs, gaming systems? Or the repair man that walked through your home to the kitchen to fix the sink. He really was just as nice as could be, but he was really analyzing the layout of your house. What is the best way to get upstairs, where jewelry, money, and prescription drugs are kept? Anything valuable downstairs that could be easily grabbed on the way out?

2. They avoid houses with dogs, too much risk. Burglars avoid houses with dogs. Why risk breaking into a house with an alive alarm system that can bite? So yes, even little Fido is protecting you.

3. No matter how safe your neighborhood is, an unlocked door or window might as well be an invitation. Five minutes is plenty of time to rob you blind when the front door is unlocked. The barrier between them and your home is gone, now they can quickly get in and out without anything in their way.

4. Have neighbors pick up your mail, newspapers, shovel your driveway, anything that makes it look like someone’s home when you are out of town. Full mailboxes and newspapers in the driveway screams that no one is home and hasn’t been for a few days. For those semi-professional burglars, they may know which day of the week is garbage day after casing the neighborhood for a few weeks and target a house that did not put their garbage cans out.

5. Home security systems and security cameras work! One of the main reasons thieves have decided to break into your home is because it’s easy and they aren’t likely to get caught. When they are casing a house to rob, that is one thing they look out for. Is there a camera that will show my face? Is there an alarm system that will alert police, who will be waiting for me when I step outside the house? Most importantly, advertise that you have one of the home security systems and security cameras! Don’t be shy! Make sure to get a My Alarm Center sign to put in your yard that you can display clearly.

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