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What’s the WORST Home Security Advice You’ve Ever Heard?

by Cassie August 12, 2015

The Worst Home Security Advice

There’s a lot of bad advice in this world, but in most cases, bad advice doesn’t result in awful consequences. Bad advice in the kitchen may mean hard-as-a-rock cake; bad fashion advice can make you look the fool; and bad movie advice means $15 and a few hours wasted.

Bad security advice? Well, that’s a whole other ball of wax. Bad home security advice can mean thousands in stolen goods, broken windows, and the loss of impossible-to-replace jewelry, antiques or heirlooms. Bad home security advice can mean breached WiFi networks and stolen passwords. And in the most tragic cases, bad home security advice can mean injury to your loved ones.

When it comes to home security, bad advice isn’t just bad – it’s disastrous. Here’s some of the worst home security advice we’ve ever heard:

1. A self monitored system is just as good as a monitored system.
Here’s the deal: DIY systems – and by that, we’re talking about mostly low-cost, wireless systems that notify you (or other phones) when an alarm is triggered – can be great as a basic system. But that does not mean they’re as good as a monitored home security system.

A monitored alarm system is directly connected to your security company, which will notify the police, the fire department, and the paramedics in case of emergency. Police notification can mean the difference between stolen goods and thieves behind bars – not to mention, monitored homes are about 15 times less likely to be burgled in the first place – but more importantly fire and ambulance notification can save the lives of loved ones. There’s no compare.

2. Change your password, and your smart home network is secure.
Most smart home devices – say, smart locks and smart appliances – are designed with ease-of-use, not network security in mind. But as the Internet of Things and home security become intertwined, it’s incredibly important to secure your smart home against hackers – hackers who could find their way into your network via your smart fridge.

To secure your home, first secure your wireless network, preferably via Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) protocol and a complex password. Give your network an unidentifiable name: think “UFO Space Station,” not “The Joneses.” And always, always change each device’s manufacturer password to a unique (as in, not shared with any other device) password.

3. Home Security – One & Done!
This one needs a bit of explanation. First, yes, sticking with one monitoring company for whatever you can – example: burglary, flood, and fire prevention – is a great idea. You’ll get a better package price, and won’t have to keep up with multiple companies.

However! The best home security is like an onion: it offers layer after layer after layer of security – layers guaranteed to make would-be burglars cry in frustration. Your best bet is to purchase the best home security system you can afford, and then layer on third-party extras like outdoor security cameras, Wi-Fi enabled doorbells, and even low-tech extras including interior door hinges (can’t be easily removed), strong window locks, and metal bars for your sliding door tracks.

Your turn: What is the worst security advice you’ve ever received?

Home Security Cameras and What Has Been Caught on Tape

by Cassie July 30, 2015

Today’s home security cameras are pretty amazing. They can see hundreds of feet. They can pan and rotate. They’re motion activated. They have night vision. They can connect to WiFi, upload to the cloud, and text you with alerts.

And they can capture some pretty amazing video, too.

You guys, we just can’t even. These videos are hilarious, terrifying and awe-inspiring. And what’s even more incredible is that they were all caught by security cameras. Here are 6 of our favorites:

1. A Thief, Caught in the Act

Just try not to laugh. A man’s home security system catches a woman stealing an Amazon delivery right off his porch. Don’t worry; he gets his revenge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWO3zKqm_KI

2. Wind, Rain or Shine… or Hurricane

We may huddle inside during a serious storm, but security cameras are always on duty. This incredible footage captured a boat in North Carolina, torn from its moorings – and then flung skyward – during Hurricane Irene.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUFh9XtJoDM

3. A Cacophonous Lightening Strike

And speaking of storms, CCTV cameras once again prove to be fearless. This time, a camera catches lightening in the act. Turn down your volume, folks – this one’s going to be loud.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98w55RAleZ0

4. Delivery Gone Wrong

We’ll bet you’ve already seen this classic video, which details a UPS deliveryman stealing an iPad. Makes you think about all those items lost in the mail, doesn’t it?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqCzxTB5xto

5. Poor Criminal

This one’s funny enough to almost make you feel bad for the would-be burglar. Almost. Watch as a man not only fails at robbing a building society, but can’t find his way back out to escape. Oops.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgstON22SbY

6. Skirting the Law

A peculiarly skilled criminal in Costa Rica casually walks away with a TV… up her skirt. Despite her slick moves, this security footage was instrumental in catching the thief and her accomplice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_FSZFC4I1c

7. Doing What They Do Best

A North Carolina couple originally installed their cameras to check on their pets, but what they caught on video during a holiday vacation was something else entirely: three thieves, who weren’t aware that their faces had been caught on candid camera.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mxx8YZRhVz4

 

Communities That Work Together, Stay Safe Together: Focus on Philadelphia and Seattle

by Cassie June 25, 2015

 

Since My Alarm Center serves both Philadelphia, PA & Seattle, WA we wanted to have a post where residents in one city can learn something about the other city and vice versa so here you go, enjoy!

Social programs do far more than offer help when help is needed: they inspire hope, they extend a helping hand, they prevent violence, they offer refuge. Social outreach saves lives, but it also saves communities: assistance offered when it is most needed, can encourage children to take pride in their communities, can steer youths away from the path of violence, can encourage adults to contribute and better their neighborhoods.

And it’s not just the recipients who benefit: volunteers and other program participants learn about their communities, befriend their neighbors, and are gifted the incredible opportunity to change lives. It’s no surprise, then, that social programs help reduce crime. Here’s a few examples of two cities that are doing it right:

Philadelphia

  • LEAP Program: Philadelphia Public Libraries do their part by offering free, accessible after-school help to any school-age child who wants it.
  • City Heroes Program: There’s nothing like a bit of community pride to instill faith in oneself. Philly’s City Heroes program matches high school students with various projects around the city, giving them the chance to effect change in their communities.
  • Communities In Schools of Philadelphia: Children represent such monumental possibility, but their chances are often squashed before they even have a chance to try. Communities in Schools works to change that, by offering individualized educational help – tutoring, a mentor, or just a healthy meal to fuel a child’s studies – to the city’s youth.
  • Healing Hurt People (HHP): A hospital-based program and the cornerstone of Drexel’s Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice, this community-focused program works to teach youth (ages 8-30) how to resolve conflict, reduce reinjury, and prevent retaliation.
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Community Programs: There are a lot of awesome cultural programs for Philly youth, but the Museum of Art has some of our favorites. Not only are they free, but these programs introduce kids to some of art’s greatest masters – an incredible opportunity for all young Philadelphians.  (And oh yeah, the arts play a proven role in crime prevention.)
  • Project HOME: Talk about a killer tagline: none of us is home until all of us are home. Philly’s Project HOME is all about offering assistance – something as simple as a warm meal, to something as life-changing as housing, medical care, work and education – to the city’s underprivileged.

There are dozens of other community programs in Philadelphia, dedicated to reducing violence, supporting the family, leveling the educational playing field, and more.

Seattle

  • Community Arts Create: The community that creates together, stays safe together. This Seattle arts program builds community through one creative experience at a time, hosting community projects and events to involve anyone interested in the arts.
  • Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA): This multi-ethnic organization supports and protects Seattle’s immigrant and refugee women and their families, offering a selection of events, campaigns, volunteer opportunities and much-needed services.
  • SafeYouthSeattle: Seattle may have a lower rate of youth violence than other cities, but SafeYouthSeattle knows that even one injured child is too many. This local organization works with at-risk youth to connect them with services – educational, extracurricular, family mediation, and more – they need.
  • Seattle Social Development Project: The goal of this community organization: healthy, safe children who succeed in school. The services: health education, instructional support, parental education, and youth development – anything needed to get kids and families back on the right track.
  • Seattle Community Justice Program: Designed as a vehicle for youth leadership and social change, this community outreach organization seeks to end racial disparities in the criminal justice system by encouraging community involvement, education on social and racial issues, and extending “healing justice” to the incarcerated.

Seattle’s social programs extend far beyond this list, offering a helping hand to any child or adult, at-risk youth or hungry mouth.

Living on Your Own – 5 Ways To Keep Yourself Safe

by Cassie May 12, 2015

Home Security Tips While Living Alone

Moving into your own place is one of life’s single greatest moments. Yes, it entails a lot of responsibility. Yes, it’s more expensive than that two-bedroom you shared with three friends in college. And yes, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself for the growing pile of dirty dishes and un-swept floors.

But it’s your own place. Yours! A very you, very grown-up place where you’ll put your mark. For the very first time. Congratulations!

So here’s the deal, newly minted grownups: your first place is a learning experience. Here, you’ll probably learn to balance a checkbook, decorate walls with more than posters, and cook a meal impressive enough to woo your date. You’ll also learn a thing or two about personal safety, since living alone is very different than living in the dorm with roommates, or at home surrounded by family.

Without further ado, here’s our list of first apartment safety tips:

1) Before You Move In, Research

If you’re new in town (and really, even if you aren’t), do some basic recognizance before choosing a place to live: Ask friends and coworkers for safe neighborhood recommendations. Drive around candidate areas, both by day and by night. And speak with police or check out crime mapping websites, such as CrimeReports, to determine neighborhood crime statistics.

2) Double-Check for Security

Before you sign on the dotted line, review your new digs for safety. All door and window locks, including deadbolts, should be strong, secure and in working order. You shouldn’t have to jiggle, wiggle, push, prod or wrangle your doors or windows in any way. Peep through the keyhole to check the viewing area. Make sure that balcony doors are secure, and that you have access to the fire escape, if your building has one. Verify (don’t just ask) how entry works: do your neighbors just buzz anyone in, or do you have to have a key to get in?

3) Meet the Neighbors

As soon as you sign the lease, get knocking on your neighbors’ doors. (Bonus points if you take cookies.) You don’t need to be best friends, but you should get acquainted if you’re going to share walls, ceilings, lawns or fences. After all, it never hurts to have an extra set of eyes and ears on you and your apartment, especially when you’re on you own for the first time.

That said, don’t give out too much personal information to the neighbors, at least not until you’ve gotten to know each other.

4) Alarm Your Apartment

Think you can’t have an alarm, just because you rent? Wrong. Today, many home security systems, both monitored and unmonitored, are wireless, which means you don’t need to drill holes or forfeit your security deposit. Even better, you’ll be able to take your system with you when you move to a new place.

5) Exercise Caution

Being careful is not a sign of paranoia. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t walk through unknown neighborhoods with your earphones blasting or your cell to your ear. Hang an emergency whistle and mini flashlight on your keychain. Install a personal security alarm on your phone. Call for help if you feel unsafe. Remember, better safe than sorry.

Safety Facts Featured City: Seattle

by Cassie May 5, 2015

Seattle Home Security from My Alarm Center

Seattle: the Emerald City, known for its waterfront location, sky-high Space Needle, and sweet-scented brews of both the caffeinated and hops varieties. This pedestrian haven of the Northwest is the original home to Boeing, Microsoft and, of course, Starbucks. But Seattle is more than the sum of its accolades: it is a city of arts, culture, recreation – with a somewhat magical, usually casual vibe, that invites one to grab a to-go cup, take a breath of salt air, and step out to see it all.

One of Seattle’s big draws, for tourists and residents alike, is its status as one of the nation’s safest cities. In 2014, Seattle was ranked as the safest pedestrian city in the U.S. (Liberty Mutual Insurance Pedestrian Safety Index). What’s more, it consistently ranks in the top 10 safest cities for families with young children, and as the tenth-safest large metropolitan area, according to a study by Farmers Insurance Group, Most Secure U.S. Places to Live.

But the city’s top safety ratings aren’t a product of luck; they’re the result of a lot of hard work. Seattleites take pride in their city, and have enacted a number of community programs to engage youth, encourage safety, and help keep their streets and citizens secure and healthy. Here’s a look at some of those initiatives:

  • Seattle’s “Safest Route to School” program, worked to create 500+ new crosswalks, install more school zone speed-recording cameras, and improve walking routes for the city’s youngest residents.
  • Vision Zero and the “Be Super Safe” program, strives to educate drivers, reduce dangerous driving, and provide safer, more pedestrian-friendly streets.
  •  The Seattle Police Department sponsors several crime prevention programs, including the community-accessible Crime Prevention Coordinators, Block Watch and the annual Night Out Against Crime.
  • The city also believes in taking care of its youth through a variety of engaging outreach programs, among them YouthCare, designed to help homeless adolescents get off the streets, Teen Feed, PSKS (Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets), and the Seattle Youth Employment Program.

If Seattle’s outreach and safety programs have your feet tapping to explore the city and its surrounds, Seattle Magazine makes it even easier with its handy list of Seattle’s 15 safest neighborhoods. Dubbed “the happy 15,” the list sweeps through the alphabet from Ballard and Burien to Wallingford and West Seattle, with stops at Capital Hill, Georgetown, Ravenna and Queen Anne (among others), along the way.

Without a doubt, Seattle is perfect for afternoon strolls, café-hopping, exploring the arts and urban culture with outright fun, whether you’re going alone or bringing along the whole family. And with its strong reputation for safety, this walker-friendly city is an excellent, low-anxiety choice for your next urban vacation or relocation. To learn more about My Alarm Center’s home security services in Seattle just click here.

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.

What You Need To Know About Securing Your Windows

by Cassie March 30, 2015

Keeping Your Home Safe By Making Sure Your Windows Are Locked Properly

Doors and windows are easy points of entry for criminals. For homeowners, doors are often the focus of security efforts with smart locks, deadbolts, and reinforced doors all at your disposal.

This leaves windows as your weakest points of entry and something burglars already know. When it comes to break-ins, 23 percent of burglars use a first floor window to enter a home.

So how can we strengthen our defenses when it comes to windows? Here are a few ways to make your windows more secure and prevent break-ins.

Window Locks
Locking your windows is a no-brainer, however, you must also make sure the window locks operate correctly and that you replace any broken locks. There are supplemental locks that can help reinforce your existing locks for an extra layer of security. Deadbolts are available for windows, or even invest in a pin lock that’s visible from the outside, deterring burglars from trying to enter your home.

Reinforced Glass and Glass Materials
To make traditional glass windows a little more difficult to break, reinforce your windows with different materials to create a stronger barrier. Tempered glass is slightly more expensive than traditional glass, however, it is more durable and harder to break. Another material is laminated glass, or safety glass, which is a layer of vinyl between two panes of regular glass. A burglar would make a lot of noise having to repeatedly smash the same area to break the window. There are also plexiglas windows, which have ten times the strength of traditional glass panes. Polycarbonate windows are a more expensive version of plexiglas, however, they are 250 times more impact resistant than safety glass and over 10 times stronger than plexiglas.

Window Bars
Don’t worry; iron bars don’t have to look like a prison window. There are companies that make very decorative window bars that can add character to your home while protecting it. A burglar may be able to break the glass, but you probably won’t see them trying to slip between the iron cast bars. Window bars can add another layer of protection to your home, especially in areas where your windows are not easily seen by neighbors. Ask yourself a few questions (such as the crime rate in your area and where your first floor windows are located) to see if window bars would be the right fit for your home.

Alarms
A home security alarm is always a good idea, but did you know that there are also alarms just for your windows? With many different types of alarms, it’s easy to find one that’s in your budget range or for your specific need. There are simple alarms that sound as a window is opened or broken, or there are more advanced window alarms with motion detectors to warn you of an intruder before your window is even touched.

The higher degree of difficulty to get into your home, the less likely a burglar will even attempt to enter your home. Securing your windows with less noticeable methods can help during a robbery, but using very visible methods will also show burglars that your home isn’t an easy target. By using both methods, you can ensure your windows are secure and that those inside your home are protected.

5 More Tips to Keep Your Home Safe While Traveling

by Cassie March 23, 2015

Home Security Tips While You Are Away On Vacation

Travel, whether it’s a weekend nearcation or a use-up-all-your-vacation-days international escape, is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Paradoxically, it’s also one of life’s great stresses: there’s all that planning to do and money to shell out, and just when you think you’ve survived the worst of it, it hits you – what about your home? When you’re away, your house sits empty.

Don’t let your worries ruin what promises to be an excellent vacation. With a few precautions, a bit of prep and the following tips, you can keep your home safe and secure while you’re away. And if you missed our first installment – another five tips to keep your home safe and secure while you’re on vacation – hop on over and check those out.

 1. Unplug Electronics & Appliances

Electronics and small appliances represent a fire hazard, so pull the plug before you go away. While you’re at it, turn down the hot water and, if you’ll be away for a week or more, turn off the water supply to sinks, toilets, the dishwasher, washing machine, and refrigerator to avoid the possibility of floods. Finally, disconnect your GPS and remove it from your vehicle; a GPS stored a car parked in an airport parking lot not only tells thieves you’re not at home, but will also direct them right to your front door.

2. Weather-Proof

Adjust your heat or air-conditioning to keep your house cool (around 55º) in winter and warm (about 85º) in summer. This will prevent your pipes from freezing, but will also help save on energy bills.

3. Talk About Travel – AFTER You Travel

In the age of Facebook, blogs and Twitter, it can feel like second nature to share your vacation excitement. Unfortunately, announcing your vacation dates online can also be an invitation to burglars. Here’s how to play the social media travel game: Never, ever broadcast your travel plans online before or during your trip; save the joyful statuses and beautiful photos for after you’re home. In fact, prior to your travels, be careful of discussing plans in public with strangers around. Never change your voicemail to reflect that you’ll be away. And if you post to Facebook or other social media during your trip, make sure geotagging is turned off. Remember, the less information you share, the less likely it is to reach the eyes and ears of would-be thieves.

4. Advertise Your Security

Tried and true, security company signs are a great theft deterrent. If you’re concerned that advertising your company will give burglars a better idea of how to break in, buy generic “this home is monitored by 24-hour security” signs. Install fake cameras. Do whatever possible to communicate, “this is not the home you’re looking for.” (Bonus points if you can do it in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s voice.) ((Double bonus points if you get this reference.))

5. Notify Your Security Company

Finally, and also obviously, the best, most effective way to keep your home safe and secure while you’re not there is to have a high quality home security system installed. (Did you know that homes without security systems are three times more likely to be burglarized that those with alarm systems?)

Before you travel, call your security company and let them know you’ll be away. Also clue them in if you’ll have a housesitter staying on the property (or a neighbor checking in). Leave an up-to-date list of people to contact (including your hotel info, if possible), in case of security emergency.

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!

10 Easy Ways To Keep Your Family Safer

by Tammy March 9, 2015

shadowfamilyhome

To put it simply, safety is the state of being safe and protected against non-desirable events and outcomes. And while, we all strive to ensure our own safety and the safety of our families, staying safe isn’t always top of mind.

Once in a while, it’s good to take a step back and consider changes or habits that can be instilled to ensure safety is a priority. To help you out, here are 10 easy ways and things to consider when aiming to protect yourself and your family.

1. Know your neighborhood. Meet your neighbors and get to know those in the communities around your home. The better these relationships, the more likely you will look out for each other – together, a community is safer. More specifically, build a relationship with one or two trustworthy neighbors and be sure to find and identify someone close whom you can contact in the case of an emergency. Know your community better by getting involved with activities such as local clean ups and neighborhood watch programs (both of which can reduce the crime rate of a community by about 16 percent).

2. Eliminate distracted driving. This is key: make a commitment to stay safe on the roads. That means, don’t text and drive, pull over to take a call, leave the eating to when you’re not in a moving vehicle, and keep any unruly passengers calm. Driving is a task that needs 100 percent of a driver’s attention and too many accidents happen because a good driver gets distracted.

3. Check fire and carbon monoxide detectors monthly. Don’t just check your detectors when you spring ahead or fall back. Instead, make sure all detectors are installed correctly and are tested regularly; this is an easy way to ensure your family’s safety and ensure your family is safe from these hazards.

4. Be social network safe. While it’s tempting to post about Suzie’s soccer game happening at 5 p.m., this type of social media update gives dangerous information to anyone intending to cause harm. Keep posts about specific whereabouts and times (especially that long vacation) of yourself and others off social media sites and only give that information to those who absolutely need it (and post updates about vacations after you come home). Communicate with the younger family members about social network safety.

5. Properly store medicines and chemicals. Medicines and chemicals should be stored in a locked or out of reach area that is inaccessible by kids and pets. By simply storing these products in a secure location, you can ensure your family (especially the smaller members) is safe from harmful chemicals and medicines. Think cleaning supplies, flammable liquids, home improvement items, or the everyday medicines prescribed to certain family members.

6. Keep emergency numbers handy. It may be easy to let this slide since most have a cell phone with pre-programmed numbers. However, keeping a list of emergency numbersnear the phones or in a central location is helpful in case of an emergency where a cell phone is out of reach or a younger member of the family without a cell phone has to make the call. Take it a step farther by teaching kids to memorize a few very important numbers. During an emergency, the quicker the reaction, the more likely there will be a positive outcome.

7. Use exterior lighting. Light the exterior of your home at night, which may keep intruders away and provide peace of mind for your visitors and family. Installing simple motion-censored lights could startle any unwanted visitors and give the impression that someone inside is home and aware.

8. Wear seatbelts. This may come as second nature to some, but for others it is a good habit to learn (and it’s the law!). It goes without saying (although we will mention it here), in the unfortunate event of an accident, wearing a seatbelt keeps passengers safe and can save the lives of you and your loved ones. Seatbelts have been engineered overtime to be incredibly efficient and they protect the critical areas of the body, reducing the risk of life threatening injuries or fatalities.

9. Install an alarm system. Keeping your home safe is important, but keeping anyone inside safe is the main priority. Not only does having (and displaying) an alarm system deter potential burglars, but those efficient systems will also help deploy authorities to your home in the event of a potential emergency.

10. Communicate. Life is chaotic and schedules can be nutty, but take a little “safety break” and communicate with your family and community about potential risks and/or concerns. Keeping open lines of communication may sound like an easy tool, but all families must work at it and ensure that everyone is on the same “safety” page.

While some hazards are preventable by taking simple measures to ensure the safety of those around you, creating new habits and being informed about the community can protect your family and make a safer environment for everyone. #togetherwearesafer

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