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Home Security Checklist

by Amy April 13, 2018

Be prepared with a home security plan before disaster strikes. The more prepared you are, the better chance you have of protecting yourself and your home. Though the best type of security is a home security system, there are many different ways to reinforce the security within your home.

  1. Exterior Doors

Reinforce all exterior doors. Consider replacing plastic or aluminum doors with solid wood or a metal clad. If your door has glass inserts, make sure they are reinforced with security glazing. Security glazing is a strong and durable plastic that will keep intruders from breaking the glass to enter your home. The door hinges also need to face inside your home. This way an intruder can’t access the pins and take the entire door off the frame. Keep exterior doors closed and locked when not in use, even if you’re only leaving for a few minutes. The same rule applies to your garage door.

  1. Lighting

All driveways, pathways, and entry points must be lit. Consider installing motion detectors throughout your property that will turn on exterior lights when activated. This will help scare away any potential intruders. If you go on vacation, make sure you apply timers to your interior lights. This will make it appear as if someone is home even when they are not.

  1. Windows

Use a supplemental lock for your windows with a key operated device, sometimes known as a sash lock. This will keep the window from being forced open from the outside. You could also try out safety bars to completely ensure windows cannot be opened.

  1. Outdoor Security

Landscape with security in mind. Keep your shrubs and bushes trimmed so there is no place for any intruder to hide. Make sure there are no dark areas to hide in as well. Keep your gate latched and shed doors locked. Keep your lawn mower, lawn tools, and grill out of sight on your property. If an intruder sees expensive equipment on the outside, they know to expect expensive valuables inside.

  1. Vacation

When away for an extended period, have someone look out for your home. Make sure the lawn is maintained and bushes are trimmed. This also applies with snow, ensuring it is shoveled. Suspend newspaper deliveries and mail service while you are away as well. You do not ever want to give the appearance that your home is empty.

  1. Inventory Possessions

It is important you have an inventory of your homes valuable possessions. This should include a photograph of each item and the identification numbers inscribed by manufacturers.

Have a plan to keep your home secure. A home security system from My Alarm Center does more than just make you feel safe, it keeps your home from being an easy target. 

Protect Yourself From Bluetooth Hackers

by Amy February 8, 2018

Many people believe that being hacked is not easy and unfortunately this is not true. Many people also believe they will not be hacked because they do not have any essential information, but this is false as well. A hacker can find out more than you’d think just by hacking into your cell phone. Be cautious and protect yourself from being hacked by following these safety tips:

Protect Your Home Devices

1. Turn Off Your Wifi And Bluetooth

Hackers can see if you keep these features on your phone on at all times. The reason why this is important is because they could view what networks you have connected to before and can spoof them and trick your phone into connecting to Wifi and Bluetooth devices that hackers carry around. Once in control of your device, hackers can bombard your device with malware, steal data, or even spy on you.

2. Use Two-Step Authentication

Many major internet websites will provide a login option for two-step authentication. Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn are a few of these companies that will ask you for a secret code that is sent through text message to your cell phone, to log into your account. This is a great form of protection because even if someone manages to guess your password, it would be impossible to login without having full access to your phone.

3. Create A Smart Password

Consider using various characters and numbers sporadically throughout your password. Make sure this is something you will be able to remember. The more unique your password is, the less likely someone will be able to guess it.

4. Guard Your Home Wifi

Setting up your home wifi system is an important way to stay protected. First, change the password to the wifi network. Do not continue to use the random password that is written on the side of your router. When asked what type of security encryption standard you’d like to have for your network, choose WPA-2.

5. Don’t Hide Your Wifi Signal

If your home router asks to “Hide The SSID”, click no. This means that all your devices will always be looking for a new network to join. It could also mean that you are joining networks that are not safe.

Protect Your Bluetooth Devices

Scammers gain access to cell phone users by hacking into your cell phone using Bluetooth. To protect yourself consider these tips:

1. Create A Good Password

To prevent your Bluetooth from being hacked, always use a minimum of eight characters in your pin.

2. Use “Not Discoverable” Setting

Switch Bluetooth into “not discoverable” when you are not using it.

3. Be Cautious Of Other Devices

Do not accept any pairing requests from any unknown devices. This is very important because this is how a hacker gains full access to your cell phone including calls, texts, pictures, credit card information, and any other important information your phone contains.

4. Be Cautious Of Ways To Get Hacked

  • Bluejacking: This is one of the most common ways that people are being hacked. This is when a hacker searches for discoverable devices around them and sends spam in the form a text. This method is usually harmless but is more annoying than a significant security issue. This method is specifically used for different types of spam messaging and does not give hackers access to your phone or its contents. The best way to handle this mode is to ignore messages if you receive them. If you keep your Bluetooth setting on “non-discoverable” then you should not have many problems with this form of hacking.
  • Bluesnarfing: This type of hacking can lead to a hacker gaining access to your private information on your smartphone. A hacker could potentially purchase software that allows them to request information from your device. It is possible for this to happen when you are set to “invisible” or “non-discoverable”, but it is much less frequent due to the time, effort, and money needed to complete this type of hack.
  • Bluebugging: If a hacker uses bluebugging, then they have received full access to your cell phone. They can see all your photos, apps, contacts, texts, and phone calls. This type of hacking is only feasible with older phones with outdated firmware. Newer smartphones are less likely to have this happen because of constant security updates.

While your wireless security system protects your home and those within it, it doesn’t necessarily protect the software within your home. Be smart when using your Bluetooth devices so that they are not vulnerable to a hacker waiting to prey on your network. Take the time to avoid being an easy target for a hacker.

Tips For Better WiFi

by Amy January 2, 2018

There are many reasons your home wifi could be running slow and many ways to make it go a little bit faster. If you’re having problems with slow speeds and bad reception, try a few of these tips to increase your internet’s capabilities.

  1. Start With New Hardware

Ensure your network connection is reliable. Make sure you are using up to date equipment. Our technology has changed rapidly over the last several years, so old technology doesn’t always work to full capacity.

  1. Pick A Good Spot For Your Router

Make sure your router is in an open area without any obstructions from walls or other electronic devices. Some electronic devices have the capacity to block the wireless signal. The best place to keep your router is on a flat surface without anything else near it.

  1. Ensure You’re Using The Correct Wireless Channel

If several routers in a close area are using the same wireless channel, they can easily reduce the speeds of your wifi. Choose a channel that has as little signal interference as possible. Your router will include instructions on how to change your wireless channel if you do not know how to change it.

  1. Avoid Interference From Other Electronics

A wireless signal can be blocked by many different devices including cordless phones, microwaves, and televisions. Make sure your router is positioned away from any large electronics.

  1. Wifi Security

When installing your wireless router, set it up as a secured connection. This means you’ll have to provide a username and password to receive wifi from the router. If you use a good password, it will be difficult for any neighbors or strangers to hack your wifi. You can also hide the SSID, which is the name of your wifi. It will not appear as an option to log on to though. You’ll have to enter the SSID manually.

  1. Control Bandwidth Applications

Someone in your home may be hogging the bandwidth signal if they’re constantly streaming movies or video games. You can control the quality of service to prioritize certain applications.

  1. Install A Wifi Extender

A wifi extender is essentially a second router that will capture the wifi signal and allow it to reach further. This is especially helpful in a home with brick walls or other blockers to the wifi signal.

  1. Restart Your Wifi On A Regular Basis

It is important for your wifi to be turned off and rebooted on a regular basis. This will allow it to update. It is possible to set it on a rebooting schedule so that it turns off in the middle of the night when you’re not using it.

  1. Switch To 5GHz

Most wifi providers offer a dual band router, which gives you two different signals to connect to. 5GHz is a faster signal than 2.4GHz, but 2.4GHz has a wider range. Older devices might not be compatible with 5GHz. 5GHz is a less congested signal than 2.4GHz, which makes it ideal for those living in condos or apartments.

  1. Turn Off Eco Mode

Some routers are made to save energy though they have the tendency to reduce your wifi speed and signal. Turn off the power saving, or eco mode, to restore the proper speeds to your router. These may be on by default and do not save a significant amount of power.

It’s important to have a fast wifi connection. Make sure you protect your wireless signal with a secured connection and utilize these tips to improve your wifi speeds.

How Fire Alarm Monitoring Saves Lives

by Amy November 20, 2017

With fire alarm monitoring, you can be certain you’re safe in case of a fire as an alarm monitoring center will be alerted as soon as a fire alarm or smoke detector is triggered. The monitoring center will then alert the fire department and make sure everyone has safely gotten out of the house. With the holiday season quickly approaching, it is important to remind your family of emergency procedures and make sure that you are prepared in case a fire does occur.

Fire Alarm Monitoring:

Many people assume that this would be a pricey purchase, which it is not. Most home security systems now come with fire monitoring which can include smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors. Fire alarm monitoring alerts you as soon as your home detectors are activated, even if you are not home. Fire alarm monitoring is a system designed to make sure everyone has escaped from a fire successfully and to send help immediately.

Smoke Detectors:

Make sure smoke detectors are installed in every level of your home and close to sleeping areas. It is even recommended to have a smoke detector in every bedroom of your home. These alarms are loud enough to wake your entire house and will make sure you have plenty of time to get out of the house if there is a fire.

Escape Route:

It is important to have a plan before a fire breaks out, so when an emergency occurs you’ll know exactly what to do. Have a strategy for every member of the house and plan to meet at a designated area outside of the home. It is recommended to have two full plans of escape. Consider purchasing escape ladders that can be attached to windows for upper level bedrooms. Practice your fire escape route with your family, so everyone can feel comfortable with how to handle this scary situation.

Stop, Drop, and Roll:

If you are ever on fire, stop, drop, and roll on the ground until the fire is out.

Stay Low:

If ever caught within thick smoke, crawl along the ground to escape safely.

A situation can go from bad to worse in seconds. Be prepared and make sure you alert your family of what to do in case of a fire emergency. A fire alarm monitoring system will keep you fully covered in case of a fire emergency. The holiday season can put you at risk of many different types of unfortunate fires, so be careful and take the time to prepare in case of an emergency fire situation.

Thanksgiving Kitchen Fire Safety

by Amy November 9, 2017

Thanksgiving guarantees a full stomach for the whole family. Which means a full kitchen before that. People coming and going as the Thanksgiving feast is being prepared. Unfortunately, all the hustle and bustle lead to Thanksgiving being the number one day for house fires. My Alarm Center wants you to be safe and alert this Thanksgiving. Fire alarm monitoring can make sure the fire department is on its way as soon as a fire starts. Additionally, here are some kitchen safety tips to keep your family and your home safe.

  1. Test Your Smoke Alarms

Before you start cooking, it’s recommended to ensure that your smoke and fire alarms are working properly. This way you’ll immediately be alerted in case of a fire.

  1. Keep A Fire Extinguisher Handy

A fire extinguisher in the kitchen could stop a fire before it can spread. Be sure your fire extinguisher is safe to use in the kitchen fire before utilizing.

  1. Wear Proper Cooking Attire

Wear a shirt with short or close-fitting sleeves. Loose clothing can easily catch fire and be hazardous in the kitchen.

  1. Stay In The Kitchen

It is easy to get distracted entertaining your loved ones, but it is imperative to keep an eye on everything being prepared in the kitchen.

  1. Don’t Leave Your Home

Many people think it’s okay to make a quick run to the grocery store while their turkey is in the oven, but this is not the case. A disaster could happen at any moment and it is essential to be home just in case. Stay present in your house while the turkey is cooking and check on it frequently.

  1. Keep Kids Out Of The Kitchen

Your children are better off outside the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. It’s important that they stay away from sharp objects and hot foods.

  1. Be Cautious Of Stove Placement

Be aware of your pots on the stovetop. Make sure that pot and pan handles are toward the back of the stove and won’t be easily run into. Avoid leaving any towels or pot holders near any open flames

If a fire does occur…

  1. Call 911 immediately.
  2. If grease or oil causes the fire, do not take the contents outside. Move a lid overtop of the flames to smother them. Turn off the heat and leave the lid on the pan until it cools.
  3. To extinguish any other food fires, use baking soda.
  4. If an oven or broiler is the cause of the fire, make sure to keep the oven door closed and turn off the heat to smother the flames.
  5. Do not use water or flour to put out any cooking fire, they could have a violent reaction to the grease and cause the fire to spread and become worse.

This Thanksgiving make sure that you are cautious and alert when cooking in the kitchen. Be prepared for any possible disaster and make sure you’re ready with a fire extinguisher. Keep your children away from the kitchen and keep your home and family safe. Enjoy your Thanksgiving feast and remember you have a lot to be thankful for.

Adding Extra Layers To Your Home Security

by Amy October 23, 2017

These days you never know if your home security is strong enough until it is threatened. This is why it’s a good idea to add on as many layers of home security as possible. Use a variety of security tactics so that you will always feel safe and know the belongings inside of your home will be safe as well.

Layer 1: Lighting

Use lighting to your advantage by placing them around the exterior of your home strategically. There should be no unlit areas that someone could potentially hide in. Have motion detector lights installed to alert you of outside activity. Also, make sure entrances to the home are illuminated throughout the night. It is much less likely that an intruder would attempt a break in when they would be seen walking in the front door.

Layer 2: Locks

The most important part of locks is not that they are present but that they are used. A home could have several padlocks on the door but if they are not locked at all times, they are no use to you. Even if you assume that your neighborhood is safe, you should leave the door locked when you are home and when you are away, even if only for a few minutes. This rule also applies to garage doors.

Layer 3: Blinds

Even though your home may seem brighter with the blinds all the way up, it is smart to keep the blinds down, especially for bottom floor windows. A burglar would have a very difficult time entering the home through a window without making an excess of noise.

Layer 4: Home Security

A home security system is the best way you can protect yourself from home invasion. Cameras, motion detectors, and 24/7 alarm monitoring will alert you as soon as a break in occurs. You will also receive alerts when you are not home, so you know your home is always safe.

Layer 5: Pets

This is one of the layers people don’t think about. Dogs are alert to all sounds inside and outside of the home. They can alert you the moment someone is near your window or outside your front door. It’s almost impossible to get past a dog inside your home and criminals are immediately deterred from attempting a break in when they see a dog lives there.             

There are many different layers to home security and they work best when they are combined. Use several layers of security to ensure your home is always safe. My Alarm Center is one of the leading home security system suppliers in Philadelphia. They provide home monitoring that will alert you as soon as a possible threat occurs.

Home Automation And Football

by Amy September 6, 2017

We all know that football season is just on the horizon. This year you can try out the full home automation experience while watching the big game. Home automation will change the way you view football!

  • The Theater Experience: With home automation, you’ll have the ability to use smart lights and shade controls to create an immersive theater experience. The best part is that you can change the lighting without having to get off the couch.
  • Wireless Speakers: Wireless speakers can be strung throughout your entire house so even if you must go into another room you’ll still be able to hear the game. If you have to use the bathroom, you won’t miss a thing!
  • Smart TVs: Smart TVs can be controlled with your phone or some use voice commands. More importantly, smart TVs can be used to record the games you miss. If you’re watching one game you can record another game simultaneously and watch it later. You can even hook the TV up to your phone and receive alerts when guests arrive or if you get any emergency calls you simply must take. If you have security cameras out front, you can see who’s there when the doorbell rings. With your phone and a set of smart locks, you’ll be able to unlock the door as well.
  • Smart Thermostat: Why worry about the weather? Program your smart thermostat to always keep your game viewing room at your preferred temperature. If it gets colder or warmer outside, the thermostat will automatically adjust and keep your man cave perfect.
  • Ordering Food: Don’t waste time making dinner or running out to pick up a pizza. You don’t even need to call any more. Many places allow you to order and pay online only alerting you when the food is at your front door.
  • Scenes: Home automation lets you create scenes that, with the press of a button, transform your room. When the game is on you turn on the “Game On” scene which dims the lights and lowers the shades as well as turns off your phone ringer so you can’t be disturbed. When there’s a commercial break you hit the “Commercial” scene which dims the audio so you can’t hear the commercial and lights up the room so people can refresh their drinks and go to the bathroom.

My Alarm Center provides home automation services for the local Philadelphia area. They would be more than happy to provide your home with the best equipment to change how you watch the game. Try out home automation this football season and see how much better the game can be!

How Home Automation Helps With School

by Amy August 4, 2017

The start of school is closer than you would like to think which means turning in those carefree days of summer for textbooks, extracurricular activities, and nightly homework sessions.  It can be difficult fitting it all into your busy schedule.  But this year you’ve got a secret weapon to help you stay organized and to help the kids do even better in school.  Put your home automation system to work and make the transition from summer nights to school days an easy A.

Rise and Shine
After a few months of sleeping in every day, getting the kids out of bed early every morning can be quite the task.  Automate your lights and you can wake the kids up without even needing to step into their room.  Schedule their bedroom lights to turn on at the same time every morning, motivating them to get out of bed.

You can also use smart sockets to schedule appliances for an additional wake up boost.  For instance, schedule a radio to turn on every morning.  It’s hard to ignore and more enjoyable than an alarm clock.  At bedtime, you can reverse the process by scheduling lights and appliances to turn off as a signal that it’s time to go to sleep.

After School
The first few hours after school are crucial for getting the homework done.  However, parents are usually at work when kids get home from school.  With home automation services integrated into your home security system you can receive alerts to notify you when the children are home from school and you can use the video monitoring system to keep an eye on them.  This is the perfect way to make sure they’re doing homework and completing chores instead of getting into things they shouldn’t be.  With home automation and video monitoring you can be assured that even if you aren’t home you can still make sure your kids are safe and productive.

Helping with Homework
Homework time can be the toughest part of the evening.  The schoolwork is hard enough without the temptation of video games and television.  With home automation, you can create an environment perfectly conducive to completing homework.  With smart sockets you can shut off TVs and gaming systems so they can’t be used, turn the smart lights up for optimal reading, and play some classical music to help the children focus, all from your smartphone.

All Work and No Play
Home automation isn’t just for business.  Kids need to relax as well.  Set the system to play their favorite music when they come home Friday afternoon and start the weekend off with some fun.  Gather on the couch and watch a movie knowing that you can set the temperature for optimal snuggling and dim the lights without having to get.  Home automation is the perfect tool for relaxation when need be.

My Alarm Center offers state of the art home automation services to make life more convenient while keeping your family safe.  Speak with a home automation specialist about getting your system installed before the kids get back to school.

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.

Winterizing Your Home

by Cassie December 27, 2016

It is important to prepare your home for each season. There are many different factors that can affect your home depending on the weather. Before the winter season it is especially essential to prepare your home for the cold weather and possible snowfall.

  • Clear Dead Tree Limbs
    Most people forget dead tree limbs can fall and significantly damage your home. These branches can damage your roof, siding, gutters, porch, decks, and even your cars. It is important to cut these branches down before strong winds knock them down.
  • Weatherproof Your Plumbing
    Ensure that your pipes are properly insulated and won’t To weatherproof the entire exterior of your home, shut off all external water sources like hose spigots or sprinkler systems. Cover the outdoor components of your air conditioner or swamp cooler as well to save them from the harsh winter elements.
  • Seal Leaks
    Before the winter brings snow, make sure that all your shingles are securely fastened, especially around your chimney, flues, windows, or other openings. Keep an eye on places in your home that could be damaged by ice. Caulking cracks in the foundation and installing weather stripping will also help to protect your home from the unpredictable elements.
  • Inspect Your Chimney
    Before using your fireplace this winter, make sure to call a chimney sweep to inspect your chimney and clean out previous soot that still may be inside. An uncleaned fireplace is a dangerous fire hazard.
  • Home Energy Audits
    Home energy audits use specialized equipment to inform you of potential trouble areas of your home. A home energy audit can help make your home more comfortable throughout the winter and keep it working in an energy efficient manner, saving you money while keeping you warm. Home energy auditors could suggest anything from installing additional insulation to replacing poorly performing appliances.
  • Research Winter Rebates
    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was created to put billions of dollars into helping homeowners make their homes more energy efficient. This act has led several states and utility districts to offer rebate programs and other incentives to help you conserve energy. Find out if your home state offers a stimulus package.
  • Radon Testing
    Radon is an invisible and odorless gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer. The winter season is the best time to conduct this sort of testing because of the lack of outside air being released into your home. You can purchase your own test kit at any local hardware store or hire a professional to conduct this sort of test for you.
  • Check Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    Before the winter season starts, replace the old batteries in your carbon monoxide detector. If your home furnace hasn’t been inspected recently, this is highly suggested as a broken furnace can release CO into your home. My Alarm Center home security systems offer a carbon monoxide monitoring system that will text you the levels of CO in your home. This system alerts emergency authorities as soon as carbon monoxide becomes a problem.
  • Check For Mold
    The winter season is the most common time for mold to form. It can worsen allergies and cause asthma attacks while compromising the human immune system. Mold forms near water sources, so be sure to check within the bathroom and basement. By preventing leaks, you are also preventing mold from forming.
  • Program Your Thermostat
    Throughout the winter season, make sure your thermostat is on a programmed schedule. This will save money by turning heat on and off in response to occupied rooms. My Alarm Center offers a home automation system that allows you to remotely control your thermostat, which is convenient and helps save energy.

Before the winter season starts, make sure your home is prepared to take on the cold. Check the exterior, save money on energy, be prepared for leaks, and take precautions before a disaster hits. Prepare your home and your family for the inevitable snowy months.