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9 Tips For Keeping Your Community Safe

by Cassie February 16, 2015

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According to the FBI, crime rates in the US have decreased in the past two decades. In fact, in the first half of 2014, burglary offenses dropped 14 percent, motor vehicle thefts decreased by 5.7 percent, and there was a 5.6 percent drop in larceny-theft. While those numbers are promising, we, as community members, need to work to maintain these lower crime rates.

So what can we do?

We can work toward a safer community and consider getting more involved in crime prevention. As a matter of fact, throughout the 90’s, there was an average of a 30 percent decrease in burglaries nationwide due to communities getting more involved in crime prevention.

So, let’s keep is up. Here are nine ways you can get involved in your community to keep it safe.

  1. Join the town watch (or start one) – Join in a town watch program (or get the community involved in one). Knowing the neighborhood’s trouble spots and keeping streets and homes well-lit can deter any possible burglaries. When criminals see a well-marked neighborhood with town watch signs, it makes them think twice before committing a crime. Town watch programs have helped communities experience a 16 and 26 percent reduction in crime compared to areas not involved in a town watch.
  2. Get to know your neighbors – Whether you are going on vacation or heading to work, knowing your neighbors provides and extra set of eyes on your house (and maybe an extra set of keys for emergencies). People care about those they know, so getting to know your neighbors and building relationships provides that layer of community and a sense of wanting to watch out for each other.
  3. Educate kids about bullying – Educate kids on a safe way to help others. Encourage confidence in resolving problems peacefully and not through violence. Make it clear that you expect kids to take action if they see someone being hurt, or if they are hurt themselves. By leading by example, you can teach empathy rather than violence.
  4. Initiate a buddy system – The buddy system is not just a system for kids. It’s less likely a criminal will approach two people instead of one vulnerable person. A buddy can be more than just a walking partner. Your buddy can also make sure that you have everything you need to be safe (from a trip to just that walk down the street). And, of course, a buddy can always be there to call for help in those times of emergency.
  5. Share tips about security systems – If you, or someone you know, decides to install a security a system, be sure that information gets out into the neighborhood. There are a few reasons why this is beneficial. First, knowing that a particular community is equipped with alarm systems will help build a “secure” reputation for your community and hopefully thwart potential criminals from considering that community a target. Second, if a security system has proved to be beneficial for someone in the community, other members might want to look into a similar system and can do a price/capability comparison. Remember, there is strength in numbers so the greater number of community members equipped with security systems, the more secure the entire community will be in the end.
  6. Get involved in local organizations – By getting involved, neighbors become better acquainted and make the connections necessary to keep the community safe. The Bureau of Justice Assistance offers ways your community can get involved and pair with local businesses and organizations to create a safer community.
  7. Create a favorable rapport with local police enforcement – Involve your local law enforcement to get involved in community events. Get to know who they are and respect what they do. By creating a relationship with your local law enforcement, you can communicate community concerns more effectively and become an extension of their force.
  8. Create a Cleaner Neighborhood – Burglars are attracted to unkempt neighborhoods. A community with litter, abandoned cars, and run-down buildings tells burglars that you don’t care about where you live or about your neighbors. Do what you can to control the environment in which you live by starting at home and ensuring your space is clean and clutter-free. To continue the commitment, work to initiate a “clean-up day” and invite your neighbors to join you in keeping your community clean and safe.
  9. Stay current with crime trends  – Knowing what’s happening in your neighborhood and those around you can help you understand the possible warning signs of impending crime. Know what’s happening and be ready to report any suspicious activity to your local law enforcement. Staying up-to-date with the news and crime trends can help your community stay proactive and involved, and out of those dreadful headlines (unless of course it’s to celebrate your awesome clean-up day or community events!).

By focusing on a safer community, you can work toward protecting you, your family, and those around you from falling victim to crimes that could leave your community devastated. By getting more involved or following any other tips mentioned above, you can help lead the way in creating a safer community for everyone.

 

See Something Suspicious? Then Say Something About It!

by Amy January 22, 2015

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Here’s a neat story of how neighbors helping neighbors resulted in the arrest of a suspected criminal by the Lower Merion Pennsylvania Police Department.

Police were contacted by a man who noticed suspicious activity on his neighbor’s property. When police arrived a few minutes later, they encountered a 19 year old man from Philadelphia.

The man claimed to be a roofer and told police there was a job he had to work on the street. He said he was simply looking for the home where he was to work. The guy even had a ladder sticking out of his car to make it seem like he was a roofer.

However, police found something else in the guy’s car that aroused their suspicions. The guy had a bike and other tools in the trunk of his car.

The police talked to the neighbor who reported the activity and the neighbor confirmed that this was indeed the man he had seen. The police then contacted the homeowner who identified the ladder, bicycle and tools as being his property that had been in his garage.

Police then arrested the man and found marijuana in his car. The man was charged with burglary, criminal trespassing, theft, possession of a controlled substance, receiving stolen property, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession with intent to deliver.

We love this story as originally reported  by Mainline Media News because it illustrates the importance of neighbors helping neighbors. If you see something suspicious, then you should definitely report it to the authorities. After all, that’s what you’d want your neighbor to do to help you.

My Alarm Center urges you to become an active participant in a neighborhood watch program.  They are great, easy, and effective ways to improve the safety for you, your home and those of your neighbors.

How to Protect Your Home from Snow and Ice

by Derek January 20, 2015

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This year winter came storming in across many cities across America, bringing with it record snowfalls and freezing temperatures.

Heavy snow and ice can accumulate around your home, causing heavy damage.

The most common damage to your home to be concerned about is interior water damage caused by ice dams.

Ice dams happen because the overhangs at the edge of your roof (called the eaves) tend to be colder than the rest of the roof. As water melts on the roof and reaches the eaves it may freeze there, creating a dam that prevents water from flowing off the roof. The water then backs up underneath the roof shingles and then seeps into your home. Icicles are a good indication that an ice dam is present.

Look for water stains or moisture in the attic or around exterior walls on the top floor of your home. Just because you have an ice dam does not mean you have water damage.

Another big problem snow and ice can create is structural damage to your home. If the snow and ice exceeds the weight bearing capacity of your roof, you could be in big trouble. Experts say flat roofs and older homes are most likely to have these problems.

Although it may differ by a variety of factors, a good rule of thumb is that if you have one foot of wet snow or ice, you should have it removed.

If you have a flat roof with safe access, you may want to simply shovel the roof. If you have a pitched roof, try using a roof rake to remove the snow. It’s not necessary to get all of it – focus on the four foot areas that are closest to the gutters.

There are professionals you can call that will remove roof snow for you. Look for home builders, landscape and roofing contractors and property management firms and always make sure you check references before hiring anyone to work on your home

Make sure you keep the areas around your downspouts clear. This allows your gutters to properly drain when the snow begins to melt. It also helps prevent flooding around the foundation of your home.

It goes without saying that it’s important to keep sideways and driveways clear of snow and ice. This protects the safety of your guests and your family.

Freezing of water pipes are a big concern in the winter. Water pipes that break can cause extensive damage to your home. Read this blog post about how to prevent your pipes from freezing for more information.

Home Heating Safety Tips

by Tammy January 8, 2015

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Home fires occur in winter more than at any other time of the year. This is due in part to the use of alternative heating sources that many people use for cooking and heating to combat the winter cold.

You can heat your home safely while preventing winter fires. The following tips can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter.

Check the Furnace

  • Have your furnace and related components checked by a licensed, qualified professional in your area once a year. Use the professional contractor locater provided by the Indoor Environment & Energy Efficiency Association to find a pro in your community.
  • Replace the air filters per the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Clean the floor vents. Make sure they are clear of debris, pet hair, dust, toys and food scraps.
  • Make sure outside vents are free from snow and ice.

Fire Place Safety

  • Have the chimney cleaned as necessary.
  • Keep the area around the fire place free of flammable materials (at least two feet is recommended).
  • Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood.
  • Always close the firescreen when in use.
  • Never leave a fire unattended and extinguish fires before sleeping.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy for use in the event of an emergency.

Space Heater Safety

  • Turn them off when you leave the home or go to bed. Don’t leave them unattended.
  • Always use a UL certified space heater.
  • Keep flammable materials away from the heater, as the majority of space heater fires start with these materials.
  • Keep the heater on a level surface away from pets and areas where people may bump into it.
  • Avoid using space heaters in flooded areas or water.
  • Don’t use long extension cords that people can trip over.

Wood Stove Safety

  • Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood.
  • Keep the area clear of combustible materials.
  • Place the stove on a non-combustible, fire-proof base.
  • Don’t connect a stove pipe to a fireplace chimney unless the fire place has been closed off. Never connect it to a chimney of an appliance burning other fuels.
  • Never start a fire with flammable fluids like gas.
  • Always supervise the fire…don’t leave it unattended.
  • Follow manufacturer’s recommendations concerning installation and operation.

Most Important about Heating Safety

The most important protective measure you can take is to make sure there are monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. These detectors notify occupants of a smoke or poisonous gas hazard and monitored detectors will deploy help when needed. Contact your My Alarm Company representative or visit the Fire & Carbon Monoxide Detection page on the website for more information.

8 Tips to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing

by Derek January 1, 2015

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There are few worse experiences as a home owner than having your pipes freeze and break.

It’s very messy, very costly, and very inconvenient…even if you have insurance.

Water expands as it freezes, which can cause enormous pressure on metal or plastic household pipes.  This pressure can and often does cause household pipes to break. Pipes that are most likely to break are those exposed to severe cold, like pipes in unheated basements, garages, under cabinets, or those exposed to exterior walls with little insulation. Outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool lines and sprinkler lines are also vulnerable.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

There are actions you should take before the cold weather as preventative measures. These include:

  • Drain water from the water supply lines and swimming pool following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Make sure to drain outside hose bibs. Keep outside valves open so any remaining water in the pipe can expand without breaking the pipe.
  • Remove, drain and store hoses used outdoors.
  • Look for places around and in your home where water supply lines are located in unheated and under insulated areas.  Your crawl space, attic, basement and under cabinets are usually your most vulnerable areas. In these areas, consider adding insulation like a “pipe sleeve” or installing something like UL-listed heat tape. You could even use newspaper in a temporary situation to help keep pipes from freezing.
  • Keep garage doors closed during cold weather if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open cabinet doors so warm air can circulate around the pipes. Safety tip – make sure to keep harmful cleaning products and chemicals away from kids and pets.
  • In super cold weather conditions, let water slowly drip from the faucets of those lines exposed to the weather conditions.
  • If leaving your home for an extended period, keep the temperature on the thermostat to no lower than 55°F. Even trickling amounts of water continuously  running through the pipes can keep them from freezing.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

OK. So you’ve done everything you can to prevent frozen pipes and yet they froze anyway. Here’s what you can do to help thaw them out:

  • Open the faucets and leave them open. The water will need a place to escape as it begins to melt and flow through frozen areas. Leaving the faucet open removes the pressure on the pipe and makes it less likely to break.
  • Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen. NEVER use an open flame as it poses a fire hazard. Use an electric heating pad, electric hair dryer, a safe portable space heater or use very hot towels that you wrap around the pipe.

If you can’t locate the frozen area, or can’t quickly get the ice to melt, call a licensed professional immediately. It’s better and cheaper to call a pro than to have your water pipes break.

Holiday Safety Tips In & Out of Your Home

by Amy December 23, 2014

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The holiday season is upon us once again and with it comes plenty of celebrating and joyful cheer for you and your loved ones.  Unfortunately there are also perils and hazards that are associated with the holiday season as well.  Whether you are staying home or traveling we have a few tips to keep you, your family and your home safe this holiday season.

If you are staying home for the holidays and are hosting the festivities here is some general advice to make sure the celebrations go off without a hitch.

Cooking Safety – With the holidays come lots of eats and treats.  When spending time in the kitchen be sure to use care when working around hot surfaces and ovens.  Keep all flammable materials safely away from heat sources including loose sleeves and material you may be wearing.  Also be sure to warn all the children in your home to stay clear of the hot stove and any sharp knives or other dangers that might be lurking in the kitchen.

Christmas Tree Safety –  While Christmas trees rarely catch fire, when they do the results can be catastrophic.  Be sure to keep your natural tree completely watered and get rid of it as soon as the needles begin to dry out.  You also need to pay special attention to your strands of lights.  Thoroughly check for loose bulbs and damaged wires and plugs.  More than half of all Christmas tree fires are started by faulty electrical problems.  We have a great article outlining all the steps you can take to make sure your tree and decorations are safe.

Snow & Ice Removal – Most of us here in the U.S. have probably already had a shovel in our hands this winter.  Be sure to keep you and your holiday guests safe by keeping your driveway and all walkways clear of snow and ice.  Use rock salt on the areas that people will need to walk to help ensure that snow that melts does not refreeze on your sidewalks.  Also keep an eye on the roof-line of your home and any other overhang where icicles can form and become potential falling daggers.

Keep Your Home Secure – Even though you are staying home you should still keep all of your windows and doors locked and well secured.  This includes keeping your curtains and blinds closed as well…especially at night.  Criminals are cruising neighborhoods during the holiday season looking for easy opportunities.  If they can see valuables through a window they may be tempted to do a quick smash and grab.  Another mistake often made is running power cords through the crack of a window to power Christmas lights outside.  This leaves an easy entrance for the bad guys to breach your home.

Register Expensive Gifts – If Santa was kind to you be sure to register any expensive jewelry, electronics or other high priced items with the manufacturer or store they were purchased.  You can also take video or photographs of the items for insurance purposes should they come up missing.  If you want to mark any item without a serial number you can engrave your driver’s license number into it to identify it as your own.  Be sure not to use any other sensitive number like your social security number.

Don’t Toss Boxes of Expensive Gifts – After the gift giving is over be sure not to throw boxes from a new flat-screen, laptop or any other expensive item out with the recycling in plain sight.  Crooks are cruising the neighborhoods looking for this packaging as an indicator to what lies behind closed doors.

Should you be heading out for the holidays we have some tips to help your home stay safe while you are away.  Vacant homes are easy targets during the holidays.  We have an article on the top ten things that make your home a target to burglars.

Set Alarm – Don’t forget to set the alarm before you leave your home.  With all the packing and excitement of the holidays it can sometimes slip your mind to set the alarm and secure your home.  If you do not have an alarm system you might want to make a small investment and get one before leaving your home vulnerable.

Alert a Good Neighbor – If you are lucky you have good neighbors and hopefully some of them are staying home during your time away.  Let at least one know that you will be away and to please keep an eye out for any suspicious activity while you are gone.

Don’t Hide Keys – This is really not a good idea any time of the year.   Seasoned burglars know that people often hide keys outside and they are very familiar with hiding places.  If you are convinced that you can find a good spot, just be sure that it is never hidden near the front or back door.  Trust us, criminals will find it.  You are better off leaving it with a trustworthy neighbor.

Automatic Timer – When leaving for even just an overnight trip it is a good idea to buy yourself and automatic timer for one or two lights within your home.  It gives the impression that someone is active within the home.  Do not leave the lights on for 24 hours a day as this is just as obvious that no one is home as a home with no lights on.  Leaving a television on is ok as the lights change and flicker and does give the impression someone is home. This function can also be done by a home automation system.

Close the Curtains – Keeping the curtains or blinds closed does not give anyone driving by a clear line of sight into your home.  If criminals cannot see all the valuables you have inside they will be less likely to break into your home on a hunch.

No Social Media Posts – Posting that you are leaving for the holidays on social media is really dangerous.  It is all too easy to surf the net and look for these posts and then know that your house is empty and vulnerable to attack.  Wait until you return to share your trip with friends and family online.

Put Your Mail On Hold – Nothing says “Hey we aren’t home” like an overflowing mailbox or a stack of newspapers piling up in front of your home.  Before you leave, be sure to stop your mail service and newspaper delivery. You may want to consider hanging a “No Solicitors” sign out front to deter them from leaving anything on your front stoop.

We hope that you take these tips to heart whether you are staying home or traveling during the holiday season.  We wish you, your family and friends a safe and joyous holiday season!  If you have any questions or concerns about the safety of your home please call My Alarm Center at 855 334 6562.  Our safety specialists will be happy to discuss all of your safety options.

Fire Safety – Christmas Trees, Lights & Candles

by Tammy December 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Winter Driving Safety Tips

by Tammy December 2, 2014

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As we begin to close out the 2014 calendar year the leaves are starting to turn colors.  As the leaves drop to the ground we all know that winter weather will soon be upon us as well.  This time of the year sees a rise in road travel for family get-togethers for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year celebrations.

With leaves, rain, snow and ice taking to our streets, it is important to remember some safety tips while driving.  Safely driving ourselves and our families during the autumn and winter seasons requires a few more precautions to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect ourselves out on the road.

The fall presents driving conditions that are specific for this time of year.  For starters, school is back in session.  Our streets will see many more cars and buses on the road as kids are shuttled to and from their schools.  Pedestrian traffic will also see a major increase in the early morning hours and late afternoon as children walk to and from school.  Take note of the bus stops and walking routes around your local schools and watch your speeds in these areas to avoid any unfortunate accidents.

Rain is also likely to be present during the fall season which can make the streets really slippery.  Especially if the oil and other contaminants left behind from summer traffic has not had a chance to wash away.  Mix the rain with excess leaves on the street and it can be a real concoction for disaster.  Besides being slippery when wet, leaves can block traffic lines and fill dangerous potholes.  It’s best to take your time on leaf covered streets and give other drivers the space they need to react.

The fall is also the most likely time of the year to encounter fog.  Cold fall mornings tend to create fog in the low lying areas and a regular mistake made by many drivers is to use their high beams instead of low beams.  High beams actually create more window glare which makes seeing cars, curves and stop signs in front of you much more difficult.  Use fog lights if your car is equipped and keep a good distance between you and the car in front of you in case they need to stop suddenly.  Frost is also starting to form during this time of year so watch out for ice patches on bridges, overpasses and parts of the road that does not get enough sunshine during the day.

Fall is also the season for deer hunting.  Be aware that deer activity is much higher this time of the year as they attempt to migrate and outrun the hunters that are stalking them.  Deer commonly move during the morning and evening hours from sunset until dawn.  If you live in a heavier populated deer area, you may want to invest in a whistling deer deterrent for your car.

When winter hits, we all know it is a whole different ball game so to speak.  Freezing temperature, snow and ice all can make for treacherous driving conditions.  It is this time of the year that we all need to take extra precautions and be better prepared for driving on winter roads.

Before your car ever leaves its parking place there are a few things to be done.  Make sure that your tires are properly inflated and never mix radial tires with other types.  If you can afford to do so get a set of winter tires for your vehicle.  Blizzaktires from Bridgestone are just one of many excellent winter tire choices available.  The right set of winter tires will make all the difference when faces with tough winter driving conditions.  Another preventative tip is to always keep your gas tank at least half full to help gas lines from freezing up.

You should also prepare a winter emergency kit for your car in the event of becoming stuck or stranded.  If you should become stuck or stranded, stay with your vehicle.  Never try to walk through storm conditions.  Staying with your car will provide some shelter and make it much easier for emergency crews to find you.  A proper emergency kit should be able to get you through a prolonged emergency.  Here are some items every car owner should have on hand while traveling during the winter season.

  • A small shovel – Just in case the plow buries your car or you slide into a ditch.  It is always easier to dig yourself out with a shovel rather than your hands.
  • Windshield scraper – This is an absolute necessity unless you use your credit cards or driver’s license to remove ice from your windows.
  • Flashlight, battery powered radio and extra batteries – you are going to want to see at night and listen to weather forecasts if you become stranded.
  • Snack foods and water – Energy bars, candy bars and dried fruit are all good ideas to keep in an emergency snack kit.  The water might freeze so don’t fill the bottles all the way up.  You will be happy to have fresh drinking water instead of trying to melt roadside snow and ice to stay hydrated.
  • Warm clothes and blankets – For extended winter emergencies, be sure to have extra hats, gloves, socks and blankets on hand to keep warm should you be stuck for a while. You may also want to invest in some hand warmers.  They are really inexpensive, but can be priceless when needed in an emergency.
  • Tow rope – You might see a passerby that is willing to try and tow your car from being stuck, but without a tow rope you are going to have to wait until other help can arrive.
  • Salt, sand or kitty litter – Road salt, sand and cat litter are all useful in gaining traction on icy road conditions.  It might only take a little bit to get you the traction you need to get going again.  If you live in mountainous or hilly areas you might want to consider a set of tire chains to help you get up that hill.
  • Jumper cables – Nothing is worse than having a car that would run and drive just fine if only it would start.  Dead batteries are ultra common during the frozen months of the year.
  • Flares, reflectors and fluorescent flags – Be sure you have a way to let other motorists and emergency crews know where you are.  In blizzard conditions these markers may be the difference in being  found or spending the night in a ditch.

Driving in winter requires an extra skill set as well.  You may be only taking a short trip to the grocery store, but may be required to handle your ride like a rally car.  It should go without saying, but be sure you accelerate, decelerate and drive slower than you would during the rest of the year.  Most accidents caused during the winter were started by one of these three culprits.

If you find your car begins to slide when applying the brakes, slowly let off the brakes to regain traction and use a gentle steady pressure until you begin to slow down.  This may have to be repeated to get the car to come to a full stop.  Most cars today are equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS).  If you have an older vehicle without ABS you may need to pump the brakes to get it to come to a full stop.  This is why it is extra important to leave enough space between your car and the guy in front.  You should always anticipate that stopping could be an issue.  Allow at least 3 times as much room as you normally would on a dry road.

If your car begins to slide and spin, keep your foot off the brake and always turn into the spin.  In other words, always look and turn in the direction you want to go.  If your rear wheels are sliding left then steer left.  If your rear tires begin to slide right then steer to the right. Be careful not to over-correct as you are trying to recover control. If your wheels start sliding the other way then ease the steering wheel back the other way.  You may have to steer left and right a few times to get back under full control.  With spinning being one of the most dangerous situations to be in, make sure that you never use cruise control in the winter.  It is too easy to lose the feel of the road when your foot is off the accelerator.

The best tip we can give you to stay safe during the fall and winter driving months is to stay tuned to the weather reports and when bad weather is approaching, stay where you are.  Even if you are excellent in driving in rain, snow and ice doesn’t mean everyone else is.  Do your family and vehicle a favor and stay home and make alternative travel plans.

Thanksgiving Safety Tips In and Out of the Home

by Derek November 27, 2014

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Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays of the year.  Families get together to celebrate with each other and bountiful feasts adorn the dining table.  .

Thanksgiving is also a time to keep safety in mind both in and out of your home.  Whether you are traveling to see family and friends or will be hosting the Thanksgiving festivities in your home, there are a few things to keep in mind to help ensure you all have a safe Thanksgiving holiday.

If traveling outside of your home for the holiday you may want to take the following precautions.

  • Your best bet against burglary or vandalism while away from home is to have a monitored home security system in case of any emergency.  For even greater piece of mind you can use a home automation system like MyHome from My Alarm Center that will allow you to completely monitor and control your home while away.
  • Do not post your travel plans on social media.  Criminals often use sites like Facebook to find who will be where.  If they see you are traveling out of town for the weekend, they will know that your home is vulnerable to a break-in.
  • Make sure the telephone ringer is turned all the way down.  This way no one outside of your home will hear repeated unanswered phone calls.  You might also consider reviewing your answering machine messages to make sure your messages do not let callers know you are away.
  • Have the post office stop mail delivery while you are away or have a neighbor that you trust collect the mail for you until you return.
  • Do not leave an extra key hidden outside of your home.  Seasoned burglars know where to look and chances are they can and will find it.
  • Set up timers on interior lights to turn them on and off during the evening to give the appearance of activity within the home
  • This last tip should go without saying, but be sure to lock and secure all windows and doors throughout your home.  Second story windows are commonly overlooked and the bad guys know this.  Be sure to lock all of them.

If you are the host for the Thanksgiving festivities, then there are a totally different set of precautions you should keep in mind to make sure the event is a safe and joyous occasion for everyone.  Most of the safety tips we offer are meant for the heart of the home during Thanksgiving… the kitchen.

  • Accidents can happen so we first suggest keeping a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and make sure everyone involved knows where it is and how to use it.  You should also have a smoke alarm already installed in your kitchen since that is where the majority of home fires originate.
  • Cooking attire is also important for the chef and any kitchen assistants for the day.  Do not wear loose fitting clothes that could catch fire from an open flame.  You should wear short sleeves or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • It is a good idea to always have an adult in the kitchen while the stove or oven is on.  Not only can you keep an important dish from burning, but you can also keep an eye out for anyone getting too close to hot surfaces or other dangers in the kitchen.
  • Have a short talk with the kids.  Make sure they know they should stay at least 3 feet away from the stove.  They should also be kept clear of any hot liquids and food.  Hot gravy or the steam from the vegetables can cause serious burns.
  • With children in mind again, be sure that all sharp knives are kept out of their reach.  You should also keep all electric cords out of their reach as well.  Coffee makers, plate warmers, mixers and electric knives can be dangerous if pulled off the counter by little ones.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from open flames or the stove top.  This includes items such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, pot holders, paper or plastic bags or other food packaging that could catch fire.
  • Regularly clean cooking surfaces to avoid unnecessary grease build-up.  Grease fires are some of the most common kitchen fires.
  • After you have finished cooking the Thanksgiving feast, be sure that the stove and other cooking appliances have been turned off

We hope that these simple safety tips will keep you, your family and friends safe for the upcoming holiday season.  Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at My Alarm Center!

Safety Tips for Frying a Turkey

by Tammy November 25, 2014

11.25

If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner and frying a turkey, then this blog post is quite valuable to you.

The number one cause of Thanksgiving Day accidents involves frying a turkey. While frying your turkey may result in an outstanding meal, it’s also ripe with danger.

Here are a few tips to keep you and your dinner guests safe while frying a turkey.

  • Always fry a turkey outside.  Never attempt to use a turkey fryer inside of your home, in your garage or even out on a wooden deck or near any combustible surface.  It is advisable to keep the fryer at least 15 feet away from your home.  Make sure you set it up on a dry, level surface.
  • Use a thermometer to keep your oil around 350 degrees.  Oil that gets too hot can release combustible fumes that can ignite or explode.
  • Always make sure that the turkey is completely thawed and toweled down to remove any additional moisture from the turkey.  Ice or water that comes into contact with the hot oil will cause a flare up.
  • Never operate a turkey fryer if the weather is bad.  High winds, rain or snow means you will have to use an alternative cooking method.
  • Do not overfill the oil basin.  Too much oil will overflow and could possibly ignite from the burners.  It is best to fry a smaller turkey for this reason.  8-10 lb. turkeys work best.  Try to avoid frying a turkey over 12 lbs.  Your turkey fryer should have a max oil level mark located inside the oil basin.
  • It is a good idea to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes and oven mitts to protect your arms and hands from any oil spillage.
  • Turn off the burner before you lower the turkey into pre-heated oil.  Lower the turkey very slowly to avoid flare ups.  There is bound to be a small amount of oil flare up when the fresh turkey hits the hot oil.  Lowering the turkey slowly will help minimize this.  Turn the burners back on after the turkey is fully submerged and oil flare ups are not an issue.
  • Never leave a turkey fryer unattended.  Keep a fire extinguisher close by and keep all children far away from the fryer at all times.
  • Once the cooking is complete be sure to shut off the burners, cover the oil basin and keep it on a level surface to cool.  The oil will remain hot for quite a while so be sure all children and adult guests keep a safe distance.

We hope that these safety tips on frying your Thanksgiving turkey will help you to have a happy holiday and safely assist you in presenting a mouth-watering turkey for your holiday meal.

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