As the seasons change, so should your precautionary measures to ensure your home security system is up to the task of protecting your home, your valuables and, your family. Weather changes and the holiday season mean no risks for your security, but with a few simple safety checks and updates, you can make sure you’ve done your part in preparing for fall and winter security needs.
Here are a few tips on what you can do to prepare your home for better security this time of year.
Make Sure Your Smoke and Fire Alarm Equipment is Working Properly
Fall is typically the time of year when temperatures go down, and people look for ways to warm up inside. Fires in fireplaces and the additional use of heaters and heating systems means that the potential for an in-home fire greatly increases.
And, with the holiday season, out come holiday decorations and Christmas trees – more fire-friendly elements inside and outside of the home. If a fire were to start, trees and decorations could accelerate a fire leading to a big problem.
In the event of a fire, your smoke and fire alarm equipment could mean the difference between life and death and thousands of dollars in property damage. To start, check that you have sufficient and up-to-date smoke and fire alarm equipment. Then make sure your equipment is working correctly, by testing all smoke alarms in your home and replacing batteries that are low. Also, make sure you have working fire extinguishers strategically placed throughout your home for easy and immediate access if something were to happen.
Ensure Exterior Lighting and Monitoring is Installed Correctly
As the holidays approach, thieves look for more opportunities to score quick wins and theft of packages or easy entry into homes. Homes with poor or limited exterior lighting are good targets for theft. If it’s easy to get in and out undetected, packages are much more likely to get stolen off your porch or within easy access for quick break-ins.
Protect your property and your loved ones by doing a complete walkaround of your house at night to make sure you aren’t an open target for potential crime. Identify dark spots and unmonitored areas to see if you need to update or add exterior lights to deter theft.
If you haven’t already, you may also look into a front door camera, like the Skybell Pro, or surveillance cameras for the front, back, or sides of your home. Security cameras provide significant home security benefits, more so than just theft deterrence.
Let Neighbors and Loved Ones Know Your Travel Plans, But Don’t Advertise When You’ll Be Out of Town Online
This seems like common sense, but people are typically busier this time of year and can easily forget that a seemingly harmless Facebook check-in or Instagram post can alert home invaders to an empty house and good opportunity.
Potential thieves are smart, and they will use social media and online monitoring to know when you’re out of town and when your home is ripe for a break-in.
Be Internet savvy, and don’t give criminals an opportunity to target you by letting them know where you and your family are. You can still post the photos on social, just wait until you’re back home.
Interested in learning how Fortress Security can help prepare your home or business for the coming months? Learn more about our services or contact us today to see how we can help.
Smoke Alarm Systems are Necessary
Fires have always been and will continue to be, a life-threatening danger. Since smoke alarms became legally required of all residences in 1973, fire- and smoke-related deaths and injuries have decreased significantly. However, it is vital to not just abide by the minimum legal requirements for protection from fire and smoke accidents. Smart consumers are using the latest technology and systems available to better protect their families and property.
What National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Statistics Show
Between 2010-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 358,300 home structure fires per year. This represents three-quarters of all structure fires during the period, and caused $6.7 billion in direct damage, or 69% of total direct damage from structure fires.
The most compelling statistic for necessitating an upgraded smoke alarm service, though, is that sixty-five percent of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no working smoke detectors.
Non-home structure fires, or most often fires in businesses and offices, accounted for more than 136,000 fires in 2015, resulting in 125 deaths, 1,925 injuries and $3,300,000,000 in property damage according to the NFPA.
Smoke Alarm Service Options
With a wide-range of DIY smoke alarm systems and installations and a variance of professionally managed and monitored fire prevention and smoke alarm systems available, homeowners and business owners have more options for protection than ever before. But, how do you know that the system you’re using is the best level of protection for your loved ones and your property?
The answer is that superior technology, reliability, and tested accuracy are the core components to look for in a smoke alarm system. Combined, these elements will provide the best level of defense against potential harm, or death, caused by fire and smoke.
Fortress’ smoke alarm systems utilize photoelectric smoke sensors built to respond immediately using optical sensing chambers and thermal heat sensing technologies. Our preferred hardwired smoke detectors from the InterLogix 500 series are fully compatible with an array of control panels. And, our preferred wireless smoke detector, the Honeywell 5806W3, is proven to provide the highest level of fire and smoke safety for your home or business.
Interested in learning how a new or updated smoke alarm system can work for your home or business? Learn more about our services or contact us today to see how we can help.
Knowing when it’s time to upgrade your home security system is an important part of keeping your family, business and property safe. However, life changes can often creep up on you, and you never know what precautions you need to take until it’s too late. Discover some of the top reasons our customers choose to upgrade and see if you’re in the same boat.
Your Equipment is Outdated
Start by making sure you aren’t using a security system still running on the 2G spectrum. If you are, that system is no longer capable of keeping your family secure because it is being phased out in favor of the newer, faster systems. The 2G devices will not contact emergency services because they no longer have a functional network to contact. (Note: If you are an existing customer, we have already reached out to you and had any units replaced.)
Next, determine if your security system is still working with your lifestyle. The latest alarm system technology lets your home stay more connected to you, and the authorities, than ever before. Your security system equipment should be able to communicate not only with first responders, through things like cameras with video alarm verification capability, but also with you through your smartphone and smartphone apps that notify you immediately if the security of your home is at risk.
Upgrades or Additions to Your Home
Have you recently replaced any doors or windows in your house? Or, maybe you’ve added a room or redesigned the exterior of your home? Any home improvements or updates you’ve done to your house could warrant an overhaul to how your security system works and the best placement for sensors or cameras.
New Family Members in the House
Maybe you’ve recently moved your elderly mother into the home, and her eyesight isn’t great. You could make it easier on her and yourself with a larger, more visual experience of the Honeywell Tuxedo panel. Also, if you’re dealing with a loved one that has memory problems, a security camera would allow you to check in on them from time to time to ensure they haven’t fallen or decided to leave the house unexpectedly.
Additionally, if you’ve welcomed a new child into the home, you’ll want to keep a closer eye on them with a security camera — accessible from wherever you are thanks to Honeywell Total connect.
Crime Has Increased in the Neighborhood
Has a recent wave of crimes hit your area, and no one has caught footage of the thieves? Be the hero of your neighborhood and add a surveillance camera to your property to capture footage that you can send to your neighbors on the Next Door app along with the local authorities. In the process, you’ll keep would-be criminals from picking your house as an easy target. It’s a win-win situation because they know if they hit your home, the footage is going to end up online, and the last thing they want to do is get caught!
If you need an upgraded home security system, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help you pick the upgrades to solve life’s little changes and challenges.
Home Safety Checklist for Buying a New Home
Making a move is always a stressful process. But, when you find the next perfect home for you and your family, the excitement overtakes the stress, and suddenly you can’t move fast enough. An amazing floor plan, great location, and fantastic schools- this is the house for you! Before you make this major purchase, though, don’t overlook your new home’s security. It’s always a good idea to thoroughly vet the home’s safety features. A few questions to ask to know what you’re buying into are: what kind of home security system does the house have?; If it doesn’t currently have one, can a security system easily be added? Can the home security system easily be upgraded to add home automation? If major upgrades are necessary, is that something that can be included in negotiations of your new home?
Below is a home safety checklist to help you ask these questions and more, and make an informed decision on the safety profile of your new home.
Home Security System and Automation
Statistics have repeatedly shown that a security system is the single best home invasion deterrent. The home you are looking at might already have one, and if so, check it out and see if it is up to par. First, find the location of all the motion sensors, does the placement both inside and outside of the home make sense? If not, consider adding more. Also, all doors and windows should have sensors to let you know when they’re opened or closed. Make sure big windows also have glass-breaking sensors. If not, that is also an easy add-on. Video cameras both visible and hidden are great safety features. Smart home automation can allow you to watch the surveillance video from virtually anywhere. Other smart home upgrades are also worth looking into when you are improving a house’s safety features. For example, imagine one hectic morning you forgot to turn on the alarm before you left for work. Rest easy. An app on your smart phone can let you turn on your system from afar. Or, a simple text from a smart app can let you know someone is at your door, and you can view the live video feed either from your home or from somewhere else. Smart locks can help you make sure the door is locked, or you can let your housekeeper in and out without having to give them a key. Smart home upgrades are an easy and affordable way to ensure safety at your new home. According to Consumer Reports, smart devices can also increase your home’s value, on average bumping up 3-5%. Learn about easy, smart home upgrades here.
Use Online Tools
There are many online tools to help you vet the safety of the neighborhood. Spotcrime.com is one of the most popular crime tracking sites. Simply enter an address and the website will use data it’s gathered from law enforcement agencies, and the news, to tell you what crimes have been committed in the area. Get a comprehensive list of registered sex offenders in an area through familywatchdog.us. Nextdoor.com is also a great site to join and browse the crime and safety section of the neighborhood you are considering. This online community forum will give you direct access to the news, opinions and concerns of residents in your neighborhood. Of course, a good real estate agent should have some good information regarding crime in the area, and you can always call the local police precinct and get statistics.
Love the landscaping at the new potential house? That’s great, but you should take a close look at safety concerns. Make sure it is not too overgrown. The bushes and trees should be trimmed, especially near windows or doors where burglars can hide. If they aren’t trimmed up, make sure it is in your budget or easy to do once you make the purchase.
It’s All About the Lighting
You also want to check the outdoor lighting. Is there a working porch light? Is the perimeter of the outside of the house well lit? Are motion detection lights in areas that need it, outside the garage and back door? Check out the house at night if possible and see if there are areas you see that need lights added. If so, can lights and motion sensors easily be added?
All Systems Go?
Inside the house, you want to make sure all the electrical systems are up to date. Outdated electrical systems can put your house at risk for a fire. Gas appliances that don’t properly work can leave you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. You want to make sure that during your home inspection all the mechanical systems are checked out and are functioning properly and up to current code.
Keep it Solid
You want all exterior doors to be metal or solid wood. If there is glass screen door, you want to make sure it’s reinforced glass so it can’t be easily broken. Do the doors open and shut well and have good locks? Deadbolt locks at least 1 inch long can provide great protection. Do the windows have locks to keep criminals out? On the flip side, can the windows be opened in case of emergency?
Say Howdy to the Neighbors
After all of that, still interested in purchasing that home? Get out and talk to the neighbors. Do they seem like they would be good neighbors? Are they friendly, available and aware? Good neighbors watch out for each other. They keep an eye on each other’s houses too. If someone suspicious is walking down the alley, you will probably get an advisory call. Another great way to assess safety in a neighborhood is to check out the community space. Is the green space cared for well? Is there a sense of pride and visible upkeep in the area? This all shows that people value their neighborhood and its safety.
A well-protected home provides a great sense security and peace of mind. Fortress Security offers all the security features you need to make sure your new home keeps you safe and sound. Give us a call or fill out an online form to request a free quote today.
The lights are hung, the tree is up, the candles are flickering. The holidays are meant to be merry and bright, yet, there are so many hidden fire dangers during this time of year. Fires are more common and more deadly now than during any other season. According to the American Red Cross, nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays, claiming more than 500 lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries, and costing $554 million in property damage. Don’t let your house become a fire statistic. Consider these ways to keep you family and home safe through the New Year.
Candle fires are 4x as likely to occur in December as any other month of the year. They set the tablescape, and their warm flickering glow puts you in the holiday spirit. But, when it comes to open flames, you can never be too careful. Never leave a candle unattended. Also, make sure your candles are on a steady base and have a protective glass covering around them (like a votive holder or a hurricane for larger candles). Place them a foot away from anything else so they don’t catch other decorations on fire. Make sure they are out of children’s reach. Kids are drawn to fire, so make sure your candles don’t become a fun “plaything” for the kids. And, after a holiday party or get together be sure to go through the whole house and make sure all candles are blown out.
Or, why not try an alternate to the traditional candle? The new LED candles come in all colors and shapes and flicker just like the real thing, without the worry.
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Unseemly as it may be, home burglars treat their crime like a trade and take preparations long before breaking into a home. Selecting a target is their first step. So how do thieves decide which house to rob and which to pass up?
Burglars Look For:
Open blinds. Don’t put your electronics, jewelry box, or extra car keys on display for anyone who looks through your windows. By being able to map out where everything is located, a thief knows he can plot out break-in and get valuable items. Close the blinds, particularly in rooms with expensive possessions.
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Once we have children, protecting their health and safety becomes a driving force in our lives. A home security system is an important part of that, but there are plenty of other steps we can take as well. From newborns to teenagers, these safety tips for children will help you keep your kids safe and secure. Read More »