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The 10 Most Compelling Reasons to Install a Monitored Home Security System

Every homeowner has the desire to safeguard their family and property. New homeowners seem to be particularly concerned about security, especially those that are unfamiliar with the area to which they have recently moved. Even if the neighborhood is an upgrade from their prior location, no community is totally immune to crime or vandalism.

Because buying a home is such a major expenditure, some new homeowners are tempted to put off certain projects, like installing a security system, until a later time. If the urgency to implement security measures has begun to inch downward on your list of priorities, just remember that by the time you finish reading this article about 12 more homes will have been broken into somewhere in the US.

Below are ten compelling reasons to install a monitored security system in your home…

1) Protects your home and family around-the-clock

A professionally-monitored security system provides continuous protection for your family, home and possessions. The 24/7 monitoring helps guard against burglaries, home invasions, and other devastating crimes. You can also use the system to request immediate assistance in the event of a medical emergency. Unlike an unmonitored system or a self-monitored system, a monitored system has someone available around the clock to assist with any urgent situation that may arise.

2) Provides peace of mind

Adding a monitored security system to your home provides a strong layer of defense, and knowing you are taking the proper steps to protect your household and belongings provides a tremendous sense of well-being. In fact, peace of mind is one of the greatest benefits a monitored security system brings to you and your family. If a break-in, home invasion, or other emergency should ever occur, you are only seconds away from getting the help you need.

3) Acts as a strong visual deterrent

If a home is secure, you also want it to look secure. One of the most effective visual deterrents is the use of warning notices. Almost all security system providers offer yard signs as well as decals for windows and doors. These should be placed so they can be seen from all approaches to the home, not just the front. By alerting potential thieves and intruders that your home is equipped with a monitored security system, chances are they will decide to target an unprotected home instead. Also, if your security system includes exterior surveillance cameras, those will also provide a strong visual deterrent to a break-in attempt.

4) Audible alarm to scare off would-be intruders

Home security systems use a variety of sensors to detect unlawful access through a door or window. If entry is attempted, the system can emit a loud alarm as well as initiate a call to the authorities. In most cases, potential intruders will flee from the blaring sound of an alarm to avoid being identified and apprehended. In addition to deterring intruders from gaining access to your home, the alarm also alerts the entire household of an attempted break-in.

5) Summons police, fire department, or ambulance on your behalf

A monitored security system will initiate contact to emergency personnel on your behalf.  If an alarm gets triggered on a monitored security system, an alert signal will be transmitted instantly to your service provider’s central monitoring station. Your service provider will then dispatch the appropriate authorities to your residence. Some providers may attempt to contact you to confirm details before dispatching first responders to your home, but as soon as the emergency is confirmed, or if you don’t respond, first responders will be immediately dispatched.

6) Includes a panic button for medical and other emergencies

Most monitored security systems offer a panic button, which allows you and your family to summon immediate help from within your home. In addition to alerting the authorities to any unlawful activity, a panic button can be used to call for help in the event of a fire, a fall, medical issue or any other emergency that requires immediate assistance. Pressing the button will alert your service provider of an urgent situation so they can notify the authorities. Also known as a duress alarm, a panic button works as fast or faster than calling 911, which is particularly helpful if you are unable to speak or get to a phone. Panic buttons are available as a portable remote to carry on your person or they can be mounted anywhere in the home.

7) Upgrade features can monitor for smoke, CO levels, and more

A home security system helps protect against intruders and break-ins, but many systems offer upgrade features that can provide monitoring for fire and smoke, carbon monoxide, water leaks, and other harmful occurrences.  As soon as the system recognizes a problem, the service provider will be instantly notified in order to get help on the way. Early detection of these potential dangers not only helps warn you and your family members, it can also limit damage to the home.

8) Potential for discounted insurance premiums

Insurance companies recognize that security systems provide a safer environment for your household. Hence, most insurance companies will discount the premiums of the homeowner policy for homes equipped with a professionally-monitored security system. The amount of the discount varies according to the level of protection installed at the home. Check with your insurance provider for available discounts.

9) Optional cameras provide remote surveillance

In addition to sensors that detect motion, glass breaking, or the opening of doors and windows, many systems offer the option of surveillance cameras. Cameras allow you to remotely view areas of your home when you’re not there, through a smartphone or other device. You can watch real-time video, day or night, to ensure your household is safe. Plus, if your system has the ability to store video, footage can be recorded and viewed at a later time. This feature can provide valuable evidence in the event a crime, vandalism, or similar offense should ever occur.

10) Much more affordable than you might think

Fortunately for homeowners, there is a home security system available to fit just about every budget. The installation fee is usually low and many providers provide the equipment free or at minimal cost if you sign up for monthly monitoring. The monthly monitoring is reasonable too, especially when compared to the cost of not having a system…the threat of physical harm, the emotional toll of being a crime victim, or the monetary and sentimental value of stolen belongings. Plus, as mentioned under item #8 above, a monitored security system will likely qualify you to receive a discount on your homeowners insurance.

To get the most value from a home security system, investing in professional 24/7 monitoring is the best option. After all, you don’t want to be left on your own in the event of a dangerous situation or medical emergency.

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Moving into a New Home? Here’s 8 Things to Replace Right Away

Once you sign the purchase contract and have the keys, you’re well on your way to enjoying life in your new home. And because you want to get off to a fresh start, there are several things in the home you should consider replacing right away.

Below is a list of eight items that most new homeowners replace as soon as possible. Some of these things should be replaced for safety and security reasons, others for hygiene reasons.  Fortunately, everything on this list is relatively inexpensive to change out…

1) Exterior Locks – One of the first things to do in a new home is to change all the entry door locks. This includes garage doors and sliding doors. After all, you don’t really know who might have been given a key at some point in the past. Also, be sure to reprogram the codes for garage door openers, alarm systems, gates and so on. This will help prevent unauthorized entry and provide peace of mind to you and your family.

2) Smoke Alarm Batteries – Another important thing to do when moving into a new house is to replace the batteries in all smoke alarms. This will ensure the batteries are fresh. Test the unit immediately after installing the new batteries so you know they are seated correctly. Also, if you aren’t sure how long a smoke alarm has been in the home, you should replace the entire unit. Most smoke detectors only have a lifespan of 8-10 years.

3) Fire Extinguishers – A fire extinguisher can help you fight a small fire. But just because a fire extinguisher is present does not mean it will function properly. Like smoke alarms, household fire extinguishers have a limited life. Not knowing the age of an extinguisher, or if it is fully charged, is a good reason to replace it. Be prepared. Don’t let a fire get out of hand because the extinguisher didn’t work.

4) Flexible Dryer Duct – Flexible ducts, such as those made of foil or vinyl, can trap lint from the dryer. Every year, thousands of house fires start as a result of the lint build-up in flexible ducts. If your new home has a flexible vent duct for the clothes dryer, you should replace it with a rigid aluminum duct. Unlike a flexible duct, a rigid aluminum duct has a smooth interior surface which minimizes the accumulation of lint.

5) Toilet Seats – It is purely a matter of personal choice, but many new homeowners feel more comfortable replacing the toilet seats in a pre-owned home (as well as the toilet brush and plunger). After all, removing the old toilet seat is really the only way to thoroughly clean and disinfect the area where the seat mounts to the toilet. Rather than reinstalling an old seat after the porcelain has been cleaned, it is just as easy to replace the seat with a new one.

6) Shower Head and Shower Curtain – Because a home’s shower area is warm and moist, it provides the perfect environment for bacteria and mildew to thrive. As such, a shower head and shower curtain can actually harbor an abundance of germs…substantially more than any toilet seat. So unless the shower head and curtain are obviously sparkling new, it is wise to upgrade these two items as soon as you are able to do so.

7) Throw Rugs and Bath Mats – Low-lying textiles such as rugs and mats are subject to a variety of unpleasant spills and splatters. This is particularly true if the prior household had pets or small children. Not knowing what stains or “accidents” the porous fibers may have been subject to, it is often better to simply discard these smaller floor coverings and replace them with new ones.

8) Furnace Filter – There are so many things to do when moving into a new home that it is easy to forget about the furnace filter. This filter should be changed regularly because a dirty filter will make your furnace and air conditioner work harder to draw in air. This puts a strain on your system and wastes energy. A new filter is not only inexpensive, it only takes a few minutes to install.

It is natural to feel overwhelmed as you adjust to your new surroundings. Moving into a new house is exciting, but there is also so much to do. Luckily, all of the items in the above list can be replaced rather easily. This will provide a good starting point before tackling other projects around the house.

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Here’s 7 Reasons Why Doorbell Cameras Are So Popular

Doorbell cameras have become an increasingly popular choice for residential security. You have likely seen news stories about burglary attempts, home invasions, package theft and other crimes against homeowners. Much of the security footage that accompanies these news reports has been captured by doorbell cameras.

Doorbell cameras are relatively small, unobtrusive cameras mounted near the entrance of a home. As the name implies, these units function as a security camera as well as the doorbell.

Home security doorbells are available as hardwired or battery-powered models. Also, most include a motion sensor, two-way communication, and the ability to view real-time video on a smartphone or other device.

Safeguarding one’s home and family is a top priority of most people. With that in mind, below are seven reasons to consider installing a doorbell camera as part of your home protection system…

1) Less obtrusive than traditional security cameras

Traditional exterior security cameras, like the dome or bullet styles, protrude from their mounting surface and are instantly noticeable. As such, they provide a strong visual deterrent. However, many homeowners would prefer not to have these bulky and conspicuous cameras positioned around their front porch or entryway. For those that share this concern, a doorbell camera is a good choice because it is much smaller in scale and mounts flush. Many models resemble a typical doorbell. Thus, doorbell cameras can provide security without disturbing the aesthetics of the home.

2) Offers the convenience of two-way communication

Most doorbell camera systems offer two-way audio. For example, if someone rings your doorbell, you can communicate through a speaker without having to physically go to the door. Even if you aren’t home at the time, you can remotely access the speaker through a smartphone or tablet. This feature gives the impression you are at home. By keeping visitors unaware that you are not actually present, it discourages unauthorized entry and other misdeeds.

3) Produces high-quality video

Video quality largely depends on the resolution of a particular system, but most of the doorbell cameras on the market today are capable of providing high-quality video surveillance. Real-time video can be viewed via smartphone or tablet, wherever you happen to be. Doorbell cameras can detect motion and will send you an alert when activity occurs. This allows you to react accordingly, whether that means communicating via the two-way speaker or contacting the authorities. In addition to watching real-time video remotely, some systems have a feature that allows video to be recorded and stored for future review. Depending on the system, the video could be stored locally or in the cloud.  Should a crime occur, video evidence can aid the police as well as support any insurance claims.

4) Includes night vision capabilities  

Unless you know who is on the other side, it is usually a wise practice not to open the door. This is especially true after dark. Plus, many crimes and acts of vandalism are perpetrated at night. Most doorbell cameras will switch to infrared night vision mode as darkness approaches, still allowing you to monitor who is at the door. Even though daytime images will be in color, most doorbell cameras will generate monochrome images in low-light conditions.

5) Allows you to screen every visitor to your home

Doorbell cameras allow you to screen everyone who comes to your door, in real time. Because the built-in motion detector provides instant alerts whenever someone approaches, you can respond quickly and appropriately. This way you won’t miss friends, family members, service providers, delivery drivers or other expected visitors. If the person turns out to be an uninvited visitor, such as a solicitor or other stranger, you can save the time and effort of going to the door by either ignoring them or conversing through the camera’s speaker.

6) Helps monitor deliveries and combat package theft

Since a doorbell camera can be set to alert you when someone approaches the front of the house, you will know when a delivery driver drops off a parcel. On a related note, a doorbell camera can also help combat opportunistic “porch pirates” who steal unattended packages off porches and front steps. Some of these thieves even follow delivery trucks through neighborhoods to see where packages are placed. Being alerted to an approaching box bandit will allow you to confront them over the speaker system and/or quickly call the police. Valuable evidence can also be gathered if your system is configured to store video. The recorded incident will prove helpful as you attempt to identify the perpetrator and recover any stolen property.

7) Provides a visual deterrent 

According to FBI statistics, over a third of unlawful entries are made through the front door. While the average person might not notice that the front doorbell is also a sophisticated camera, those with nefarious intent will likely be on the lookout for such a device and will be able to recognize it as a camera. Not wanting to be seen on video, thieves and vandals would rather leave the property and target an unprotected home instead. By the way, the doorbell camera’s field of vision is an important factor in capturing activity outside the door. For best results, install a doorbell camera that has a wide viewing angle so it can observe the areas on either side of the door in addition to straight ahead.

One of the primary responsibilities of home ownership is protecting your family and property. A home security system is one of the most prevalent ways to guard against criminal activity and malicious mischief. Doorbell cameras are a popular addition to a home security system.

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Three Causes of Household Fires that May Surprise You

When we think about the various causes of accidental fires, things like faulty wiring, portable heaters, and unattended candles easily come to mind. But there are also some surprising causes of house fires. Below are three things you probably never suspected as being fire hazards…

1) Batteries

It is a rare occurrence, but discarded household batteries – specifically 9-volt batteries – can lead to fires. When tossed into a waste can, these batteries can generate a spark if the terminals come in contact with a piece of steel wool, foil, or other conductive material. If a combustible substance is also present, a dangerous fire can ensue.

To prevent batteries from becoming a fire hazard, insulate the terminals by covering them with tape or seal the batteries in a plastic bag before discarding them. Some states do not even allow batteries to be discarded in the trash. If in doubt, check with your local municipality for the recommended way to get rid of old batteries.

2) Potting Mix

Another surprising fire hazard is potting mix. It appears harmless, but potting mix contains very little soil, if any. It usually consists of organic matter such as peat or composted bark, which can be flammable when dry. Many potting mixes also contain fertilizer, which can actually contribute to a faster-burning fire.

To further compound the risk, many smokers attempt to extinguish cigarettes in flower pots, mistakenly thinking the “soil” will not burn. However, a lit cigarette placed into a container of dry potting mix can smolder for a long time…and has the potential to burn down the entire house. If you or any of your visitors smoke, avoid putting out cigarettes in gardening pots. Also, don’t keep any containers or bags of dried potting mix in the same proximity as barbeque grills or fire pits.

3) Bird Nests on Porch Lights

It is not uncommon for birds to build a nest atop outdoor lighting fixtures, particularly porch lights, coach lights or spot lights mounted to a home’s exterior wall. Most birds build their nests from dry grass, twigs, leaves and other combustible materials. Certain types of light bulbs, particularly incandescent or halogen bulbs, produce a lot of heat which can ignite the nesting material.

Despite the mess and unsightliness of bird nests, many homeowners leave them alone because they don’t want to disturb the birds or eggs. The federal Migratory Bird Act actually protects many species of birds, including wrens and robins, from having their nests destroyed if they contain young birds or eggs. However, it is not a violation to prevent birds from building their nest in the first place, either by removing the beginnings of a nest or otherwise making the site inaccessible or undesirable. It is also safe to remove an inactive nest. Keeping nests off outdoor lights will help prevent a damaging fire.

Who would have thought these three ordinary items could initiate a blaze? Granted, it doesn’t happen very often, but these common everyday things do occasionally lead to fires. Now that you know about these potential hazards, hopefully you will take the necessary precautions to prevent them from contributing to an accidental house fire.

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