Lighten Up the Winter Darkness

After you take the Christmas lights down, does your home seem dark?

When you turn into your driveway, your home seems cold and dreary. It’s winter in North Carolina, but your home can be safe, secure, and cozy during these blustery months.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn on the lights of your choice, crank up the heat and even unlock your door from the comfort of your warm car or office? You can do all this and more using the Resideo Total Connect App on your phone at any time from anyplace!

Once inside, turning on your fireplace and lighting a few candles can add a warm, calming ambiance for you and your family as dinner is prepared and the day’s adventures discussed. For that extra feeling of serenity, your security system monitors your home 24/7 for intruders, fire, and smoke. Whether at home or away, your monitored system will notify you and the fire or police department will be dispatched to provide assistance. Many insurance companies give homeowners a discount for a monitored security system with monitored smoke alarms.

With all this convenience and security, the winter evening becomes a sanctuary for you and your family to unwind, relax and prepare for the next day. But winter weather shifts dramatically in North Carolina, and the next day could bring cold temperatures, snow or worse, ice, so it’s best to be prepared. 

Here is our easy-to-follow checklist for ensuring your safety in times of extreme winter weather:

Have an emergency kit well supplied and readily accessible to all members of the family. It should have:

  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
  • Sand/Kitty litter for better tire traction. (Having a bag in your trunk is ideal.)
  • Rock salt, or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways.
  • If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood.
  • Have enough clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Keep a supply of water and necessary staple foods on hand.

Make a family communications plan. Your family may not be together when extreme weather strikes, so know how you will get in touch with each other, how/where to get back together, and what each person is expected to do in an emergency.

 Bring pets inside during cold, dark wintery weather and ensure they have enough water in case you get delayed.

 Set your phone for emergency weather alerts.

 If you must travel, be sure you have a full tank of gas, a spare blanket, snack bars and water. Of course, always carry a fully stocked First Aid kit in your car no matter what the season.

Winters in North Carolina can be a challenge at times, but with a little preparation, and the security of Total Contact installed by Secur-Tek, Inc. it can also be a cozy time to share with family and friends. So, live in the moment and enjoy the change of seasons!

If you have any questions on monitored fire detectors or security systems for your home, please call Secur-Tek, Inc at 919-387-1800 fill out the form below.

Six Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Security Company

Installing and monitoring a security system is an effective way to keep your home, family, property, or business safe. It has been shown statistically that security systems can deter crime, however, the first thing you will want to do is thoroughly check out the Security company you’re thinking of doing business with.  

You can start your “due diligence” by getting answers to these questions:

Is the company you’re considering fully insured? A reputable/reliable security company will have insurance to protect all parties concerned.

Are their installers employees or contractors?  Does the company utilize their own employees, or do they use contracted help? Can they tell you who will be coming out to your home or business to work on your system? If you are having a system installed, the installers will have access to your entire home and its contents, so you want to feel comfortable with that situation. Therefore, you may want to make sure the security company has their own employees and that they go through an extensive background check. Background checks should include a complete criminal history, the sex offender list, and the employee should have multiple references.

Are the company and its employees licensed? In the State of North Carolina, any person, firm, or corporation engaged in an alarm system business needs to be licensed and all service and installation technicians need to be registered.

What is the company’s response time? If you need emergency assistance, or have a question or concern about your security, you shouldn’t have to wait for a response or be delayed in managing it. You want help as soon as possible. Too address this situation, does the company give you a specific contact person and/or is there customer service available 24/7?

How does the company document any security incidents or interactions that require your attention? Be familiar with the company’s policies and practices including logs and written reports. Insurance companies usually require this when you’re working with them on an incident. You should be able to acquire copies of those reports easily and when necessary.

Last but not leastgo over the fine print!  How much will my security system cost? What is the length of the monitoring contract? You will naturally ask these questions but be sure to confirm installation costs vs. product costs, service costs, monitoring fees and any other associated charges. Some companies advertise low-cost package deals but charges are added on during the process. Companies may lock you into long term contracts and you must pay even if you sell your home. Be careful!  

Getting the answers to these questions upfront can save you time, money and more importantly, give you and your family the peace of mind you are looking for.

If you are located here in the Raleigh NC, Apex NC or the Triangle, and looking for help analyzing and determining your security requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Secur-Tek, Inc. is locally owned, and our technicians are employees. We can design and install the right system for your situation in a cost-effective, timely manner.

 

Carbon Monoxide in The Home — A Hidden Danger!

Carbon monoxide (CO) is harmful because it deprives the heart, brain, and other vital organs of oxygen. Large amounts of CO can overcome a person in minutes, causing them to lose consciousness and suffocate. Since CO has no odor, color, or taste, it cannot be detected by the senses. This means that dangerous concentrations of the gas can build up indoors and humans cannot detect the problem until they become ill. Furthermore, the early symptoms of CO poisoning are like the flu, which can cause victims to ignore the signs. The most common symptoms felt are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

Per the CDC, each year more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized. 

 

What are the potential sources of CO in your home?

Homes with fuel-burning appliances or attached garages are more likely to have CO accumulation problems. Some common sources of CO are:

  • Clothes dryers
  • Water heaters
  • Furnaces
  • Fireplaces, both gas, and wood-burning
  • Gas stoves and ovens
  • Motor vehicles
  • Grills, generators, power tools, lawn equipment
  • Wood stoves
  • Tobacco smoke

When appliances and vents work properly and there is enough fresh air in your home to allow complete combustion, the trace amounts of CO remaining are safely vented outside your home. Problems occur when an appliance malfunctions. For example, a furnace heat exchanger cracks, vents clog, or debris blocks the chimney or flue.

What can you do to ensure the safety of your family, pets, and friends?

  • Install a CO alarm as recommended by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA). Install a battery-operated or a plugin alarm with battery back-up on every level of the home – including the basement. Consider buying a detector with a digital readout. This detector can tell you the highest level of CO concentration in your home. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall and replace your CO detector every five years.
  • Inspect the pilot lights on natural gas appliances to ensure that the flame is blue. When a flame is mostly yellow, it likely is producing CO.
  • When you buy gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories, and have it serviced by a qualified technician each year.
  • Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly. Horizontal vent pipes for appliances, such as a water heater, should angle up slightly. This prevents CO from leaking even if the joints or pipes don’t fit tightly.
  • If you have a fireplace, have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be partially blocked by debris and this can cause CO to build up inside your home.
  • Don’t use outdoor equipment inside – like chemical heaters, camp stoves, or charcoal grills.
  • Never use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.
  • Never leave a car running in a garage — even for a couple of minutes with the overhead garage door open.

Protecting your Family 24/7 —  Monitored CO detection

Adding a monitored CO detector outside the bedrooms ensures that the fire department will be called — even if everyone is asleep or drowsy due to the lack of oxygen. When notified of a CO leak, the fire department will react differently than if responding to a smoke alarm and the home will be searched for non-responsive individuals.

A Secur-Tek security system has a backup battery to maintain security and detection for 20-24 hours if fully charged during the event of a power failure. Your keypad will display when the battery needs to be replaced. For instructions on changing battery: Frequently Asked Questions about Home Security Systems (secur-tek.com)

Secur-Tek, Inc. gives you total confidence that your family is protected from CO poisoning 24/7, and we can also design, install, and monitor specialized monitoring systems to fit your specific needs.

Examples include:

  • Monitoring Children – If you have teenagers or children old enough to be home alone, remote access will allow you to be notified when they get home from school. You can use specialized security codes for each child as well as babysitters and view activity in the interior and exterior of your home for extra peace of mind.
  • Monitoring Elderly Parents – If you need to monitor an elderly parent, you can be notified when they get up out of bed, open the medicine cabinet or when there is no activity in the home.
  • Keeping an eye on Pets – Our technicians will put the cameras in places so you can check in on your pets. Temporary security codes for pet sitters will help give you greater peace of mind that your pet is doing okay.  
  • Detecting Water Leaks – When you are not home, even a slow leak can cause serious flooding and expensive damage.  Adding a water leak detector so you will be alerted if this happens can minimize the damage.  Our monitored smart system can even turn off a water shutoff to minimize damage.

Quality Monitoring

 For monitoring services, Secur-Tek partners with Affiliated Monitoring, a leader in the safety and security monitoring industry.

Affiliated Monitoring is certified by the following organizations:

  • CSAA Five Diamond Certified – The Monitoring Association Five Diamond Certificate signifies compliance and assurance that an alarm system has followed guidelines established by best-industry practice. The certificate recognizes best practices utilizing existing standards.
  • UL Listed — UL listed monitoring centers use the most up-to-date technologies.  UL is the trusted resource across the globe for product safety certification and compliance solutions. The UL Certificate is proof that Affiliated’s listed alarm systems meet the stringent standards of the UL.
  • IQ Certified – The IQ (Installation Quality) Certification Program gives consumers a way to identify alarm companies that are committed to providing them with high-quality security and life safety systems.

For more information, please call us at (919) 387-1800 or scroll down and use the form below.

Pet-Friendly Protection for your Home

Ever wonder what your pet is getting into while you’re at work?  Or wonder if they are doing something cute and you are missing it while you’re gone?  Wonder no more!

You can stay completely connected to your favorite furry friend by seeing, hearing, and talking to them whenever the mood hits you. Whether you are worried about them, or just need a break from your busy day, taking a few minutes to check-in on them and staying connected can make your day — and theirs go better.

With Resideo Total Connect Remote service, you can keep connected to your pet on an easy-to-use app — on your iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ device, or HTML5 website.

When custom installed by Secur-Tek, Inc. it will give both new and seasoned pet owners peace of mind by ensuring pets remain comfortable and safe when you are away from home.

With Secur-Tek’s Resideo Connect you can:

  • Check-in or talk to your furry friend anytime you want. If they look lonely or restless, distracting them by talking with them can be helpful and fun.
  • Have fun on social media — if your pet is doing something adorable or mischievous and you want to share it with your friends, you can take a screenshot or video of that activity.
  • Have increased peace of mind — monitor and talk with hired pet setters to ensure your special friend gets everything you want them to get. Or when you’re unexpectedly delayed, you can open locked doors for neighbors and friends to let your puppy out, feed, and play with them.
  • Ensure the safety of your pet and property — Total Connect can alert you, if you have detectors installed, for smoke, carbon monoxide, flooding water, or extreme temperatures. Additional precautions may include alerts for outside gates or certain cabinets containing chemicals being opened or left open.
  • Remotely adjust temperatures or lighting during the day and evening in the rooms your pet is located to ensure their continual comfort.

And, if you’re worried about the security sensors being set off by your pet – with Secur-Tek’s expert custom installation, you can rest easy in that the motion sensors can distinguish between your pet and intruder for pets (up to 80 lbs.) so Fido can roam freely around the house without tripping an alert.

Unleash your peace of mind with real-time alerts, live video, and best-of-breed solutions that help ensure the safety, health, and comfort of your pet.

The advantages of staying connected to your pet while away are many and varied, so let Secur-Tek help you think through this wonderful home/pet security advantage today!

To learn more, contact us at 919.387.1800  or fill out the form below.

Cellular Communicators — What are they and does yours need to be upgraded?

If you have a Security System, or are thinking of installing one, here’s what you need to know about cellular monitoring and its benefits.

What is the difference between a Wireless and Cellular Security SystemWhen you investigate purchasing or activating monitoring for a security system, you will hear the terms wireless and cellular used. So what is the difference? 

Wireless refers to the wireless connection between the security system sensors and the control  panel. Instead of wires, the connection is through radio waves.

Cellular refers to how the control panel communicates to your security monitoring company as well as your cell phone, tablet, or computer apps. In other words, a cellular-based security system uses the cellular network to connect to the monitoring station in case of an emergency. 

Cell Phone Technology Keeps Advancing: It is important to remember that home security is only as effective as its weakest link. While cellular alarm monitoring requires that you have a cellular communicator in your security system, the technology offers significant advantages over landline-based systems. Advantages include:

  • Cellular communicators are more stable. Cellular communicator-based systems use the same reliable network of cell towers as your mobile phone to communicate with the monitoring center. Security systems that rely on an internet connection lose monitoring communication in the event of an internet outage to your home. Landline-based home security systems have a physical connection which can be vulnerable to burglars, power outages, construction, and the elements (heavy snow or storms) that can sever the connection to your phone provider.
  • Remote monitoring – A great advantage of cellular communication is the option to monitor your home or business remotely. With an app you can add to your monitoring, you will be able to arm/disarm and manage security alerts, and the status of your secured property, even while you’re away.

Are you thinking about dropping your home phone line? Secur-Tek recommends using a cell communicator.  Cellular technology has progressed to the point where it is more secure than the traditional phone line. Additionally, it is more reliable than a digital Internet phone service or VOIP (Voice over Internet Phone Service) that requires constant power and is susceptible to network outages. Cellular monitoring works by installing a “cellular chip” or “module” connected to the Control Panel of the alarm system. This cellular device acts as the communicator between your alarm system and the monitoring station – that is why it is called a cellular communicator.

Cellular communicators function much like a cell phone that is specifically dedicated to your security system by communicating via cellular network data channels. In essence, the cellular communicator installed into the Control Panel of your alarm system acts as a connection to the “outside world”. Cellular communicators are dedicated solely to the security system, so they are not shared with any other service.

Do you need to update your current Cellular Communicator?  A cellular communicator connects with a specific cellular network. Cellular service providers are in the process of shutting down their older, non-LTE networks. As such, the new LTE cellular communicators will only connect with an LTE network tower. This cellular network is expected to remain active for many years. Companies such as Secur-Tek, Inc. that operate alarm monitoring platforms are aware of this. We are currently switching customers to LTE communicators for monitoring. While you can temporarily continue to use an older, non-LTE system  for alarm monitoring, once the associated cellular network is put out of service by the cellular service providers, the module will no longer work. So, the answer to the question above is YES — if you are using a non-LTE communicator, the clock is ticking!

We at Secur-Tek, Inc., have been working to keep our customers up to date.

All of our cellular customers requiring the upgrade should have received notifications with their monitoring invoices. Additionally, when a customer calls in for service, Secur-Tek, Inc. staff are reviewing the customer’s security features and recommending the communication upgrade be completed at the time of service. 

If you have any questions concerning your cellular communicator, we urge you to please contact us by website request or call our office at 919-387-1800.

Secur-Tek, Inc. is locally owned and operated in Apex, NC, offering home and business security and monitoring. Secur-Tek also provides automation, audio, and central vacuum systems to customers in the Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, and Pittsboro areas.

7 Safety Tips for Seniors

Family, home, and property are important to everyone. As we get older, sometimes it becomes difficult to feel confident that we can protect what’s dear to us. Whether due to mobility, health or a feeling of vulnerability, Senior Citizens can be safer and feel more confident to handle unforeseen circumstances if they follow these seven tips

Always check your home for signs of intrusion, before entering. If you notice your bushes/flowers trampled around the windows, a broken window, open door, or your garage door up – back away and call the police, let them check out the premises before you enter. They will be happy to help.

Furnish your home with doors constructed of metal or solid wood with a peephole so you can see out. Also, ensure your doors have deadbolts and protective security glass with privacy film if there is decorative glass near the door.

Add security film to large windows: Plexiglass or security film can make it more difficult for burglars to break-in. They are safer and often deter burglars from using windows as an entry point.

Never answer the door if you can’t see who is there. Never feel pressured to answer the door as they will leave a message or call if it is important. And always ask to see an ID BEFORE opening the door. For burglaries, nothing is easier than pushing right through an open door. Simply opening your door a crack to speak to a person on the other side may be all they need to get in and ransack your home and injure those inside.

Always keep a phone close by and make sure you have 911 on speed dial. When driving up to your home, answering the door, in the bathroom or moving from room to room, always have a phone nearby. If you hear a noise or feel threatened, stay put and immediately call 911 – speak loudly so potential intruders can hear you calling for help.

Leave valuable items out of sight. Never leave items such as laptops, tablets, purse/wallet, jewelry, or checkbooks where they can be easily seen from a window or door. Put them out of sight when answering the door. Keep them in a closet safe or fireproof lockbox when you are not using them. 

Additionally – consider an automated home security system customized for your needs. It is not expensive and can save your life, or at minimum ease your mind and keep you connected. You’ll want to choose the features that fit your situation. Here are some helpful options to consider:

  • Alert necklace or bracelet: In an emergency, your phone or alarm keypad may be too far away to reach safely and quickly. Using an alert necklace or bracelet, you can call for help without moving from where you are.
  • Medical alert:  Seniors can get help right away using an alert necklace or bracelet if they fall or have another serious medical incident rather than waiting to be found or struggling to reach a phone.
  • Automation and sensors: Getting an automated system means you can program the thermostat settings, lights and door locks on a timed schedule, relieving seniors from having to remember or move around the home multiple times a day to do these routine tasks. 
  • With remote access, active Seniors can check on their property (for example, to check if they remembered to close the garage door) or get alerts when something goes awry.
  • A smart video doorbell camera allows you to see, hear, and speak to the visitor at your door. Your exposure is minimized because you can have a conversation remotely without opening the door. Request the individual leave the package or information and after they leave at your convenience you can retrieve it.

Remote automation can also be set-up so caregivers, family members or security/medical personnel can monitor the activities and safety of Seniors at home. For example, a sensor on the medicine cabinet or a camera in the kitchen could be an unobtrusive way for the caregiver to remotely monitor key  activities.

 

At Secur-Tek, we take the time to understand your needs and help you design the system that is right for you. We also take the time to show you how it works until you are comfortable and confident in how it operates.

Thank you for reading these tips. If you are a Senior Citizen or are caring for elderly parents or relatives, please give us a call at (919)387-1800 so we can discuss how we can help!

Effective, Efficient Home Automation To Make Life Easier

 

Have you ever left for vacation, get down the road and then wonder if you closed the garage door?

Like the family in the video, you can help protect your family, property, and deliveries anytime from anywhere. Whether protecting from fire, flooding, break-ins, porch pirates (or noisy neighbors) – Secur-Tek’s Total Connect 2.0 integrated with the MyQ garage door app gives you mobile control of your security system and smart home devices.

So maybe you’re not going on vacation soon, but what if your “tween” daughter/son, parent or pet caretaker accidentally triggers the security system? You can check to make sure they are safe, then disarm it from wherever you are.

Or perhaps you receive a weekly or monthly wine or food box delivery? Instead of leaving it to sit out on your porch vulnerable to rain, sun, porch pirates, or allow a delivery person access to the inside of your home – you can remotely open the garage door for the delivery personnel, watch them deliver your goods, and then close the door when they leave.

If you have parents or pets in your care, you may want to check in on them with live video/talk. Finally, when away on vacation it is always comforting to know you receive alerts when events happen, such as extreme temperate changes, water leaks, motion detection or doors opening.

If you can relate to any of these situations read on!

It all begins when you have Secur-Tek add Total Connect 2.0 and the MyQ garage door app controls to your security system. Total Connect 2.0 integrated with MyQ garage door control enables you to:

  •  Arm or disarm your security system
  •  Unlock or lock doors
  •  Open and close your garage doors at will
  •  Turn lights off or on automatically or manually
  •  Adjust thermostat temperature settings
  • View live video and recorded clips from Total Connect cameras strategically placed externally/internally around your property. (calculated camera placement is critical for best coverage)
  • Receive important notifications – email and video alerts – on event/emergency activity
  • Connect with smart home products such as Amazon Alexa

Professional Installation keeps your security information safe while customers can change and add:

  • Security codes/passwords
  • Add optional: fingerprint or facial recognition ID for login
  • Set system and feature On/Off automation
  • Monitor functions and make changes, anytime anywhere though the app

For an added level of security, all system devices need to be installed, programmed and tested by a certified/background checked Secur-Tek technician while secured servers provide another level of protection against hacking.

Not looking to be Captian Kirk on the USS Enterprise? Just want to protect your family and property as cost-effectively and conveniently as possible?  At Secur-Tek, Inc. we listen to your needs and help you design the security and automation system that gives you just what you want and can use.

For more information on the Security System that is right for you, please call us at 919-387- 1800 or fill out the form below for a complimentary consultation.

Deck the Halls …. With a Security System?

Helping to Make Your Holiday Season Safe and Worry-Free!

The holidays are just around the corner and it’s a wonderful time of year! It’s a time to see friends, family or go on that nice relaxing vacation you’ve been looking forward to all year.

When traveling or staying home hosting visitors, have you ever been distracted by worries of safety and security?  Whether having packages delivered, wondering the garage door is closed, if the pet sitter remembered to feed the pets, or if a burglar “cased” our property and targeted our home – these thoughts can creep into our minds and detract from the joys of the season.

A smart home security system is a great way to control and monitor your home from a distance. Secur-Tek, Inc offers Skybell video doorbells and automated systems by Honeywell and Control 4 that can help to alleviate worries so you can enjoy your holiday.

Property damage:

            When you’re home, small problems like a leaky hot water heater are fairly easy to see and deal with. Leave home for a few days and even a slow leak can cause serious flooding and expensive damage. Or an open window could make your heater run continuously for the duration of your trip. With a monitored system installed by Secur-Tek, you will know if anything is going wrong at your property. We can warn you if you need to call a repair service or turn your thermostat down until the window is closed. Our smart system can even turn off a water shutoff to minimize damage. 

In addition, gas and smoke detectors can also be linked to your security system to maximize the protection for your family, property, and pets while at home or away. These detectors can notify authorities when there is an alarm condition as well as sounding an alert inside your home.

Package Thefts:

            Concerned about your online shopping being left on the doorstep while you are away? You should be: as well as being a target for porch pirates (see our blog https://secur-tek.com/beware-of-porch-pirates/ ) a package indicates that no one is home when potential thieves check out the neighborhood. For peace of mind, a doorbell or entryway camera can verify a delivery with one-way video. A smart security system can unlock your front door so a neighbor or authorized deliveryman can put the package inside. Once they’ve left your package inside, you can lock up again and relax. (See our blog on Doorbell cameras – uses and criteria: https://secur-tek.com/the-rundown-on-doorbell-cameras/

Pet monitoring – Is Fluffy OK?:

Ever wonder if your pet-sitter or neighbor remembered to feed, walk and play with your pets? How will you know? And what if they can’t get in? No worries: just give your pet caretaker a temporary security code so they can enter when needed. This dedicated code unlocks your door and can alert you when your sitter uses it. Should they lose or forget the code, you can always unlock the door yourself with your security app. If you want to see how or what your cute little pet is doing, (or what mischief the cat got into today) add cameras to your security system. Secur-Tek’s technician will put the cameras in places so you can check in on your pets and see for yourself!

Home Security:

Finally, as you travel about on the holidays, you can be assured your property is protected if a burglar should target your home. With a cost-effective Secur-Tek customized security system that monitors 24/7, it will notify the security professionals at our monitoring center, who immediately alerts your local police and fire department for you. This ensures a quick response to minimize any loss or damage if an unfortunate incident should happen.  

Smart home security is the way to eliminate many of the worries that creep into our minds during the holidays. Remote access allows you to be notified, view and control activity in the interior or exterior of your home at any time.

So have a happy and safe holiday season this season, while Secur-Tek takes care of your property, pets, and home.

For more information on the Security System that is right for you, please call or visit our website.

A Fall Back to School Checklist to Help Keep Your Children Safe

Fall is just around the corner. For those with children starting school, taking a few precautionary steps will help you and your children feel safer when they are home alone or coming and going with friends. To help you prepare, we have developed the following checklist, compiling information from many sources, including The Red Cross, Parent & Child Magazine, and Scholastic.com.

Test your security system. If you have a security system, test it to make sure it is working the way it should be. This a good time to review your security system password information/contact list and consider having your security system updated or monitored.

Have an emergency plan. Develop an emergency plan and talk it through with your child so they know what to do in case of fire, injury, or other emergencies. Review the emergency exits by drawing a map that outlines the best pathways to safety from each room in the house. Write the plan down and keep it in a central location. Make sure everyone in the household knows where it is. Then, hold a drill — sound the security alarm and practice what to do if it goes off. Your child should know to immediately get out of the house and call 911 from the safety of a neighbor’s house.

Post relevant phone numbers. Update your security contact list. This may include adding a new trusted neighbor, taking off students going away to college or moving out of the home. Post this list of emergency contacts in a prominent location. If children have approved access to smartphones or tablets, program this information into their speed dial numbers. You can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App so they’ll have instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies.

Ensure flashlights are in assessable locations around the house. Make sure your children know where they are and that the batteries are fresh.

 Inspect your home thoroughly for any safety risks.

  • Make sure that all of the smoke detectors are functioning properly.
  • Safely store all dangerous items like guns, knives, hand tools, power tools, razor blades, ammunition and other objects that might cause injury in a securely locked safe or chest. 
  • Put away and secure any prescription drugs.
  • Ensure potential poisons like detergents, polishes, pesticides, lighter fluid and lamp oils are stored in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children.

Always check in. Make it a rule that your child calls a parent (or another adult that you designate) or leaves a message as soon as s/he gets home. This can be the first step in a daily routine that includes exercise, homework, a snack, and some downtime. If your child is older, set ground rules for going places and inviting friends over.

Lock the doors. If the home has a monitored electronic security system, children should learn how to use it to enter and rearm it when home alone for extra protection. Security systems with remote access, like Honeywell Total Connect, allow parents to be notified and view activity in the interior and exterior of their home for extra peace of mind.

Review safe usage of their cell phone and/or the home’s landline. Your child shouldn’t answer the phone for just anyone, so set up guidelines. Tell them not to answer the phone if s/he doesn’t recognize the name or number. If you have a landline that doesn’t have caller ID, tell them to let every call go to voice mail.

 Take the same way home. Have them take the same route that you have designated to and from school every day. If your child walks, review each street that s/he uses. If they take a school bus, make sure they take it every day, even if offered a ride from a friend, unless previously agreed upon by you. Knowing the route allows you to predict how long it will take them to arrive home and to trace their steps if there is ever a problem.

Caution/Remind children:

  • Not to talk about being home alone in public or on social media.
  • Never tell someone on the telephone that the parents are not at home. Say something like “He or she is busy right now. Can I take a message?”
  • Never open the door to delivery people or service representatives. Either ignore the doorbell or ask them through the door to leave the package on the porch. If you install a Skybell with your security system, the system will alert you so you can see who is at the door.

Keep them busy. Although a child needs some downtime to rest and rejuvenate, your child will be less likely to get into­ trouble if s/he’s occupied with homework, practicing music, and chores. Review what they have accomplished and give them feedback when you get home. Reinforcement is key to getting things done!

Practice first aid. Keep a first aid kit handy and review how to use the items in it with your child. Consider enrolling older children in an online Red Cross babysitting course so they can learn first aid skills and how to care for younger family members.

We hope you’ve found this checklist helpful and that you and your children will have a safe, enjoyable and active new school year!

 

Should You Have Your Home Security System Monitored? Seven Things to Consider

 

We often find ourselves dealing with change:

  • Moving into a new home and neighborhood
  • Completing a home renovation project
  • Upgrading our home’s technology — smart feature, entertainment or home security
  • Personal or family changes — like seniors coming to live with you or adding a pet to the family

And when you’re dealing with the changes, you may find yourself wondering, should I have my security system monitored? If so, taking the time to clarify and think through your security situation will help you make an informed decision.

 

 Seven questions to ask when determining your home security needs:

  • Do you have children, seniors or pets that are left alone during the day? What are their ages and how self-sufficient are they? Have you ever found yourself worrying about them or their safety while you are away?
  • Has your job status or personal situation changed so you find you must travel more and spend time away from your home?
  • Have you acquired any new expensive jewelry, electronics, or family heirlooms that would be difficult to replace?
  • Do you work more than 20 – 30 minutes away from your home, making it more difficult to run home to check on things?
  • Home location – does your landscaping hide your home or is it visible from the street? Are you near major roads with lots of easy accessibility?
  • What kind of security does your neighborhood have? Police presence? Gated community? ACTIVE neighborhood watch?
  • Do you have a pool, fireplace or fire pit?

If you find yourself worrying about any of these situations, here’s what monitoring can do for you. While deterring burglars or prowlers may seem like the main function of monitoring your house, there are also other critical aspects that monitoring offers. The key to minimizing loss of property or helping individuals in need is quick response time. Fire detection, heat sensors, air quality as well as senior/child/pet alert systems can keep a potential bad home situation from turning into a disaster.

So why monitor your home if there is an alarm installed?

The typical system will have a siren go off for approximately five minutes after it is tripped. If monitored and there is no emergency in progress, the alarm can be canceled by giving the monitoring station your password. If a burglar or prowler trips the alarm, they usually leave the premise quickly. In many cases, the intruder will then hide and watch to see if there is any activity in the home, or if police/people arrive. If so, they typically will leave quickly to focus their efforts on an easier target — a non-monitored home.

Low-voltage smoke detectors connected to your monitored alarm system give quicker responses to fires — much better than relying on someone possibly noticing smoke from your house and reacting to it.

Pro Tip: If you are away and unable to respond to an alarm, it is a good idea to have a relative, trusted neighbor, or friend know the code and meet the emergency responders if the alarm is tripped. They can let the police in and check to make sure nothing is missing.

Finally, you might want to consider this – monitoring isn’t just to alert the police or fire departments. It is there for you and your family’s peace of mind.  

            True Protection — Some homeowners assume a burglar alarm making a lot of noise is enough protection. In truth, like car alarms, home alarms are often ignored by people nearby, who assume it is going off by accident.

            Other Home Issues – While not as urgent as a fire or break-in, a gas leak can cause serious problems in your home. Monitoring systems can be set up to alert you in case of a gas leak or to let you know your freezer is no longer on — indicating a power outage.

            Assistance — Monitoring systems can also notify people that you need assistance in case of a fall or other personal accident.

            Sleeping Easy — Monitoring means someone is always keeping an eye (and ear) on your home. Many security system clients say knowing someone is there offers peace of mind, making it easier to sleep at home and while away.

Bottom Line: While there is a monthly cost to monitor your home, only monitored systems have professionals to help respond to emergencies 24/7. Once you assess your lifestyle, property parameters and situation, you may see that monitoring is the right choice for you. But please be sure to always read the contract you are signing carefully to ensure you are getting the exact coverage you require for the price you deem expectable.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your security system needs, please don’t hesitate to call us!

Security & Home Automation