Moving? 4 Tips for Safety and Security in Your Home

If you are preparing to move to a new location, there are so many important things to think about! To help with this, we’ve compiled a list of items to check that will help secure your new property and ensure that you and your family have peace of mind in your new residence.

FOR EXISTING HOMES

1) Acquaint yourself with the neighborhood:

Take the time to introduce yourself to your new neighbors. Let them know who you are and who will be living (coming and going) in your new home.

Find who is active in the neighborhood watch group. Meet with them to introduce yourself and offer to do what you can to contribute.

Take the time to locate the local police, fire, rescue stations, and hospitals to understand routes and response times.

Reacquaint yourself with any features of the location like local ponds, pools, walking trails, and parks so you can review safe usage of these areas with your family.  

2) Take inventory and fix/enhance the safety aspects of the property:

Check how well the entry, walkways, driveway, yard space, and window areas are lit. Add lighting (motion sensor lighting is great) where lighting is not adequate.

Examine the landscaping for overgrown or poorly placed bushes that can block out lighting or give potential intruders a place to hide, especially near doors and windows.

 

3) Re-examine the doors to the exterior:

Doors should be built out of metal or with solid wood cores and have deadbolts. Sometimes the most aesthetically pleasing decorator doors offer the least amount of safety from intrusion. Glass panels in or next to the doors offer easy access for intruders. When possible, replace doors that offer sub-par security before moving in for ease of mind and convenience.

 

4) Check your home security system:

A security system can give you peace of mind when moving to a new area and home.

If a system is already installed, have it checked out, upgraded if needed, and activated as soon as you move in. Upgraded systems can include touchscreens, a mobile app for communication with the security system, automation features, and cameras strategically positioned around your residence and property.

Make sure that either you or a security system professional check out the window and door sensors for proper functioning. Take the time to test each location and alignment of the motion sensors to ensure they are properly aimed and positioned for maximum benefit.

If your new home doesn’t have a security system, consider adding one. They are an effective method for ensuring your new residence will offer you the safety and security your family desires. And it may help save on your homeowner’s insurance.

Secur-Tek, Inc. is here to help with your home security needs. We can complete a security audit of your home and design an upgrade or new system that is right for you and your location. Contact us by calling 919.387.1800  .

 

IF YOU ARE BUILDING A NEW HOME

The best time to install features like security systems, home automation, whole-house audio systems, and central vacuums is during construction.

Secur-Tek  installs both wired and wireless security systems. For new homes under construction, we recommend a wired system (you will have less maintenance with fewer batteries to change).

What system would be best for your new home?

New homes under construction Install a wired system as it will have less maintenance with fewer batteries to change
Existing homes wanting a security system installed Install a wireless system
Home renovations Add wireless system or wireless components to an existing Honeywell security system
Existing home security system Upgrade systems to include features to enhance security and convenience:

•      Touchscreens

•      A mobile app for communication with the security system

•      Automation features,

•      A doorbell camera

•      Camera system with motion detectors

Please call our office or use the form below to see how we can assist you with your new home.

Secur-Tek is locally owned and operated in Apex, NC, offering home and business security, monitoring, automation audio and central vacuum systems. We proudly serve: Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, and Pittsboro in North Carolina.

Water Sensors

 

Damage to homes and businesses from extreme temperatures, power outages/surges, failed/faulty appliances, and in-home flooding can cause personal and financial devastation. In fact, these environmental extremes are in the top five causes of insurance claims. 

According to the American Insurance Association, water damage claims have been growing faster than any other component of homeowners insurance. One in 50 insured homes has a property damage claim caused by water damage or freezing each year.

Here in North Carolina where we have multiple weather events each year, such as Ice storms, Tornados, Hurricanes, Flash Floods, Extreme temperature swings and power outages – the potential for property damage due to water is high.

But you can protect yourself from the property and financial devastation that water damage can cause by acting proactively — have a professional security alarm/sensor company install a multiple environmental sensor system into your home or place of business.

Note: To be fully protected and be credited by homeowners’ insurance, the system must be installed and monitored by a professionally certified company – self-installed and monitored systems do not qualify.

Whatever the installation challenge, Secur-Tek’s Honeywell Home Environmental Sensors can play a critical role in helping to prevent damage due to flooding or extreme temperatures in your home or business while lowering insurance premiums.

Here’s what a professional environmental sensor system can do for you: 

  • Monitor kitchens, basements, bathrooms, laundry rooms, freezers, boiler rooms and other areas for flood and extreme temperature detection 
  • Minimize or avert costly damages from flooding or faulty appliances
  • Help alleviate dangerous health risks from mold 
  • Help create a safer home and work environment 
  • Give you peace of mind with 24/7 central station text alerts on mobile devices via Resideo Total Connect Remote Services 

So, if you are living in Central North Carolina, isn’t it time to give us a call to discuss what a sensor system can do for you?

Seven Tips for Safe Holidays

The holiday season is upon us and with it, putting up decorations, visiting, shopping, package delivery, food, and fun!

Below are seven quick reminders to ensure the security and safety of your family, friends and pets throughout the festivities.

On-line Shopping:

1) Keep your network updated and use strong passwords and two-factor authentications on your accounts

Before shopping, check to make sure you have the latest security updates installed on your phone, computer, antivirus software and your router. These updates help improve security and fight new attacks. It may seem inconvenient to have to wait for your computer or phone to update and restart, but the protection is worth it.

Don’t let your computer or device remember your usernames, passwords, or credit card information. To reduce the chance of being hacked you can use a password generator and manager to create and keep track of complicated passwords that are not worth a hacker’s time to crack.

2) Ensure your transaction is safe and secure – Verify that the online store is secure before entering any personal or financial information. Look for “https” at the beginning of a site’s address. If you don’t see an “s” at the end of “http,” then the site is not encrypted, and your data will not be secure. Additionally, avoid shopping on public networks – Free hotspots are great when you’re out and about, but hackers like them even more than you do. Because public networks aren’t secured, don’t log in to banking sites or payment sites like PayPal on a public network — and make sure that you are logged out of those sites before connecting to a public network.

 

Home Deliveries

3) Track it! – If the ordering system allows you to choose the time of delivery, select a time you know you’ll be at home. Always use the alerts option or tracking numbers to follow your packages along on their journey so you can arrange to get your packages off the porch as soon as possible. If things appear slow or stopped, contact the delivery service or store for assistance in locating your package.

4) Limit Porch Time If you’re not home much, alert a neighbor that will be home or consider having the package delivered to your office, a friend, or neighbor’s house for safekeeping.

Also, if you participate in Nextdoor.com or a similar neighborhood app, you can let neighbors know if something has been stolen from your porch so they can keep an eye out and report suspicious behavior.

5) Consider getting a smart doorbell. Upgrade your current doorbell to a Skybell doorbell and you’ll enjoy a higher level of safety and security with remote monitoring and cloud recording features. When the delivery person rings the doorbell, you can see when and how packages are delivered. You can also check for any unwanted visitors at your doorstep.

6) Control Deliveries by Controlling Your Garage Door. With Total Connect 2.0 integrated with the MyQ garage door app, you can monitor and allow deliveries to be placed inside your garage. To learn more about how convenient this can be, click here or call us at 919.387.1800 or fill out the form below.

 

Protecting Your Fuzzy Friends

7) Check out this short, adorable video with puppies and kittens demonstrating tips for keeping them safe during the holiday season.

 

 

 The holiday season is a fun and exciting time of year. Following these tips can help ensure that it is a safe and joyful time.

Happy Holidays from Secur-Tek, Inc.!

 

Secur-Tek is locally owned and operated in Apex, NC, offering home and business security, monitoring, automation audio, and central vacuum systems. Our service area includes Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, and Pittsboro in North Carolina.

 

Supporting Senior Citizens through the Pandemic

 

The current pandemic can create situations where seniors and their loved ones will need to make extra efforts to avoid loneliness.

Seniors should prepare to be social distancing for the long haul, according to Dr. Leonard Kirschner, a licensed M.D. and the past President of AARP Arizona. “This virus will be with us for a long time, this pandemic will run its course for at least 18 months.”

Knowing this, older people and their loved ones can plan to take actions to safely avoid succumbing to anxiety and depression.

 Family, Friends, and support groups can:

  • Make calls
  • Send cards and letters
  • Encourage and facilitate exercise

Encourage and follow-up with your loved ones on their exercise.

  • Be interested, listen and question how they feel. The National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend engaging in 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity every week.
  • Keeping track of the little things like getting up during every commercial on TV and doing an active chore, marching in place, or doing a set of stretches can work wonders for body and mind.
  • When possible, encourage getting outdoors, breathing in the fresh air, feeling the sunshine, looking at nature or going for a walk – this gives most seniors a tremendous boost.

However, sometimes we have to remind and encourage older adults to exercise with caution and think safety. Remember to consult a physician before starting an exercise program. Here are a few tips to emphasize:

  • Listen to your body. Always warm up before exercising and cool down afterward. You should be exercising at a level that allows you to talk, but not sing.
  • Be aware of your environment. Make sure you are in reach of a counter, the back of a couch, or a sturdy chair that is pushed up against a wall in case you lose your balance and need to hold on to something or need to sit.
  • Hydrate. Drink water before, during, and after exercising, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Choose clothing that is made for the type of activity you want to do. Shoes, long sleeved shirts, hats etc. should work with the activity, sun intensity and the temperature of your environment.

Use technology to enhance their day

This could be as simple as sending them a Zoom link to a yoga class, church meetings or art classes that they may find enjoyable. It’s a good idea to talk your senior through the first few log-ins and insuring their comfort level with the technology and process.

Security systems have options that can make checking in at the right time easier. For example, cameras with remote monitoring can be installed in the kitchen or key hallways so you can see when the senior is up. In addition, sensors can be added on key cabinets or the medicine drawer to let a family member know they’ve taken their medicine. These electronic assists can be customized to help seniors — and you — feel safer, secure, and connected.

So during these strange and isolated times, taking a little extra effort to plan a routine of communication, connection and security for your parents and older relatives can really have a positive impact on their mental as well as physical well-being.

For more information on technology for seniors, please contact us at: 919-387-1800 or use the form below.     

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!

How a Smart Home Adds Value

 

A smart home can increase your safety and convenience to help you enjoy it!

It’s a new year and believe it or not, spring is right around the corner. Now is the time for planning those 2019 home improvements you’ve been thinking about. Installing smart home features is not only a great investment and wonderful convenience; it can give you greater peace of mind.  

How does it do that you might ask? Think about:

           Traveling– If you are a person that travels a lot – either job related or if you just enjoy exploring on the weekends — you can check on your property and valuables anytime you like. Furthermore, it allows you to let family/neighbors into your home to check on plants, pets and/or elderly parents you might have living with you.

            Maybe you have children that are at the age where you know they will be okay staying at home alone but just want the peace of mind and convenience of being able to check and monitor what is happening while your away. Or even let them in when they lock themselves out (as kids often do). Again, it is also a great way to handle the logistics of senior care or infant babysitting, freeing you up to do what you need to do.

            Beyond providing essential home security, smart home system can also save you time and money. Say goodbye to wasting PTO being stuck at home during one of those infamous “anytime between noon and 5 pm” delivery windows – just have us add a Skybell video doorbell to your home security system.

            When you have smart door locks, you can let people in to drop off deliveries or make home updates from your smartphone app. An exterior door camera lets you see exactly who is arriving, indoor monitors watch the progress while they are in your home, so you know everything that is happening. In addition, a Smart Home can start saving you money immediately. Your system can turn lights on and off and smart thermostat can help automate your temperature settings saving energy while making sure your home is comfortable when you arrive. You’ll be able to remotely access and control the thermostat, set up schedules, and receive temperature alerts, all through the app on your smartphone or tablet.

            It’s a Great Investment! Statistics prove that a home security and automation system can actually help sell your home. Coldwell Banker’s annual smart-home survey, published in January 2018, asked potential homebuyers about the importance of smart home devices:

                        63% want smart locks pre-installed

                        66% want smart home security cameras pre-installed

                        75% want smart smoke detectors pre-installed

                        77% want smart thermostats pre-installed

            Flexibility, with a Smart Home from Secur-Tek, Inc. – you can start with the level of features you would like and based upon your timeframes and resources, build on as you go!

As you can see, installing a Smart Home in 2019 can make sense from an economic, safety and convenience perspective. At Secur-Tek Inc., we have highly trained, reliable and friendly people to help you choose the features and level of Smart Home that is right for you.

If you would like to learn more about the Smart Home features offered by Secur-Tek, Inc. give us a call or fill out the form below.

8 Tips for Package Theft Prevention

Will you be receiving packages this holiday season?

Packages left on the porch/mailbox are vulnerable at any time of year, but the holiday season usually means there are a few more parcels arriving at your doorstep. A study from InsuranceQuotes that examines holiday hazards  notes there were approximately 26 million thefts of deliveries from doorsteps and economic indicators show online shopping is up over 28% so far for this holiday season over last year.

Whether you’re ordering gifts online for family and friends, or receiving them from others, you’re more likely to have packages sitting vulnerable on your porch this time of the year.

To prevent your deliveries being stolen, check out these EightTips for Package Theft Prevention. 

  1. Customize delivery. If the ordering system allows you to choose the time of delivery, select a time you know you’ll be at home.
  2. Get a smart doorbell.Swap your current doorbell for a Skybell and enjoy a higher level of safety and security with remote monitoring and cloud recording features. When the delivery person rings the doorbell, you can see how and when packages are delivered. No more interruptions during family dinner or missing important packages while you’re gone! You can also check for unwanted visitors at your doorstep.
  3. Deliver decisively. If you’re not home much, consider having the package delivered to your office or a friend or neighbor’s house for safekeeping.
  4. Hold the post. If your package contains very valuable items – Have the post office or carrier hold the package. Request UPS, FedEx and the Postal Service to hold packages at their facility for you to pick up later. UPS has created a service called Access Point that enables you to choose an alternate delivery location in your neighborhood.
  5. Alert a neighbor. When you are expecting a package and won’t be home, you can ask a neighbor or friend to keep an eye out for it. If you use Nextdoor.com or a similar neighborhood app you can let neighbors know if something has been stolen from your porch so they can keep an eye out and report suspicious behavior.
  6. Talk to family and friends who may be mailing your holiday gifts. Ask them to let you know when they send packages so you can watch for them.
  7. Light it up. Install outdoor lights. Your package is more likely to be stolen during daylight hours, but night falls early this time of year. Outdoor lights with motion or light sensors are a good way to keep unwanted people away from your home in any season.
  8. Monitored home security A home security system can do a great deal. If there are visible security features like cameras or alarms, potential thieves will be more likely to move along to a less protected house rather than risk getting caught by a security system. And you can even tie in your Skybell with security and automation features for greater convenience, like letting in out of town guests that arrive when you’re out doing those last-minute errands.

If you are going out of town, check out our Security Checklist before you leave.

We hope you have a great holiday season. If you’d like a quote on Skybell or would like to learn about other home Security System options to increase your peace of mind, please contact us.

 Happy Holidays to You and Your Family!!

Tips for Saving Money and Energy While on Vacation

Did you know that you can save both energy and money while you are away on vacation? Just follow these home energy efficiency tips:

  • Turn the air conditioning down – For every degree a thermostat is raised during the summer, a homeowner can save 2-3 percent on his or her electricity bill.
  • Unplug your small kitchen appliances and tech gear. These household items are called “energy vampires” because they still draw current even when not in use. So before the family leaves, someone should walk around the house and unplug every unnecessary appliance and electronic device. Start with the television, computer, and entertainment center, but don’t forget small items like coffee pots, digital clocks, and cell phone chargers – they all drain energy when plugged in.
  • To avoid unexpected water loss and damage, turn off your main water shutoff valve.
  • Set your water heater to low or vacation mode if it has one. If you will be gone for quite awhile, shut off your water heater at the fuse box. When arriving back home, remember to turn the main shutoff valve back on and run some water in the sink to ensure your tank is full before turning it back on.
  • If you have an automated irrigation system, check to see if the rain sensor is set to ¼ inch.
  • Lower the blinds and close the curtains when leaving for vacation. This simple act will keep heat from coming in during the summer or going out during the winter.
  • Double check to ensure your smoke detectors and home security alarm systems are operating in an optimal fashion.

For tips on protecting your home and property while away, review our Leaving On Vacation Home Security Checklist at:

https://secur-tek.com/leaving-on-vacation-heres-your-handy-home-security-checklist/

Following both the Energy Saving and Vacation Home Security Checklists will help give you and your family peace of mind while away on vacation. So enjoy your vacation, and come back refreshed and ready to go!!

 

Can Your Devices Spy on You? Tips for Stronger Security and Privacy

Smartphones, apps, and devices such as Amazon’s Alexa/Echo and Google’s Home are all making our lives easier (or at least more fun). After all, you can play games, check the weather, see what your friends are up to, and go shopping, track packages, and set reminders — all with the click of a button or a voice command.

But the more devices we allow into our lives, the more we increase our security risk. Many of our home security customers are asking about security and privacy. Here are some ways to protect yourself:

Smartphones
Some people don’t mind digital eavesdropping. Others would prefer Facebook not to listen in all the time, which it does. If this bothers you, the best thing to do is uninstall the app completely. However, you can also disable any app’s use of your microphone using the following steps:

iPhones/Apple:
● Go to “settings”
● Choose the app you want to change
● Turn off the microphone

Android
● Go to “settings” and select “personal”
● Choose “privacy”
● Then choose “permissions”
● Finally, choose “microphone” and turn it off

Home Devices
Home devices such as Google’s Home or Amazon’s Alexa/Echo record conversations after you activate them with the code words, “Ok Google” or “Hey Alexa.” They listen for your voice query, then upload it to servers, where it is analyzed so the appropriate response can be delivered. While the data passed between the device and the servers is encrypted, there are some other security concerns, including:

● The microphones are always listening unless you mute them.
● The devices don’t differentiate between people, meaning someone else can use your voice device to make changes to your security system if you have that set up.
● The recorded voice queries are stored on cloud servers. That data is used to create more targeted advertising.
● Your device’s location is shared.
● Data may be shared with third parties.

Using these devices means sharing your information. But you can make some small adjustments to make them slightly more private:

● Mute them when not in use. On the Echo, a physical mute button is located at the top of the device. On Google Home, use the touch panel on top to mute.
● Delete old recordings. For Echo, you do this through your Amazon account. Click “Manage my device” to delete your history. Note: Amazon warns this will result in a lower-quality experience. For Google, go to the My Activity dashboard to manage everything.
● Don’t connect sensitive accounts to home devices.

Home security questions? Contact us to learn how we can make your home more secure.

Home Theater Without the Hassle: Set Up Your System for the Super Bowl

Home theater systems make watching your favorite movies — or the upcoming Super Bowl — way more exciting. With the right screen and sound system, you feel as though you’re part of the action.

This time of year, many people try to install their own home theater systems. While the process seems easy enough, like many DIY projects, it can be harder than it looks. Here are three fantastic reasons to call Secur-Tek’s team for help:

1. No hassle. The day before the big game, you’ve got cables and cords all over the place. Hours later, you’ve tested one way, tested another. You can avoid the hassle by calling on our team to make sure the connections are not only correct, but stowed away attractively and neatly. Plus, our team can answer any questions you have about the system and how it all works. You can then spend more time basking in the glow of the amazing system before your friends arrive. 

2. Better picture and sound quality. You just spent good money to buy the best quality products. Great! But setting up the system wrong means you won’t get the best quality audio or video. Why spend that money only to lose out due to an error? Proper calibration, set up, and the room acoustics all go into the right system. Our team can make sure your home theater impresses friends, visitors, and even you! 

3. Peace of mind. Many people can help you hide cables or mount a TV so that it won’t fall off the wall. Installing a good home theater system requires more than construction knowledge. Hiring experts who spend their days drooling over home theater systems will ensure you’ve got the best system for your space and budget. Plus, you don’t have to worry about making mistakes that leave holes in the wall or cause electrical problems. (Your spouse will appreciate that peace of mind, too.)

What questions do you have about home theater systems? The team at Secur-Tek is happy to help. Contact us to get your system installed before your next party.

Security & Home Automation