REFUSE TO BE A CRIME VICTIM!
PROACTIVE HOME PROTECTION
FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
Many times homeowners look at installing a security system for their home after a break-in or home invasion has occurred either to them or someone they know. The best plan of action is to be proactive with your home security and have a security system installed the moment you start thinking or talking about it.
There are many ways to protect your home that include coverage for burglary, fire, flooding, carbon monoxide, and more. If you want a comprehensive level of protection, having a burglary security system that includes fire protection will offer the best protection for your home and family. Remember in a burglary many of the items stolen can be easily replaced, e.g., TV’s, electronics, etc., but a fire can instantly destroy everything in your home. If a fire isn’t detected right away, by the time neighbors or others see flames coming out the roof or windows it may be too late.
PROTECT YOUR HOME WITH A SECURITY SYSTEM
Let’s talk about what concerns you most about your home security. If a burglar is looking to break in to a home, the tendency is to look at an easy home. So with that in mind, make your home as difficult as possible for someone to get into. If he has to work with any amount of effort, he will most likely go to someplace else.
Exterior Doors to Your Home
Count all of the doors that lead into your home. These are doors that you will want to put security protection on. Most break-ins tend to happen through doors – typically ones that were left unlocked or the burglar was able to kick in because it was a flimsy door. If a burglar(s) enters through a window, there is a good chance they will be hauling your stuff out through a door. So protect each door that comes into your home with contact sensors.
A nice feature of your security system is that it will tell you if you leave a door or protected window open. Also when the alarm is in the off mode and someone opens a door it will either chime at you or tell you in a voice that the door is opened.
The most vulnerable windows are going to be the ones located on the main or basement level of your home. That is not to say the windows on the second level aren’t important, but if there is not easy access to those upper level windows, the burglar will typically look at an easier way to enter your home.
Consider the level of security protection you want for your home. If you have had a recent burglary incident, you may want to build Fort Knox. Again, if you are proactive and install security system before a break-in, you can build an excellent level of protection at a reasonable cost. Remember, the more protection you have installed, the more you will pay for your security system. If you have a budget for the security system, keep that in mind. You can always add to your security system if your needs change or you just want to upgrade your protection.
Your security consultant can advise you on other alternative protection for the windows – such as combining motion detectors in an area that catches several windows. Having every window protected can limit opening the windows to allow for ventilation when the alarm is activated – unless you originally set it up that way.
Motion Detectors are usually combined with the burglary protection and serve as your interior protection. Some people may not want the motion detector due to cats or dogs, or they have children that get up during the night. No one wants to accidentally trip the alarm system and have the police dispatched.
I have found that when the entire family uses the security system on a daily basis it becomes second nature and your chances of making mistakes are minimal. If you do accidentally set off the alarm, you can easily turn it off and in most cases your alarm company will quickly call you before dispatching the police. Just make sure you know the password to identify yourself to the alarm company.
My recommendation is to have at least a motion detector as part of your overall protection level. If you do not want to turn the motion detector on while at home (at night when going to bed), you can easily shut that part of the security system off. However, when you leave to go out of town and the dogs and kids are gone you could turn the full security system on. Remember, you are building layers of protection for your home security system.
Operating Panels to Control the System
You will most likely have an operating panel (or keypad) at your primary entrance so you can arm and disarm the security system. If you come and go through your garage entry, you will want the main operating panel there. If there are other doors that you use a lot, you may either want a second operating panel or keypad at that location as well.
You can also have a wireless remote keyfob that will allow you to turn the alarm off and on. You may want this on your keychain or leave it on a nightstand. Keep in mind the doors that family members will be coming through – and make the location of your operating panel convenient for everyone. You don’t want your children coming through the front door and having to run all the way back to the garage entry to turn off the alarm. You could centrally locate the operating panel centered between the two locations if you did not want to purchase a second keypad.
I have always liked having an operating panel in the master bedroom. You can arm the security system before going to bed at night. There’s a sense of “peace of mind” when you roll over during the night and see the little red light on. If you had any disturbance during the night – the burglar alarm goes off – you can see from the keypad what location was activated by a zone number. If you have an English keypad, it will tell you in English what door or window was just entered through. Having a panic button or fire button also allows you to set off a tremendous amount of noise, alerting your alarm company to send the police immediately.
If you have a large home, the nice feature of the operating panel is alerting the homeowner when someone enters through a door. When you are in one part of your home, you may not be able to hear someone come in a door. However, if you have a keypad on each level, the chiming or voice annunciation will let you know when someone enters. That way you are alerted and are not surprised to find someone in your home.
Interior and Exterior Sirens
You definitely want an intruder to know he has activated your alarm system if he has gotten into your home. An interior siren will immediately sound once the entry time has expired – usually 30-45 seconds. Some doors and windows may be on an instant alarm which means the interior siren will sound immediately. You will want a high decibel interior siren so everyone in the household can hear.
In larger homes you may want to consider more than one interior siren. If you have children or guests who sleep in a lower basement bedroom, make sure they can hear the interior siren. If they cannot, be sure to put one in the lower level. This is especially important for a fire alarm. The exterior siren is usually placed outside where neighbors or others can hear it.
More and more homeowners are keeping the alarms on the inside since the police or authorities are being immediately notified. This is a personal preference and should be discussed with your security representative.
LIFE SAFETY PROTECTION – FIRE AND CARBON MONOXIDE SENSORS
My recommendation would be that all homes have at least battery operated smoke detectors. If you are installing a monitored security system, it is highly recommended that you place smoke detectors that are connected to the security system outside the bedroom hallways and at least one on each level. You can always put a battery operated smoke detector in each bedroom.
Take a look at your home and think about where a fire would ultimately start. Be sure to have a smoke detector outside the kitchen area – maybe in a back hallway. If you want fire protection in the kitchen, placing a heat detector there would be the best protection for that area.
Keep in mind that it never hurts to have too many smoke detectors. They are real life saving devices!
Carbon Monoxide Protection
Carbon Monoxide can be an invisible, almost undetectable threat to your family and home. It is known as the “silent killer.” You need to familiarize yourself with what the threats of carbon monoxide are. Do you live in a home with gas-enabled appliances, have gas logs, a hot tub, or have an attached garage? Did you answer “yes?” If so, make yourself aware of the threat. Carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless and causes symptoms like fatigue, nausea, headache, dizziness that may be confused with flu or other symptoms.
People die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. Listed below are some helpful tips to safeguard your family and home against carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Any fuel-burning appliance can emit carbon monoxide gas, so be sure appliances are vented directly to the outside and keep fresh air circulating in your home.
- Check your kitchen range, fireplaces, and water heater for carbon monoxide emissions periodically.
- Have your heating system checked for carbon monoxide emissions before the heating season begins.
- If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney cleaned and inspected every year, open a window or door slightly to allow proper airflow, and keep the damper open until the fire is completely out.
- Never run your car engine for more than a few minutes in a garage or other enclosed area, even if the door is open.
24-HOUR CUSTOMER MONITORING
Once your security system is installed, the technician will test the devices to ensure they are working properly and that the signals for each type of service are properly received by the 24-hour Customer Monitoring Center. The Customer Monitoring Center is set up to receive alarms 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Depending upon the company you have chosen, most have a verification process they use before dispatching local police or fire authorities. You should know before selecting the company how their process works. Many cities are cracking down on false alarms and charging the homeowner a fee if the authorities respond to an alarm and there is no indication of a burglary attempt or a fire.
Ensure that each family member or person that will operate your security system is well-trained. Be sure they know the 4-digit code to activate/deactivate the alarm and their password. If they accidentally trip the alarm and don’t turn it off in time, they will need to give the password to the monitoring center representative when they call back (if that is their policy). By giving the monitoring center the designated password, this tells them you have access and they will not dispatch the authorities. It is very important that only those you give access to your home have a password. You should not have the password written down where a potential burglar can find it. Consider changing your password from time to time, but be sure those who need a password have it. Keep an emergency contact list of names and phone numbers updated with your monitoring center.
Lastly, start using your security system right away. Some people are tentative about using the security system in the beginning. But most systems are user friendly, easy to operate, and if used properly you shouldn’t have any problems. In fact, over the last 18 years that we’ve had a security system in our home, I can count on both hands the times our family of four actually had an alarm go off and either the alarm company called or the police were dispatched. That is not many – and I would speculate most of those were accidentally tripped by a family member.
Contact a reputable alarm company to give you a home evaluation to determine your level of burglary and fire protection and cost. The benefits are numerous and will outweigh the cost you spend for your installation and service. It is hard to put a price on the peace of mind you will have for your home and family!