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Simple Security Tips For Spring

It’s Spring! The weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer. During Spring it’s important to think about security. Here are a few simple security tips for Spring.

Always Lock Your Door

The warmer weather means more time outdoors. Whether you are going for a walk or a bike ride around the neighbourhood, make sure you always lock your doors. Even if you’re away for a short period of time, a locked door is the easiest way to make it harder for someone to enter your home.

Burglars Love Bushes And Trees 

In Winter bushes and trees have no leaves and are easy to see through. But in spring the leaves come out, which means they can often end up completely blocking some windows. While they make look beautiful, these fully bloomed plants can be great hiding spots for burglars. Especially when they cover a window. A burglar can use hide behind them and then break the window, gaining entry into your home. Always make sure your bushes and trees are trimmed. If the window is a basement window that’s hidden by a bush, perhaps cover the window with some bars, to make it harder to gain entry.

Be Weary of Social Media

More people are prone to traveling in Spring. When posting info about your travels on social media, be aware that if you have a public profile, everyone can see when you’re not home. Even burglars. Put your social media on private. And never share too much information.

Get A Home Alarm And Use It!

Houses with alarms are three times less likely to be broken into than those without. Home alarms work. If you don’t have one, get one. They are a fantastic burglar deterrent. Home alarms only work when they’re armed. When you’re away, always arm your alarm system. When you’re home, arm it in home mode.

Comcast Named “Worst Company In America” By Consumerist

Website Consumerist has named Comcast as the worst company in America. Congratulations Comcast!

We have a feeling that their poorly regarded customer service had something to do with this dubious distinction. Here’s a link to an article focused on Comcast’s history of poor customer service – http://bit.ly/1DRKwmH

Comcast’s home security offering, Comcast Xfinity, on the website Consumer Reviews has received a customer rating of 1.1 out of 5 with over 500 ratings. You can read the reviews firsthand here – http://bit.ly/1Ec0UjX

Similar to other cable companies, the thought is that Comcast is more focused on running a call center than providing quality customer service. Often in extremely large companies, the importance of focusing on the customer’s true needs gets lost in the corporate shuffle. Instead of having happy customers, large cable companies are too busy trying to sell additional services and locking customers into long contracts.

You can read the Consumerist article about Comcast and their dubious award here – http://bit.ly/1yDLjYa

Hardwired vs. Wireless Alarm Systems: Which Is Best?

The thought in home security used to be that in order to adequately protect your home you needed a hardwired alarm system. Only a hardwire alarm system could provide the highest level of protection because wireless alarm systems didn’t have the capability to reach far enough and do all the features that a hardwire system could do. While that statement is debatable, the truth is that now more than ever wireless home alarm systems can do everything that a hardwire system can do, and more.

Wireless home alarm systems have the reach to match any hardwire security system. Through RF signals, Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Z-Wave, wireless systems can do virtually everything a hardwired alarm could do. Whether it’s full home automation or just traditional alarm services, a wireless system can rival any hardwired system.

The capabilities of Bluetooth LE are endless. A wireless alarm system with Bluetooth LE could cover a home larger than 10,000 sq feet. Think about that. Years ago that would be a pipe dream, but now it’s fact.

New home builders like installing a hardwired alarm system because they believe that it’s an added selling feature. The truth is that the hardwired system that’s being installed may, in fact, limit what you can do inside the home with your alarm system. Beyond that with a hardwired system, you’ll need an installer to come to your home for all service issues, where instead with a wireless system you can do much of the work yourself.

When comparing a hardwired system and a wireless system, always choose the wireless. The installation is quicker and easier, there won’t be any drilling inside your home, service is much easier and the security and home automation capabilities are endless.

Are Self-Monitored Alarm Systems Worth It?

As technology continues to improve, more options are available to homeowners to help them protect their homes and families. While the majority of potential customers are choosing to go with traditional home alarm systems that use a monitoring station, there are a variety of self-monitored home alarms available. We have to ask ourselves what is a self-monitored alarm and can they protect to the same level as a traditional home alarm system?

A self-monitored alarm system is usually sold through retail outlets (Lowes, Brookstone, Home Depot) and is installed by the homeowner. The security system could either be a single unit or one that resembles a traditional home alarm (base unit, peripherals, etc). The system works like a standard home alarm where it detects an intrusion but instead of sending a signal to a central station, the unit notifies the homeowner, either through text message, phone call or email.

A self-monitored alarm system usually costs anywhere from $99 – $499 upfront and then has a monthly fee between $0 – $15/month.

These systems are low cost and seem as if they provide tremendous value for the homeowner, the problem is that they can’t provide the same level of protection as a traditionally monitored home alarm system. Having the homeowner have to handle the monitoring puts too much pressure on the individual and ultimately provides a false sense of security.

For example, there’s a break-in at a house that has a self-monitored home alarm system. The alarm detects the burglar and a siren goes off (just like any other home alarm system). An email is then sent to the homeowner. Let’s say though that the homeowner is at work and in a meeting, where he’s not checking his phone. Or he’s at the movies. Or he’s on vacation by the pool. The system is reliant on the homeowner to take action, which if the homeowner is unavailable the intrusion is not dealt with and the burglar has unlimited time inside the home.

Even if the homeowner does get the email, the onus is now on him to notify the authorities to verify that there’s an actual burglary occurring as opposed to a false alarm. The homeowner has no experience dealing with these situations, doesn’t know that 96% of alarm signals are false, doesn’t have access to private guard services who will respond to the alarm faster than the police would, etc.

Self-monitored alarm systems can’t protect a home and family to the same extent a monitored home alarm system can. They provide a false level of protection. While affordable, the value isn’t there in regards to the service they provide, and at the end of the day leaves the homeowner vulnerable.

Anyone looking for true protection should get a monitored alarm system. These systems not only detect when someone’s inside your home, they allow a trained professional to deal with the situation 24/7, regardless of where you are. Let professionals protect your home and family. Think protection by using a valued monitoring service as opposed to a self-monitored system which may seem like a great service, but in reality is flawed security.

How Can You Protect Yourself From A Home Invasion?

Home invasions are generally thought of as a premeditated confrontation in the victim’s home with the intent to rob and/or inflict violence.  The impact of home invasion extends beyond the violence of the crime itself; it is particularly frightening because it has a predatory nature and violates the one place that we feel safe: our home.

All homeowners, both Canadian and American, can take some preventive measures to help minimize the risk of home invasion.  Here are some preventive steps that can be taken to enhance your security:

Secure Your Home and Your Surroundings:   This includes reinforcing your doors and doorframes and using deadbolts and sliding door locks.  Keep windows visible from the street and consider the use of bars (ensuring a fire escape route is still possible) and devices such as security film which reinforces the glass.  Have a well-lit exterior and ensure that the lights are not accessible and will not be tampered with.  Consider the use of alarms and identifying valuable property with identification (e.g. engraving).  Do not keep large amounts of money in your home and keep valuables in a safety deposit box.  Also, you may consider having a “decoy” jewellery box with inexpensive yet valuable-looking pieces of jewelry.  It may deter a ransacking of your home.

Do not Allow Strangers in your Home:  Since this is one of the preferred methods of forceful entry (the other is through the garage) be vigilant and trust your instincts.  You will need a good observation point where you can see people outside your door.  You may observe them for a few minutes to try to determine what they want.  You may also want to use an intercom system to talk through a closed door.  DO NOT open the door to people you do not know, no matter how well-dressed they are or how kind they appear to be.  If they claim to be representing a company (such as an electric or telephone company), call and confirm with the company before allowing them into your home.  Any reputable representative will understand your precautions and should have the phone number readily available for you to call and verify.

Know your Community: Have a good sense of your surroundings including your neighbours habits and vehicles.  Consider joining a Neighbourhood Watch program.   Suspicious people or activities may be of interest to the police, so write down information that may be useful (description of suspicious vehicles or strangers, phone numbers identified as calls to your home that hang up, etc.).

Don’t Hesitate to Call 9-1-1 :  There are numerous deceptions that can be used to have you unlock or open your door.  Remember, if a stranger at your door needs assistance and asks to use your phone; offer to dial and call for them.  If they claim that damage has been done to your parked car or that they need your signature, trust your instincts and play it safe.  You do not have to and should not open your door to anyone, not even the police, until you have sufficient proof that they are who they say they are. If you are unsure, call 911.  Stay calm and stay on the line.  Give all the information requested and if you are unable to speak, a police unit will respond to your home.

Other Tips: The weakest link in home security is the occupant that fails to lock up and opens the home to strangers.  The best defense against home invasion is education, planning and exercising good judgment.  Practice role-playing different scenarios at the front door to feel entirely comfortable while making someone wait on the other side of the closed door.  Get help from your family or friends to rehearse polite, yet firm responses to all types of potentially threatening situations.  You may even want to deter home invasions by creating the illusion of others living with you.   You may choose to put a pair of large boots out at the front door or a dog toy or drinking bowl.   Finally, you do not want to be predictable.  Vary your outings such as shopping or walks around the block.

If you become a Victim: Remember to stay calm. Further action beyond calling 9-1-1 and fleeing the scene may be necessary. Cooperating with the suspects may be your best option, as no amount of cash or material goods is worth getting hurt over.  Take time to observe the description of the suspects: look, smell and listen to pick up on any identifying features.  The Bulletin: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics claims that 68 percent of home invasion crimes are committed by strangers.  (A further 21 percent were casual acquaintances of the victim and the remaining 11 percent were family, friends and business relationships.)

Although home invasions account for a small proportion of robberies reported to the police, you must raise your level of awareness, rehearse your refusal to open the door, take inventory of the safety aspects of your home and reduce the odds of becoming a home invasion victim.