Package Theft: 7 Ways To Prevent Your Parcels From Getting Stolen

The season of multiple gift giving may be over but the era of package thieves remains at a high. People who prey on unattended packages are always on the ready to pick your box off the front porch or the mailbox, so you must take proper measures to make sure this does not happen to you. Packages that sit for a long time (even just a few hours, while you’re out doing grocery shopping) are attractive not just to nosy neighbors and curious kids, but to thieves, as well.

How To Prevent Package Theft

According to Consumer Affairs, there are over 23 million complaints about stolen packages in every year — and that’s in the US alone. This number is at its highest during the holiday season, and after Cyber Monday or Black Friday, although reports of theft really happen all-year-round. Thieves don’t really choose an occasion to prey on unopened packages. As long as they see a box unattended, you can be somebody will be interested.

Despite this statistic, there are some things you can do so you don’t become part of this number. While you cannot really predict if and when you will be a victim of a thief, you can take some steps to reduce the likelihood that it will happen to you.

Here are seven things you can do to prevent package theft.

  1. Have your package delivered to your office, instead

You spend most of the day time at work, anyways, so why not just have your package delivered there so you can receive it yourself? There are just too many stories of packages getting snatch by curious passers-by or naughty neighbors from the porch. Also on a high are complaints about irresponsible delivery guys who just leave packages without even bothering to check if anybody’s home or, worse, pre-signing your delivery forms without asking you first. One way to avoid this is to have it delivered to your workplace or to the house of a friend you trust to ensure that you get your package intact and safe every time.

  1. Install a security camera on you porch or front door

A camera might not stop thieves from getting at your package, but having one that is visible will deter them from attempting anything. A video cam facing your hallway, driveway or front door is a great deterrent and people will have to think twice before trying to get near. There are security cams that you can access in real time via your smartphone and provide high definition quality videos so you can see things clearly even in dim light conditions, like gloomy weather or dusk. Security experts recommend that you get an HD surveillance camera that has a minimum of 1080p so you can make a clear and positive ID when your package does still get stolen.

  1. Use Amazon locker or other smart package lockers

When you know nobody’s going to be home, you can have your packages delivered to smart lockers at select locations across the US. You will be given a unique code to punch into the system so it churns out your package. Not all states have this, though, so best to check first if you have a smart locker near you or are willing to drive a bit to retrieve it. Smart lockers are a convenient and guaranteed safe way to receive packages. The UPS Store also lets you buy or rent digital lockers that you can also share with friends if you are frequent online shoppers.

  1. Put your deliveries on hold

When you know you’re going to be away for a week, you can call the courier service or post office to tell them to place a “hold” on your packages until you call them again or for a pre-set period. Delivery services like FedEx or USPS have this service for free. Some couriers charge a minimal fee for keeping your package at their warehouses for a while. Do check with your service provider first about their fees and guidelines. If they do charge, this amount will be nothing compared to the hassle of having your stuff stolen from your yard just because nobody could receive it.

  1. Get insurance

You don’t want to come home after a fun holiday to find out that your packages have been stolen or have gone missing. One way to make sure that your precious parcel is protected is by getting insurance. Courier services will guarantee reimbursement on the declared value of your package in the event that it gets looted or it gets lost along the way. Check with your service provider about their terms and conditions first.

  1. Require a signature upon delivery

There have been plenty of reports about delivery personnel pre-signing your packages and then just leaving them on your front door, ripe for everyone’s picking. To prevent this from happening, you can ask for signature delivery. UPS has this service, where you can ask your sender to require a delivery confirmation signature before the package can be released as “delivered.” If you asked for this service and it was not followed, the courier company can be held liable legally and you will be given a full refund if no proof of delivery is presented.

  1. Reschedule delivery

If you don’t know when exactly you’ll be returning from your vacation or work trip, you can monitor your shipment using the tracking number and call the courier service to reroute the parcel to another address. This can be a trusted friend or family member’s house where you are sure that somebody will guarantee a delivery first-hand. On the other hand, you can also ask that the delivery company reschedule the actual drop-off. Both services might come with a fee but, again, this amount will be minimal compared to the trouble of tracking your missing package after a relaxing holiday.

Whether it’s the holiday season or a regular day, nobody really is immune to package theft when there’s a parcel just sitting at your porch and not getting any attention. You can outsmart would-be thieves and give yourself peace of mind while you’re away by following any of these seven tips. By being smart about your parcels, you can then go back to shopping and receiving packages confidently and without fear that the nosy neighbor would tinker with it or it gets stolen.

Flood Proofing Your Home: How To Be Prepared When The Rainy Season Comes

One can never be fully prepared for a disaster situation, but there are things you can do to help minimize the damage and, possibly, prevent potential problems from entering your home. When it comes to dealing with weather-driven risks, your best bet is to be proactive and to apply preventive measures. While having disaster kits on the ready in case a flood or an earthquake strikes, this is an after-the-fall response. Being prepared for the unexpected is excellent, and should be the practice in every household. However, you can also help reduce its potential impact on your home by flood proofing it.

Homes are more vulnerable than ever now to flood damage because of rising sea levels, urbanization and climate change. There are several ways to flood proof your house, ranging from simple measures to the bigger, more expensive ones. Of course, you should always prepare for the worst. While not all neighborhoods are considered in the so-called “high risk” flood zones, all homes are potentially exposed to fllooding. But before you decide to invest in technology or renovate your entire premises to ensure that floods don’t get through, there are basic steps you can take to shield your home from severe damage.

  • Evaluate Risk First

You can start with the easiest way to determine if your locality is at risk for flood: check the National Flood Insurance Program‘s website Floodsmart[dot]gov and see if your area is listed. The site contains plenty of information about assessing your neighborhood’s exposure. As a general rule, any house that is within what it calls a “100-year-floodplain” (or any area with a 1% expose to flooding) is already at classified as “at risk.”

That’s not the only thing you should check when you assess an area’s vulnerability. You can also ask locals and check previous news to find out if the propety has ever been flooded in before. Some real estate records in certain states are required to the declare this information. Better yet, ask the people who have live there for a very long time to know if there has been any flooding in the past decades.

You can also evaluate flood risk by giving the property a once-over yourself. Here are 4 things you can watch out for.

1. Is your house located in an area that goes uphill or downhill?
2. If it’s at the bottom of an elevation and there are not surrounding downhill slopes, you might be at risk. If this is so you may need to create manmade slopes to channel water away from your property.
3. After a rain, go around your property and note were large puddles are forming. When you find that many of them are near your home, the greater your exposure to flooding.
4. While doing your gardening tasks, take note of the direction that water is flowing while you’re hosing things down. Make sure the water is not going towards your house’s direction.

  • Identifying Possible Flood Points & What You Can Do

When you have pointed out which areas of your home are likely to contribute to flooding, it’s time to take action. You can do these things yourself or get in touch with a professional cleaning agency or landscaper to help you.

1. Clean your house’s downspouts. Downspouts are connected gutter bottoms and they can help channel water away from your home’s foundation. Clear it of any debris that may cause water to pool and cause flooding. Make sure none of your spouts are blocked. When you don’t have this feature in your home, have it installed by a professional before the rainy season comes.

2. Check your perimeter and set up barriers. Sandbags are an effective way to stop flood water from getting into your property. You can also build concrete, dirt or steel barriers so halt an incoming rush of water. Do this even before the rainy season comes so you can prepared for anything. While, admittedly, barriers are not totally flood proof, they can help slow the onslaught of heavy flooding.

3. Change your landscaping. Go for more porous outdoor surfaces for your perimeter because they seep water into the ground better and will prevent it from streaming toward your house. You can dig swales to channel rainwater runoff away or convert asphalt or cement driveways to brick or gravel, instead. Absorbent mulch can also help manage water and reduce your risk for flood damage.

  • Elevate Your Home

If simple proactive measures are not enough because you do live in a flood-prone zone, you can invest in elevating your home. It’s an expensive project and will require a lot of manpower, but over the long run you will be thankful that you did it. If you find yourself and the rest of your family collecting buckets of water to pour outside after every rain comes, elevating your house is a must. Consult with your contractor or engineer to find out the best and most cost-effective way to make this happen, but be prepared anyway to spend.

  • Getting Flood Insurance

To further protect your home from the ill effects of flooding, you can opt to insurance your property. This is especially important if you live in a flood-prone zone or your house sits on a 100-year floodplain. You can set up an emergency fund in the event of disasters, but that can’t really be enough. If your house is situation outside a flood zone, that’s also not an excuse not to get insurance. In fact, around 25 percent of reported flood insurance claims are from homes that are in so-called “safe” areas. Overall, when it comes to your home’s security and your family’s safety, you can never really be too sure.

When disaster strikes, nobody can really predict the outcome nor can anybody by totally shielded by the onslaught. Such is the reality of a natural occurence and this is something we cannot control, no matter how advanced our technologies are. However, for minor rainy-season issues, there are plenty of ways to ensure that your house stays protected and your family is safe. So that the next time the heavy rains hit or a storm comes, you can have peace of mind that you are spared. If not totally protected, you know definitely that the damage will be something you can manage and afford.

Door and Window Sensors: Unique Ways They Can Improve Your Home Security System

Installing a door window sensor is one of the most basic parts of a full home security system. It’s easy to see why it’s also probably the most popular element used. To make it work, all you need is to stick its parts on a window or a door and it’s good to go. Window sensors are what home security systems should be — effective and simple.

But that’s not all a window sensor can do. While most users do place them in the traditional entryways, there are also unique ways to apply them to add security to your home. Some people had used sensors where they were not intended and the results had been pleasantly effective.

  1. They can serve as a backup doorbell.

Sensors, especially those that make loud noises when tagged, can serve as alerts when someone walks up to your front door. They also make a suitable alternative to that broken doorbell that you don’t have the time or budget to have fixed.

The sensor works by chiming when somebody goes through the door. There are smart sensors that can be linked to your phone via an app that also alerts you of the same. If your front door has a glass, a screen, or a similar barrier, you might want to set up the sensor here. You probably won’t hear your visitor knocking but you’ll definitely find out when it sounds off or sends a notification to your phone.

  1. They help keep people out.

Sensors can be helpful if you want nosy visitors and curious kids from snooping around your cabinets. Install it on the safe, the closet, the liquor cabinet, the chocolate drawer, and wherever else you don’t want other people to be checking. This way, the next time somebody attempts to open a door that’s not supposed to be touched, you’ll certainly find out immediately.

  1. It can still guard an open window.

Sensors don’t just work with entryways that are closed. You can let the fresh air in by opening your windows and still have peace of mind. What you can do is post a second magnet on the window sill and you can enjoy the breeze without compromising your sense of security. If somebody tries to open it further, the sensor will sound off at once and alert the household.

  1. It can protect those things you don’t want moved.

Are you iffy about how certain things are arranged in your home? Do you want to ensure that that box you positioned near the door will stay there until you decide to take it out? Sensors can help make this happen. Just still the parts on the items that you want to stay put. If someone tries to relocate it, the alarm will set off as a stern warning. Even if you’re not at home, if somebody tries to move your stuff, you’ll immediately know through your phone.

  1. It can serve as a backup guard for your outdoor shed.

Aside from placing sensors on your home’s entry points, it can also help send out an alert on any attempt to open your garage or outdoor shed. You can make this happen if your shed is within the working distance of your control panel. Sheds are often home to valuable equipment and supplies, so having a sensor installed there makes a lot of sense.

The Importance of Door and Window Sensors

Most home security systems already come with a few sets of door and window sensors, but you can always add more depending on your needs. If you are working on a limited budget, you can set up your security system with these for the meantime. Ideally, sensors are positioned on every possible point of entry in your house, so that if anything gets opened or breached, it sends a signal to the control panel and sets off an alarm.

Sensors are presented in two pieces, with one fitting onto the window or the door itself and the other to the frame. They are usually attached using an adhesive to keep them in place, while some are screwed onto the frame. The pieces are positioned next to each other so they can interact. When they are separated, the alarm goes off.

At this point it is important to note that there are different types of sensors. Some are directly connected to the rest of your network via wires while some are equipped with a battery so that they can be installed wirelessly. The latter are more popular nowadays because of the growing trend towards DIY installations. Some sensors are powered by magnets, while others rely on the connection between light beams to determine a breach.

Before installing door and window sensors for your home, find out first how many you need. Count the number of entry points, including the garage, so you are prepared with all the supplies and hardware before you start. If you miss even a single door or window in this count, you render your entire home security system useless. Remember, a burglar only needs one point of entry and exit to succeed in looting your home. Do not give outsiders the opportunity by not making sure that all bases are covered.

If you want to make doubly sure that you have everything accounted for, you can opt to hire a professional service that will not only make the installations happen but can also provide helpful guidance on other potential threats in your home. Some professional security providers also go beyond simple set ups and offer to continue monitoring your area for a pre-agreed period.

Understanding how the elements of your home security systems work helps you maximize their benefits and enables you to keep them well-maintained. This will ensure that your devices are working as they should (and more) so your risk of a break in is reduced. Home security systems come with quite a hefty cost, but you can be creative in the ways you can apply the basic parts so you and your family can have peace of mind. Your safety is priceless.

Wired vs Wireless Home Security: Which One Should You Get?

So you’ve finally decided that your house needs a home security system. Congratulations — and it’s about time. Given the multitude of security issues in the US today, even if you live in a so-called “good” neighborhood, having a surveillace system in place is one extra step towards your peace of mind.

But before you move forward, you must decide first whether you are getting a wired or wireless security system for your home (or both). There are a number of pros and cons for either and any security expert you ask will always say “it depends on your specific needs and personal preference.” The decision rests on your purpose, the house’s size, and your budget. Whether you go all wired, all wireless, or a combination of both is up to you.

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of having wired and wireless home security.

  • Wired Security – Advantages

There are several benefits to having a wired system. For one, it’s more stable and lasts longer than wireless because it does not run on batteries. There’s also no pressure on you to monitor battery life so you can change them in time. Another is reliable monitoring. Wired setups do not depend on sensors or radio frequencies so their communication lines are more solid. As long as the wires aren’t damaged or the phone lines aren’t cut, this is less likely to fail compared to wireless.

Wired security systems are also vulnerable to hacking because of its largely physical and grounded nature. That means that one would have to actually go to your control panel and connect to it just to hack it (where he or she will definitely get caught). If you are covering a large area, wired units are more stable because they can accommodate more sensors. In fact, their reach is so huge that they can span from one building to another on the same property.

When it comes to availability of nifty features, you can count on wired systems to deliver. If you want to install high-tech HD video surveillance gadgets, you will need the solid stability of wired setups to make this happen. Control panels can also be set-up in multiple rooms. Plus, they are easier to maintain compared to wireless.

  • Wired Security – Disadvantages

While wired systems are more stable, they are also more complicated to install. In fact, because of the number of wires that need to be connected and put in place, the best and most efficient time to get them up is during the construction phase of a home. If your house is already existing, you have to be prepared to drill holes, and open up drywalls and redo them. This process is rather costly. In some cases, the areas where you want cameras or sensors to be attached will be difficult to access, particularly those already tight spaces.

Another downside to a wired setup is that it requires a professional to install it, which can incur high costs. It also means inviting strangers into your home, which can be a challenge if you’re iffy about privacy. Wired systems can take a full day or days to complete and you might not want this rather invasive procedure in your home. If your house has not been preinstalled with a wired system and you’re not agreeable to making changes to its construction, perhaps you should consider getting a wireless security setup.

  • Wireless Security – Advantages

The main reason why most households prefer wireless security systems, aside from it being quite popular these days, is that they are very easy to install. You can even go DIY on this. If it must be set up by a professional, you can expect that this will be done in half a day or less. Because it does not require any wires and drills, you need not worry about ruining your walls or dealing with expensive professional fees. They can also be easily removed, making it suited for apartment renters and temporary residents. You can bring your entire wireless system with you to your new home should you move.

Another pro to wireless is that it can be accessed remotely. Whereas a wired system requires contact with an on-the-ground control panel, a wireless system may use a remote key fob can trigger the panic button or set off/ turn off your setup. You can even connect it to your smartphone so you can set and re-set basic functions with ease.

  • Wireless Security – Disadvantages

One big downside to wireless is that it is battery dependent, so you will need to change them out or recharge them frequently. If you forget, then it turns off and you get no security. The more modern models addressed this issue by putting in longer lasting batteries but, still, they will need to replaced at some point. Some units sent you an alert, though, if you’re about to run out, and most rechargeable batteries have a 3 to 5-year life.

The range of wireless setups is also relatively limited. If you have a large home or need to cover a wide space, you might need to also install wireless repeaters to amplify the signals. Wireless systems use radio frequency which, along with distance limitations, might also interfere with other equipment in your home that also run on the same frequencies. Finally, it is more susceptible to hacking. To protect yourself, make sure you have a strong password for your Wi-Fi and your router is encryption enabled.
Overall, the decision between wired vs wireless depends on what your household needs (and what you can afford). Each one has its set of pros and cons, so weigh each carefully and see what you can live it. They both have a long list of features that may be helpful to certain types of homes and not really necessary for yours.

Alternatively, you can use a hybrid mix of wired and wireless components in your home. Talk to a professional provider so he or she can assess your house and suggest a best combination. Regardless of your choice, having a security system installed is one of the best ways to protect you and your family from outsiders.

Smart Home Technology: 6 Reasons Why Your House Needs It

We live at a time of a rise in technology, so when it comes to setting up safety measures for your home there really is no other way but to get automated. Smart homes and modern construction techniques offer home owners a new sense of control. Even when you are out of the house, a smart home can let you know of its status and give you the ability to power things up or down from miles away.

A smart home can be built from ground zero with technology as a key design element or incorporate into an existing structure through renovation. Either way, transforming your living space into one that does things for you and anticipates your moves comes with several advantages.

What Does Having A ‘Smart’ Home Mean?

Home automation generally means using a range of technology that are interconnected by one network that can be controlled remotely. When your appliances, devices, and systems operate under just one umbrella system, you have what is called a “connected home.” For instance, you can adjust your home’s temperature, turn your appliances on and off, lock and open doors, and adjust security settings from the comfort of your smart phone or mobile device — even when you’re not physically in it.

A smart home gives you a higher luxury that seemed unheard of in the past. As the technology continues to develop, so do the possibilities of having a home life that is easier and, arguably, more enjoyable.

Here are 6 reasons why your house should adopt or switch to smart technology.

  1. It is convenient.

Smart homes help make our lives easier. Being able to control every connected device in your home through just one system is a huge step forward in terms of household management. All you need to do is learn to use the related app on your mobile device and you can adjust the wide range of functions in every room of your home.

In addition to cutting the learning curve to just the app, especially for those who are not too tech-inclined, smart settings help make things happen exactly the way you want them to. For example, you can instruct the system to set your room temperature at an exact number or turn your coffee maker on at the exact time so you always wake up to a freshly made cup. In short, all those common household tasks that took up time and effort are now considered done (and done well) with just a tap on the app.

  1. It maximizes security.

There are plenty of choices for integrated safety features to your smart home network. You can connect surveillance cameras, motion detectors, automatic locks, and other security devices and activate/deactivate them from your phone. You can also set the system to send you notifications and frequent updates on your home’s status or to alert you when there’s been a breach. Others also offer links to your local police station or emergency services that you can tap instantly to send responders to your location. Some smart security systems also give you real-time access and a view of your house even when you’re halfway around the world.

  1. It makes parts of your home easier to access.

If you have differently-abled or elderly people in your home, a smart system can help make things easily available to them. This way, they don’t have to depend so much on other people and can still function properly when they’re alone. These features include voice commands for locking the house, operating a phone, setting up the computer, and more. You can also program your smart home to mow the lawn at a pre-set time, as well as perform other previously laborious household chores regularly.

  1. It helps boost energy efficiency.

A smart home can help make your house more energy-efficient. For example, you can set your home’s temperature settings according to your schedule so it doesn’t need to eat up energy when you’re not around. You can also have it automatically switch from a indoor lights to natural lighting during the day. Lights in the room can also be set to turn on when somebody goes in and off when you leave. Combined with energy-efficient appliances, a smart home can contribute greatly in the conservation of natural resources.

  1. It helps maximize your appliances’ functionality.

A smart home can help you operate your devices according to how you want things done. For instance, your smart TV can predict the types of shows that you want to watch according to your pre-set terms or viewing habits. That way, you don’t need to waste time channel surfing. A smart oven can cook your meats according to your exact preference so you don’t have to worry about an undercooked or overcooked steak. You can also pre-program your audio system to play certain types of music for particular times of the day.

A smart home also gives you insight on how you and family lives. For example, it can tell you how much time you spend watching TV, what kinds of food you cook often, what appliances you use all time, and more. These provide information on your and your household’s lifestyle habits so you can also make adjustments on the way you live.

  1. It helps boost your home’s resale value.

When the time comes when you want to sell your home, it will be much easier to do so and you will likely get a better price for it. This is because your house will have a long list of selling points that will help boost its value. Houses that are pre-fitted with a smart system fetch a higher price compared to a home with conventional tech. Thus, while automating your home now may be pricey, it is a good enough investment to ensure that you attract better buyers in the future.

In addition to all these advantages, the greater “pro” of setting up a smart home now is that it is continuously developing technology. With so many companies now scrambling to invent new ways to make living much easier and more convenient, it is the end consumer that scores the biggest win.

Home Safety 101: Keeping Your House and Family Safe During A Power Outage

There are many reasons why a power outage can happen to a certain area and most of them are unpredictable. It can be because of strong winds, a severe storm, or an accident. That said, you have to be prepared so that your family stays safe in case it does happen in your home. There are several simple steps that you can take to ensure your household’s safety. Here are some of them that you can start preparing for right now.

  1. Water

If you have a water purification system installed in your home, it might not work when there’s a power outage. To make sure that your family continues to drink safe water, it’s best to stock up on bottled water just in case. Water doesn’t expire, so there’s no worry about keeping several bottles or gallons of potable water in the stock.

Alternatively, you can also boil water or treat it during a power outage. Get in touch with your local health center for recommendations and tips on treating water. As a rule, never use contaminated water to prepare food, wash hands, brush your teeth, or even rinse dishes. The bacteria that live in this water could be accidentally ingested and harm you and your loved ones.

  1. Food

If the power outage is to last only a few hours, then you’ll be fine with whatever food you already have at home. But during the storm season, you have to be proactive and prepare for a possible outage that can last days. For example, if your freezer is half-full, it can still preserve your food safely for about a day. If it’s fully stocked, it can keep all the contents safe for up to 48 hours. Open fridge and freezer doors as rarely as you can to keep the heat from entering and to help keep the temperature inside constant.

Meanwhile, food that is stored in the fridge will not last as long as the ones in the freezer. To be safe, transfer foods like meat, eggs, milk, fish and the like into a cooler that has lots of ice to help preserve their viability for longer. If it’s the winter season, you can use the snow to preserve the food, but if it’s during the summer, you will need to head out to buy some ice.

  1. Heating and cooling systems

During the winter season, the threat to your family’s safety can be higher because they can succumb to hypothermia. Your heating and cooling systems will likely be electricity-driven and will be down for an indefinite period. To prevent this from happening, prepare extra clothes and accessories that your loved ones can use to layer and warm up.

In the summer seasons, you could also be exposed to extreme heat and can suffer from heat stroke, exhaustion, and fainting. To avoid this, ensure that you are well stocked with water to keep yourselves hydrated. Open doors and windows to boost ventilation and invite fresh air in. Avoid drinking alcohol and coffee during this time as both are diuretics and can get rid of the water in your body extra fast.

If you suspect hypothermia or heatstroke, you should seek medical help immediately. Hypothermia means a body temperature that’s lower than 35C (95F), while heatstroke means a body temp of 106F and higher. Both can either lead to permanent disability or death so don’t take these for granted.

  1. Risk for gas poisoning

During the colder seasons and the power is down, you might be tempted to use unsafe heating methods to warm yourselves up, like setting up a small fire. While this will definitely bring warmth into your home, it also presents a fire hazard, not to mention carbon monoxide poisoning. Building a fire may be necessary and that’s understandable. Just make sure you know the risks and shield your family against gas leaks in the home. Do not bring propane and charcoal heat sources inside the home.

If you are using a generator, make sure you have installed gas alarms that have battery back-ups in key areas on every floor of your house. This will help alert you if poisonous gas is starting to accummulate so you and your family can evacuate quickly.

  1. Electric shock

When the power finally returns, those who are working to restore it in your home are exposed to possible shock from the sudden surge of electricity. Thus, it is important to use the proper gear and ensure that the conditions are safe to prevent electrocution. If this does happen, immediately call emergency services for help. You should also always have an emergency kit ready in case of an outage. This kit should include flashlights, batteries, medicine, water, and first aid supplies. It should also have some dried or canned food.

Protecting Your Household

If the power goes out, see if it’s just your house or it the entire block is affected. It could just be you and there might a tripped circuit or a blown fuse in your breaker box. If this is the case, call a utility professional immediately. Don’t try to fix it yourself unless you’re a licensed electrician and you have all the safety devices on hand. Then break out your battery-powered radio to listen for updates, in case the phone lines are down and you can’t call your local electric provider right away.

When you need to stay indoors during a power outage, your safest bet for lighting are flash lights and battery-powered devices — never candles. If you have no other choice, set the candles inside low and wide cans and position them away from curtains and other flammable items. Make doubly sure the kids and pets cannot reach them, too.

Also, immediately unplug all electrical equipment, particularly the sensitive electronics, so they don’t suffer from short circuit in the event of a spike when the power does return. In the event of an emergency, it’s always the smartest to take a proactive approach and be prepared. While you might not think your home will be affected by a calamity, you never know when a power outage could happen in your community so it’s best to be ready.

More importantly, every person in your household should know how to get out immediately and be familiar with all exits. Plan and practice your escape before something does happen.

Scouting For A Home Security System Provider? 5 Things You Should Ask

There is no doubt that every home in the US needs a home security system installed. Nowadays, it’s not really enough that you live in a so-called “good” neighborhood. Burglars will strike anywhere and will target anybody. If you are in the habit of forgetting to secure your doors and entry points, you will require automated technology to ensure your and your family’s safety.

You can go the DIY route and install these gadgets yourself. However, that can be quite challenging, because what happens when a burglar does sound off your alarm, right? Sometimes, it would be smarter to partner with a professional service to ensure your peace of mind. After all, your safety is not something you can put a price tag on.

If you are looking for a company that would take care of everything, from the assessement, to the installation process, to the after-hours monitoring and emergency response, there are important questions that you need to ask before signing a contract.

For one, what type of home security system are you looking for? Basic setups are those that sound off an alarm if any part of your house has been forcibly opened, depending on where the sensors are installed. Some of these standard provisions even send a notification to your smartphone if there’s any attempt to break in. That’s the simple version.

More high-tech options include glass-break sensors, motion detectors, lighting and temperature sensors, fire and hazardous gas alarms, and panic buttons. Other fancy gadgets even allow you to control your security equipment remotely using an app that you download to your phone. Indeed, it is an exciting time to live in when it comes to the types of technology that are available for households. Straight out of a sci-fi movie, now you can have peace of mind knowing that your house is safe regardless if your home or miles away from it.

In the process of hiring the right home security company to help make this happen, what questions should you ask?

Here are the five most important.

  1. How much does it cost for the equipment and installation?

The extent of your home security system is largely dependent on how much you are willing to spend. Each company will offer different packages at different rates. When comparing offers, make sure to check what each of them cover in their quote and if there are any caveats. Because they are businesspeople, most likely they will highlight the best sides of their services, so don’t hesitate to ask about the ifs and buts.

Once you have decided on a pricing package that you are comfortable with, find out about the terms and frequency of payment. Will you be paying for a whole year’s coverage upfront, or is it a monthly obligation? Will there be any extra services or features that you will be asked to pay? How about security deposits and advanced payments? The price of the package might be enough for you to handle, but the service might have a few other add-ons you are not ready for, so it’s smart to ask before signing anything.

  1. Are the equipment already yours?

There are home security companies that charge you just for the service and the system they will use is just on lease to you through the duration of the contract. Others will have you stay a client for a minimum lock-in period for the tech to be considered yours. Clear this up with your provider so you know your and their limitations. In the end, go for the company that gives you ownership of entire system installed in your home and provides monitoring services as an add-on. You should be in control of the system because you own it. It’s your house, after all.

  1. Are the people installing the system part of the company or are they independent contractors?

It matters a lot who will install your home security system. You should go for the service that’s powered by its own set of technicians. Those that hire third-party contractors may offer great services, but they can’t possibly guarantee the conduct of the individuals they hire. Meanwhile, if the installers come from their own staff, you can find out about their hiring and vetting process, so you have peace of mind knowing that the guys installing your security equipment are reliable and trustworthy.

  1. How often will the system and maintenance checks be done? Are these free?

Your home security company should be constantly updating your setup with the latest software or at least checking its integrity and effectiveness from time to time to make sure nothing’s out of place. No one ever knows when a burglary attempt can strike, so your provider should make sure that your home is always ready. Some equipment are able to auto-test and send reports remotedly to their base center, as well. Ideally, auto-testing should be done weekly.

  1. What is the provider’s reputation in the industry?

This is a question that you should ask those who have already worked with them before. You can run a search online to find out what former clients have to say about their service. You can also get in touch with existing and long-time customers about their opinions and if they are happy with the service.

During your search, you will be seeing both large companies and small service providers who will offer the same services. Don’t always go for the big company at first look. Sometimes, the smaller ones will have more time to spend monitoring your system and that’s what you really want for your home. On the other hand, the large providers will have more tech and resources at their disposable, which is also a good thing for your security.

Overall, just as you would choose which hotel to stay in or which restaurant to eat in, scour the Internet and make some phone calls to research on your prospective provider before making any decision. The best gauge of their service are past and present clients who will be able to tell you if the company is really good for its word and will not shortchange you.

8 Important Home Security Tips For New Parents

One of the most exciting times for new parents is finally getting to bring the little one home for the first time. However, before you introduce your little bundle of joy to his or her new house, you have to make sure all areas are babyproofed. Infants might not have access to your home just yet, but as your child grows and becomes more explorative of the surroundings, you have to ensure that the environment is safe.

Many recorded home accidents involving babies are related to unsafe spaces. Because babies are a naturally curious lot, you can’t always assume that every part of your house is ready for them just because you don’t see any edges. Even if you have your eye on your little one all the time, there will be moments when they could slip from your fingers and go wandering off on their own. It only takes seconds for an accident to happen, so it’s your duty as parent to baby-proof his or her surroundings.

Here are eight tips that will help you ensure a safe environment for your child.

  1. Get rid of the clutter

When babies start learning to walk and explore, they won’t be mindful of the things that might get in their way. If you have low-lying ornaments, wires, unbacked area rugs, and anything else that might cause them to trip and fall over, it’s time to clear the floor and keep the home clean. By getting rid of the clutter, you reduce the risk of your baby hurting himself or herself. So the next time your child does manage to get some “me” time, you can feel safer.

  1. Make sure all electrical sockets are covered

There’s no stopping a curious baby when he or she wants to inspect something — and that includes electrical sockets. With their tiny fingers, they can easily get shocked the moment they pick on an open outlet. And because sockets are closer to the floor, they are dangerously within the level that your child can reach, making them an even bigger threat. Thus, before the baby comes, place guards or covers over the sockets to make sure there’s nothing to poke into. You can purchase these at the local hardware shops and are easy to install.

  1. Childproof tables and cabinets

There are cabinets in the home that contain potentially hazardous items, like those under the kitchen sink that hold cleaning materials. Some contents aren’t necessarily dangerous but could fall on your child if the doors are opened. To prevent injury, you should place locks or door jams on your cabinets and other things that open so your baby can’t get access to places they shouldn’t reach.

Tables and other furniture with edges can also present a risk for injury. What you can do is place rubber or silicone covers over the sharp corners to reduce the impact in case your baby does bump into it. You can purchase these at baby shops or at the local hardware.

  1. Have safety gates installed

The moment your child learns to crawl or walk, he or she will be wanting to go all over the house. You can protect your little one from restricted areas like the kitchen, the stairs leading to the second floor, and the exits, by installing a safety gate where needed. This way, your child won’t be exploring any room he or she is not supposed to enter or, heaven forbid, try to climb or go down the stairs at that split second you’re not watching.

  1. Place blocks or barriers on showers, toilets, pools

Places where there’s standing water, even the shallow ones, are a drowning risk for little kids. Install magnetic locks on toilet seats or barriers to the bathroom to prevent wandering babies from accidentally accessing them. Even if you think it’s just a very small amount of water, it could still pose a deadly hazard for babies.

  1. Use baby monitors

Of course, it’s impossible for parents to keep an eye on their children day and night. Baby monitors are excellent at helping you check on your child even when you’re not physically in front of him or her. This device will be your eyes and ears while the baby sleeps or plays while you go do some household chores.

  1. Consider going wireless

Wires are a threat to your child. They can get all tangled up in them or even choke. You need to make sure that all wires to your electrical devices are tucked safely out of reach. Otherwise, you might want to go wireless for your entire home to prevent any injuries of this sort.

  1. Install security cameras

Like baby monitors, video cameras are your extra sets of eyes on your little one while you go do something else. While it is not a substitute for your or a sitter’s attention, it is inevitable that you step away from the baby for a while to perform chores, go to the bathroom, and more. They are especially helpful when the baby’s resting, so you can safely bustle about without worrying if the baby’s awake and is on the verge of getting hurt.

In addition, a security camera can also serve as a means of protection for your entire family in case something untoward happens. Position it not just at the nursery but also at strategic locations in and around the house so you and your family will have peace of mind.

Overall, childproofing your home is essential to making sure that your new bundle of joy stays happy and safe as he or she grows into an explorative little child. Any area that poses a potential threat to your little one should be either closed, blocked, or removed. If you’re still unsure which parts of your house are possible hazards, you can hire a security expert to give your house a full assessment so he or she can point out specific spots that need reinforcement or blocking.


Home Security Installation: 5 Best Places To Position Surveillance Cameras

There are two main reasons why you need a security camera for your home. It can either be used to investigate incidents or as a deterrent to potential burglars. The video footages and photos collected from your surveillance cam will be used to review a previous accident or crime so you see why certain things happened. Meanwhile, its deterrent value anchors on the premise that people will likely be on their best behavior if they know they are being monitored.

If you’re thinking about installing a security cam, or several of them, you will need to place them in the right locations to effectively serve their purpose. Even the best and most HD cameras fail to capture if they are not pointed at strategic areas. It will be a waste of effort and investment when the right equipment are installed at the wrong places.

Whether you’re just about to install cameras in your home or already have a few in place, here are the 5 best places to position your cams.

  1. Facing your yard with a full view

Backyards are a treasure trove of equipment, such as lawn machines, bikes, tools, and other nifty items burglars can steal and sell later. They can also serve as a way for burglars to enter your property without being detected, depending on where your house is located. It’s also the place where your kids and your pets are often allowed to play without supervision.

All that said, it certainly makes sense to have one of your security cams aiming at your yard. Not only will it act as a deterrent, it will also allow you to keep an eye on your things and your family, for their safety. Of course, make sure that your yard is also well lighted in the evenings, or you can get a security cam that has night vision.

  1. Your front door

Placing your security camera above the front door is a must. This is because majority of home break-ins are started with this most popular point of entry. A camera placed in full view at this location is a warning sign to burglars or any stranger that they are being watched. If they do still have the guts to break in, footage from this view will help the authorities more clearly identify the intruder.
To make an even more powerful deterrent, you can install a camera with a motion detection feature that instantly turns toward the source of movement or heat the moment it is felt. Some high-tech devices can also stream the feed in real-time to your computer or smartphone so you can see package deliveries, household workers coming and going, and the kids coming home from school. This live feed allows you to act immediately and call the police if someone does attempt to get in.

  1. The nursery

You will feel more confident and at peace that your little one is safe and sound with a security camera in his or her room. Even if you already have a baby monitor set up, it’s still helpful to have a clear visual of what’s happening. Some surveillance cameras have both features (audio and video), while some also have motion sensors and wireless notification capabilities that alert you instantly when someone is inside the baby’s room. It’s also a helpful tool in case your baby gets agile and slips out of the crib.

Another type of nursery surveillance camera is the “nanny cam,” which is often hidden discreetly in the room so parents can see what the caregiver is doing if they are not around. Do keep in mind, though, that certain states do not allow discreet video-taking. Better yet, just place the security camera in plain view to be safe.

  1. The home office or common targets

If you keep valuables at home, it will be smart to have a security camera directed straight at where these things are kept. We’re talking about safes, filing cabinets, jewelry drawers, cash drawers, and any other spot that burglars may target. Make sure that the camera you get offers a wide capture. The goal is both to identify who’s doing it and to review the crime for investigative purposes. You can also position your cams higher than usual so you have a full view of the drawers and cabinets.

  1. Other points of entry

Don’t forget to place security cameras over your back door, basement openings, garage doors and any other locations that burglars might exploit to enter your home. Remember that any door or window is a potential access point, so it’s best to be on the safe side and install on all these.

In addition to catching thieves, these cameras will also help if you have family member who constantly wanders off or young children who might get out undetected. For this purpose, it’s best to install a motion sensor camera. In fact, some of the fancier models can lock in on a moving person and follow them up to a maximum distance. This type of camera not only helps protect your home from stranger entry, but also helps you when your family makes an accidental exit.

Other Areas
These 5 are just the most important locations to install a camera but there are other spots at home, too, that should be covered. These include back or side alleys (if there is one), your driveway, the stairs going to the second floor of your home, your home office, and many more. You don’t need to bathe your house in security cameras inside out. The point is to place them in strategic locations so that you can identify strangers and spot potential dangers.

If you’re still unsure about where best to install your home security systems, talk to a professional so he or she can assess your house and point out the perfect areas where a camera can be placed, among other security equipment that may be necessary. These pros can also advise what types of cameras your home needs.

5 Common Security Mistakes Homeowners Make, According To A Burglar

Plenty of research has been put into increasing security for the home, including among which is about understanding the burglar’s actual psyche and motivations. There are certain types of homes that are irresistible to thieves, and this leads us to the question: why is this house being targeted over to the one beside it? We spoke with some real burglars (who have already changed their ways) and found out that there are specific (seemingly minor) mistakes that homeowners make that make their houses attractive to unscrupulous individuals.

How Intruders Operate

We took advantage of the rare opportunity to talk with some convicted burglars who were willing to share what they know — and the results have been illuminating. There’s nothing like hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth, as they saying goes. And these discoveries are important for every homeowner to know because, according to recent figures, there’s a burglary happening somewhere in the US every 15 seconds. That’s equivalent to more than 2 million cases per year.

This astounding number should be enough to alert everybody of the dangers that a simple mistake as not locking the door behind you can create. If you’re not sure about setting up a security system for your home or how much extra protection it needs, this is a good place to begin. After all, if the burglars themselves say these are what you should do, everybody better take heed.

1. Get those ladders off the walls
A ladder resting against your house or wall is a welcome sign for any burglar to enter your premises. It offers them a quick and very easy way to crawl through your second-storey window. Most likely, you will be worried about having dead-bolted your front and back door to even worry about your openings on the second floor. But with a ladder easily available and in plain sight, you’re giving thieves a free pass.

What should you do? Keep all your windows and doors locked when you go out of the house — and that includes those in the upper floors. If you own a ladder, make sure to hide it in your garage or outdoor shed after use.

2. Don’t let those newspapers and mail pile up
Stacked unread mail and newspapers sitting on the front porch or yard are a dead giveaway that nobody’s home. This is a common mistake of people who go on trips. In your excitement, you will sometimes forget to tell the post office or paper delivery service to hold your mail temporary until you get back.

What should you do? Before heading going on a holiday, tell the post office to temporarily hold your mail during specific dates. You can just catch up on them on your return.

3. Secure your trash
Burglars say they often survey the trash’s contents to determine the type of people in their target house — and if they have money. Looking at your garbage is like browsing a catalog of the things you own. Did you just buy a new Smart TV? The box will most likely show up in the trash for the thieves to see.

What should you do? Never leave boxes of newly purchased items on the curb for everyone to see. It’s best that you stomp on them to make them lay flat or place them inside black trash bags. Better yet, bring them directly to a trash center.

4. Trim your hedges and move possible hiding spots
Tall hedges, overgrown bushes and life-size yard ornaments are a great place for intruders to hide while they case your home. The more bushy your plants are, the better it is for them to peek into the window to see what’s inside that’s potentially valuable, or just study the comings and goings of the people in your household. When they figure out the pattern in your schedules, it will be easier for burglars to plot a plan and escape.

What should you do? Trim your bushes and tress reuglarly so they don’t create hiding spots for thieves. Another thing that might help is to install a motion detector lighting system near windows and doors for your added peace of mind.

5. Don’t broadcast your activities on social media
So the whole family is going to Hawaii and you want everyone to know how excited you are? The burglar will be, too. When you brag about your trip on Facebook, Twitter, Instragram and similar channels, the burglar might not find value in your post but he or she will certainly love the fact that nobody’s home.

What should you do? Stop announcing where you going to go and for how long you will be away. It might be tempting to keep posting updates of where you are in real-time but that can also be signal for intruders that it’s time to start looting. While you might only be connected to friends on social media, you never really know who’s watching. Thus, it’s either you keep your trips private, or at least wait until you’ve return to upload those photos.

Make Your Home Look Alive

The more “alive” your household looks, the lower the likelihood that it will be burglars’ next target. Thieves are called so because they don’t want to be seen while they do their thing. If your home seems like somebody inside, they won’t likely attempt to enter. Burglars say they often observe houses where the lights had been off for at least two days. That’s the signal to enter.

What should you do? There are plenty of smart home security systems nowadays that will help make it look like somebody’s home. You can program it to turn the lights on and off several random times a day. Burglars know that most households do leave the lights on when they go out, but if these lights keep changing, you can actually outsmart them. Some nifty devices can also control your TV, radio and more. In fact, the fancier systems allow you to access your home in real-time through an app and control it from there, even if you’re miles away.