12 Things To Consider Before Buying A Home Security System

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, more than 2 million households are robbed in the US every year. This means that someone breaks into a house about every thirteen seconds. This is one of the reasons why home security systems have been invented. With the technological advancements in the present time, this tech is now designed with more features and gadgets that offer the protection that you need for your entire house.

 

A home security system consists of security cameras, a DVR system, and a control panel to make all these parts work together. Expensive gadgets come with built-in Wi-Fi cameras, making it less complicated when it comes to wiring between the control system and visuals. The systems become more advanced through the years, adding more features like motion detection, night vision cameras, and wireless cloud storage capabilities.

 

These new devices are even compatible with your smart phones, keeping you updated and notified about the security of your house round-the-clock. It allows you to watch any part of your home anywhere you are. But, before we go and get a home security system to protect your house, there are things that we need to consider. In choosing a home security system, be sure you go for the package that includes security cameras, DVR, video cables, and power supply cables. The DVR system should have all the wires needed to connect the cameras and monitors.

 

To make the search easier, here are 12 things you should consider before signing off on any tech purchase.

 

  1. The difference between a Wireless and Hardwired Home Security System. You need to understand the difference between the two. With a wireless security system, there will be no cables to run other than the electrical cords on the control panel. You can install a wireless security system and save a few bucks on installation fees because you can do it yourself. For hardwired systems, these usually require you to do a lot of drilling on the walls to run the cables and connect everything to your home’s circuit breaker. This will also require the services of a professional installer.

 

  1. Home Security Systems vs. Burglar Alarms. These two are totally different. Burglar alarms use sensors on doors and windows that will notify you or the police if someone entered your house without authorization. A home system has more benefits. It does not only alert you if there’s a burglar, but it can also notify you if there’s a fire or even when there’s a flood. Always make sure you know what you’re getting with the security system you’re planning to set up and see the features are suited to your specific needs.

 

  1. Compare different security providers. Get at least three or four quotes from well-established companies that offer system installation and monitoring. You can also check the company’s ratings with the Better Business Bureau. A quick online search and scanning local discussion boards about security services will also give you a good idea about other people’s experience with various firms. A personal recommendation from a family member or friend is also valuable.

 

  1. Power Outages. Most of the security systems continue to function even when there is a power outage. Traditional home security systems are low in energy, so it doesn’t use much power to keep the system running. Also, most systems include a backup battery. If you live in an area that’s prone to power outages, such as those exposed to storms more often, having this tech as part of your system is important.

 

    1. Solar-powered security systems. You can opt for security systems that are solar-powered, but they can be more expensive than regular ones. You can use this for just an outdoor security camera or use it for the entire home security system. The investment will be worth it in the long run.

 

  1. Consider the size. There is no one-size-fits-all design when it comes to your home’s security. A compact system may be okay for a small apartment or condos. However, if you’re trying to secure a larger house, you need a network that can handle more information and monitoring. A larger coverage also means a more comprehensive assessment of your safety needs, so it’s probably best to get in touch with a security expert to make sure you don’t overlook anything.

 

  1. For those interested in setting up surveillance cameras, you need to understand the difference between live videos and recorded videos. Do you want to watch a live feed of what’s happening at home while you’re gone? Or would you prefer to just watch a recording? IP cameras feature live feeds because they can be directly connected to the Internet while a DVR system lets you watch video recordings later on. IP systems can also be viewed in real-time using your smartphone, tablet, or PC, even if you’re miles away.

 

  1. Invest in a good quality camera. Webcams from retail stores will not get the job done if you are serious about setting up your home security system. These cameras are typically designed for video chatting. Look for dome cameras, instead. Also, consider the type of images it generates, whether it’s black and white, colored, or infrared. Consider the quality of the photos and the view range. How many cameras would you need to cover the entire home? How high-quality would you like the images to be? Take note of the optional features for the cameras such as motion detectors, night vision, face detection, audio and video recording, and if it’s weatherproof.

 

  1. The contract. You need to understand what’s included in your contract. Some security companies may offer you add-on services or devices, so you need to know exactly what you need and what’s covered by the contract you signed up for. Ask about the monthly charges, installation and monitoring fees. How long is the contract? Can you terminate it any time?

 

  1. Security Upgrades. There are some easy security upgrades that you can do by yourself, in addition to your installed network. Make sure to lock all your doors and windows and install a deadbolt as reinforcement. Placing motion sensors outside can also be of great help; same with having dogs and “beware of dog” signs.

 

  1. Monitoring. Home security systems come with a monitor that allows the displaying of multiple screens at the same time, with each screen showing its view through a separate channel. The monitor can either be connected using video cables, or if you are using a Wi-Fi-based security system you can monitor channels using your computer through a web browser and a dedicated IP address.

 

  1. Asset protection devices. You can protect your valuables by installing devices that have asset protection. If your valuables have been tampered, like if your jewelry box or safe had been opened or moved, this will send you an alert.

 


Keeping our house secure is one the most crucial concerns that deserve our attention. We always want to make sure that we have the best system installed for our sake and our families’. A good home security system is something we should consider getting to protect all our valuable assets.

Smart Locks For Your Home: 7 Things You Should Know Before Buying

Now that we are at the peak of the computer age, many homeowners are already considering a new trend that enhances security to keep their dwellings safe and secure. While the traditional bolt, lock, and key combination that has long been protecting our homes continue to serve its purpose to keep intruders out, some homeowners are now considering a more technologically-advanced security option: smart locks.

As the name implies, smart locks are home security devices with wireless control integrated into them. However, because the technology has yet to become common knowledge, we have gathered five things you should know before procuring one for your home.

  1. Smart locks offer more efficiency and control.

While your old, reliable deadbolt may continue to serve its purpose, having smart locks could also prove to be a good decision, especially if you’re looking for better efficiency and control. Even during this modern age, many consider the traditional padlock and key-locked bolts as the best choice for keeping unwanted guests from entering their home. This is despite the number of breaking-and-entering cases that have been recorded over the years.

Although smart lock manufacturers do not guarantee zero incidents, their products do have advantages.
For one, smart locks make doors easier to close and open, especially when you get home with your hands full. This is done through wireless connectivity. The technology works well with smart phones as the locks detect Bluetooth signals from the device, the same as way as surveillance cameras.

It also allows more convenience, thanks to software that controls the locks from the homeowner’s mobile phone. It can be used even when you are away from the house. This function also works when the owner is already inside by closing the doors remotely.

On top of that, some smart lock software also include an added security feature that shows the user which doors are still open and provides them with the choice to close it remotely. Others also alert users when a door is being opened by an unwanted guest or if a wrong key code, PIN, or digital key is being entered.

  1. Not all smart locks are the same.

Smart lock manufacturers offer a wide range of products that have varying methods of entry. This includes those that require a PIN code for access, biometric fingerprint scan, and even a proximity card.
There are also types of smart locks that go with varying wireless protocols that potential smart lock buyers should know about to determine which one goes well with their neighborhood.

Those with Wi-Fi in their home have a wide range of options. The advantage of having a smart lock with this type of protocol is the extensive control it offers the user from anywhere, as long as there is an Internet connection. However, this protocol requires additional hardware that could cost more than the other systems. It also burns out the locks’ batteries faster compared to the ones using Bluetooth.
Bluetooth smart locks use up less energy, helping homeowners save on the cost of batteries and the effort in changing them. Unfortunately, this kind of smart lock protocol has a limited range compared to Wi-Fi.

On that note, some smart lock manufacturers offer a third type called the Z-Wave. Smart locks that use this kind need a Z-Wave-compatible hub that looks a lot like a Wi-Fi router. This serves as a translator for the smart lock and Wi-Fi. It doesn’t allow any direct link to the user’s smartphone.

The good news is, it has a wider range than Bluetooth. The bad news, you’ll have to buy another set of hardware to use it.

  1. Smart locks offer a solution to lost-key and locked-out incidents.

Aside from wireless connectivity, smart locks also offer freedom from unexpected incidents, like when the owners lose the key to their house or get locked out when they accidentally leave the keys inside. The “digital key” feature prevents these from happening.

On top of that, experts say that some smart lock brands offer homeowners an option to give “digital keys” to family members, friends, and other guests who frequent their homes. A similar feature has proven itself useful for establishments that offer temporary lodging, like hotels and apartments, where they use proximity cards to give clients access to the rooms they are renting out.

  1. Smart locks should go with your traditional deadbolt.

While smart locks do provide extensive convenience and control over the doors of your home, experts still believe that it is best to pair it with a deadbolt system for better security. After all, it is best not to overlook physical security to avoid any untoward incidents.

Choose a quality bolt that is sturdy enough to withstand even powerful physical attacks, such as kicking and smashing. You should also consider deciding to go with one that can survive through basic lock-picking, at the very least, and install it properly with the smart lock of your choice.

  1. Smart locks are not foolproof.

With all the hype attached to this new technology, it is easy to forget that smart locks do not guarantee zero burglaries. In fact, having this Internet-based security for your home has created another issue for homeowners to worry about: cybersecurity.

According to a security consultant, certain smart lock devices are vulnerable to technical issues. In fact, he was able to hack 12 out of 16 smart locks sent to him for testing. Even so, tech experts do not necessarily think locks are totally unsecure, explaining that it is only a matter of choosing the right brand or manufacturer to trust. On top of that, experts from a lock manufacturing company explained that usual burglars won’t go about hacking the technologically-advanced security hardware and would instead choose a simpler method, like kicking down the door or breaking a window, when attempting a burglary.

Even so, it is best to pair these smart locks with the traditional, sturdy deadbolts that can withstand the excessive use of force. It is also worth noting that smart locks work best when used with a complete security system that includes surveillance cameras, motion detectors, and house alarms.

10 Ways To Prepare Your Home For Your Upcoming Time Away In The Summer

With summer lurking right around the corner, people are starting to plan for a vacation to get away from the usual hustle and bustle of school and work.
Summer vacations are the absolute best. However, it will be a whole lot better if your mind is at ease after you’ve made all the necessary preparations to keep your home safe, secure, and ready for anything that may happen while you’re away.

Here are 10 ways to prepare your home for your time away during the summer:

    1. Make sure your house is clean and clear, both inside and out. With all the excitement that comes with planning a summer vacation, it is common to forget removing the filth that has accumulated throughout the years from their houses. Because of this, experts say it is important to allow time for power washing your home’s wall surfaces, clearing the gutters, and cleaning the windows during the pre-summer vacation planning, so that they would last longer.
    2. Ensure the doors and locks are properly functioning and closed when you leave. It is always best to double check all locks and doors before leaving your home for the summer. All possible points of entry should be assessed for any damages to avoid any mishaps while you’re away. Checking whether the garage door is functioning well should also be on top of your To-Do list before you head out— even if it’s only for a short period of time— to prevent any form burglary from happening.
    3. Never leave your windows open even when you are home. Some people tend to leave their windows ajar at night to let the cool air in and dispel the summer heat. However, experts advise against it. After all, there are better ways to cool down without tempting thieves into making your home their next target.
    4. Have an alarm system installed. Installing an alarm system should be a requisite for any homeowner. It will serve both as an alert to neighbors in case of a burglary and as a way of scaring off the thieves from breaking and entering into your house. It would also be best to put up a sign on your yard, door or window, stating that such security system is installed in the house to discourage potential intruders from even thinking about targeting your home.
    5. Make sure someone mows the lawn even when you’re away. An overgrown lawn is an obvious sign that no one is home. This might cause burglaries and other unwanted incidents to occur. Having the lawn trimmed at least once every two weeks is advisable for people who plan to go on an out-of-the-city vacation for an extended time. Also, ensure that the person you hire to do this task is trustworthy, so you can also have him or her walk through your house to check if everything is in order whenever he or she visits.
    6. Be cautious about what you post on the Internet. Social media is a powerful tool that can bring about positive results as well as unfortunate incidents. Sharing about your travels for the summer is not a bad idea as long as you remember not to do it publicly. This is because posting your whereabouts for anyone to see might let the wrong people know that your house is empty. To avoid any unwanted attention, apply necessary precautions by selecting the appropriate options on your social media accounts’ security and privacy settings.
    7. Set the timers on your appliances and lights or have someone you trust to turn them on while you’re away. A dark house in the middle of the night is an indicator that nobody is home. Although people are not closely monitoring your abode, they are bound to notice if the lights are always off for a long period of time. Security experts say it is best to set timers for your lights and appliances— like your radio or television— to switch on at night time. If your home electronics do not have such functions, you can ask your trusted neighbor to switch them on and off while you’re away.
    8. Put your regular subscriptions and mail on temporary hold. Mail and newspapers piling up on the lawn is another indicator that nobody is home. This is why experts advise those who are planning to go on a lengthy summer trip to put those subscriptions on hold. Some subscriptions offer special services where the customer may opt for their mail to be temporarily sent to their vacation house. In the event that you failed to do this before going out, you can always contact your neighbor or a person you trust to take the mail from your lawn to keep them from piling up.
    9. Invest in pest control and remove shrubs and trees that might block windows and doors. Remove all plants and trees that might provide potential hiding places for thieves so you don’t encourage them to target your house. Also, make sure to use pest control in your home. Most people might think that thieves are the only ones they need to protect their house from, but, believe it or not, pests pose an equal threat to people’s properties. Make sure to invest in pest control to avoid termites and carpenter ants from getting to your things.
    10. Entrust your home to someone you know well. While electronic devices such as alarm systems might effectively deter burglars from taking your belongings, having another person watch over your abode is still the best option to keep it safe and secure while you’re out on vacation. It can be your neighbor or a distant relative, as long as this individual can be left in charge of securing the home and maintaining the cleanliness of the building while you’re away.

Those living in subdivisions or gated communities can also alert the security staff and local police, especially if your vacation lasts longer than a week. This way, law enforcers can drive by your house more often while they are on patrol to make sure that everything is the way it should be.

10 Ways To Ensure Your Security When You’re Home Alone

Living by your lonesome can be both a liberating and a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you’ve just recently tried to be independent. If it’s your first time in a new home and there’s nobody to nag you about getting up or ask what time you’ll be home (AKA your parents), being in the silence of a person-less house can take some time to get used to. This also means you should take extra vigilant steps to make sure that you are safe and secure.

Before, you relied on your parents to conduct a full sweep of the house to make sure doors and windows are locked before turning in for the night. They were also the ones who got paranoid about installing security systems all over the yard and main entryways. Now, it’s your turn. Because you are living alone, the need to ensure that you come home to a house that is safe and secure is all the more pronounced.

Understanding Personal Security

Personal security is taking proactive steps to protect yourself from potentially dangerous situations and people. It is important because while property can be replaced or repaired, human life certainly can’t. In addition to the popular methods of preventing crime, personal security involves knowing how to spot, anticipate, and assess the risks around you. Because you are living by yourself, whether in a house or in an apartment building, you must be extra aware of your surroundings all the time, and never place yourself in situations where you might be compromised.

Here are 10 ways to help you feel much safer at home when you’re living alone.

  1. Lock your doors.

You might think you live in a very safe neighborhood and your building might have a security guard downstairs, but you can never really be sure. As you enter your house, make it a habit to lock the door behind you immediately. Security experts say it’s best to install a dead bolt as reinforcement. Don’t just rely on the lock-and-key system that your unit originally came with. Dead bolts can be purchased from hardware stores and can be easily installed without help.

  1. Close the blinds and turn your outside lights on.

When it gets dark outside, you become more visible from the inside. Thus, you should make sure that your blinds or heavy curtains are drawn when you’re in the house. Also turn your exterior lights on to deter anybody who doesn’t want to be recognized from even attempting to go near your door.

  1. Be friendly with your neighbors.

You don’t have to host slumber parties and poker nights to be friendly with the other people in your neighborhood. A simple nod and smile regularly is enough for you to recognize each other, so you can also help identify unfamiliar faces lurking in the area. Friendly neighbors will help keep an eye on your property when you are not around, as well. It’s nice to know someone’s looking out for you, especially when you’re living solo. Who knows, your neighbors could turn into your best friends later.

  1. Don’t leave a spare key outside.

Everybody knows to check above the door, under the flower pot, or under the welcome mat for a spare key into the house. Outsmart burglars by not leaving anything that can help them go inside at all. Instead, you can leave your spare key with a trusted neighbor or a family member.

  1. Get a dog.

A pet dog not only makes for excellent company when you’re living solo, he or she will also be your hyperactive alarm system in case somebody tries to break in. Even if you’re not at home, a dog will scare intruders off and drive them away. You don’t have to have large dogs just ward off burglars. Even a small chihuahua has a massive and noisy bark that will make it hard for criminals to carry on with their plans.

  1. Have a check-in plan.

It’s important to let somebody know of your basic daily routine, whether it’s a family member or a friend. If you are going to be traveling, be sure to inform a close neighbor or your loved ones about that, as well. You can also let someone know about the typical times you get home from work, so that this person will notice when you haven’t been following your routine and start checking up on you.

  1. Call a friend or a family member.

It’s nice to have someone to talk to when you’re feeling scared about living alone. It doesn’t take much to connect with friends and family. Simply pick up the phone and chat about how your day went and whatever else to help you feel calm and secure. On some days, you can even invite a friend over to spend the night or hang out so you don’t always have to just watch TV and do nothing.

  1. Install a home security system.

Install a home security system to help you feel safer when you’re in and outside of your home. Pay attention to all points of entry and make sure to keep your place well-lighted. There are security systems that you can even control and monitor using your smart phone or tablet. So that even when you’re at work or are out traveling, you can see what your home looks like in real time. You can also set it up so you receive instant notifications in case there’s an attempt to enter your property. The system can also send the same alerts to the authorities.

  1. Never open the door to strangers.

Always verify the identification of service and sales people and other visitors before letting them in. Security experts recommend that you install a peep hole on your door or a security camera facing your front door, so you can ask questions before actually opening it. They also advise against using chain locks, which do not really help stop entry if the attacker is extra aggressive.

  1. Take a self-defense class.

The more you know about security, the better you will feel about living on your own. Thus, you should not only equip your home with safety measures but enrich yourself, as well. Enrolling in a self defense classes gives you leverage when there’s an attack on you. Besides, these classes are not just practical, they are fun, too.

Overall, you don’t have to be helpless when you’re living solo. In fact, it helps you become all the more empowered to ensure your safety. By equipping yourself with the right tools and right knowledge, the more confident you will be about coming home to an empty house. The key to feeling secure when you’re living alone is to feel that you are in control. Of course, in addition to these tips, you should have the local authorities on speed dial in your phone, so you can easily access them in case there’s a threat.

10 Ways To Make Your Home Safer For Older Family Members

You want to have a home that is seen as a place of refuge by all members of the family, regardless of age. As our loved ones age, you will need to make some changes to how your spaces are laid out to keep everybody happy, healthy, and safe. Whether you are preparing your home for the coming of elderly family members or just want to ensure that their visits are enjoyable, there are simple and easy updates you can make to ensure security.

One of the most common issues that ageing people face is limited mobility. Thus, when revising your home, you should focus on home safety measures that also preserve their independence. Here are 10 tips on upgrading your house to make each room senior-friendly.

  1. Secure all your rugs

Use grip tapes or non-slip backings to secure area rugs to their place. There are plenty of affordable solutions that are a breeze to install. In addition to ensuring that your rugs don’t move, gel-based grippers also help in keeping them from curling or running. These items can be reactivated using water if you need to remove it temporarily when cleaning. Gel grippers are a popular choice for backing loose rugs because they do not leave residue and marks on the floor. They also work on rugs that are placed on top of carpeting.

  1. Replace or fix dangerous flooring

Elderly members usually drag their feet when walking and have balance issues. Thus, slick surfaces like tiles and hardwood, as well as high-pile carpets, are a huge no-no. These potentially hazardous elements can cause slips and falls. If your parents or grandparents are moving to your home, you might want to redo your risky floors. Replace carpets with low-pile varieties and take note of the slip rating of certain floor materials to ensure that those areas that see high traffic are as safe as can be.

  1. Make the stairs easier to climb

Avoid stair-related accidents by adding elements to your stairs that add extra grip. You can install grip tape to bare stairs. There are also non-slip mats that work nicely on the steps with or without carpeting. If an elderly family member is moving in, it is unavoidable that he or she uses the stairs. If your budget permits, you can install a stair-assist chair or stair lifts with adjustable seats to help make going up and down so much easier and faster for the seniors.

  1. Make passageways well lighted

Ideally, senior citizens will not have to climb and down the stairs. If you have a spare room at the ground level or can convert your TV room to accommodate guests, that’s where they should be. In any case, you must provide adequate lighting on all staircases, hallways, and passageways so they can clearly see where they are going, even without glasses on. You can install motion sensor lighting that turn on only when movement is detected. These types of lights are easy to install and will not put a huge dent on your electricity bill.

  1. Install hand rails and grab bars

Handrails and grab bars are two of easiest ways to boost your home’s safety for elderly members. Hallways, stairs, bathrooms, and even bedrooms should have these because it will help keep the seniors moving around more securely. Grab bars are made of different materials and can accommodate varying weights. They provide additional stability in the shower, in the bath, near the toilet, or anywhere else. They are also easy to install at any angle of your choosing.

  1. Add a shower bench to bath

A shower stool or bench lets your elderly members enjoy a bath independently while lowering the risk for slips and falls. Many bench models can stand on their own in the bathroom, but a transfer bench provides added security as the user gets inside or exits the shower. Before buying a bench, check first its maximum weight capacity to ensure that your senior family member is accommodated safely. This bench is also useful for individuals with limited mobility or those just recovering from an injury or surgery.

  1. Change the tub to a walk-in type

If your elderly family member is staying for an indefinite period (or permanently) you might want to consider upgrading your regular bathtub to a walk-in type. It also affords your loved ones a safe and convenient way to bathe independently. Before buying a new tub, make sure that is compliant with the guidelines set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Walk-in bathtubs are also great for the rest of your household.

  1. Install bed rails

Bed rails assist elderly members as they get in and out of the bed. There are plenty of accessory options in the market, most of which are very easy to install. Most rails are simply fit between mattresses and box springs. Some even come with pockets to hold magazines, books, or anything else that seniors need to have on hand. Bed rails are also useful for people with limited mobility who need to change sleeping positions on their own. Whether it’s installed for permanent support or as a temporary acessory following a surgery, this will help ensure safety during bedtime.

  1. Install a security system

It might seem too much, but you can’t really go wrong with the added comfort that you and your elderly family members need. There are security systems that project videos in real time to your smartphone so you can check on your loved ones anytime you want. You can also pre-set the system to send out alerts in case somebody unexpectedly leaves your home or steps on the yard. Security devices are particularly useful if your senior members are prone to wandering off or have memory loss problems.

  1. Use home automation

An automated home is not just for your convenience, it also helps secure your elderly members. For example, a smart thermostat controller can automatically adjust the air conditioner or heater to keep your loved ones comfortable. Automated lights can also be remotely operated or pre-set to turn off and on at specific times of the day. If you’re unsure what type of home automation device to get, you can start with simple systems that offer both temperature and lighting features to turn your home into a safer space for everyone.

Overall, keeping your home safe is crucial if you have elderly family members. Set your home up to make them feel welcome and calm by taking into consideration the kinds of assistance they need. Start by applying simple home upgrades and then you can decide to fully automate next time as you get more accustomed to the technology.

8 Ways To Ensure Your Kitchen Is Safe

With all the cutting tools, flames, and scalding hot grease that is common to kitchens, it is not surprising that government safety boards list it as the most dangerous room in the household. Every year, emergency rooms log thousands of Americans rushed to the hospital because of kitchen-related injuries. This is why it is imporant for you to put safety measures in place to protect you and your family. Whether you’re a veteran chef or a budding Martha Stewart, the safety tips we will discuss here will give you sound advice on preventing accidents from happening to you.

You don’t want to be the ER’s next kitchen injury statistic. Here are eight ways to ensure that it is a safe space.

  1. Practice Claygo

Clean up immediately everytime you prepare anything in the kitchen, whether it’s a full meal or just a bowl of cereal. If you have kids in the house, or even just clumsy people, it’s very easy to spill something. When it does happen, be sure to wipe the mess up immediately to prevent an accident. Even a small spill or a bit of food presents a risk of falls. Oil and grease are equally dangerous. Make Claygo, or clean-as-you-go, a habit and make sure the rest of the household practices that, as well.

  1. Understand how fire works

Fires are exacerbated with exposure to oxygen, so don’t fan it out or expose it to air even more. What works instantly is smothering it with a pot cover or a wet rag. If you’re facing a fire caused by grease, covering the pan, or putting salt or baking soda will put it out. Never ever use water to put out kitchen fires. If it happens in the microwave, you can manage it by pulling the plug. If it’s in the oven, you can use baking soda or, if you have one, a fire extinguisher.

  1. Believe in the power of your fire extinguisher

The fire extinguisher is probably the most important part of your kitchen, so you don’t downplay its role. In fact, all kitchens should have one. There are smaller fire extinguishers that are suited for small kitchen use. It’s doubly important that you also know how to use it. Don’t just put it on display and not bother to learn how to operate it. Store it in a space that can be easily accessed in the event of an emergency.

  1. Test your smoke detector

According to the US Fire Administration, households that do not have smoke detectors installed have a higher chance of catching fire — and most of these accidents start in the kitchen. The USFA records more than 150,000 fires related to cooking mishaps. Having smoke detectors (that work) is one major step towards early detection and prevention. Some smoke detection systems are built into security systems so why not get the full deal, right? Detectors should also be tested every three months to check their viability.

  1. Be cautious with your accessories and clothes

Your clothes and accessories are a potential fire hazard. Long sleeves, scarves, and long hair can catch fire, jewelry can get caught on handles, and belts can pull cooking pans off the stove. When you’re in the kitchen, pay attention to what you’re wearing and make sure nothing’s hanging loosely. Pan handles should also be turned so they don’t accidentally get caught in your clothes or grabbed your kids or pets.

  1. Steam is very dangerous

Statistics show that over 100,000 emergency room cases in the US are related to scald burns every year. This involves boiling water, hot beverages, faucets with hot features, and even steam. Usually steam isn’t seen as a hazard, but it can actually burn you badly. It’s effect is more severe than freshly boiled water.

When you lift the lid of a pot of boiling water or pull the wrap or cover off something that’s just been microwaved, be very careful. Let members of the family know too. Microwave popcorn is delicious, but they shouldn’t be too quick to open that bag and make sure the opening is facing away from them when they strip it off.

  1. Sanitize everything

In addition to accidents, germs are the biggest threat in the kitchen. Because of the moisture and varying food stuff that go through your kitchen on a daily basis, it is actually a haven for bacteria to thrive (more than any other space in your house). To make sure that your kitchen is not just squeaky clean but also sanitized, clean surfaces with a water and bleach solution as often as you can. There are also organic and environment friendly solutions available to be safer. Cutting boards should be cleaned after each use, while sponges and dishwipes should be replaced often.

  1. Keep children and pets out

Kids enjoy whipping up meals with their parents. To avoid injury, you must orient them properly with the risks for injury. It’s okay to play around in the kitchen, but when there’s something cooking, young children should be kept as far away as possible. Take note that ovens, toasters and the other heating appliances don’t cool down immediately and can present a danger to both children and pets. To be sure, just declare the kitchen as a “no pet zone” or “no kids zone.”

Installing Alarms & Smart Systems

Of course, you can’t always control what goes on in the kitchen, so having a smart home monitoring system can help. It can let you know immediately if there is a change in tempeature, if there’s a fire starting, and if there are restricted doors or drawers being opened. It can even send you alerts if small children are wandering off that space unsupervised. In addition to get alerts in real-time, you can also install cameras so you can get a visual of what’s going on as it happens, even if you’re at the office.

Overall, while having a 100% safe kitchen is not really possible, there are measures that you can set in place to make the risk of accidents and injury a lot smaller. Having precautionary systems installed plus the ability to visually monitor what’s going is important, especially if you have small children, elderly family members, pets, or are generally forgetful.

5 Most Common Household Poisons & What You Can Do To Prevent Them

There is one poison exposure incident reported in the US every 15 seconds which translates to over 2 million cases every year, according to a study by the American Association of Poison Control. That number does include the around 56,000 animal poisoning incidents in the same time frame. This number is huge, but it is not really surprising. Majority of homes contain daily-use products that pose a toxic threat to both humans and animals. When these things are not properly stored, accidental poisoning is bound to happen.

Here is a list of 5 most common household poisons and what you can do to prevent them from hurting you and your loved ones. Do not that there are many other usual everday products that can pose a danger to both human and animal health. So if you do suspect poisoning, it’s always best to call emergency services right away.

  1. Cleaning products

Most cleaning materials contain a range of chemicals that can be accidentally ingested by a curious pet or toddler. Two of the most common ingredients are hydrochloric acid (usually from tub and tile cleaners) and sodium hydroxide (also called lye, usually from oven and drain cleaners). Because they are almost always used, people tend to leave them exposed to make them quicker to access. However, you should know that even inhaling these products can lead to poisoning.

Symptoms of chemical poisoning can vary depending on the type of product. Toilet bowl cleaners, for example, can cause severe abdominal pain, burns in the esophageal lining, and blood in the stool. Drain or oven cleaner poisoning can manifest through difficulty breathing, mouth burns, excessive drooling, and eventually collapse. In the event of accidental ingestion, have the person drink either milk or water immediately, then seek medical help at once.

To prevent these from happening, keep all cleaning products stored in places that cannot be accessed by both kids and pets. If you must store at a low level, you should install kid safety locks or a similar device to doors so they don’t easily get opened. For added safety, you can opt to switch to less toxic products; but, really, it’s all about proper storage. It’s better to spend a little time opening cabinets to get these cleaning products than have to deal with a poisoning issue that threatens life.

  1. Medicines

Statistics show that over 80 percent of deaths related to drug poisoning are accidental, with almost 50 percent caused by an overdose of prescription drugs. The most commonly reported medication poisoning incidents involve oxycodone and hydrocodone, usually found in pain meds. Over-the-counter medications like NSAIDS, too, can be potentially fatal to those who don’t need it. These include the likes of aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen.

Painkiller overdose symptoms range from mood swings, nausea, and confusion to breathing difficulties that can lead to death. Other symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain. If ingested in large doses, NSAIDs can also caused damage in the kidney and result in seizures and coma. If you suspect medical poisoning, call 911 right away. Try to find out when the drug was ingested and how much was consumed to report to the medical personnel.

To prevent medicine poisoning, follow the instruction to “keep medication away from children and pets at all times.” Better yet, install locks on medicine cabinets so nobody gets access to the drugs without you knowing about it. Always keep pills in the original containers or label them properly and visibly, so no accidents happen. More importantly, if a drug is not prescribed to you, don’t take it. Always get a consult from a doctor first before allowing yourself and a family member to take any medicines.

  1. Insecticides

Insecticides are meant to get rid of common household pests, which means they are toxic to humans. Poisoning can happen by way of inhalation, swallowing, or skin absorption and two of the most commonly reported poisons are organophosphates and carbamates, found in many sprays. To spot a possible insecticide poisoning, watch out for excessive salivation, blurred vision, vomiting, and even seizures. If ingested in large doses, these chemicals can led to an overstimulation in the organs and eventual failure.

If you suspect insecticide poisoning, do not make the person throw up because the chemical will come in contact with your internal organs again. Just seek emergency assistance right away. Medical personnel might use atropine to deal with serious insecticide incidents. If the product came in contact with the skin, immediately wash the affected area and the entire body.

To prevent this, try to use as little insecticide as possible, or switch to the organic, natural options. Insecticides that use pyrethrins are said to be safer because they are made from flower products so they are not as potentially fatal to pets and humans in case of ingestion. If you must use the stronger chemical variants, keep these locked and store away from accidental reach. Ensure that nobody is in the room when you apply these products and avoid using them on enclosed spaces as much as possible.

  1. Topical anesthetics

Topical anesthetics are usually safe when used according to package instructions. They contain ingredients that can numb the skin and tissues in cases on insect bites, sunburn, and sore muscles. However, using more than what is needed or accidentally swallowing even just a small amount can result in poisoning.

Poisoning symptos can include drowsiness, difficulty breathing, a slow heartbeat and seizures. One of the most common topical anesthetic, benzocaine, can cause methemoglobinemia, which is a potentially fatal condition where there a dangerously low amount of oxygen in the blood. Symptoms of this issue include rapid heart rate, headache, and a bluish color in the nails or skin. If you suspect poisoning, call 911 immediately or rush to the nearest hospital.

As a preventive measure, always store anesthetics properly and never use more than what is prescribed. Teething gels can be detrimental to children less than 2 years of age so don’t use them on babies. The safer way to relieve teething pains is to just massage the gums to ease pain or use teething rings.

  1. Laundry or dishwashing products

Accidentally swallowing either liquid or granular detergent is dangerous, but laundry pods pose a much bigger risk of poisoning. US Poison Control lists over 62,000 reports related to their issues, mostly affecting kids ages 6 years and younger. Detergent pods, in particular, because of their pretty packaging and pleasant smell, often get mistaken for candy. Statistics show that around 60 percent of laundry poisoning calls are because of these products.

Symptoms of dishwashing and laundry product poisoning include diarrhea and vomiting. If a pod has been ingested, symptoms could cover vomiting, drowsiness, difficulty breathing. As a preventive measure, keep all cleaning agents stored under lock and key and make sure those pods stay where they should be. Better yet, avoid using these candy-looking pods altogether and opt for the liquid or granular versions.

Who Is At Risk?

Poisoning knows no age, so it’s not just about keeping products away from children’s reach. In fact, adults account for almost 40 percent of accidental poisonings. We recommend keeping all potentially hazardous products kept away and used to a minimum. Better yet, have the entire household switch to the organic materials which may be a lot less dangerous (although still possibly fatal if taken in large amounts).

7 Home Safety Tips For People Who Live Alone

Living alone nowadays seems to be the norm among the younger generation and the numbers are reportedly at their highest now than any other time in history. Recent statistics show that 40 percent of all households in major cities in the US have just one occupant. In highly urbanized cities like Washington and Manhattan, a whopping 50 percent of homes are occupied by solo dwellers.

There are many advantages to living alone. Foremost is freedom. You are the master of the house so you get to decide how things go, what decorations will be used, when you need to clean, and more. Included in this list of responsibilities is personal safety and home security.

Because going solo also affords you the freedom to engage in social activities as you wish, it is highly likely that you will be out of the house more often than when you are in it. Or, if you’re a certified homebody, you likely won’t have anyone around on a daily basis to keep you company in case an emergency occurs. According to recent incident reports, a whopping 49.7 percent of house break-ins usually happen to single occupants.

Here are 7 helpful tips for a solo homeowner or renter to stay safe or keep the house protected when you’re not around.

  1. Know your neighbors

In the age of technology, solo dwellers usually don’t become too familiar with the people who live in the place next door. However, getting to know the people you should a building or a community with helps in ensuring a safe environment not just for you but for the rest of the area, as well.

By being familiar with the people you live with, you can instantly spot the not. That is, point out people who seem to be just lurking around and identifying vehicles that do not belong. If you’re friendlier to your neighbors, you can help each other by keeping an eye out for suspicious activity in each other’s places or in common spaces. You don’t have to be besties with your neighbor if you not the type, but a simple ‘hello’ everytime you pass each other plays a huge role in keeping your little community safe.

  1. Get yourself a dog

Not only will a dog keep you company when you’re by your lonesome, it will also alert you to a stranger lurking in the yard. A pet will also guard your home when you’re not around, thus discouraging would-be burglars from even attempting to enter your space. In your search for man’s best friend, consider your living space and daily routine.

If you have allergies, make sure to get a dog that does not shed. Also take note of a breed’s activity level and size. A good breed to serve as guard would be boxers, great danes, or german shepherds. If these are too big for your home, especially if you’re living in an apartment, you can get the smaller breeds with big barks.

  1. Use smart locks

Hiding a key under the welcome mat, above the door, or the flower pot are all too common. By installing smart locks, you don’t need to worry about misplacing your house keys again. Smart locks are safer than keys because they will likely require your fingerprint or a special numerical code to open. Some other models come with remote controls that let you check if you remembered to lock the door. If you did forget to do so, you can easily tap some buttons on an app to lock it, even if you’re already at the garage or, with the fancier ones, at work.

  1. Install a security camera

Security cams are your second set of eyes when it comes to looking out for your home. They help you check what’s happening in your house even when you’re away. Some features even let you control the direction the camera is pointing and show you a video in real-time even from thousands of miles away. Aside from inside your home, placing a security cam at your front door also helps you see if somebody came by to call on you or if somebody had been lurking around.

  1. Install motion detection lights

Place the burglar under the spotlight and you’ll spook him from ever attempting anything on your home. Motion sensors offer additional safety and serve as an effective deterrent. They also shine light on any attempts to burgle your home before it even gets started. For optimal results, motion detection lights should be positioned near entryways or any space outside your home where a burglar can hide or try to break in.

  1. Consider getting a personal alarm

There are alarm systems and apps that offer additional security whether you’re out on a run by your lonesome or just watching TV at home. These discreet alarms fit nicely in your jewelry or clothing so you can call for help when you need it. Like the regular home alarms, personal devices set off a loud sound when activated, thus calling attention to yourself and forcing assailants to step back. This type of gadget helps ensure that you are protected wherever you go.

  1. Take advantage of backup

Even if you’re always home alone, it helps to keep your friends and family in the loop as to your whereabouts and activities. Keep close friends in on your regular routine and let someone else if there’s a sudden change in this schedule. Set-up regular meet-ups with friends who also live solo so that you guys notice if someone does not show up or goes MIA. If you’re having something fixed in your home and need to open it up to strangers, invite a friend to come hang out for added safety.

There are plenty of good reasons for living alone and, sometimes, it’s better that way. But when it comes to your safety and security, you simply can’t leave things to chance and luck. There are lots of resources available to help give you peace of mind.

6 Basic Emergency Procedures Everyone In Your Family Should Know

Anybody can be in an emergency situation and the latter can happen at the most unexpected times. This is why it is important for you and the rest of your family to know the basic procedures to handle some of the most common incidents. Knowledge of first aid and how to administer them can save a life. However, in the US, statistics show that as much as 70 percent of Americans do not know what to do in case something does happen.

Are you and your family ready? Let’s have a look at some of the most common emergency situations and what you can do to address each one immediately. Take note that while these procedures are recommended and necessary, the more important thing you should do before performing any of these is to call 911 first or ask somebody to call an ambulance while you get started. With that established, here are six procedures that everybody should know.

  1. Perform CPR

This is one of the first things that come to mind when it comes to “life-saving skills.” Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a technique that could make a huge difference to a person who is suffering cardiac arrest. It’s better to get training from a licensed emergency services specialist and practice the moves beforehand, so that when the time comes that your skill is needed, you are ready. Even just watching a one-minute video about CPR can already help make you better at thir procedure.

  1. Help someone who is choking

The Heimlich maneuver is the most popular way of relieving a person who cannot breathe due to a blockage in the airway. Some restaurants post illustrations and photos demonstrating how to do this procedure because choking happens while one is excitedly eating. However, not every place has these guides available. This is why you and your family should know what to do.

Note that before performing the Heimlich maneuver, you should first strike five blows to the person’s back using the heel of your hand to dislodge the food or object that’s blocking the air passage. If that doesn’t work, that’s the time you do the signature abdominal thrusts. Choking not only happens to people who are eating. It can also happen in children and infants who are prone to putting random stuff in their mouths. There are different techniques for adults and children, so train your family to do both.

  1. Burn

For minor burns, you can immediately address the problem by running the affected area under cool water for at least 10 minutes. Then, get a moist towel to help further cool the skin. Do not put ice, or anything else on the burnt area and simply cleanse it with mild soap and water. For the pain, the person can take meds to manage it. Just make sure that he or she is not allergic to these drugs, or else you end up with a bigger problem.

Simple burns do not require dressings, as well, and just need to be aired out. Just make sure that open wounds are not contaminated so you don’t escalate the problem. Of course, if it’s a major burn, you must call for medical help right away or rush to the nearest hospital to be treated by a professional.

  1. Bleeding

Bleeding can come in different forms, ranging from a simple scrape to the dangerous arterial type. In any case, the goal is to stop the bleeding ASAP and prevent further loss of blood. To address a bleeding issue, wash your hands and put on gloves (or a clean plastic bag) first to avoid contaminating the area. Elevate the site of the bleeding and remove any obvious debris and dirt from the wound. If there’s a large object embedded, do not touch it and just wait for medical professionals to handle it.

Apply pressure on the bleed site with a bandage or clean cloth for at least 20 minutes. During this period, do not open the cloth to check if it has stopped. Just wait until the time has passed before looking. If the bleeding doesn’t stop and there’s arterial damage, apply pressue on the artery itself and squeeze it against the bone, while ensure that your hand continous to apply pressure on the wound itself.

  1. Heart attack

Because a heart attack is life-threatening, knowing how to spot signs of an impending attack and how to deal with it when it does happen is crucial. Signs includes dizziness, pain in the neck, shoulder or arm, chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea/vomiting, among others. When you spot someone with these telltale signs, immediately call 911 or have someone do so. You can offer aspirin if available because it can help reduce the damage, then perform CPR when the person loses consciousness. Do this until emergency service arrive and takes over.

  1. Carrying someone bigger than you

There might be times when there’s another person hurt and only you can help bring him or her to safety. If that person if heavier than you or you are not that strong, you can still lift him or her without hurting yourself while doing it. What you can do is take the person’s arm and pull it over your shoulder. Then while crouching down or kneeling, have his or her middle part rest on your shoulder to hang. Thrust upwards using your hips and legs. Do not lean forward as this can cause injury on your back. You can practice this technique with children or small people first, just so you get the hang of it.

Hopefully, you or your family will not be in a situation that requires knowledge of emergency procedures. However, arming your loved ones with these skills makes you better prepared to handle them when they do happen. In addition, practicing these procedures as a family or a team can help bring you closer together because it’s a wonderful way to bond.

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.