8 Security Hacks Every Homeowner Should Know

Everyone feels the most comfortable and safest in their own homes. It is, after all, our sanctuary; where we can be free to just let go and not have to worry about anything. However, nobody is 100 percent protected against possible break-ins. Even if you live in some of the most secure and safest cities in the world, there’s still a chance that a burglar could come and take the things you hold dear.

 

Fortunately, there are several ways for homeowners to reduce the likelihood of a burglary at your home. Whether you want to make your personal space less vulnerable to outsiders or want to install a full-fledged home security system using the latest technology, the security hacks we’re going to note here will boost your sense of safety even more. Even if you’re not an expert DIY-er, you can make these techniques happen — and some don’t even cost a thing.

 

Before you implement these safety techniques, you should first assess your home for areas where security might be weak. Identify the vulnerabilities of your home, such as a faulty lock at the back door, a rusting window hinge, or a fence that’s too low or non-existent. By pointing out which areas are likely to be a security problem, you can devise more targeted solutions, in addition to having general protection.

 

Here are 10 home security hacks we’ve gathered to help make your home (or place of business) a more secure place.

 

  1. Lock your doors.

 

This is a VERY simple rule but is often taken for granted. Even when you’re in the house, lock main points of entry. It’s not that you are paranoid. One can never be too cautious when it comes to protecting the family against a burglary. In fact, many reported break-ins in the US have happened WHILE the owner of the house is at home. Consider it a proactive approach.

 

Gather the family and agree to always lock the doors whenever they go in or out of the house. If you tend to be forgetful, or just want to ensure that nobody forgets, you can install an electronic lock on primary entryways, or a self-locking tool that requires one to key in a code upon re-entry.

 

  1. Be extra clever with your extra key.

 

Everybody knows the most popular places where the spare keys are hidden include under the welcome mat, above the door, or under the flower pot. You’ve got to be extra creative and sneaky now when it comes to hiding your spare. Place it somewhere that’s less obvious. Experts say it should be at least 50 feet away from your home because burglars will likely be looking around only where it’s close.

 

To be extra careful, you can opt to change your traditional key-driven locks with those digital keyless types that only you and your family members know how to operate. That way, you won’t need to keep thinking up ways to hide your spare key, only to forget all over again.

 

  1. Make it look like somebody’s home.

 

If somebody appears to be home, it is less likely to be burgled. Majority of thefts happen when there’s nobody around to catch the thieves. That can be during the day when everyone is either at school or at work, or when the entire family is on vacation. Burglaries can happen in broad daylight so don’t be too confident that thieves don’t strike in the morning. You can leave a light or two on if you’re going out at night to make it appear that someone’s tending the house.

 

If you’re going to be gone for a while, arrange for a temporary stop to your mail so no envelopes get stacked at your doorstep. You can also schedule a regular yard maintenance service or ask a trusted friend to drop by and check the house from time to time. Also, thanks to technology, you can install special lights that turn on and off via your smartphone (even if you’re a thousand miles away) just so you can make your house look alive.

 

  1. Change your front door.

 

You can enhance your home’s protection by changing your front door with those special burglar-proof models, instead of the usual wooden ones. Replace your main entryway with a steel core model to prevent break-ins, even the forcible ones. If that’s not in the budget for now, you can just change the lockset that was preinstalled on your door with a long-throw deadbolt. To avoid having to open the door to strangers, you can also install a camera so you can see whoever is ringing the doorbell even before you open it.

 

  1. Invest in home security cameras.

 

Take your home security a notch higher by installing surveillance cameras that cover all angles of your house from the outside. These cameras help you see whoever is lurking around your home, so you can immediately call for help. In the event that your house was, indeed, broken into, security cams will also help identify the persons responsible.

 

There are plenty of security camera models in the market. Some are equipped with light and motion sensors, some have night vision, and some even have built-in Wi-Fi capabilities so you can watch your house in real time while you’re away.

 

  1. Don’t expose your valuables.

 

If a burglar gets inside your home, his or her first instinct is to go to your bedroom dresser to search for jewelry, electronic devices, cash and any other expensive items that can resold or pawned. Make it difficult for the thief to search for your valuables by hiding them in unlikely places. Alternatively, you can get yourself a safe that cannot be carried and is locked by a code. You can also not be obvious about it by getting a safe that doesn’t look like one at all. In fact, there are certain models that look like regular household decorations and furnishings.

 

  1. Burglar-proof your yard

 

Make sure that burglars don’t have a chance to survey your home or hide. Trim your bushes, secure your sheds and outbuildings, or, better yet, build a fence.

 

  1. Secure your garage.

 

Most of our most expensive equipment are stored in the garage and these include the likes of golfing equipment, bikes, large audio-video components and more. The most basic hack to protect your garage is to keep the door closed. Exposing your stuff to so many people only makes them talk about it and attracts the watchful eyes of thieves. Install a solid door for your garage so passersby cannot see what’s inside. Also, if your garage is electronically operated, never leave the remote in your car, especially if it’s just parked outside.

 

Overall, securing your home is more of a proactive endeavor that does not really require too much spending. While investing in a home security system and electronic locks is highly recommended, especially in these times, the simple rule of locking the door and being clever about your home management techniques will go a long way towards warding off interest from unscrupulous individuals.

Have Your Locks Been Tampered? Here’s How To Tell

Nobody is immune to the threat of theft and there are plenty of ways that burglars can gain access to your belongings, especially if you do not have a solid security system. One of the most common ways thieves can get into your home is by picking your locks. How do you know when somebody has attempted to pick yours?

 

There are several obvious signs that your locks have been tampered with, including scruff marks at the key hole area and dents. But there are other specific signs that you can look for regularly just to be sure you remain safe. Here are some of them, as well as ways to ensure that no unauthorized entry happens in your home, office or place of business.

 

Unauthorized entry is defined as what it says. It’s when somebody you know or don’t know gains access to your space without permission or through sneaky means. The moment your suspect that your locks have been tampered with, the first thing you should do is to be calm and study the situation before reacting.

 

Do you have evidence that someone tried to open your locks (or, worse, had broken into your home)? The first thing you should look for is any deformed or broken glass, door frame, or lock. Call the police to report it immediately. But if you’re not sure that somebody has broken in, you might want to investigate further for clearer indications. Basically, there are three ways that burglars can enter your space.

 

  1. Through forced entry

Brute force is the hastiest and messiest type of break-in. In this type, the burglar will have been in a hurry and may have kicked a door down, bash a lock in, drilled through a deadbolt or leave a trail of destroyed materials.

 

This method doesn’t always leave a mess, however. Some are more discreet yet can still be classified as “brute force.” These include warped door frames, paint circles from lock fixtures as if they were loosened, and bent latches and deadbolts. When you put your usual key into the hole and find it difficult to fit or that it’s harder to turn, it might have been tampered with via picking or bumping.

 

  1. Lock picking

This is perhaps the most traditional type of tampering. It happens when someone employs small tools like a pin or a flat screwdriver to turn the lock and rake the pin tumblers. The more crafty ones even use a dental pick to do so. Once the tumblers catch the lock, it will turn.

 

Picking requires a lot of skill and patience. However, this method is way gentler and might not leave a trace at all. It’s not likely to show dents or warped bolts after, but it could show tiny scratch marks and some exposed metal around the key hole. These marks are usually finer than if done by a key because of the size of the tools used.

 

  1. Lock bumping.

This technique is what professional locksmiths often employ. In fact, bumping has been popular since the early 1900s but only to real lock experts. However, since people started talking about the process on the media, so many copycats (and burglars) all over the world have tried it, as well.

 

How is bumping done? First, one files the teeth of a key down into a number of points to make it look like a small saw. They insert this modified key all the way into the keyhole and take it out by one click. Then, they take a blunt object and hit the key. They withdraw it by one click again and repeat the process. This is done until all the tumblers of the lock have been caught. When this happens, you can finally open the door.

 

Professional lock bumpers will hardly leave any trace, but amateurs who it hastily will definitely leave marks. How do you know if your locks have been bumped? Look for fresh scratches or nicks around the keyhole caused by the pounding.

 

Protecting Your Locks From Being Tampered With

Now that we have the basic signs to look for — and find that you, indeed, had your locks picked — don’t let it happen to you again ever. Our team at Security Info notes that one of the most foolproof ways to dealing with tampering is to upgrade your locks or change them periodically.

 

Hybrid lock models are not heavily reliant on pins and tumblers, so they are more difficult to pry open. A sliding bolt that prevents a deadbolt from being turned even after it’s unlocked also helps. A quicker solution involves the popular WD40. Just spray some into your keyhole so only your key will fit and no pins can get through.

 

Should you find that your entryways have been forcibly opened, a simple lock upgrade might not do the trick. Perhaps it’s time you consider installing a home security system to ensure that all possible places of entry is monitored and you are alerted of any attempt 24/7. This way, after you’ve reinforced all your locks, if a burglar tries to still go in, they get caught on the security tape or set off alarms that will have them running.

 

Security systems offer an additional and more solid layer of protection for you and your family. Get in touch with a professional service provider to know what types of technology you need for your home, office or place of business. There are plenty of devices and packages to choose from depending on your budget, area and security needs. You can also request to have your system customized.

 

We are lucky we live in a time where there are plenty of resources that help us maximize protection. Today’s technology goes beyond just taping who goes in and out and blaring alarms when a door is opened. There are devices that can also detect movement, potentially poisonous gases, fires and other hazards that could threaten your family and your home.

5 Ways To Secure Your Things Before Renovating Or Moving

Having your valuables stolen is one of the most depressing things one can ever experience. Realizing that your garage has been broken into and some of your prized possessions are gone makes one feel violated and helpless. If it’s not theft, simply not remembering where you placed your stuff when you need them can be very frustrating, in addition to be a pure waste of time and energy. When you’re preparing to move to another house or place of business, it’s highly likely that your stuff will not be in the places you expect them to be. The move itself results in a chaotic mess and you might not discover that something is lost until a few weeks have passed.

Whether you’re just renovating, building a new place or moving to another one, there are several things you can do to avoid losing your stuff. Here are some tips for safekeeping your belongings.

 

  1. Make a detailed inventory of all your stuff.

This may feel like extra work, but you’ll be thankful that you drew up an inventory of your items before moving. You can be additionally thorough by taking photos of the stuff before they are stored. This list will make loading and offloading your things a quicker process while ensuring that you know what might be missing the moment you check at the destination. If your items have a serial number, it’s best to write that down, as well.

 

Use a spreadsheet that contains the item, quantity, serial number (if any) and other discernible features. Attach a photo for those delicate and extra valuable items, if you don’t want to take the photo of everything else on your inventory.

 

  1. Use a trusted security system.

There are plenty of tech that you can use to keep an eye on your belongings 24/7 and they don’t have to be expensive. One of the simplest ways to monitor is to install a security device. Because there are dozens of service providers and brands in the market, it can be a challenge to find the right one that suits your needs. Ask for referrals from friends and family, or research online about the affordable security system options available based on user reviews.

 

If you’re unsure about getting the right tech, you can also hire a storage company to keep your valuables safe when you move or renovate your home. Instead of renting a trailer, you can opt to stash your belongings at a storage facility. Some providers can do all the work for you. All you need to do is give them call and they will come and pick your stuff up. When you’re ready, you can just ask them to bring your boxes back.

 

  1. Keep your important files and documents close.

For the likes of legal papers, financial documents, contracts, birth certificates and more, it’s smartest to use a safe deposit box or a home safe to keep them secure. Sure, your shoebox or plastic envelope method works, but even those can be easily misplaced during the move. Make sure that you know where they are stashed at all times and pay closer attention to them throughout the entire process.

 

Misplaced documents take a while to be replaced (and can be quite a chore to do so, too) so use that as your driving force to ensure that your paperwork is always within sight and reach. In addition, be sure to keep these papers in a container that is water proof and fire proof just in case of emergencies. You can opt to have these things kept by a trusted friend or relative, but given their sensitive nature, it’s best that you keep an eye on them yourself.

 

  1. Close your doors.

This is very basic and is actually a no-brainer, but you’ll be surprised at how many people lost valuable items just because they forgot to close the door. An open entryway feels like an invitation for thieves to come and see what they can take. Don’t give these people the opportunity to take advantage of the situation. Keep your doors closed even while you’re packing. Remember, it can take just minutes or seconds for someone to choose among your stuff and take them out.

 

If you’re renovating, the most valuable possessions should be kept out of sight throughout the entire process. Don’t make the mistake of putting your boxes near entryways or exits, where they can easily be reached and taken. One can never be too protective of his or her stuff.

 

  1. Watch who goes in and out of your property.

Be mindful about who comes in and out while packing for a move or preparing to renovate. There will be plenty of unfamiliar people in the premises so it’s best to know who they are. You can also take their photos to be doubly safe. If you would need to give somebody your house keys so they can come and go as necessary, you should change all your locks when the work is finished.

 

Another option would be to install a keyless entry system for the workers to use during the procedure. This type of security tech offers users a limited time for entry to your home, after which they will have to surrender their keys or asked to be renewed. It also allows you to have a record of the people who are using it, what times they logged in and what times they left.

 

Security experts have also mentioned making surprise visits to help quell any temptation to steal your things. Especially during a home renovation, where most of your stuff will likely just be in the garage or in a separate room, having the workers know that you tend to drop by unannounced is a pretty good deterrent. It also helps ensure that they maximize their time doing actual work and not slack off. If the workers can’t figure out a pattern for your visits, they become less likely to steal your things.

10 Ways To Ensure Your Things Are Safe And Secure When Moving House

Moving house can be physically and emotionally stressful. Transferring items from your old home to your new one requires meticulous planning, from deciding which items to put in one box, identifying which need special packaging, labeling them and then making sure the valuable items are secured. The goal is to build a guarantee that the move goes as seamlessly as possible and everything gets to your destination in one piece.

When it comes to securing your items during a move, it is crucial that you plan ahead. You will need to take steps to ensure that your valuables and other important things are intact. What can you do to guarantee the integrity of your belongings during the transport process? Here are some tips.

 

10-Step Guide To Keeping Your Things Safe When Moving

  1. Start storing items you don’t usually use early.
  2. Don’t place your valuables with the regular items.
  3. Make an inventory of all your things.
  4. Ask about insurance.
  5. Find out your tracking options.
  6. Get the right kind of lock for the trailer you’re getting.
  7. Ensure safety measures for your truck.
  8. Don’t advertise what you are transporting.
  9. Don’t announce your move, especially on social media.
  10. Monitor the move before, during and after.

 

  1. Start storing items you don’t usually use early.

Start packing those things that you won’t need right away and consider storing them in a safety deposit box. Another option would be to rent a self-storage unit where they can stay until you’ve settled into your new home. These may include items like sentimental jewelry, documents and other memorabilia or collectible items that can be locked away safely. Another option is to have a family member or a trusted friend to keep your things for you for the meantime.

 

  1. Don’t place your valuables with the regular items.

You can also keep the small valuables with you during the move. These may include medicine, papers, jewelry — easy to carry stuff that can fit inside your travel bag during the trip. Carry them with you wherever you go and keep an eye on the bag at all times. If you choose to carry a portable safe, ensure that the safe is also within reach all the time. Some locked containers have special slots for antiques and artwork. Ask your moving company if they offer this service and let them know you are interested.

 

  1. Make an inventory of all your things.

Make a list of all the items you putting in boxes and in which box you have assigned them to before the actual move. With the many stuff you have, it can be easy to forget where things have been kept. It can also take a while before you unpack everything after the move. Having a list will help you identify and locate items faster. You can use a simple spreadsheet with columns that indicate the name of the object, which box it is kept, how it’s being transported, and more.

For added insurance, take photos of your things before endorsing them to the movers. These serve as your protection in case something gets broken during the transport. Detailed photos can also serve as proof of ownership. If you have expensive items, you might want to have them appraised before packing them.

Thanks to technology, there are a number of apps that can help make the inventory checking much easier. Take photos, attach them, add notes and more. Some even offer the option to print out QR code labels that you can scan to find out what’s being stored inside a particular box.

 

  1. Ask about insurance.

Ask your moving company about their insurance policy. Make sure to read the fine print. Take the time to study each one and what kinds of claims you can make if things go awry. You can also ask your home insurance agent to find out what your policy covers when you move, particularly if you are transporting expensive items. You might want to consider getting additional coverage for valuables.

 

  1. Find out your tracking options.

You can install a tracking device discreetly into a box along with your stuff so you know where your valuables are during the moving process. There are plenty of inexpensive gadgets being sold so you don’t have to worry about cost. Different types of trackers offer different features and limitations so do your research first before buying one. Some tracking devices don’t give you a real-time location update but just tell you where they end up and when. Some give you a blow-by-blow update.

 

  1. Get the right kind of lock for the trailer you’re getting.

There are different types of locks that can be used with container vans. Some use a disc lock which, although a bit pricey, cannot be cut using bolt cutters. You can also use padlocks. Consult with your moving company to find out what type and size fits best for the truck you are using.

 

  1. Ensure safety measures for your truck.

At every stop you make during the move, make it a habit to double check the locks on your trailer, as well as all doors and windows. If you are stopping for a bite to eat, park where you can easily see it from where you are seated. When stopping to rest at an inn or hotel, park your truck at a well lighted area or near where the security can see it. Another strategy is to back the truck up to a wall so the door can’t be opened.

 

  1. Don’t advertise what you are transporting.

Label your boxes with a number, the name of the room where they are to be sent and other general details that only you can understand. Don’t detail the contents on the sign.

 

  1. Don’t announce your move, especially on social media.

Don’t tell everyone on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or similar account that you are moving. More importantly, never give details about your route and when you’re doing it. You don’t know if any unscrupulous individuals will see your post and make you target for theft. That’s even if you think your account is private. Resist the urge to show off your new place and talk about your moving experience after you’ve settled in.

 

  1. Monitor the move before, during and after.

If you’re not driving with the truck, be sure that you know where your container is throughout the entire trip. As the boxes are offloaded from the trailer, be there or have a family member or trusted friend witness the entire thing. Be ready with your inventory checklist as this happens. To be on the safer side, check with your moving company what their policies are when it comes to disputes. Some firms give you 24 to 48 hours to file a dispute, while others give a longer opportunity to file a complaint.

Lost Something? Here’s What You Can Do To Get It Back

Do you know what to do when you lose something (or have it stolen)? In our state of panic or disappointment, we tend to forget the things that we should immediately do the moment we find out something is missing. We at Security Info know that losing an item is frustrating. You could have already had an awesome day but, instead, find yourself wasting time and energy looking. To avoid this inconvenience in the future, our team has gathered some tips in finding and safekeeping some of the most common items lost — so you can immediately go back to enjoying your day.

Nobody is immune to losing a valuable item. At some point in one’s life, you will experience what it feels like to be in this situation. However, that’s not enough reason to just do nothing and accept that it can happen to you. If you really want to prevent losing something important, there are many preventive steps you can take to ensure that you are protected. Have you ever been in that situation where your heart sank after realizing you left your phone or wallet in a cab? This guide will very helpful.

 

How To Avoid Losing Your Things In The First Place

An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, as the saying goes. The same certainly goes for stolen or missing items. While we may not be able to stop a thief from targeting us or prevent ourselves from forgetting something, there are some steps we can take to ensure that the odds of us becoming a victim are lower. Fortunately, these steps don’t cost anything. All you need is presence of mind and a little extra awareness.

 

– Safeguard your things and don’t leave them unattended

You might be tempted to leave your phone or laptop on the table at the coffeeshop while you go to the restroom. It’s just going to be a few minutes, right? And it’s in broad daylight. The truth is, it takes mere seconds for somebody to swoop in and take your exposed items. It may feel like such a chore to pack up and unpack every time you leave the table, but that’s so much easier than having to deal with the stress of getting your stuff stolen.

 

– Quash absentmindedness by being consistent

Always follow a routine or a system when you leave the house or go anywhere. Always put your house keys, cellphone and other valuables in the same place every time. This way, you never have to rummage through your bag or wonder if you dropped something because you know that there’s only one place where you always leave your stuff.

 

– Set up a message on your phone’s lock screen.

If you have that habit of leaving your phone and forgetting about it, you can increase your chances of it returning to you by composing an “if found” message on your screen. Not everything that’s left gets stolen, so you have to give the finder an opportunity to give it back to you. Doing this will make it easy for him or her to contact you.

 

– Memory tricks are helpful.

Psychologists and even those who practice memory recovery tactics can attest that there are certain exercises you can perform to stimulate your brain into remembering important details. Visualizing and picturing yourself at your last location and tracing your steps back in your head will help you locate it eventually. Another trick that experts swear by is creating an association between your item and the environment. This will help embed your item and it’s location in your otherwise preoccupied brain, thus increasing the odds of you finding it easily.

 

– Use technology.

There are plenty of anti-theft and anti-loss devices and apps that you can use to make sure your things don’t get lost. You can use a dedicated laptop lock, for instance, or an anti-theft bag (which is perfect if you always commute). Another method is to tag your item with a discreet tracking device that you can link with your phone or computer so you can locate wherever it is and track it down.

 

Can’t Find Your Keys?

Keys are one of the most common items that get misplaced or left somewhere. It almost always happens when we are in a hurry or are distracted by another event, so realizing that you lost them aggravates an already slightly panicked state. To prevent you from running around like headless chicken, these are steps you should follow.

Calm down and stop. The moment you discover that your keys are not in the place you expected them to be, stand still and do nothing. Breathe, take the time to gather your thoughts, and then slowly try to remember where you last left them or went. The calmer you are, the greater the chances of recovering your keys by memory.

Retrace your steps. When was the last time you had your keys in your hand? Visualize that situation in your head. When you’ve identified it, go to that place.

Don’t rule out strange places. There’s no real explanation but, for some reason, keys tend to end up in odd places. After you’ve gone through the usual spots, start checking out weird locations like the fridge, between sofa cushions, or sinks. Don’t rush and panic once again. By going through each space thoroughly, you save yourself from having to check the same place many times.

Always have a backup. If you’re the type who always misplaces things, just accept that fact but don’t get defeated by it. Hand out spare keys to trusted family members and friends, so that the next time you lose them, you have someone to call. If you don’t have a spare and still can’t locate your lost key, call a professional locksmith to help you out. You can change your locks as a last resort. If you lost your car keys, get in touch with your dealer for help.

Overall, nobody likes to suffer the stress of having something valuable lost or stolen. The good thing is that there are plenty of ways and resources available to help ensure that they come back to you. Employ memory techniques or be more sure about finding stuff by installing the right technology that will help you track and monitor your stuff’s whereabouts at all times.

The Guide to Getting the Perfect Safe for Your Home

If you have anything in your home that needs to be kept protected, a safe is the perfect solution. However, if this is the first time that you are buying a safe, you must probably be very confused. Safes are made for people who are very security conscious and there is a lot of variety to choose from. There isn’t simply a ‘good safe’ or a ‘bad safe’ – there are safes made for different purposes completely. What is the perfect safe for someone else may be the wrong safe for you.

If you are looking for safes, you have come to the perfect place. We’ll list down the different factors you need to account for when looking for a safe. If you follow this guide, you will end up buying the perfect safe for your needs at the perfect price. Let’s look at how you should go about buying a safe.

What type of protection do you need?

This is the first question that you need to ask when you are looking for a safe. Different safes are meant to offer different types of protection. If you just want a safe that can keep things private you can get a normal safe. By ‘normal’ we mean a safe that simply keeps your items locked away and prevents people from accessing them without having the code or key to the safe.

This is just where protection begins. If you want to keep documents safe, you need a safe that is fireproof as well. Normal safes aren’t airtight and if there is a fire breakout in the room where the safe is placed, all the documents inside the safe will be destroyed as well. Similarly, some safes offer water protection while others do not. If you are keeping any metal objects safe, you don’t have to worry about water, but if you are keeping documents in the safe, then you need a safe that doesn’t let water in. This is obviously, only required for people who live in areas that may experience flooding or extreme rains.

Once you have decided what type of protection you need, you will be well on your way to narrowing down the types of safe that you need.

What type of lock do you need?

There are generally three types of lock arrangements you can get. You can get a safe with a mechanical lock, you can get a safe with an electronic lock, or you can get one that has both on it. Mechanical locks can be both more and less safe than electric locks – there are a lot of nuances and varieties in mechanical locks! However, you will need to maintain the mechanical lock. They can get too hard to open if they aren’t maintained properly. Electronic locks need no such maintenance.

If you are simply keeping some documents away, you will be good with either of these types of locks. If you are keeping something much more valuable and if you genuinely think that someone may try to access what you keep in the safe, you should get a safe with redundant locks. Having both electronic and mechanical locks increases the security exponentially.

How big of a safe do you need?

Now you need to think about the size of the safe. If you just need to keep a few documents safe, you can get a small safe. Think of what you are trying to protect and how much space it will take. Now double that size and get a safe that size. Never get a size that just fits what you can think of putting in now. We can guarantee that you will find more stuff that should be in the safe later and then you will regret buying a small safe.

When looking at how big of a safe you need, you also need to look at where you will be keeping the safe and whether there is enough space in your home for the safe size you are buying. Don’t buy a safe that is so big that you have to place it in a prominent place instead of where you planned to store it originally.

Will your safe be fixed or portable?

Portable safes are great because they allow you to transport the safe with all its contents easily. That is also their main disadvantage. Someone might just take the whole safe away if it is too portable, deciding to try opening it once they are in a safe place. Portable safes should only be bought if you plan to move the secured items. Safes being too heavy and inconvenient to move around is a good thing.

What is your budget?

Now, you need to decide what the right budget will be for a safe. The budget depends firstly on how much money you have, however, that isn’t the only deciding factor. No need to overspend on a safe just because you had extra money lying around. You need to look at what you will be keeping safe. If it is just a few documents, then you can buy an inexpensive case. If what you are keeping in the safe is too valuable, then don’t feel bad about overspending at all. The value of whatever you keep in the safe and how much is keeping it safe worth to you? Ask this question before you decide what the budget of your safe will be.

Based on the above guide, you should be easily able to decide which safes fall in your parameters. These five questions will help you pick the perfect safe for you. For some people, it will be small and portable safes with mechanical locks. For others, it might by huge safes with both mechanical and electric locks.

Make sure that once you get the safe, you take further steps to keep things inside it safe. You need to make sure that the passcode you use is not something people will be easily able to guess. Once you’ve picked the right combination, your items will be truly safe.

15 Most Dangerous US Cities in 2017

The crime rates have nearly halved in the US in the past two decades. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, crime rates have fallen from about 5.86 percent in 1991 to nearly 2.86 percent in 2016.

While the US has become a safer place to live overall, a lot of cities particularly in the western and southern regions have experienced a jump in property and violent crime rates. Let’s find out which are the 15 most dangerous US cities to live in 2017.

1. Emeryville, CA

Emeryville has the highest crime rates in the US making it the most dangerous place to live in 2017. The property and violent crime rates in the Golden State city have increased in the past few years. The latest figures show that the property crime rate is about 17.292 percent while the violent crime rate is 1.325 percent.

2. Tukwila, WA

Tukwila is the second most dangerous city to live in today. Both property and violent crime rates have increased over the past few years. Property crime rate today stands at around 16.584 percent. The violent crime state in the city located in the Evergreen State is 0.751 percent.

3. Myrtle Beach, SC

The crime rate in Myrtle Beach in South Carolina has decreased over the years. Nevertheless, it is still relatively high. The property crime rate at the moment is about 14.386 percent, while the violent crime rate is nearly 1.575 percent. It is the third most dangerous place to live in the US today. Also, the Palmetto state is regarded as the second most dangerous state at the moment.

4. Lumberton, NC

Lumberton located in the Old North State also has a high crime rate that has remained somewhat unchanged as compared to last year. The property crime rate is about 13.938 percent in the city. Also, the violent crime rate is high amounting to nearly 1.665 percent.

5. Branson, MO

The crime rate in Branson has increased significantly and is today the 5thmost dangerous city to live in the US. The property crime rates and violent crime rates amount to 13.276 and 0.712, percent respectively. It’s a city that you should think twice before moving due to the high crime rates.

6. College Park, GA

College Park has seen a slight decrease in the crime rates. However, the crime rates in the city are still relatively high making it one of the 10thmost dangerous places to live in the US today. The property crime rates in the city located in the Peach State is about 11.016 percent, while the violent crime rate is about 2.590 percent.

7. Bastrop, LO

Bastron, LO is also included in the 10thmost dangerous places to live today due to high crime rates. Property crime rate stands at 11.399 percent, while the violent crimes rate is about 1.225 percent.

8. Chamblee, GA

Chamblee, GA is the second city in the Peach State that’s included in the list of the most dangerous US cities. The crime rate has increased significantly as compared to the previous years. At the moment, the property crime rate is about 11.014 percent and the violent crime rate is about 1.390.

9. Florida City, FL

Florida City in Miami-Dade County is another dangerous city to live in the US. The city where the sun is said to shine all-year round suffers from a particularly high violent crime rate that stands at 3.156 percent. There has been an increase in the rate of violent offenses including murder, aggravated assault, rape, manslaughter, and robbery. Property crime rate in the city is also high at about 9.181 percent.

10. Bellmead, TX

While the crime rates in Bellmead have decreased in the past few years, they are still high making it the 10th most dangerous places to live in the US today. The violent crime rate is about 1.015 percent, and the property crime rate is nearly 11.055 percent.

11. East Point, GA

The property crime rate in East Point is 10.630 percent, and the violent crime rate is about 11.34 percent. It is the third city located in Georgia that’s included in this list of the most dangerous US cities. Surprisingly, the Peach State is not among the list of most dangerous states in the US. This is because the crime rates elsewhere are relatively low.

12. Humble, TX

Humble is located in the Harris County in Texas. The crime rates have decreased slightly over the past few years. At the present, the property crime rate is about 10.754 percent, while the violent crime rate is about 0.953 percent.

13. Bessemer, AL

Bessemer is also a dangerous city to reside in the US today. The property and violent crime rates in the city are about 9.844 and 1.771 percent, respectively.

14. Hammond, LO

Louisiana is the 11th most dangerous state to live in today. Hammond is the second city after Bastron located in the Pelican state that has been included in this list of most dangerous cities in the US. The property crime rate in the city stands at 10.157 percent, while the violent crime rate stands at about 1.017 percent.

15. Monroe, LO

Monroe is the third city in the Pelican state that has been included in this list. The property crime rate in the city is about 8.380 percent, and the violent crime rates is about 2.601 percent.

The above list has been prepared using publicly available data from the FBI. Keep in mind that the list does not contain cities that have less than 10,000 residents. Also, the list does not include cities that are notoriously associated with high number of crimes such as Detroit, New Orleans, and Chicago. The reason is that the crime rates in these cities are low meaning you are less likely to die in these cities as compared to the ones listed in this article. So, make sure that you take proper precautions if you reside or plan to move into any one of the cities listed here.

A How-to Guide to Recover Lost (or Stolen) Things

Losing valuable items can create great anxiety. Having the items stolen can be even more distressing. However, you should not panic when your valuables are lost or stolen. Instead, you should remain calm and take action to try to recover your things.

Here, we will inform about the steps that you can take when something goes missing or gets stolen. The tips mentioned here will increase the odds of getting back the items, or catching the culprit.

1. Lost Keys

Keys are one of the most common items that get lost. Whenever you discover that you have lost your keys, you should first look at the obvious places — at least for you. This can be anywhere such as inside the purse, under the mailbox, in the freezer, inside the coat pockets, or in the desk drawer. Also, you may have left the keys inside the car, or on the counter in the grocery or barber shop.

Consider retracing your steps back to when you had the keys. Simulate the scene in your mind. After you have retraced the steps, you should visit the places where you may have lost the keys. Also, it’s a good habit to give spare keys to reliable people like your family member or a friend. If all else fails, you should calmly call the locksmith to use their ‘magic’ in opening the locked car or door. Don’t forget to replace the locks as a security measure to deter any potential break-in.

In addition, you can turn to technology to avoid losing your keys. Consider upgrading to keyless locks so that you don’t have to worry about lost keys anymore. You can also buy a Bluetooth or GPS tracker online for your keys. The tracker can be attached to the keychain. In case you lost the keys, you can quickly retrieve them using an online application.

2. Stolen Mobile Devices

Have you lost your tablet, laptop, or smart phone? If the answer is yes, you should not panic. Keeping your cool is important to recover the lost items, or at least minimize the damage. You should immediately report the lost item to the authorities and get a police report. If possible, provide photographs or a serial number of the stolen mobile device.

Wipe the mobile device remotely if you had anti-theft or tracking software installed on the device. In case such software is not installed, you should change password and pin of all your online accounts. If you had lost your smart phone, you should immediately let your carrier know so that the SIM card can be blocked. This is important otherwise the thief can carry on identity theft using your mobile device.

3. Missing Mail Package

Mail packages can get lost along the way, or stolen from the mail box or the front porch. In case you have a video camera installed, consider replaying the cam to find the culprit. You may be surprised that sometimes, the culprit is the sneaky little thief living under the roof i.e. your pet cat or dog.

In case the mail package isn’t found, you should contact the delivery company to know their policy in case the package is not delivered. If the package has been missing due to their mistake, they should help you recover some of the damage.

Lastly, you should file a police report for the missing package. Also, you should report about the missing package to the Postal Inspection Service. Tell them everything about the missing package including the value, function, retailer, shipping company, color, and other details about the package. The more information you give regarding the package, the better.

4. Stolen Car

Before calling the authorities to let them know about your missing car, you should first make sure that you have not parked it elsewhere. Sometimes, it’s a case of simple forgetfulness. Search the parking lot carefully to find your car. In addition, you should use the panic button in your key lock, and follow the beeping sound. Also, you should call the towing company used by the lot. Ask whether they might have accidentally towed your car.

In case the car is still not found, you should call the police. Request them to prepare a report of the incident. You should also inform the parking lot company about the missing car. Lastly, you should contact your insurance company and inform them of the incident. The insurance company will want to know everything regarding the event. Try to report every detail about the incident as the less information you give, the less credible your report will seem to them.

5. Missing Child or Pet

Sometimes the child or pet gets missing. This can be a devastating prospect that can create a lot of anxiety and stress. However, you should not panic at any cost as it can do more harm than good. Instead, you should consider looking everywhere to find the lost child or pet.

If you have lost the child in a shopping mall, you should contact the mall security guard. Other places to look include video game arcade, playground, or other children nearby. Call the name when searching to increase the probability of finding them. In case you are not able to find your child or pet, you should contact the police. The sooner you inform the police, the better are the chances of finding the child.

Prevention is the best strategy to avoid the prospect of losing your kid or pet. GPS trackers can be used to keep track of your kid or pet. Some trackers allow you to create virtual boundaries. In case, the child or the pet moves away from the boundary, you will be alerted. Also, some of them have a panic button that can be activated by the child when he or she feels scared or lost.

Important Information about Smoke Alarms You Should Know

 

Statistics show that almost two-thirds of fire deaths occur in homes without a smoke alarm. Moreover, home fires cause extensive damage to the property. A small fire can easily turn into a tragedy resulting in extensive losses.

If you want to ensure the safety of your family and your home, you should install a smoke alarm. The device can warn the residents when a fire starts. This way, they can quickly vacate the home and do not remain at the mercy of the fire.

Here you will learn about different types of smoke alarms. Also, you will know about some important safety tips when using smoke alarms that can keep your family safe from fires.

Smoke Alarms: An Overview

Smoke alarms are not the same as fire alarms.  Unlike fire alarms, smoke alarms don’t have sprinklers. They also don’t have the ability to inform the fire department and other emergency personnel about a fire. What smoke alarms do is alert you in case a smoke from a fire is detected. This will ensure that all the residents leave the house quickly before the home becomes engulfed in fire.

Here are the common types of smoke alarms you can install in your home.

1. Standard Smoke Alarms

Standard smoke alarms do not come with any fancy features. Their sole function is to detect fire smokes. Once a smoke is detected, the alarm goes off. They can be either battery operated or hard wired.

2. Smart Smoke Alarms

As the name implies, smart smoke alarms alert the homeowner through the smartphone. This is in addition to the alarm that sounds inside the house when the smoke is detected. The alarms can connect to the smartphone through Wi-Fi or the internet. They provide maximum value for the buck resulting in increased safety. Similar to standard smoke alarms, smart smoke alarms can be either battery operated or wired to the home’s electrical system.

3. Battery Operated Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms that are battery-operated are not wired to the electrical system of the house. They run solely on batteries and don’t require professional installation. The only downside to these types is that they require regular battery replacement. The smoke alarms don’t work if the batteries die. This is a risk that you should consider before buying a battery-operated smoke alarm.

4. Hardwired Smoke Alarms

Hardwired smoke alarms are a more reliable option as compared to battery-operated smoke alarms. They can be hooked up to your home’s electrical system. Since there are no batteries, there is no risk of the smoke alarm not functioning during a fire. The only con of the wired smoke alarms is that they can only be installed by a professional. Also, you should note that some of the wired smoke alarms feature a battery backup.

5. Multifunctional Smoke Alarms

The multifunctional smoke alarms provide double protection. They not only have sensors for detecting smoke, but they can also detect a carbon-monoxide leak. Price of the product varies depending on whether they are hardwired, smart, or battery-operated.

6. Ionization Sensors

Smoke alarms with ionization sensors can detect fires through the small smoke that is produced. These smoke alarms consist of two metal plates as well as a radioactive material. Once a smoke passes through the plates, the radioactive material ionizes the air that triggers an alarm.

7. Photoelectric Sensors

Photoelectric sensors are able to detect smoke by using a light source. They can easily detect smoke from smoldering fires that generally tend to make a lot of smoke.

8. Dual Sensors

Dual sensor smoke alarms contain both ionization and photoelectric sensors. The smoke alarms are considered to be safe in detecting flaming and smoldering fires. Generally, they are more costly as compared to other smoke alarms.

 

Safety Tips when Using Smoke Alarms

Installing smoke alarms is not enough. You also need to take actions to ensure that the smoke alarm remains functional at all times. Here are some safety tips that you should follow after installing a smoke alarm.

1. Test the Batteries Every Month

If you have a battery-only or battery backup smoke alarm, you should test the battery every month. You should replace the battery immediately if you hear a chirping sound. Some people simply forget to test the battery. To avoid this, you should add a reminder to your smartphone. In this way, you will never forget about the important action of checking the battery.

2. Install the Smoke Detector at Proper Place

You should never install the smoke detector near wood stoves or fireplaces. In addition, you should never install the smoke detector near the cooking fumes in the kitchen or smoking areas inside the house. Placing the smoke alarm near these areas can result in false alarms.

You should also avoid placing the smoke detector within three feet of a device that can re-circulate the smoke such as the air registers. The smoke detector near windows and doors is not recommended as well since the draft could impair smoke detection.

The best place for the smoke detector is at the end of each long hallway. Also, the top of the stairwells is another great location for the smoke detector. Make sure that the smoke alarm is kept about 18-inches away from any dead air space near corners and walls if you are installing on the ceilings. If you are installing the smoke detector on the walls, you should place it about 12-inches below the ceiling.

3. Proper Mounting of Wired Smoke Alarm

Wired smoke alarms should be installed by a professional electrician. A professional electrician will know how to correctly install the alarm system without damaging the device and the house wiring. In addition, the professional will ensure that the device is installed on a separate circuit. So, this is a job that you should better leave to an expert.

Lastly, you should replace the smoke alarms in case they have been installed for more than 10 years. If you have no idea about the life of your house alarm, you should consider replacing the device immediately.

How to Get Started on Smart Home Automation?

The relentless strides in technology particularly after the 21st century have literally transformed the world. Just a century ago, no one could have imagined communicating face-to-face with a person located thousands of miles away, watching movies on a tablet-likescreen, or commuting on drone taxis.

Home automation is one such tech trend that has affected the lives of the average individual in the US. Also known as the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, big companies that are in the thick of home automation or smart homes innovation include GE, Huawei, Hitachi Data Systems, Bosch, GE, Google, Apple, and many others.

At one time, it was thought to be a passing trend. However, today, nearly 30 percent of the US house owners have at least one of the smart home devices, according to a report by Parker Associates. By 2020, nearly 50 percent of Americans will own such devices.

If you want to avoid being left out of the smart home revolution, you should read this article on how to get started on home automation.

Home Automation: What Is It?

Home automation refers to the use of smart electronic devices in homes. The smart internet-connected devices are used to control different systems including lighting, thermostats, security cameras, refrigerator, and more.

But, what’s the benefit of using the smart devices?

Apart from the convenience, smart home devices result in increased energy savings. For instance, you can use your smartphone to turn off a house appliance or equipment when outside the house. This will result in great savings in energy bills.

You can communicate to the smart home devices through your voice. The devices can be managed by digital assistants such as Alexa or Siri. These devices are controlled through ZigBee or Z-Wave.

Smart home devices can be managed remotely through an app on your smartphone or computer, with many also responding to voice commands using digital assistants like Siri and Alexa. Smart devices often communicate with one another through protocols like Z-Wave and ZigBee to create a home automation network. Take our interactive smart home tour to see what automated homes of today look like.

How Do I Get Started with Home Automation?

Many people want to enjoy the benefits of smart home automation, but they’re not sure which products to buy. That’s understandable considering the dizzying number of smart devices on the market, and each one claims to be the best. Here are the steps that are required to adopt smart home automation that fits your needs.

1.      Research the Devices

Find out about the different smart home devices. Become familiar with the features and benefits. You should initially focus on the devices that are easy to use. Understand how the device will provide more cost efficiency and convenience.

2.      Establish a Budget

After you have pinpointed potentially useful devices, you should next determine how much you can afford to spend on the smart devices. The price of the smart devices ranges from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Decide how much you can allocate your income to pay for the device.

When deciding how much to spend on a particular smart device, you should keep the lifespan in mind. Spending thousands of dollars on a quality feature-packed device that will last for decades is a smart move. However, if the device has a shorter lifespan, of say four or five years, you should limit your spending to a couple of hundred dollars. In short, you should allocate the cost of the device over its useful life to determine whether it’s worth it.

3.      Compare Prices and Features

Before selecting any smart appliance, you should compare the prices and features. Don’t make the decision based on the price alone. Your purchase decision should be based on both price and features. The more the features, the more valuable is the product. However, make sure that the features actually meet your needs otherwise you will be needlessly overspending on the project.

What Smart Devices Should You Buy?

The process of home automation doesn’t need to be expensive or complex. You can buy user-friendly, feature-rich smart devices for under $100. Here are some of the smart devices that you should consider buying to embrace the new lifestyle or the new ‘American Dream’.

  • Smart Doorbells — With smart door balls, you can see who is outside the door. The smart device not only provides convenience but also ensures the safety of the household. These smart doorbells come with features such as motion sensing, two-way audio, night vision, and app connectivity.
  • Smart Thermostat — A lot of people have already bought a smart thermostat that helps in increased energy savings. The smart device can connect to the Wi-Fi thereby allowing you to control the device through the smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Most smart thermostats work with Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa smart speakers. The best feature of the smart devices is that they can learn your preferred settings providing great convenience.
  • Smart Lighting — Smart lighting is yet another cheap home automation device. The device allows you to control the lighting of the home using voice command or gestures. Also, you can use your mobile device to control the lighting. You can turn the light on or off, or dim the lightings with nothing but your gesture or voice command.
  • Smart Locks — These smart devices can be a great investment that can help increase the safety and security of the family. The smart locks can be locked and unlocked using the mobile devices. You can also connect the locks to a home security system for added protection.
  • Smart Outlets — The smart outlets can turn just about any electronic item into a smart device. The outlets are devices that plug into an electrical outlet and allow you to control the plugged home appliance via an application.

The above are just some of the ways you can embrace home automation or IoT revolution. The technologies allow you to reduce energy usage and gain greater control over the home appliance. Just make sure that you don’t get carried away with the home automation and overspend on the home devices. Before purchasing any smart device, think twice about how it will affect your life.