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5 Great Reasons to Contact Your Home Security Company

by TammySeptember 11, 2014

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Some people only think about their home security company when they install a security system and when the alarm activates.

 

That’s not enough.

 

You should know your home security company like you know your neighbors. They’re the ones working to keep you safe and it’s simply counterproductive to only interact with them when it’s time to pay your bill or in an emergency.

 

Here are five very good reasons to contact your security company:

 

  • You’re leaving on vacation. Make sure your home security company is properly prepared for your trip. Let them know how long you’ll be gone. Let them know if your house will be empty or if you’ll have a house sitter. Share with them any concerns you may have so they are fully prepared to do their best for you.

 

  • You are renovating your house. The smallest of home improvement projects can impact the way your security system works. Before installing new fixtures, cabinets, rooms or flooring, contact your home security company. They’ll assess the situation with you and, if necessary, most will send someone to your home for free to see if you need to modify your protection.

 

  • You need to update your emergency contact list. This list is kept on file by the alarm monitoring company so they know who to notify when you can’t be reached in an emergency. It’s important for your safety that this emergency contact list be accurate and up-to-date. We suggest contacting your home alarm monitoring company around Thanksgiving each year to ensure the accuracy of your information.

 

  • If you are moving. Any time you put your home up for sale, contact your home security company. Lots of false alarms are created by realtors showing homes for sale. Your home security company will review with you best practice tips to keep your home safe and secure while it’s being sold.

 

  • Anytime you have a question or concern. It’s perfectly O.K. to contact your home security company if you have questions. That’s what you pay them for and most companies would welcome your call. Make sure you are up-to-date using current home alarm technology. Ask about those home security camera systems you see everyone using on their smartphones. Use your home security company for what they are – your home security protection specialists.

 

Would you like more free tips about how to protect your home, yourself and your family? Then like My Alarm Center on Facebook. You can even leave us a message to simply say hello!

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20 School Bus Safety Tips for Parents and Children

by AmySeptember 10, 2014

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It’s back to school time in communities across America. That means more than 23 million children taking a bus to school.

The school bus transportation system is one of the largest in the country.  However, more than 17,000 school kids end up in emergency rooms each year due to school bus related accidents.

That’s why My Alarm Center offers these tips for parents and kids to reduce the likelihood of school bus accidents or accidents at the school bus stop:

1. Walk with your child to the bus stop. Wait with them until the bus arrives. Walk with your children until you feel they respond well in most situations.

2. Allow plenty of time to get to the bus stop. Avoid having to rush, as rushing can lead to injuries.

3. Don’t let kids listen to iPods or play handheld video games while walking to school or at the bus stop.  These items lead to distractions which could result in injury.

4. Children should never speak to strangers at the bus stop and should never enter the car of a stranger.  Children should head straight home if a stranger bothers them or tries to pick them up.

5. As the bus approaches, children should stand 3 giant steps away from the curb and wait to approach the bus until after it has come to a complete stop.

6. Make sure your kids use handrails when boarding and exiting the bus.

7. If kids drop things when boarding or exiting the bus, teach them to tell the bus driver first before attempting to retrieve the item. The goal is for the bus driver to see them and be aware of their activities before driving the bus.

8. Teach your children to go directly to a seat when boarding a bus and to sit facing forward for the entire ride. Remind them they must fasten seat belts if they are available.

9. Review all of the rules of the school district and bus driver to make sure your child understands them and complies with them.

10. Instruct your kids to keep the aisles clear at all times and not to play with the emergency exits.

11. Kids should talk quietly rather than yelling and screaming so the bus driver is not distracted.

12. Emphasize to your children to never throw things on the bus or out the windows.

13. Have the kids always stay seated when the bus is moving and make sure that they know to not put their head, feet, arms or hands out of the window.

14. Train your kids to always follow the instructions of the bus driver.

15. Children should never attempt to exit the bus until it comes to a complete stop.

16. If meeting your children at the bus stop after school, wait on the same side of the street where the child will be dropped off so they won’t have to cross the street alone.

17. Make sure your children know to never walk behind a bus (the driver may not see them).

18. If your children need to cross the street after leaving the bus, teach them to take 6 big steps in front of the bus, and then to make eye contact with the bus driver. Instruct them to cross when they know it is safe to do so.

19. Teach your kids to look both ways before crossing the street.

20 Have your children come straight home once they get off the bus so an adult knows they are safe and sound.

Keeping school kids safe on buses and at bus stops is important for all of us. If you have a safety tip we haven’t shared in this post, please leave it in the comments section below.

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How to Prevent Your Car from Being Stolen

by DerekSeptember 4, 2014

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 There were around 700,000 American cars and trucks stolen in 2013 and the number looks to be adding up to the same amount for 2014.  According to the FBI, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States every 44 seconds.  Unfortunately a vast majority of these vehicles are never recovered. While most auto owners are insured, it can be a major hassle to be compensated by insurance companies, and having your vehicle stolen leaves owners with the emotional scar of becoming a victim to theft.  Some owners have a real connection with their prized rides and consider them to be part of the family. So how can you go about protecting your motor vehicle from amateur and professional thieves?  We have put together a list of great tips to ensure you are doing everything you can to ward off any would-be criminals.

  • Keep it Garaged: It is a known fact that vehicle villains look for cars that are easy targets.  This includes cars parked on the street or in a driveway.  If you have the ability, always park your car in your garage to add another barrier criminals will have to overcome to get access to your vehicle. You may even consider installing motion detector lights around your home, garage and driveway for yet another means of scaring off the bad guys.
  • Keep Your Car in Great Condition: You might think that car thieves target the nicest car on the block, but the opposite is actually true.  A well maintained car actually signals to carjackers that you care about your car which means you likely have taken the necessary steps to protect it.  It will often be assumed that you have an alarm and or a stolen vehicle recovery system.
  • Have a Visible Alarm Sticker and/or Alarm LED: Some sort of visual to let thieves know your car is protected is often a great deterrent.  Even if there is not an actual alarm installed, the statement that there is one is often enough to make the criminals move on.  Of course having an actual alarm is good protection as long as you remember to arm it.  Some alarm systems offer two way pagers that will alert you the instant your system is set off.  This type of system is certainly a little pricier than the average, but can really pay off if it helps you catch the criminals
  • Don’t Leave Valuables Out in the Open: Leaving valuables in plain sight like a wallet, purse, or expensive electronics might not get your entire car stolen, but it certainly makes it susceptible to a break in.  A quick smash and grab can cause a considerable amount of damage and once they are inside your car, amateur thieves might change their minds and decide to take your car for a joyride.
  • Park in a Safe, Well Lit, Populated Area: Avoid parking your car or truck in dimly lit or unpopulated areas.  Long-term parking lots should also be avoided if possible.   Try not to leave your vehicle unattended in bad neighborhoods or high crime areas.   While this last tip cannot always be avoided, try to trust your gut.  If it doesn’t feel right then try to look for an alternative place to park.
  • The Club: We have all seen the big red metal bar that locks across your steering wheel to stop it from turning.  Many of us have also seen instances where the car thieves simply cut through the steering wheel and slide it right off.  While it is fairly simple to overcome, the simple truth is that The Club works well in protecting your car against bad guys that forgot to bring a hack saw.  Even if they are prepared it is still easier to steal a vehicle without one.
  • Hidden Kill Switches: Hiding a switch that must be activated before your car will start is an amazing way to stop would-be car thieves.  Most car thieves are amateurs and do not possess the skill set to figure out how to override a kill switch system.  They may know how to hotwire your ignition, but if they are ignorant to where you have hidden a secondary switch, your vehicle isn’t going anywhere.  These can be installed with minimal tools and know-how or can be installed by professionals for a minimal charge relative to the cost of losing your car.  Some owners can take this even one step further and have a fuel system kill switch installed as well.
  • Common Sense: These last few tips are pretty much common sense, but believe it or not, are some of the main reasons thousands of vehicles are stolen each year.  Lock your doors and roll up your windows all the way.  Leaving easy access to your ride is like putting a sign on top that says “Steal Me.”  You should also never leave your car running unattended.  Too many times people have fallen victim to this.  They think “I am just running into the convenience store for a few seconds.”  Well, that is more than enough time for a thief to jump in and take off.  Lastly, do not hide an extra key anywhere on the outside of your automobile.  Criminals know the obvious places to look for these and believe us they will.

There are other steps you can take as well to help you recover your vehicle in the unfortunate event of it actually being illegally lifted.  Consider a paid subscription to a service like OnStar if your car has the ability to do so. There are also 3rd party GPS systems available for vehicles that don’t have this functionality built in.  These paid subscriptions have vehicle recovery systems available to help assist the authorities in recovering your automobile. If the city or town you live in offers LoJack coverage we highly recommend you take advantage of that.  LoJack has a one-time fee for the equipment and installation.  Police have special scanners that alert them to stolen vehicles in their area and allow them to track down the exact location of your stolen car or truck. It is our hope that following the tips we have gone over in this article will help you to protect your vehicle against theft!

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Join America’s Night Out Against Crime!

by AmySeptember 2, 2014

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My Alarm Center would like to invite you and your neighbors to celebrate “America’s Night out against Crime” on October 7, 2014.

Sponsored by National Association of Town Watch (NATW), the National Night Out promotes community involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood togetherness, and sends a signal to criminals to let them know neighborhoods are fighting back!

More than 37.8 million people and 16,124 communities participate in the event.

Some neighborhoods celebrate by hosting block parties, parades, cookouts, rallies and marches, youth events, visits from dignitaries and safe demonstrations. All activities are designed to enhance community safety and heighten awareness.

This event is held twice annually. The first National Night Out in 2014 was held on August 5th and the next one is on October 7th, which is only in the Texas region.

To register to participate (it’s free) and to receive more information, go to the National Night Out website.

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Back to School Campus Safety Tips for College Students

by AmyAugust 26, 2014

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It’s back to school time for millions of American college students. All of us at America’s best home security company want college students safe and sound this school year.

The major safety risk faced by college students are property crimes. More than 80% of all college campus crimes are property crimes. It’s extremely important for students to take note of what they own and protect it accordingly.

Here are some more important safety tips for students to help prevent campus crime:

• Make a list of your valuables, including make, model and serial number. Make a video record of what you have.

• Mark your valuables. Use an electric engraver to permanently mark your property and valuables.

• Use the best bike lock possible. A huge number of property thefts involve bikes. Secure the bike through the wheel and the frame. Register your bike with the appropriate University authority (most likely the security department).

• Always lock your car and your room/dorm room/apartment/home. Many thefts occur when students leave their door unlocked for even a few minutes. Most property crimes are crimes of opportunity. Keep things locked up to make it harder and less tempting for thieves.

• Have a fire escape plan. Always have two ways out of your residence.

• Don’t share your key with anyone, and re-key the doors when a roommate moves out or a key is lost or stolen.

• Share your schedule. Make sure parents, family and/or friends know your class and activities schedules. This creates a network of friends keep track of each other. Make sure your campus friends know how to reach your family and loved ones.

• Travel in groups of two or more. When moving through campus and at night in the campus community, travel in groups of two or more in well lit, high traffic areas. Don’t walk alone at night.

• Hide the valuables. Don’t leave your cash, wallet, checkbook, phone and other stuff in plain view. Don’t be a tempting target.

• Identify who is at the door before opening it. Know exactly who is there and what they want. If things don’t seem right, communicate through the door.

• Watch your status updates. And be careful with check-ins as well. Leaving information online about where you are at simply advertises your behaviors and locations to the world. If you wouldn’t give the information to a stranger, don’t put it online.

• Be careful when drinking. Never leave a drink unattended. Don’t accept drinks from strangers. Watch your drink being prepared. Avoid drinks from open containers like punch bowls.

• Be part of the solution. Always report suspicious activity to campus police.

The federal government requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs keep and disclose information about crimes that occur on or near their campus. Get access to the most recent statistics at http://www.ope.ed.gov/security.

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More Companies Enter the Fray for the ‘Internet of Things’

by TammyAugust 21, 2014

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Lots of big technology companies want to put computing and communications power into common everyday household devices.

It should come as no surprise that they can’t agree how to do it.

Some technology companies are banding together in an attempt to formulate technical ground rules for what has been termed the Internet of Things. Big companies like Intel, Dell, Samsung and Broadcom have formed a consortium to finalize these ground rules.

The problem is that others are pursuing similar goals. Qualcomm, Microsoft and Cisco have formed a group. Apple and Google haven’t yet forged an alliance but are involved in the issue in a big way.

The Internet of Things means adding computer chips and sensors to appliances, electronics, door locks, cars – just about anything you can imagine – so they can utilize and leverage wireless technologies via Wi-Fi. This would enable you to remotely manage things by smartphone or tablet.

Protocol standards are important to help devices identify each other and exchange messages.

Until there is a consensus on technology and protocols, the Internet of Things won’t be as popular as projected.

We’ll keep you posted on relevant developments as they happen.

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Easy Ways to Use Your Home Security System to Watch Your Kids

by CassieAugust 19, 2014

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What do your kids do when you aren’t home?

That’s a question many parents have asked themselves. Do they come home on time? Are they safe? Are they doing things they shouldn’t be doing?

That’s the challenge – you have no way of knowing what kids are doing unless you are monitoring them!

Using Home Security to Monitor Your Kids

Most home security systems are equipped with features that allow you to monitor and even view your kid’s behaviors.

Your home alarm system can be used to alert you if your kids don’t get home on time. It can even provide you with a daily record of what time your kids got home!

Kid cams are another great way to help you monitor your kids.

Kid Cams

Using security cameras in conjunction with your home security alarm system offers you many advantages. A prime one is the ability to view what’s happening with your kids from any web enabled device like smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Indoor cameras are great for viewing large rooms and hallways. Most work well in the dark. Pan and tilt cameras allow you to maneuver them for better viewing and greater viewing ranges. Outdoor security cameras withstand the weather and are great for viewing what’s happening in the backyard, front yard, by the garage and by the pool.

Most kid camera systems allow you to view what’s happening in real time in your home. Many will even alert you when motion is detected within a protected area, and most will send you video clips so you can see what’s going on in your home.

A simple free mobile app makes viewing easy from your smartphone or tablet.

Kid Proof

Although you may enjoy the benefits of monitoring your kid’s behaviors, your child may not feel that way.

That’s why most home security and kid camera systems are tamper resistant. And should your child disable the system, your alarm company can be notified so corrective actions can be taken.

With many parents working and kids being left unattended at home, using your home security system to monitor the behavior and safety of children makes lots of sense. Contact My Alarm Center for more information.

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Here’s Why You Should Always Secure Your Home Wi-Fi Network

by TammyAugust 15, 2014

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If you have or plan on installing a Wi-Fi network in your home, then it is imperative that you secure your network.

When you install a router to create a wireless network in your home, you have the choice of securing access to the network with a password, or allowing people to use the network freely without password requirements for access.

Lots of people see little harm in leaving their network unprotected. They either don’t see the potential danger, feel their neighbors have their own network and won’t use theirs, or they live in remote areas and don’t feel a threat.

Here’s the problem with having an unsecured network: you may be legally liable for activity that happens on the network.

Imagine someone accessing child pornography through your network. Or illegally downloading music files. Or buying drugs from online dealers.  All of these things could potentially cause you a visit from local police or the FBI. That means all of your files could be searched. Your computer could be seized. Your home could be subject to an exhaustive inspection.

Illegal activity across the network is only one worry. An even bigger concern may be the data hackers can gain by accessing your unsecured network.

Hackers can enter your unsecured network and gain access to your email, instant messaging, and computer data. They can learn everything about your life that you have on your computer.

Hackers can also use unsecured networks to send SPAM. They can also launch virus attacks. They do this because it becomes extremely difficult to track illicit activities to the source.

Stay safe. Secure your home wireless Wi-Fi network!

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What To Do If You’re Home When An Intruder Breaks In

by AmyAugust 12, 2014

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Experiencing a home break-in is bad enough. What’s worse is being home when the break-in occurs.

If you’re home when a break-in happens, your safety and the safety of your loved ones is of prime importance.

Like most things in life, your best bet to stay safe during a home break-in is to plan ahead. Be aware of possible escape routes because your best bet if dealing with an intruder is to leave the home safely.

If you hear an intruder…

  • Leave the home if you can and go to a neighbor’s quickly to summon help.
  • If you can’t leave your home, go into a room and lock the door. If your home security system was armed and the alarm has sounded, stay quiet and know that help is on the way. If not, quietly call 9-1-1 to get the police. Don’t hang up the phone, leave the line open so the dispatcher can hear what’s happening at your home.
  • Be quiet and listen. How many intruders are there and are they making their way towards you?

If you encounter an intruder…

  • Remain calm and cooperative. Studies show that you are most susceptible to personal injury within the first 30 seconds of the encounter.
  • Avoid direct eye contact. Speak in a calm, normal tone of voice.
  • Tell the intruder you will cooperate. Raise your hands to shoulder level. You’ll appear cooperative yet still have your hands in a defensive position.
  • It’s safer to flee than fight. Only go on the offensive with the intruder if there is no other option.

The best way to prevent trouble with an intruder is to take steps to prevent a break-in. Lock your doors. Make sure door jams are steel. Use steel-covered solid wood doors with a minimum thickness of 1.75 inches. Publicize the fact you have a home security system and always keep your system armed.

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2 Things You Need to Know Before Leaving Your Pet at the Kennel

by CassieAugust 7, 2014

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If you have a pet that you occasionally need to board at a kennel, then please take two minutes to read this blog post.

On June 20, 2014, 20 dogs at a pet boarding facility in Gilbert, AZ. (a suburb of Phoenix) died of heat exhaustion after the air conditioning stopped working in the area of the facility housing the dogs. At the time this blog post was written, the incident is still under investigation by the Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff’s Office.

This tragedy may have easily been avoided if the pet-boarding facility had simply installed temperature sensors, power sensors and/or camera surveillance in the area where the dogs were kept.

Temperature and power sensors notify a 24 hour alarm monitoring center if the power goes out, or if the temperature gets to unacceptable levels. The alarm monitoring center can then take appropriate action to remedy the situation.

Most of you are familiar with video cameras. They observe activity 24 hours a day in a defined area. Pet boarding facility owners could easily view what’s happening at their facility anytime on their smartphone, tablet, laptop or any web enabled device. These facilities could also allow for live steaming of the video to their website (it’s easy and doesn’t cost them any money to do if they have the cameras). That means pet owners could look in on their loved ones at any time, day or night!

Most pet boarding facilities are not staffed with people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most are closed at night. Most are closed on holidays. That’s why there is such a need for temperature and power sensors, along with camera surveillance capabilities, at all pet – boarding facilities.

Next time you need a boarding facility for your pet, use a place that really has pet safety in mind. Ask about temperature and power monitoring and find out if they have camera surveillance systems. Your 4-legged loved one will be glad you did.

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7 Safety Tips When Your Home Is For Sale

June 5, 2014

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