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The latest in MyAlarmCenter news.

See Something Suspicious? Then Say Something About It!

by CassieJanuary 22, 2015

1.22

Here’s a neat story of how neighbors helping neighbors resulted in the arrest of a suspected criminal by the Lower Merion Pennsylvania Police Department.

Police were contacted by a man who noticed suspicious activity on his neighbor’s property. When police arrived a few minutes later, they encountered a 19 year old man from Philadelphia.

The man claimed to be a roofer and told police there was a job he had to work on the street. He said he was simply looking for the home where he was to work. The guy even had a ladder sticking out of his car to make it seem like he was a roofer.

However, police found something else in the guy’s car that aroused their suspicions. The guy had a bike and other tools in the trunk of his car.

The police talked to the neighbor who reported the activity and the neighbor confirmed that this was indeed the man he had seen. The police then contacted the homeowner who identified the ladder, bicycle and tools as being his property that had been in his garage.

Police then arrested the man and found marijuana in his car. The man was charged with burglary, criminal trespassing, theft, possession of a controlled substance, receiving stolen property, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession with intent to deliver.

We love this story as originally reported  by Mainline Media News because it illustrates the importance of neighbors helping neighbors. If you see something suspicious, then you should definitely report it to the authorities. After all, that’s what you’d want your neighbor to do to help you.

My Alarm Center urges you to become an active participant in a neighborhood watch program.  They are great, easy, and effective ways to improve the safety for you, your home and those of your neighbors.

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How to Protect Your Home from Snow and Ice

by AmyJanuary 20, 2015

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This year winter came storming in across many cities across America, bringing with it record snowfalls and freezing temperatures.

Heavy snow and ice can accumulate around your home, causing heavy damage.

The most common damage to your home to be concerned about is interior water damage caused by ice dams.

Ice dams happen because the overhangs at the edge of your roof (called the eaves) tend to be colder than the rest of the roof. As water melts on the roof and reaches the eaves it may freeze there, creating a dam that prevents water from flowing off the roof. The water then backs up underneath the roof shingles and then seeps into your home. Icicles are a good indication that an ice dam is present.

Look for water stains or moisture in the attic or around exterior walls on the top floor of your home. Just because you have an ice dam does not mean you have water damage.

Another big problem snow and ice can create is structural damage to your home. If the snow and ice exceeds the weight bearing capacity of your roof, you could be in big trouble. Experts say flat roofs and older homes are most likely to have these problems.

Although it may differ by a variety of factors, a good rule of thumb is that if you have one foot of wet snow or ice, you should have it removed.

If you have a flat roof with safe access, you may want to simply shovel the roof. If you have a pitched roof, try using a roof rake to remove the snow. It’s not necessary to get all of it – focus on the four foot areas that are closest to the gutters.

There are professionals you can call that will remove roof snow for you. Look for home builders, landscape and roofing contractors and property management firms and always make sure you check references before hiring anyone to work on your home

Make sure you keep the areas around your downspouts clear. This allows your gutters to properly drain when the snow begins to melt. It also helps prevent flooding around the foundation of your home.

It goes without saying that it’s important to keep sideways and driveways clear of snow and ice. This protects the safety of your guests and your family.

Freezing of water pipes are a big concern in the winter. Water pipes that break can cause extensive damage to your home. Read this blog post about how to prevent your pipes from freezing for more information.

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The Forgotten Secret to Protecting Your Home

by TammyJanuary 15, 2015

1.15

One of the most often overlooked things a person can do to protect their home and family from crime and break-ins is to become active participants in a neighborhood watch program.

Neighborhood watch programs encourage residents within a defined area to look for and report suspicious activities to the police.

It’s a really simple concept…neighbors helping neighbors stay safe.

The big goal is to deter criminals from preventing a crime. Many neighborhood watch programs also encourage homeowners to get home safety inspections, upgrade locks and improve outdoor lighting. They’ll hold regular neighborhood meetings and they’ll establish phone trees and notification networks like Nextdoor for quick neighborhood alerts.

There are huge proactive steps neighborhood watch groups undertake in promoting the program throughout the community. They’ll make sure proper signage is in place, and provide residents with stickers to place on doors and windows as added protection. They’ll work with community developers for adequate door and window locks and outdoor lighting on new properties.

Study after study proves that neighborhood watch programs are quite effective at preventing crime and capturing criminals. A U.S. Department of Justice study found that neighborhood watch programs – also referred to as block watch, home watch and community watch – cut crime by anywhere from 16% to 26%!

To find out if there is a neighborhood watch group in your community, contact your local police department or sheriff’s office. And if you are interested in starting a neighborhood watch group in your area, take these steps:

  • Form a small committee of interest people in your neighborhood. You can meet to determine neighborhood needs and levels of interest. Think about the size (number of homes) and area (geographic distance) of your watch – keep things to a manageable number.
  • Contact the neighborhood watch coordinator at your law enforcement agency. They’ll help you organize two informational meetings to get things started.
  • Invite as many people as possible to the informational meeting. It will help educate and inspire people to participate in the program.
  • The neighborhood watch coordinator from the police department will plan and conduct the first two meetings. They show videos, explain the problems and explain the dos and don’ts of the program. They’re trained experts at providing informative and entertaining meetings helpful to your community.
  • After the initial two meetings, homeowners take over. They’re given guidance about content for future community meetings and instruction about how to maximize the impact of the program in their neighborhood.

It’s holiday season and it’s darker outside due to winter days. Criminal activity is on the rise. Do yourself and your neighbors a huge favor – become involved with a neighborhood watch program today!

 

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Washington Mom Shoots Man During Home Invasion

by AmyJanuary 13, 2015

1.13

A 33 year old mother in Edmunds, Washington shot a man attempting to force his way into her home on Thanksgiving.

KING 5 News in Seattle reported that the woman woke up at 3am to a man pounding on her front door who then tried to break in. The woman armed herself, called 911 and then went to the door to investigate.

The man was able to force the door open, resulting in a struggle with the woman who was trying to keep the door closed. When the woman realized she would lose the struggle, she shot the intruder once in the abdomen.

Police say the woman’s kids and husband were in the home and that she was doing all she could to keep her children safe. No one in the family was injured.

The man is expected to live and has been charged with a variety of crimes by the Edmonds Police.

It’s important to not open doors to strangers – even a little – regardless of the stranger’s situation. Chain locks that allow you to slightly open the door are really no good…most burglars can simply defeat them with a sound kick or a blow to the door with their body.

Always keep doors locked and closed to strangers. The best, safest way you can help them is to contact emergency personnel and wait for professionals to handle the situation.

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Home Heating Safety Tips

by TammyJanuary 8, 2015

1.08

Home fires occur in winter more than at any other time of the year. This is due in part to the use of alternative heating sources that many people use for cooking and heating to combat the winter cold.

You can heat your home safely while preventing winter fires. The following tips can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter.

Check the Furnace

  • Replace the air filters per the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Clean the floor vents. Make sure they are clear of debris, pet hair, dust, toys and food scraps.
  • Make sure outside vents are free from snow and ice.

Fire Place Safety

  • Have the chimney cleaned as necessary.
  • Keep the area around the fire place free of flammable materials (at least two feet is recommended).
  • Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood.
  • Always close the firescreen when in use.
  • Never leave a fire unattended and extinguish fires before sleeping.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy for use in the event of an emergency.

Space Heater Safety

  • Turn them off when you leave the home or go to bed. Don’t leave them unattended.
  • Always use a UL certified space heater.
  • Keep flammable materials away from the heater, as the majority of space heater fires start with these materials.
  • Keep the heater on a level surface away from pets and areas where people may bump into it.
  • Avoid using space heaters in flooded areas or water.
  • Don’t use long extension cords that people can trip over.

Wood Stove Safety

  • Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood.
  • Keep the area clear of combustible materials.
  • Place the stove on a non-combustible, fire-proof base.
  • Don’t connect a stove pipe to a fireplace chimney unless the fire place has been closed off. Never connect it to a chimney of an appliance burning other fuels.
  • Never start a fire with flammable fluids like gas.
  • Always supervise the fire…don’t leave it unattended.
  • Follow manufacturer’s recommendations concerning installation and operation.

Most Important about Heating Safety

The most important protective measure you can take is to make sure there are monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. These detectors notify occupants of a smoke or poisonous gas hazard and monitored detectors will deploy help when needed. Contact your My Alarm Company representative or visit the Fire & Carbon Monoxide Detection page on the website for more information.

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10 New Year Resolutions to Make Your Home Safe

by CassieJanuary 6, 2015

2015

With the New Year upon us we thought we’d share 10 resolutions you can make to improve your home security. Sometimes a few easy steps are all it takes to keep you safe and secure.

  1. Remove all flyers from your doorstep right away.

Some burglars will case a home by placing a flyer on the door to see if someone picks it up. Don’t let them build up on your doorstep and arrange for a neighbor to pick them up if you are away.

  1. Use timers for indoor and outdoor lights.

Automatic timers on lights make your home look occupied and can even be part of your home automation system. Use energy efficient bulbs to keep your energy costs down.

  1. Don’t leave electronics boxes out on the curb or visible to others.

These boxes are like an advertisement to thieves that you have new goodies in your home. Take these boxes to a recycling center or cut them up in small pieces so they fit securely inside a trash receptacle.

  1. Don’t post on social media that you’ll be away from your home.

You’d be amazed at the number of home break-ins that happen from trip announcements on social media. Share with your friends all the news about your good time AFTER you get back home.

  1. Reinforce your door jams if you have weak door frames.

More than 70% of home break-ins come by someone kicking in a door. Watch this video to see how to reinforce your entry doors for under $10.00.

  1. Secure the sliding glass doors and windows.

Put a wooden dowel or metal rod in the door or window track so they can’t easily be pried open by thieves.

  1. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Protect your home and family members from death by smoke, heat or poisonous gas. Monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detectors keep your family safe while summoning the fire department for assistance.

  1. Get a home security system that allows you to control and monitor your home with your smartphone.

Home security systems are an effective deterrent to crime.  Get one that allows you to control home security and home automation functions right from your smartphone and make sure it’s monitored by a reputable alarm monitoring center.

  1. Make a secret hiding place for your valuables.

Check out this list of 22 do-it-yourself hiding places to keep your stuff.

  1. Make your security measures known to the bad guys.

Display protective window stickers and yard signs throughout your property so the bad guys know you are secure. Many will simply choose to go to a home they feel is unprotected.

At My Alarm Center, we want 2015 to be a safe and secure year for you and your loved ones. Keep reading this blog for more information and contact us if we can help you.

 

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8 Tips to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing

by DerekJanuary 1, 2015

1.01

There are few worse experiences as a home owner than having your pipes freeze and break.

It’s very messy, very costly, and very inconvenient…even if you have insurance.

Water expands as it freezes, which can cause enormous pressure on metal or plastic household pipes.  This pressure can and often does cause household pipes to break. Pipes that are most likely to break are those exposed to severe cold, like pipes in unheated basements, garages, under cabinets, or those exposed to exterior walls with little insulation. Outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool lines and sprinkler lines are also vulnerable.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

There are actions you should take before the cold weather as preventative measures. These include:

  • Drain water from the water supply lines and swimming pool following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Make sure to drain outside hose bibs. Keep outside valves open so any remaining water in the pipe can expand without breaking the pipe.
  • Remove, drain and store hoses used outdoors.
  • Look for places around and in your home where water supply lines are located in unheated and under insulated areas.  Your crawl space, attic, basement and under cabinets are usually your most vulnerable areas. In these areas, consider adding insulation like a “pipe sleeve” or installing something like UL-listed heat tape. You could even use newspaper in a temporary situation to help keep pipes from freezing.
  • Keep garage doors closed during cold weather if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open cabinet doors so warm air can circulate around the pipes. Safety tip – make sure to keep harmful cleaning products and chemicals away from kids and pets.
  • In super cold weather conditions, let water slowly drip from the faucets of those lines exposed to the weather conditions.
  • If leaving your home for an extended period, keep the temperature on the thermostat to no lower than 55°F. Even trickling amounts of water continuously  running through the pipes can keep them from freezing.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

OK. So you’ve done everything you can to prevent frozen pipes and yet they froze anyway. Here’s what you can do to help thaw them out:

  • Open the faucets and leave them open. The water will need a place to escape as it begins to melt and flow through frozen areas. Leaving the faucet open removes the pressure on the pipe and makes it less likely to break.
  • Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen. NEVER use an open flame as it poses a fire hazard. Use an electric heating pad, electric hair dryer, a safe portable space heater or use very hot towels that you wrap around the pipe.

If you can’t locate the frozen area, or can’t quickly get the ice to melt, call a licensed professional immediately. It’s better and cheaper to call a pro than to have your water pipes break.

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Happy Holidays from My Alarm Center

by AmyDecember 25, 2014

12.23

One of the great pleasures of the Holiday Season is the chance to say “thank you” for your contributions to our success.

We pass along our warmest thoughts and best wishes for a fantastic Holiday Season and a very Happy New Year.

Relish every moment, savior every triumph and appreciate every failure. Dream big. Play big. Work hard. Laugh out loud.

This Holiday Season, My Alarm Center urges you to celebrate all of life’s possibilities.

May 2015 be your best year ever!

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Holiday Safety Tips In & Out of Your Home

by AmyDecember 23, 2014

12.25

The holiday season is upon us once again and with it comes plenty of celebrating and joyful cheer for you and your loved ones.  Unfortunately there are also perils and hazards that are associated with the holiday season as well.  Whether you are staying home or traveling we have a few tips to keep you, your family and your home safe this holiday season.

If you are staying home for the holidays and are hosting the festivities here is some general advice to make sure the celebrations go off without a hitch.

Cooking Safety – With the holidays come lots of eats and treats.  When spending time in the kitchen be sure to use care when working around hot surfaces and ovens.  Keep all flammable materials safely away from heat sources including loose sleeves and material you may be wearing.  Also be sure to warn all the children in your home to stay clear of the hot stove and any sharp knives or other dangers that might be lurking in the kitchen.

Christmas Tree Safety –  While Christmas trees rarely catch fire, when they do the results can be catastrophic.  Be sure to keep your natural tree completely watered and get rid of it as soon as the needles begin to dry out.  You also need to pay special attention to your strands of lights.  Thoroughly check for loose bulbs and damaged wires and plugs.  More than half of all Christmas tree fires are started by faulty electrical problems.  We have a great article outlining all the steps you can take to make sure your tree and decorations are safe.

Snow & Ice Removal – Most of us here in the U.S. have probably already had a shovel in our hands this winter.  Be sure to keep you and your holiday guests safe by keeping your driveway and all walkways clear of snow and ice.  Use rock salt on the areas that people will need to walk to help ensure that snow that melts does not refreeze on your sidewalks.  Also keep an eye on the roof-line of your home and any other overhang where icicles can form and become potential falling daggers.

Keep Your Home Secure – Even though you are staying home you should still keep all of your windows and doors locked and well secured.  This includes keeping your curtains and blinds closed as well…especially at night.  Criminals are cruising neighborhoods during the holiday season looking for easy opportunities.  If they can see valuables through a window they may be tempted to do a quick smash and grab.  Another mistake often made is running power cords through the crack of a window to power Christmas lights outside.  This leaves an easy entrance for the bad guys to breach your home.

Register Expensive Gifts – If Santa was kind to you be sure to register any expensive jewelry, electronics or other high priced items with the manufacturer or store they were purchased.  You can also take video or photographs of the items for insurance purposes should they come up missing.  If you want to mark any item without a serial number you can engrave your driver’s license number into it to identify it as your own.  Be sure not to use any other sensitive number like your social security number.

Don’t Toss Boxes of Expensive Gifts – After the gift giving is over be sure not to throw boxes from a new flat-screen, laptop or any other expensive item out with the recycling in plain sight.  Crooks are cruising the neighborhoods looking for this packaging as an indicator to what lies behind closed doors.

Should you be heading out for the holidays we have some tips to help your home stay safe while you are away.  Vacant homes are easy targets during the holidays.  We have an article on the top ten things that make your home a target to burglars.

Set Alarm – Don’t forget to set the alarm before you leave your home.  With all the packing and excitement of the holidays it can sometimes slip your mind to set the alarm and secure your home.  If you do not have an alarm system you might want to make a small investment and get one before leaving your home vulnerable.

Alert a Good Neighbor – If you are lucky you have good neighbors and hopefully some of them are staying home during your time away.  Let at least one know that you will be away and to please keep an eye out for any suspicious activity while you are gone.

Don’t Hide Keys – This is really not a good idea any time of the year.   Seasoned burglars know that people often hide keys outside and they are very familiar with hiding places.  If you are convinced that you can find a good spot, just be sure that it is never hidden near the front or back door.  Trust us, criminals will find it.  You are better off leaving it with a trustworthy neighbor.

Automatic Timer – When leaving for even just an overnight trip it is a good idea to buy yourself and automatic timer for one or two lights within your home.  It gives the impression that someone is active within the home.  Do not leave the lights on for 24 hours a day as this is just as obvious that no one is home as a home with no lights on.  Leaving a television on is ok as the lights change and flicker and does give the impression someone is home. This function can also be done by a home automation system.

Close the Curtains – Keeping the curtains or blinds closed does not give anyone driving by a clear line of sight into your home.  If criminals cannot see all the valuables you have inside they will be less likely to break into your home on a hunch.

No Social Media Posts – Posting that you are leaving for the holidays on social media is really dangerous.  It is all too easy to surf the net and look for these posts and then know that your house is empty and vulnerable to attack.  Wait until you return to share your trip with friends and family online.

Put Your Mail On Hold – Nothing says “Hey we aren’t home” like an overflowing mailbox or a stack of newspapers piling up in front of your home.  Before you leave, be sure to stop your mail service and newspaper delivery. You may want to consider hanging a “No Solicitors” sign out front to deter them from leaving anything on your front stoop.

We hope that you take these tips to heart whether you are staying home or traveling during the holiday season.  We wish you, your family and friends a safe and joyous holiday season!  If you have any questions or concerns about the safety of your home please call My Alarm Center at 855 334 6562.  Our safety specialists will be happy to discuss all of your safety options.

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Fire Safety – Christmas Trees, Lights & Candles

by TammyDecember 18, 2014

12.18

 

 

The Christmas holiday season is a time of year that we should be spending with family and spreading joy to all of our loved ones.  During this time of year it may be easy to overlook some of the fire hazards that come along with the decorations of the season.

The NFPA estimates an average of 230 American homes are damaged each year by fires caused by ignited Christmas trees.  Another 150 home structure fires are caused by line voltage decorative lights.  Together these fires cause an average of 15 deaths, 38 injuries and $26.7 million dollars in property damage each year!  These sobering figures cannot be ignored and safety precautions need to be taken to help ensure you and your loved ones have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Here are some great tips we would like to pass your way to help you keep your holiday fire free.

  1. When choosing a tree be sure to pick one that is a fresh as possible. Look to see your tree has green, semi-pliable needles.  Dry needles have a much higher possibility of catching fire.  Cutting down the tree yourself is the best way to ensure its freshness.
  2. If you have an artificial tree be sure it is labeled Fire Retardant by the manufacturer.  While having a real tree might bring a sense of holiday authenticity, the simple fact of the matter is that artificial trees are much less likely to catch fire.
  3. Before putting your real tree in a stand be sure to cut off at least 2 to 3 inches of the base to expose some fresh wood.  This will allow the tree to stay moist and prevent dryin gout.  Be sure to check the water level of the tree every day.  A real Christmas tree will be very thirsty in the dry winter months.
  4. Choose where you place your tree wisely.  Never place your tree near any heat source like a fireplace, radiator, heating vents, hot lights or candles.  And of course never place your tree in front of any exit.  In case of a fire you want to make sure you have a clear path to get out of the house.  Another suggestion is to place your tree somewhere that the tree cannot be knocked over by the family pet or playing children into a heat source.
  5. When choosing lights for your tree and extension cords be sure that they are rated properly by an independent testing laboratory and are UL-listed.  Some lights are intended for indoor or outdoor use only.  Today’s LED lights are a great choice as they do not create any heat. We hope it should go without saying, but never use real candles to light up your tree.  This is an old tradition before electric lights were invented and we highly suggest you do not attempt this.
  6. Once you have your new lights selected or have pulled out the lights from storage, be sure to check them well for any loose bulbs or damaged wires. If you can replace the bulbs be sure to unplug them before doing so to avoid any shock.  If the wires or plugs are defective, replace the entire string.  Don’t risk a fire due to an electrical issue as this is the number one reason trees ignite.
  7. When you are ready to plug in your lights, be sure not to overload any one circuit.  Plug a maximum of 3 light strings together.  If you are using LED lights, consult the manufacturer’s suggestion on how many strings you can safely plug into each other to create one chain.  It is highly suggested that you plug all lights into a surge outlet protector instead of directly into a wall outlet.  Lastly, always remember to shut off the lights before going to bed or leaving the house.
  8. If you will be decorating the outside of your home than be sure to choose lights that are intended for outdoor use.  Using indoor lights that are not designed to be used for outside weather can result in them shorting out or even worse.  Don’t run the risk of electrical shock or a fire hazard by using indoor lights outside.  If you are unsure if your lights are safe for outdoor use than look for the color-coded UL logo on the packaging.  A green logo is only safe for indoor use while the red logo can be used inside or outdoors safely.  The same safety precautions need to be taken with any extension cords that are being used.
  9. Once the festivities are over and the holiday has come and gone you are better off taking the tree down as soon as possible.  Real trees do not last that long and the needles will quickly begin to dry out making them a fire hazard.  The majority of fires involving Christmas trees happen after the holiday and not before.  It is also suggested that you remove outdoor lighting immediately after the holiday to reduce any risk of fire and to help preserve the life of your outdoor lights.

While Christmas tree fires are not a common occurrence, when they do happen the damage is usually significant as can be seen in the video at the end of this article.  These fires can also leave a significant scar on the memory of the holiday itself.  We hope that you find our tips useful and have a safe and happy holiday season with your family, friends and loved ones.

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7 Safety Tips When Your Home Is For Sale

June 5, 2014

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