Category Archives: Security Blog Posts

Our blog is a platform to present information and ideas that are moving the industry forward. It’s a place to interact with our customers on topics and issues that are influencing the future of home security. Join the discussion by posting a comment.

History of the Home Alarm System

stock and gold ticker

The stock and gold ticker is a precursor to the modern alarm system.

The very first version of the home alarm system, created by an English inventor simply known as Mr. Tildesley, resembled the cheery device many stores use today to announce the arrival of new customers. Tildesley’s model involved the connection of a cluster of bells to a door’s lock, so a ringing would occur when someone tried unlocking the door. The system didn’t provide much protection, but at least people got a heads up when someone was about to enter.

Then in 1850 Boston-based inventor Augustus Pope pioneered the first electro-magnetic alarm system. Pope connected a basic parallel circuit to doors and windows. When an intruder tried opening an alarm-equipped door or window, the circuit would close, sending a current through a magnet that would vibrate in order to make a mounted hammer hit an attached bell. Pope also incorporated a switch spring that, once sprung, would keep the current and the alarm going even if an intruder closed the door.

Edward Holmes in the 1870s and 1880s popularized Pope’s system by making it commercially available to homes and businesses, as the public’s wariness about electricity declined. Edward Calahan, inventor of the telegraph-based gold and stock ticker, took alarm systems a step further by creating the idea of a central monitoring station. Calahan hooked up the electro-magnetic alarms to call boxes that could send telegraph messages to a central station that would then dispatch a messenger boy to help organize emergency assistance in the region from which the telegraph originated. Eventually, the telephone replaced the telegraph in this system.

Today, home alarm systems have progressed to incorporate digital and wireless technology. Motion sensors detect threats and digitally transmit information to home owners and law enforcement if needed. Products like SafeMart’s revolutionary ASAPer even expedite connecting the central station with the emergency contact list and emergency services.

 

April Showers: How to Protect your Home from Flooding

Flood

Flooding is one of the most common natural disasters because it isn’t a region-specific occurrence. Even if you don’t live in a flood plain or near a river, you can still experience flooding given enough rain. With spring about to bring a new round of floods to the United States, here are some tips for keeping your family and home safe before and during a flood:

  1. Know the alert terminology: Flood watch means flooding may occur; flood warning means it will absolutely happen. A flash flood means flooding will occur rapidly; these are the most dangerous.
  2. Protect your appliances: Basement appliances like washing machines should be mounted above the ground at all times. If flooding occurs, unplug all electrical appliances and shut off all utilities.
  3. Be ready to barricade: It’s always good to store an ample supply of barricading materials including sandbags and plywood. If flood waters start approaching your home, you can stack sandbags around the base of your home or erect a makeshift barrier using plywood and nails to seal off the foundation.
  4. Plan for the worst: While total evacuation due to flooding isn’t always necessary, make sure you and your family has an emergency plan just in case. Always head to higher ground in the case of flash flooding, and make sure you have a designated meeting place so separated family members know where to go. Having an emergency supply of food, flashlights and batteries that can last at least three days is also crucial, especially if you live in a high risk flooding area.
  5. Understand the strength of moving water: When evacuating by foot or car, avoid moving water. Six inches of moving flood water can sweep a person off his or her feet. A foot or more of moving water can be powerful enough to float a medium-sized car.

 

You can check FEMA’s flood page for more advanced tips and up-to-date flood warnings.

 

SafeMart’s LiveWatch Security Wins Big at This Year’s Awards

LiveWatch Security has recently been named winner in two competitions, winning Gold at the 2014 Stevie Awards and a Super Service Award from Angie’s List.

At the 2014 Stevie Awards, LiveWatch took home Gold for Best Use of Technology in Customer Service. LiveWatch was recognized for simplifying the customer experience while increasing programming efficiency by 50%. The patented Plug and Protect technology has made the process of installing home security easy for anyone.PNP

Plug & Protect® service provides professional-grade security at a do-it-yourself price. Pioneered by SafeMart over the past 10 years, customers all over the country are enjoying the savings and security of a professionally-configured solution.

The 8th annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service took place in Las Vegas, Nevada on Friday, February 21. Entries for this year awards program for contact center, customer services, and sales professionals were up 36%.  More than 1,500 nominations from organizations covering all sizes and industries were entered in the competition. 129 judges participated in the preliminary round, with more than 130 judges placed on seven specialized final judging committees to determine the Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards. The award marks the third year in a row that LiveWatch has impressed at the Stevie Awards. In 2013 LiveWatch won both a Silver and Bronze award, and captured another Bronze in 2012.

LiveWatch Security was also awarded for excellent customer service by being named one of Angie’s List Super Service Award Winners. The Award is given out each year to companies that have provided outstanding service based on member feedback from the previous year. Angie’s List awards this distinction to less than 5% of companies on the website. The 2013 Super Service Award winners must have an “A” average on reviews received in 2012 and an “A” overall rating.

Unlike traditional home security companies that lock in 3 to 5 year contracts, LiveWatch offers 1-year agreements. This short-term agreement motivates LiveWatch to offer premier service so that customers stay with us because they want to, and not because they have to.  LiveWatch is dedicated to moving past customer satisfaction, and reaching customer delight.

How to Protect Your Home from Pests

mouse trap

The mouse trap is an essential piece of equipment for DIY pest management.

Did you know? April is National Pest Management Month, and with pest season almost upon us, there’s no better time than now to start fortifying your home from nasty creepers and crawlers. Here are five do-it-yourself tips to ensure a high level of security from pests:

 

  1. Treating your home to keep pests out: Seal all cracks and holes on the outside of your home, especially those made around entry points for pipes and other utilities. Pay close attention to the foundation; you should replace old weather-stripping and reinforce loose mortar around basement foundation and windows. Replace rotted roof shingles to avoid bugs attracted to old wood; storing firewood at least 20 feet away from your home and at least 5 inches off the ground helps with this, too. Keep basements, attics and other small rooms well ventilated and dry. Also, regularly taking out the garbage, which tends to attract pests, is key to prevent infestation.
  2. Combating Ants: A simple mixture of 1 cup sugar and 1 cup Borax should do the trick. Sprinkle the concoction outside around your home’s foundation and inside around the home’s base boards. The sugar attracts the ants and the borax kills them.
  3. Dealing with cockroaches: If you notice cockroaches in your home, sprinkle a little borax powder in your kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Be careful to not put the powder where children could come into contact with it, though.
  4. Eradicating wasps, hornets and bees: If any of these stinging pests get into your house and you don’t have insect spray, you can just as easily kill the creatures with hair spray.
  5. Trapping mice: Peanut butter and bacon are the best types of bate for a mouse trap. When using peanut butter, make sure the paste hardens on the trap’s triggering device before you put the trap in place. If you opt for bacon, be sure to tie the bacon firmly around the trap trigger.

 

How else do you protect your home from pests?

 

Monday Roundup

 

Egyptian Cartonnage

This ancient piece of cartonnage was stolen during the mass unrest in Egypt in 2011.

From lizards causing false alarms in Bangladesh to millions of dollars of stolen French art showing up in the houses of unsuspecting Italian owners, it was a wacky week for burglary news around the world. Here’s a roundup of last week’s instances of property related crime:

 

  1. A wandering lizard managed to set off the alarm at a Bangladesh bank Saturday, sparking the fear of local police and news media. Officials initially feared a repeat of a January incident in which robbers stole 164 million Bangladeshi taka, which equates to $2.1 million.
  2. Egyptian government officials announced Sunday they are working to reacquire an antique cartonnage carving stolen during the country’s unrest in 2011. The piece of art, which was carved to honor the deceased, is in the possession of a French citizen who was planning to sell it via auction.
  3. Italian police identified two paintings formerly hanging in the home of a factory worker as works by French artists Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard, together worth $17 million. The paintings were stolen from a London museum in 1970 and bought for $70 by the factory worker in 1975 at an auction of items left behind by train passengers in Turin.
  4. A California man reportedly threw cash into the air shortly before police arrested him for robbing a nearby gas station. The man, 46, is being charged with one count of robbery and two counts of attempt robbery, for two failed heists earlier that morning.
  5. A Buntingtonford, England teenager’s April Fools’ prank caused her parents to raise a false alarm to local police. The 13-year-old hid a laptop and two watches before leaving for school. Her parents reported the objects stolen, which initiated an investigation that was terminated once the girl came back from school and said what she had done. Police reported annoyance with the incident.

 

Four Tips for Safely Handling Eggs

EggsinTree2

Easter comes later than usual this year, but maybe you’ve already started thinking about decorating your home for the holiday. Pretty soon it’ll be time to dye some eggs, and plan for the annual egg hunt or even decorate the tree in your front yard with 10,000 Easter eggs, like this man in Germany did.

However, eggs can be an extremely hazardous food when handled incorrectly. Fortunately, it’s easy to work with eggs safely. Here are four major tips for egg safety that apply not just to Easter, but also to hard-boiled eggs used for the Passover Seder as well as general year-round egg consumption:

 

  1. Be careful with dyes: If you’re planning to eventually eat the eggs you decorate, make sure you use only food-grade dyes to avoid ingesting dangerous chemicals.
  2. Keep edible eggs refrigerated: Any eggs, including hard-boiled eggs, left at room temperature for two hours or more should be considered spoiled. Eating eggs left out for too long leads to the risk of suffering salmonella. Keeping your refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder prevents eggs from spoiling, though hard-boiled eggs should still be eaten within seven days.
  3. Avoid contact with raw egg: The largest risk for this occurs if you hollow out eggs by blowing the inner contents through holes made in the shell. When to doing this, use only pasteurized shell eggs. If you want to cook the raw egg you removed from the shell, do it right away to avoid spoiling.
  4. Set up safe hunts: Using plastic eggs is ideal not just because it eliminates the risk of spreading bacteria, but also because plastic eggs can be filled with candy! However, if you want to hide real eggs don’t hide any with cracked shells and make sure to hide them in the cleanest places possible.

What do you do with the eggs you decorate?

The History of Security Cameras

Security cameras make a great addition to your home security system.

The spread of security cameras to business districts and residential neighborhoods alike has been a 70 year process mirroring the great technological innovations of the second half of the 20th century. The first cameras were used by WWII militaries for real time monitoring of weapons tests. Then in the early 1960s London police started using them to enhance their law enforcement efforts in crowded environments. American police first installed security cameras in New York in 1968.

The original security cameras were closed circuit television units that required constant monitoring because they couldn’t record footage to be used in future investigations or trials. However, Sony in the 1970s pioneered the commercial video cassette, which allowed action to be captured by security systems and stored for future use.

The use of security cameras increased with the development of digital technology. First, digital video recording made images clearer. This increased the demand for the cameras because higher resolution recordings allowed crime investigators to learn more from acquired footage. Then in the 1990s security companies developed digital multiplexing technology, which allowed multiple cameras to simultaneously broadcast and record into the same monitoring system. These arrangements became a common feature of banks and large office buildings.

Today, security cameras can be found on street corners, in restaurants and as part of home security systems.

Five Tips for Safe Outdoor Spring Clean-Up

Welcome to part one of our ‘April Showers’ tips for spring safety series. Each week this month we’ll be dedicating a post to a different aspect of spring weather-related safety.

First up, we turn to outdoor spring clean-up projects. It’s great the temperatures are finally rising, but winter tends to leave behind a mess, which means more yard work for Spring Projectsyou. Unfortunately, spring cleaning can lead to small but nasty injuries. On average more than 21 million Americans have to make emergency room visits as a result of unintentional home injuries, according to the Home Security Council. Here are five tips to help you avoid making an unwanted spring cleaning related trip to the hospital:

  1. Climb with care: When using a ladder for your yard work, climb slowly keeping your weight centered and wear rubber shoes to prevent slipping. If you’re using an extension ladder, the distance between the base of the latter and the wall you’re working on should be one-fourth the height of the highest point where the ladder contacts the wall or roof. So if the top of the ladder is resting on an 8 foot roof, the bottom of the ladder should contact the ground at least two feet away from the wall.
  2. Know your tools: Make sure your tools are in proper working order before tackling major tasks like mowing or trimming. If there’s a chance of rain, don’t use any power tools that aren’t explicitly rated for outdoor use.
  3. Wear gloves: Medium-to-thick gloves with gripping material are ideal. This will keep you safe from cuts and unexpected tool slips.
  4. Keep your chemicals secure: When you’re done using gardening and lawn chemicals, make sure they’re stored in tightly sealed containers with a little extra room to avoid spills. Also keep chemical containers locked up and out of the reach of children and pets.
  5. Prioritize trimming window hedges: Spring cleaning is an ideal time to ensure this basic element of home security. Trimming hedges below the level of your windowsill keeps your outside view clear and makes it harder for potential burglars to conceal themselves in order to scout out your residence.

Are there any spring safety related topics you’d like to see addressed in our ‘April Showers’ series? Let us know with comments or tweets.

How to Play Safe Pranks

box of oreos

Beware. Your Oreos may contain toothpaste.

April Fools’ Day is a great day to let your creativity blossom in the form of playing practical jokes on your friends and family that are not just funny, but also express your appreciation for your close relationship with them. Nonetheless, it’s important to balance safety with humor when carrying out your master plans of merriment. Here are four major tips for playing safe pranks not just today, but anytime (and these aren’t a joke):

  1. Know your friends’ allergies: Pranks involving food can be some of the funniest practical jokes, but triggering someone’s food allergies is not so humorous. If you don’t know someone well enough to be aware of any major allergies they have, that person might not be the best target for a food-related prank.
  2. Be physically mindful: Some people are both able to and don’t mind playing rough. Others not so much. Overall it’s best to stay away from pranks involving hazards like slippery surfaces and surprise impacts. But if you know someone who would find being the target of such a prank funny, please be absolutely sure they’re more than physically capable of handling the situation before proceeding.
  3. Respect your target’s property: Be sure absolutely any alterations made as part of your prank can be easily reversed. Writing a silly message on a friend or family member’s shirt while they’re fast asleep can be funny if it’s erasable, but if you use permanent marker you might just end up provoking anger.
  4. Work as a team: Once you’ve decided on what trick you’re going to play, pick a trusted accomplice (or two). When pulling pranks as a team, you will always have someone else on hand in case anything goes wrong.

Have fun and be safe! If you pull any successful and safe pranks, let us know by commenting or tweeting.

Monday Roundup

From falsified burglaries, to reunions with long-lost paintings, to missing giant hamsters, it was an eventful weekend in the world of surprise private property transactions. Here’s your Monday Roundup:Hampster

  1. A 25-year-old Lake Grove, NY Woman was arrested Friday for falsely reporting a burglary to cover up the fact she committed the crime herself. The perpetrator called 911, telling police a man was breaking into her landlord’s apartment, but she then told officers the man had fled once they arrived. The subsequent story she told a detective didn’t match up with her original description of the event, and the woman eventually admitted to having broken into the landlord’s residence and stealing jewelry at an earlier date.
  2. Three Auburn University students were arrested in connection with the theft of valuable sports paraphernalia from the Jordan-Hare Stadium football locker room last week. The stolen goods include equipment worn by stars Bo Jackson and Cam Newton, as well as standard Under Armour gear.
  3. The exhibition of a decades-ago stolen painting recently returned to the Baltimore Museum of Art opened Sunday. The piece, called On the Shore of the Seine, was painted by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1879, purchased by American art collectors in 1925, and stolen from the Baltimore museum in 1951. The work was discovered in a West Virginia flea market and returned to the museum in September 2013.
  4. A 25-foot-tall inflatable hamster was stolen from the car lot of a Santa Fe-based Kia dealership. The $5,000 marketing mascot has not yet been sighted.