Category Archives: Security Blog Posts

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How to Choose a Smoke Detector

According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly two-thirds of U.S. household fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms. If you live in one of the millions of homes without smoke alarms, learn how to avoid a preventable tragedy with the simple smoke detector.

Not all fire alarms are created equally, and fire prevention is not the area of home improvement to skimp on – cheaper usually means worse. While alarms can cost as little as $5 online, reduced prices lead to reduced security.

There are affordable, high-quality options for every price range, but it’s important to understand the different types of fire alarms before making a decision:

  • Heat detectors: Sensors inside the unit signal an alarm when the temperature reaches a fixed point or when a specific increase in temperature occurs. These are best for fire detection in small spaces with the potential for rapidly burning fires, but they are generally not as good as smoke detectors for residential use and should not be used as the primary method of fire detection.
  • Interconnected smoke alarms: These alarms are synchronized to all beep if one detects fire. Interconnected alarms are beneficial for larger homes if a resident could not hear an alarm in another area of the house – for example, a smoke alarm beeping in the basement when a family is sleeping two floors higher.
  • Monitored smoke alarms: Fire detecting devices are connected to a central monitoring station to call the fire department in case of smoke detection. These alarms are helpful if a fire starts when the house is empty or when residents are sleeping and are unable to quickly call emergency responders.

After making a decision about the best smoke alarms for your family, follow these tips for best practices:

  • Install smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall, far away from pets and small hands.
  • Place fire detectors on every level of the home, including the basement, and in hallways leading to bedrooms.
  • Replace alarm batteries twice a year and replace the alarm unit every 10 years.

Start the process now by determining what your unique home needs are with SafeMart’s Personal Safety Advisor.

5 Home Burglary Facts You Need to Know

Surprising Burglary Statistics

Click for a larger view.

During the last week of National Safety Month, SafeMart is sharing tips to maximize your family’s safety. After focusing on the dangers of the “silent killer” and kitchen fires, today’s post examines myths and facts about home burglaries.

 

Myth: Crime has gone down, so houses are safer than ever.

Fact: While the crime rate has decreased over the past few decades, many local areas have experienced an increase in burglaries. Now, houses have more to lose from robberies: The median value of stolen goods rose to $600 in 2011, from $389 in 1994.

 

Myth: Suburban areas have less crime because there are fewer hard criminals.

Fact: Most homes are burglarized by someone who lives within two miles of the house, and the majority of burglars are male teenagers.

 

Myth: Since my valuable jewelry is in a locked safe, there’s nothing big to steal.

Fact: The FBI reported that among all completed burglaries, those involving the theft of an electronic device or household appliance increased from 28 percent in 2001 to 34 percent in 2011. Robbers look for easily concealable objects like iPads, not huge paintings, to grab.

 

Myth: I work a 9-to-5 job, so I’m home at night to protect my home from burglars.

Fact: The majority of burglaries occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when kids and parents are out of the house and fewer people are in the neighborhood.

 

Myth: If a burglar came to my house, I could respond quickly enough on my own to stop him.

Fact: According to the Washington Post, most burglars take between eight and 12 minutes to rob a house. That likely isn’t enough time for anyone to notice and respond to the incident, unless the police are notified upon entry.

Prevent Kitchen Fires During June’s National Safety Month

SafeMart recognizes this June’s National Home Safety Month, a reminder of the importance of vigilance in homes of all sizes. This week, SafeMart will look at five different areas of home safety, starting with Monday’s focus on fire.

Prevent kitchen fires during June - and every month - with these cooking safety tips.

Prevent kitchen fires during June – and every month – with these cooking safety tips.

Each year, one in 320 homes experiences a fire, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and many more go unreported. These fires can range from the large-scale wildfires currently sweeping the West to tiny kitchen fires put out with a bit of flour, but all are cause for concern.

Large-scale wildfires will never threaten most homes east of Colorado, but all homes face the internal dangers of cooking hazards. The NFPA reports that 42 percent of fires start in the kitchen, and for every one reported incident, there are likely 50 others that go unreported.

Kitchen fires are highly preventable and easily put out with the right preparation. Follow common sense tips: don’t use metal in the microwave, roll up sleeves and tie back hair, keep towels, pot holders and paper products away from the stove. As summertime grilling heats up, don’t forget about outdoor kitchens and grills. The same tips apply outside, and remember to watch children around barbecues, just as in the kitchen.

Don’t simply dismantle a smoke alarm for good if it goes off when cooking; instead, make sure the kitchen is well-ventilated and you are attending to anything on the stove or in the oven. If something in the microwave causes significant smoke, unplug the unit and wait for the food to cool instead of opening the door immediately.

Cleanliness is key to avoiding kitchen fires. Wipe down grease, clean out toasters and microwaves, dump out crumb trays and sponge up spills every time you cook.

When the temperatures rise, keep your cool by avoiding kitchen fires and having a fun National Safety Month.

Home Security Cameras Catch Burglars

A burglary is every homeowner’s worst nightmare, but security cameras help the real-life terror have a happy ending.

Burglaries are expensive – the average incident costs the affected home $2,096, according to the FBI – and upsetting, so homeowners have recognized the value of a security system with cameras to both deter would-be burglars and catch robbers in the act or after the event.

Here is just a sampling of the smart homeowners who installed cameras and other security devices that did their job in the past few months:

  • Four people were arrested, with another on the loose, after a Colorado homeowner called the police when her security cameras showed the group attempting to steal a motorcycle. Full story here.
  • An English couple that moved to America this year experienced two break-ins, but then found justice when police caught the burglars. The couple viewed real-time video of the robbery on their cell phones, then told the police what color sweatshirts the teenage burglars wore so the police could catch the boys. Full story here.
  • A SafeMart employee saw the benefits of a home security system first-hand when he caught a burglar stealing from his garage. The employee saw the  man through his image sensor and alerted police, who found and arrested the burglar. Full story here.

These homeowners experienced the benefits of a security system up close. While a burglary can be traumatic, they — and SafeMart’s customers — know they can rest easy with the peace of mind that only comes from a high-quality security cameras.

Alarm Systems Do More Than Prevent Burglaries

A home security system means the difference between potential danger and peace of mind. According to the FBI, 25 percent of homes now have electronic security systems—these homeowners understand the immediate and long-term values of home security. Alarm systems can protect your home in many ways beyond preventing break-ins, and new technology allows homeowners to have more control of alarm systems than ever before. Learn four ways to get the most out of your home security system:

  1. Connect all of your home monitoring devices to your system. Alarm systems feature nearly infinite combinations of protection for your home, from traditional motion sensors and glassbreak detectors to devices that safeguard against fire, carbon monoxide, flood and freeze dangers.
  2. Receive text or email alerts when doors open and close. This gives you an extra eye on who’s going in and out of your home, whether you want to check that the kids arrived home from school safely or know that your spouse locked the door on the way out.
  3. Control your system from anywhere in the world. With just an Internet connection, you can arm or disarm the system, change the temperature, close the garage and more from your smartphone, computer or tablet. These features provide maximum accessibility and convenience for your busy lifestyle.
  4. Save money on home insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average insurance company offers a 15 to 20 percent discount on a home’s insurance policy, saving homeowners hundreds of dollars a year.

Home security systems were designed to deter burglars, but with advanced technology, systems can do so much more. Whether you’re a do-it-yourself homeowner looking to add to an alarm system or a first-time customer, SafeMart can help you customize a system to fit your unique needs.

Five Practices for Your Neighborhood Watch Program

According to the National Sheriff’s Association, the effectiveness of neighborhood watch programs has been proven through drops in burglaries after implementing the program­— in some areas, crime went down as much as 77 percent. After establishing a neighborhood watch program in your community, there are still ways to improve a neighborhood’s program. Here are five methods to ensure your neighborhood watch program is effective and sustainable.

  1. Engage the entire community. 
Religious institutions, schools, businesses, local government agencies, youth groups, senior groups and other organizations are all potential resources and/or partners for a Neighborhood Watch. Groups in your community may be able to offer advice or insight to better your program. Extend invitations to Neighborhood Watch meetings to these organizations to involve them in the discourse of the program. The more of the community that is involved in the program, the wider the reach of the program. FBI statistics show that subdivisions with an active Neighborhood Watch Program are 43 percent less likely to experience crime, so reach out across neighborhoods within your town. A Neighborhood Watch Program needs everyone from the community to be involved, including single parents, teenagers, senior citizens and renters.
  2. Communicate effectively with participants
. Distribute duties among participants clearly and reasonably to divide and share responsibilities equally. Create a structure for the program everyone knows and have leaders of meetings direct discussion in a beneficial and efficient way. Bylaws and elected officers can help establish structure. Create a phone tree or contact list for everyone to stay in touch. Establish a consistent meeting time and agenda to encourage maximum attendance and informed participation.
  3. Assess and address community needs
. Contact the local law enforcement for more in-depth information on your neighborhood. Look at past problems and solutions to crimes, and identify areas that need specific work. Develop strategies to problems one at a time, and as the group works together more, more complex problems will become easier to take on. Evaluate past actions and strategies of combating crime and the effectiveness, and use these experiences to determine what is successful in the program.
  4. Extend the program past basic security. 
Neighborhood Watch Programs may be used to improve a community beyond crime prevention. Some programs sponsor community cleanups, volunteer at local organizations, organize after-school activities and other efforts to help the community. These actions also help build the coherence of the neighborhood and create a stronger bond of trust in the program. Improving the community will also aid in lowering crime rates if the Neighborhood Watch Program is contributing to education and service around the area.
  5. Keep the program active. 
As a Neighborhood Watch Program eliminates crimes, the program also may begin to dissolve after main issues are addressed and solved. A Department of Justice review found that in nearly all studies of Neighborhood Watch Programs, crime decreased. To reinforce the necessity of crime prevention, create new goals for the program and implement activities to find new opportunities. Continue to recruit new members and organizations into the program. Use media to spread the information about Neighborhood Watch Programs even beyond your neighborhood and community.

As your Neighborhood Watch program grows and expands, you may face challenges and new openings to expand the program. These five easy tips will help you get the most out of your local Watch program to help keep your community safe.

SafeMart Named Finalist in Stevie Awards for Exceptional Customer Service

CHICAGO, IL (January 24, 2013)- National home security provider SafeMart has earned itself multiple places in the 2013 Stevie Award finals for its dedication to customer service and innovative technology. This is the second consecutive year that SafeMart home security has received this prestigious honor.

Every year, the Stevie Awards recognize nationwide companies for outstanding business practices and achievements. SafeMart has been named a finalist for the e-Commerce Customer Service Award, as well as the Best Use of Technology in Customer Service Award.

“SafeMart combines customer delight with technology to streamline the experience for our customers,” says President Chris Johnson. “It’s great to be recognized for putting our customers first and providing the best home security experience in the country.

SafeMart was chosen out of over 1,100 entries. This years Stevie Award nominations increased by 10 percent–final results of the increasingly competitive award will be announced on February 25, when SafeMart will win a Gold, Silver or Bronze Stevie Award in each category.

The Stevie Awards are the latest addition to a growing list of SafeMart’s recognitions in the past year. These include the Super Service Award from customer review site Angie’s List, National Growth Hero from Interlogix Global Security, Best Partner from Alarm.com and a place on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies.

Home Security and Burglar Prevention

A home security system can help you prevent burglars from breaking into your home, but it’s not the only step towards prevention. Your high quality possessions and latest electronics are great to have, but they may also be making you a target for crime. Here are a few ways, in addition to purchasing a home security system, you can reduce the likelihood that you will be a victim of burglary.

Means, motive and opportunity are the three elements needed for someone to commit a crime. A criminal may have the means to carry out action, but anyone can personally decrease the motive and opportunity for crime. By storing away your valuables and securing your home, you can keep your house protected from property crime. According to the FBI, there were over 9 million cases of property crime in 2010, including burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

The Department of Justice recently released statistics that showed violent crime had increased 17 percent and property crime 11 percent in 2011. With crime on the rise, it is more important than ever to secure your home.

First, removing the motive means removing all temptation of thieves to come to your home. Leaving stray items around the yard indicates carelessness and loose possession, which can lure burglars in. Name brand and designer items are a clear target for criminals to come looking for more valuables. Keep these stored away from sight around windows and doors. Because these possessions are worth more, it is especially important to keep them secured.

When a burglar enters a home, he or she already has a good idea of where to look for valuables. Some of first places an intruder checks are in the freezer, in the bedroom closets and drawers, and under the bed. Always put away all items of importance to increase the time intruders have to look. A burglar will want to spend as little time as possible in an unfamiliar home. In fact, the average amount of time spend inside the house is eight to 12 minutes.

Another factor that can be addressed is opportunity. Taking simple home security measures can greatly lower your risk of experiencing a robbery.

Using a home security system makes your home three times less likely to be broken into. According to an info graphic from DeadlineNews.com, a monitored home security system, window sensors and video cameras are the top three things that will deter burglars from targeting your home.

With a monitored home security system, burglars no longer have the opportunity to break into an unoccupied house. Even with a security system, a safe can provide extra protection for your important belongings. These preventative measures will decrease the ease of robbing your home and keep your expensive and priceless possessions safe.

Geo Fencing to Simplify Your Life

LiveWatch alarm monitoring offers a revolutionary “geo-services” feature from Alarm.com called Geo Fencing to make your life easier. Geo Fencing helps you by reminding you to arm your security system when you leave your home.

When you’re in a rush to get out the door, arming your home security system and other the important things can slip your mind. With so many things to do and so little time to do it, it’s always helpful to have reminders so you don’t forget to make sure things get done.

Once you activate LiveWatch alarm monitoring and begin Geo Fencing, you go through a simple process:

  1. The Alarm.com App on your iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry or other mobile device will automatically begin tracking how far it is from the control panel of your alarm system. You can set this work from multiple mobile devices, so that as long as one device is near the control panel, your system will recognize that there is someone within the Geo Fence.
  2. You set the distance from the control panel at which you would like to be notified if your alarm system is not armed. This distance is the geographical fence around your home- or Geo Fence! This gives you complete control over your system and allows you to personalize the range at which you are notified. If you have a big yard, you may want to set a large distance from the control panel. However, if you live in an apartment, a few steps from your front door may be enough.
  3. Occasionally, you’ll be in a rush to get out the door and may forget to arm your system. With so many other things on your mind, it is almost inevitable that at some point you could accidentally leave your home unprotected.
  4. The Alarm.com App on your iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry or other mobile device notifies you once you pass the pre-set distance from your home without arming your system. A few chirps from your phone are enough to let you know that your home is unprotected. This is important because if you forget to arm your system, it is as if your home has no alarm system. In fact, after several strings of residential burglaries across the nation, police have begun reminding residents that they should arm their systems every day before they leave.

Geo Fencing simplifies your life by doing just what its name suggests: it creates an invisible geographic fence around your house. If you pass the fence without arming your system, your mobile device will automatically let you know to help you easily protect what is priceless. Because you have so many other things to worry about, we thought that remembering to arm your alarm system should not be one of them.

With Geo Fencing from LiveWatch alarm monitoring, you have the peace of mind that your home is always protected when you’re not there, without the worry of remembering to arm your system.