What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of home security or protecting your business from vandalism and theft? For most people it’s an alarm system. Indeed a home or business alarm system plays an important role in enhancing security but it’s just one piece of the puzzle.
No, we’re not talking about keeping your grass neatly trimmed. While landscaping makes your property look beautiful it’s important to consider whether you’re creating blind spots or areas where someone can hide. Don’t cover up entrances or windows with so much greenery that it would hide a burglar attempting to pick your door lock or crawl through a window. Don’t create a place for someone could hide and surprise you as you come and go.
DOORS AND WINDOWS
Make it more difficult for someone to gain entry to your home or business. At home, keep your doors locked and be sure to use quality deadbolts. Or you may consider an electronic lock. Some electronic locks don’t have use key so they can’t be picked or bumped. Put a pole in the track of a sliding glass door when you go away, so it can’t easily be forced open. Consider using longer screws to secure door hinges and lock plates to make the door physically more secure. Make sure your windows can’t easily be pried open or lifted out. When you go away, lock your windows on both the main and second level.
While it’s tempting to turn off as many lights as possible in and around the home, lighting can play an important role in the security of your property. A poorly lit home is attractive to bad guys because it makes it easier to hide and it may allow a burglar to go unnoticed while they attempt to break in to your property.
With the advent of LED lighting, the cost to keep your property lit is greatly reduced, giving the homeowner the opportunity to increase security without incurring much expense. Not to mention that the right lighting can add to a home’s curb appeal.
Motion sensing security lights can also provide additional security without being left on all night. Instead they light up only when motion is sensed, giving the home a more lived-in appearance. Lights that turn on automatically can startle someone in to leaving the area.
In today’s connected world, Smart Lighting can take it a step further by triggering multiple lights when motion is sensed. Smart lighting can also trigger connected video cameras or video doorbells to record when someone gets too close.
Security cameras offer two major security benefits. Firstly they act as a deterrent since no-one wants to be caught on camera committing a crime. Secondly they can provide video evidence in case a crime is committed on your property.
Today’s security cameras are smaller, less expensive and easier to install than ever before, so it makes sense to include them as part of your overall security posture.
A video doorbell adds convenience by allowing the homeowner to see who’s at the door from the comfort of their couch, bed or TV room or even when they’re away from home. Stop answering the door to sales people and canvassers.
From a security perspective, being able to see who’s at the door and answer it remotely means not having to open the door to strangers. Plus the visitor doesn’t know if you’re home or away. You can use your smart phone to have a two way conversation and even record visitors. Some video doorbells can trigger smart lighting to turn on for additional impact.
As discussed earlier, a home alarm system just one piece of the home security puzzle, but it’s also potentially the best defense for your home and family. A properly configured alarm system will include a combination of door and window open sensors, motion sensors and glass break sensors to detect intrusion. These sensors should cover the main floor, basement and upstairs level(s).
When the alarm is armed and a sensor is tripped, the alarm will trigger, which should sound a loud siren(s). It can also send a notification to friends, family or a monitoring company to take action.
In addition to intrusion sensors, a home alarm can help protect against fire damage when equipped with smoke and heat sensors. It can also protect against carbon monoxide poisoning if CO sensors are included.
Water damage is one of the most common and most expensive insurance claims, and a home alarm that includes water sensors can detect water leaks before they cause too much damage. They can even be tied in to a water shut off valve to turn off the home’s water when a leak is detected, or when the family goes away on vacation.
Some alarm systems can also tie in to smart lighting to turn on lights when an alarm is triggered or when smoke is detected to help the occupants get out safely.
PROFESSIONAL MONITORING VS SELF MONITORING
When the alarm system is tripped by an intrusion attempt, smoke, CO or water leak it can also contact someone outside the home to let them know about the problem. Some systems have the ability to notify the user, family or a neighbour by way of a smart phone app or text message. This is considered self monitoring.
Many people consider self monitoring because they want to avoid monthly fees or they feel the policy won’t respond fast enough – or at all. It’s true that in many cases the police force is overworked and under staffed. In fact this has lead to many jurisdictions implementing policies to only respond to verified burglar alarms. Verification is usually accomplished by way of an on site person, a remotely viewed camera or in some cases tripping more than one sensor. For example if a front door sensor and interior motion sensor trip in order, most likely some has opened the door and is walking inside.
While self monitoring may be attractive as a result of these issues, it’s vitally important to consider that self monitoring may not be the answer either. What if the app doesn’t show an alert or the user simply misses or ignores it? What if a text message is delayed or never appears?
If the smoke detectors and heat detectors are part of the installation do you want to rely on a text message?
A professionally monitored alarm system doesn’t have to be overly expensive and most insurance companies will provide an premium discount for a monitored alarm. In case of a fire, they can contact the fire department directly. Or if the system has a health panic button(s) the monitoring company can call for medical assistance. In case of a fire, they can be instructed to call the home owner, friends or neighbours and these stations are available 24/7 to serve. If police response isn’t preferred, some security companies offer guard service for response.
One way or another, a good alarm system can provide peace of mind by deterring criminals and reporting in case of a problem.
The security of your home can be improved by taking a holistic approach rather than simply relying on any one factor. Security lighting, smart lights, stronger physical barriers, cameras, video doorbells and a properly installed and appropriately monitored security alarm system can make the home less attractive to the criminal element.