Home Security Blog.

Before getting into the home emergency Supply Kit, I have some recommendations about Emergencies.
Every family member should know what to do in all types of emergencies. Have practice drills with all members. Have a meeting place to gather so that you know all members are safe if an emergency should occur. Many have lost their lives looking for family members or pets going back into a burning or destroyed home.

All family members should know where all utilitiy cut-offs are located and how to shut them off. If a tool is needed, know where it is kept and how to use it.

The U. S. Department of Homeland security has prepared an emergency suply list. Here are some of their suggestions:

* Water, at least one gallon for each person for at least three days.
* Food, at least a three day supply of non-perishable food.
* Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and a NOAA Weather radio with extra batteries.
* Flashlight with extra batteries.
* First Aid Kit and instructions on first aid.
* Whistle or some other signaling device.
* Dust masks and plastic sheeting with duct tape to form a shelter-in-place”.
* Moist towelettes, garbage bags, plastic ties for personal sanitation.
* Can opener for canned goods.
* Local maps.
* Prescription medications and glasses.
* Infant formula and diapers.
* Pet food and water for them.
* Have important papers in a water proof container, ie: Insurance papers, Bank information, any
account information.
* Cash, travelers checks and change.
* Sleepings bags for each person. Extra blankets and a change of clothes for everyone.
* Household bleach,(with eye dropper) Mix nine parts of water to one part of bleach.
* fire extinguisher
* Matches in a water proof container or lighters.
* Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items.
* Mess kits, paper cups, plates, towels and utensils.
* Paper and pencils.
* Books games, puzzles, or other activity items.
Have your family review and discuss what’s in your kit and what else they feel should be included. There may be some unique items needed for your family.

Posted on December 16th, 2008 at 07:28 by Alex Smith in Home Safety,PERSONAL SAFETY - Comments (2)

There are two types of gas fireplace inserts that can be installed in your home, Direct vent and Unvented systems. I will be discussing both systems in this blog. Choosing the wrong system can be dangerous and even become a health problem. This is why it is important to contract with a competent “certfied” specialist to install your system.

An improperly installed system can emit carbon monoxide gasses and other pollutants into your home. These gasses are undectable because they don’t produce any oder. For this reason carbon monoixde poisoning is sometimes called the silent killer.

A direct vent system is the reccomended system to install. The best systems will be sealed from the room so that it draws in air (oxyegen) from outside rather from in your home. This is done with a tempered glass panel to seal the insert from the room. You will still have the enjoyment for the fire glow. It is also vented to the outside of your home so that all gasses, soot, and pollutants ars not discharged into your home. They have a chamber that provides warmeth into your home by drawing cool air in the bottom of the chamber and directing heated air into the room at the top.

Safety Tip: At the beginning of the colder season, have youe venting system checked to be sure there is no blockages. Birds have been known to build nests in the flu.

An unvented system does not require an outside vent. This also means that all the air it uses for the fire comes from inside the room where it is installed. Yes, they are less expensive but they are more hazardous than a direct vented system. In fact, some communities have strict regulations about installing an unvented gas insert into some rooms. Unvented systems are more likely to emit moister into the home that can cause mold build up and even structual damage to the home..

No matter which system you choose it’s important to install the correct size for the area it is to be installed. The National Fireplace Institute Is a good source for more information about your technician and system requirements. The American Lung Association is another source of good information.

Here are some questions to ask your system installer:
* size, type, and features of the system
* Selection of proper fuel
* Appropriate size, type and configuration of the venting system
* proper materials for heat protection of walls and floors
* Compliance with code requirements and manufacturers instructions
* Guidlines for operation and maintenance of the hearth and venting system

Posted on November 22nd, 2008 at 09:11 by Alex Smith in carbon monoxide devices,Home Safety,Home Security,Uncategorized - Comments (2)

In a study done by the Jackson Police Department of Jackson, Tennessee, they found that certain crimes are most likely to occur according to the season of the year. There are many factors to consider as to why a certain crime is most likely at any one time of the year.

It seems that shorter days and cooler weather we find fewer assaults and car thefts. The closer you get to the Christmas Holidays, the more likely stores find higher shoplifting and identity theft.

Here’s a breakdown of incidents they found in their community:

Fall seemed to have more vandalism than in February
Winter showed the lowest number of burglaries as compared to July.
Spring had a rise in simple assaults whereas May and December were much lower.
As you might expect, Summer had the highest of violent crimes, murders and rapes.

You will notice that the frequency of crimes has a lot to do with the weather. People are more active in hot weather and less social in colder temperatures. Some increases can be attributed to juveniles out of school with more time on their hands. The dark hours of winter makes it easier for burglaries because it affords more cover the burglar more confidence he will gwt away with it.

What this article showed me was that we need to always be aware of our surroundings no matter what time of year. Summer months we tend to not lock windows and doors which allows more crime of opportunity. Winter months we’re so wrapped up to keep warm that we tend to not see around us. Spring brings a euphoria that we tend to be more trusting of people and may let our guard down. Fall brings us Halloween and more vandalism.

Your best thing a person can do to avoid being a target is to always be alert. Remember, most crimes are crimes of opportunity. People are too often preoccupied and not paying attention to their surroundings.

Report suspicious activity even if it’s not your home. You will be protecting yourself in the long run.

Posted on October 23rd, 2008 at 07:12 by Alex Smith in Home Safety,Identity theft,PERSONAL SAFETY,protecting valuables,Vehicle Security - Comments (5)

cancerous polyps in colonI bet most of you are thinking, “what’s colon cancer got to do with Home Security” Well, if you think of it, the first line of defense is to keep yourself healthy so you can protect your home. If you are not there to protect you and your family then you don’t have to worry about home security.

Most of us think we are ten feet tall and bullet proof. At least that was my attitude until I was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. (The second leading cause of death) It was a very awakening experience. I didn’t feel bad or had any idea anything was wrong with me. I was continuing to be just as active as I always was breezing through life.

That’s the problem of most cancers. Early symptoms may not affect you. That’s why it’s so important to have regular check-ups and certain tests at different ages . Know your family’s background as to any diseases your mother and father or relatives may have had. Cancer tends to run in the family. No matter how small it might have been, yes, even a little small skin cancer taken off Aunt Bee could be an indicater for you.

Most colon cancers are very treatable IF treated early. They usually appear in adults around age 50, but can occur at any age. They start as a small polyp, (a growth), on the inside of the intestine wall. Most are benign (non canerous) at this time. They are detected by a procedure called colonoscopy. They mildly sedate you and insert a flexible instrument that has a light and video camera on it so the physician can look at the inside of your colon. If he detects one of these polyps and they are small enough he can remove them with this scope. That’s why early detection is so important because larger polyps may have to be removed by surgery.

After the polyp has been removed they can test it for cancer. In my case it was “maligment” (cancerous) and it had spread into the wall of the intestine. For this reason, I now am facing major surgery to remove a section of my colon and some of the surrounding tissues and lymph nodes. Probably if I had had a regular colonoscopy I might not have to be facing this surgery.

Consult your doctor to see if you need to have this procedure done. My doctors even recommended that my children who are in their early forties be checked. Because you feel good and appear to be in good health is no reason not to have regular check-ups.

Your doctor will have some really good brochures on this subject. At your next doctor’s visit, ask him if he recommends this test for you. Good luck and good health.

Posted on September 18th, 2008 at 05:00 by Alex Smith in Home Safety,Home Security,warning signs - Comments (3)

I’ve been asked many times over the years, “Why can’t I install my security system?” I’d answer, “yes you can, but it does take some knowledge of electronics, electrical wiring and computers in most cases.” I got asked that question again just yesterday so I went digging into and looking at some of the security systems available to the general public.

Security companies buy their components from a wholesaler. These wholesale distributors do not sell to the public because most states require a state license to install security systems. More manufacturers are now offering their products directly to the public via the internet. My opinion is that you might spend more money having a professional install your system, but it’s the best option you have. What kind of a price tag would you put on protecting your family or business? So you must ask yourself, is it worth taking the chance on a “self installed” security system.

Be that as it may, YES you can install your own system. I did have a lot of fun looking up systems and companies on the internet. Let me state, I DO NOT recommend the average person to install their own system.

There is a website called, Home Security Store that gives a good place for the do it yourselfer. They give a lot of options in many catagories. Here again, I am not endorsing them but they do give you several different companies to get information from.

Before trying to decide what system you are about to install first determine what you want it to do. Some of the questions are:

* Do you want the system monitored by a professional “central station.”
* Check out the central stations that might monitor your system. Is it UL approved? Is it one person
or are there many persons on duty 24/7? Can they receive signals from the security system you are
to install. Some security systems will only call their particular monitoring station.
* Do you want video surviellance? If so is it important to have “night vision.”?
* Do you want to be able to access your system remotely anywhere?
* Do you want a DVR (ditital video recorder) that saves and records all happenings to be reviewed at
a later date?
* Is the system going to blend in with the decor of where it is to be installed?
* Do you need to get permission from a landlord or historic society before you can install it?
* Do you need to get a permit from a city or management group? Some cities require a permit and
can fine you heavily if the police or fire department are dispatched to your home and you do not
have your system registered with them.
* Is the system user friendly? If a system is hard to operate most likely you will never use it.
* Is there weather or temperature conditions to be met? Some components have to be housed in
weather housings to operate under certain conditions.
* What distances will the devices transmit their siganals to what ever receiver it is programed into?
* What height must a device be installed at? Too high of a ceiling or too far of a distance may mean
the device will not cover the area you want to secure.

Before installing your own system contact your local Police department. They will be glad to give all the information you will need.

Living with an Alzheimer’s patient can be very challenging. Each person suffering from AD can react to the disease differently. Helping these patients takes a lot of patience and knowlege. You will have to develop skills and be creative in your approach of caring for them.

It is estimated that over 4.5 million American adults may have this impairment. You must learn to recognize the early symptoms and start preparing for being a care giver that could last for a long time.

AD is a progressive disease that affects the brain cells that produce Dementia, and memory loss. AD normally affects older people but it could start at a low age of 50. You cannot predict how fast the disease will progress because it varies with each patient. Some early signs can be having a hard time finding the right word to say, finishing thoughts, following directions, and loss of reasoning. If a person has a loss between night and day an gets dressed to go out thinking that the day is just starting is another good sign of early AD.

It is hard to predict what an AD person may do. Think prevention and try to adapt the person’s surroundings to decrease hazards. Here is some ideas you may want to consider:
* Display all emergency numbers, your home address, family and friends names, in several places in the home and by each phone.
* Leave a spare key with a neighbor in case the person locks you out.
* Try not to use extension cords. Place lights and appliances near an outlet. If you have to, secure it to the baseboard.
* Cover unused wall outlets with “child-proof” plugs.
* Stairways should have at least one handrail and it should extend beyond the first step. Carpeted
stairs or stairs with safety grips are best.
* Keep ALL medications and prescription drugs (over the counter drugs) under lock and key. Be sure all are clearly marked with the name, doseage, strength, and expiration date. It is also good to have the pharmacy name, local emergency services phone number in the locked cabinet.
* Keep all alcohol locked up as well. Alcohol increases confusion in AD patients.
* Keep sharp objects and clutter out of the way. Be sure all passageways are clear.
* Remove firearms and other weapons from the home, or render them safe by locking them up and
engage trigger safety locks. It’s best to keep the ammunition in another location again locked up.
* Power tools and machinery can be dangerous. Survey your worksop, basement or garage for
possible danger with these items.
* Be aware of all poisonous materials. Even some plants can be harmful. Check with your local poisoncontrol center if you have any questions about a certain plant or substance.
* Be sure all the important information stored on your computer is safe. Install passwords or save it
on a CD, or flash drive for safe keeping. There are several different programs you can install to help protect your stored files. Your local electronic store can help you recommend a program for your needs.
* Remove scatter rugs or any flooring that in not secured to the floor.

Alzheimer’s is a hard on the individual as well as family and friends. Trying to keep them safe and happy at home for as long is possible is a win-win situation for all concerned. Hopefully in the near future, a cure can be found for this terrible disease.

The most common entry point of a burglar into your home is a door. Once they get into your home they have to carry out of it what they steal, so why not prepare a fast exit route, a door.

A friend of mine had these cute little decorative frogs just outside his back door. They had a “secret” compartment in them. Looking at then the compartment it was so very obvious they had a compartment. When his neighbor went to check on his house the key was gone out of the frog and the back door wide open. DON”T hide a key ANYWHERE. Thieves will find it.

Do not tell anyone when or where you are going on vacation. This man told the whole town of his plans. At the coffee shop you never know who may be listening. You never know when even a friend might inadvertantly tell someone and it is overheard by the wrong person. Tell everyone about your trip after you get home. It will make a better story anyway.

Some sliding glass doors can be lifted out of their track. Some people put a broom handle or a stick in the track. This prevents the door from being slid open but it does not prevent the door to be lifted. You can get a kit at your local hardware store that will stop a thief from lifting the door. You have to drill a small hole through the track and door. Then put a steel peg or nail through it. This will prevent the door from being lifted out of it’s track.

A door that opens out could be a problem. The hinges are exposed to the outside. It is possible to remove the pins of the hinges and therefore the door can be opened from the hinge side. There are two ways to prevent this. Normally there are four screws in each hinge. Remove the middle screw of the middle hings on both the door and the door jam. Drill a hole the size of the screw hole into the door jam where you removed the screw. Then drive a finish nail into the door where you removed the door screw. Leave the nail sticking out of the door about 1/4 inch. When the door is closed the finish nail will go into the hole you drilled in the door jam. Now the door cannot be removed.

Windows can also be protected by drilling a small hole throught the window into the window casing. Place a nail into the hole and be sure it goes into the casing. Leave the nail sticking out so it can be removed from inside the home in case of an emerancy.

Lock ALL windows even the upstair ones. So many people don’t lock the second story windows or even leave them open. Then leave a nice extension ladder out in the yard. Or your neighbor provides the ladder for the thief. How many of your neighbors have a ladder in their back yard?

Sliding glass windows can be protected the same way I described the protection for a sliding door.

Finally, installing a good sturdy storm/security door is a excellent way to keep your property protected. Remember, most thieves are lazy. They don’t want to do extra work to break into your home. They see the security door and say it’s not worth the effort or the time it will take to to break in. I’ll go next door they don’t have one.

Posted on July 8th, 2008 at 03:16 by Alex Smith in Home Safety,Home Security,protecting valuables,security doors - Comments (4)

I suffered a light stroke and the doctors put me on several preventative medications so I would not have a re-occurence. We don’t have any small children around the house since all our children have grown and have their own homes. I got to looking at all my medications laying out in plain sight and realized in some homes this could be be hazardous. If we had some child visiting they could get a hold of them as well.

Taking care and knowing about your medications is indirectly part of home security. I felt the need to compile some thoughts that you might have overlooked.

Storage of drugs should be kept in a dry area away from heat. A bathroom or kitchen is not a good place to keep them. Do not leave your medications in your car. High heat can destroy them or make them ineffective.

Keep a list of all your medications and the dosages with you. If have to go to an emergency room, the treatment they give you may depend on what medications you are taking.

DO NOT take any medications prescribed to another person. Not all people react to medications the same way. You could have a reaction to that person’s drugs.

Drink at least 8oz of water when taking your medicine. Some pills will not work with just a swallow of water to get then down. Look at the instructions as to how to take them. Some medications are recommended to take with food. This may eliminate stomach irritation.

Do not keep old and expired drugs. Most drugs have time at which they no longer effective or safe to take. Flush old drugs down the toilet. Don’t throw out in the trash.

Don’t stop taking medications without consulting your doctor. This can lead to a serious condition that could be life threatening.

Take a look at your medicines when you pick them up from the pharmacy. Look at the color, size and shape. Get to know and recognize what your medications look like. Mistakes have been made filling or re-filling medications. Ask your pharmacist about any new medications prescribed to you. It’s the law in most states that the pharmacist has to give you this information.

When traveling, don’t pack your medications in your checked luggage. They can get lost. Keep the identification of your doctor, pharmacist, and prescription numbers with you while you travel.

If you take several different drugs it might not be wise to keep them together in the same container. Some drugs react with each other when they come in contact with each other. Again, ask your pharmacist.

There are several places you can learn more about the drugs you are taking. Some of these are: the internet, your local library ( the Physicians Desk Reference), the company that manufactures the drug, pamphlets at your doctors office and pharmacies.

Don’t take drugs lightly. The can be life savers or life killers.

Posted on June 3rd, 2008 at 06:24 by Alex Smith in Home Safety,Home Security,Safety in Hot Weather - Comments (0)

Seldom do I endorse any company or product in a blog, but I have just installed two Weisser Powerbolt keyless dead bolts. One in my shop and the other on my office door. I am happy to report I am very pleased with their product.

The installation was very easy. All you need is a phillips head screw driver, a centering punch and hammer if you already have a dead bolt installed.. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. The installation takes only 15 to 30 minutes but a little longer if you have to drill a hole for the dead bolt.

You can gain access by either using the touchpad or with a key. You can have a second code you can give to a maid or any other person authorized to enter your home. Both codes can be changed if you hire a different domestic help at any time.

The lock runs on four AA batteries and has a warning light when they are getting low. If three wrong codes are entered into the keypad the lock will sound a beeping alarm. To lock the door you simply press the lock button in the center of the keypad. Placing the correct code into the keypad unlocks the door. It’s fast and easy.

The Locks can be purchased at most building supply company’s at about $99.00. I felt the added security and convenience was worth the cost.

I find only one draw back that you might consider. It has a manual lever on the inside of the door. If your door has window panels in it the Keyless lock can be unlocked by breaking the window and reaching in.

You can get additional information by calling 1-800-343-9652 or www.powerbolt.com

Posted on April 30th, 2008 at 06:18 by Alex Smith in Home Safety,Home Security,security doors - Comments (0)

The FBI latest statistics are showing crime is increasing astronomically. There is a burglary taking place about every 25 minutes. Many of the items taken cannot be replaced. Family hierlooms, collections, anniversary gifts, electronics, computers, etc. Small items a burlar can carry off and pawn easily. When your computer is stolen there goes your personal identity too.

The average loss (after you settle with the insurance company) is over $1,000.00. You try your best to itemize the items stolen only to find out months later another item was stolen. It’s too late to claim that item then. It’s a good idea to video tape or hire someone to do it of all your valuables. Be sure there’s a good description of each item and if possible have an appraisal of it.

Single family homes are twice as likely to be burglarized than apartments or multiple family homes. Most burglaries occur while there is no one home. Criminals don’t like others around while they do their dirty work. If you happen to come home while the criminal is there DO NOT try to intervene. Leave the home immediately and call the police. Don’t re-enter the home until they clear it. Even though you might not see the burglar but suspect he’s there, back out and call the police. They will check your home for you. They would rather do that than set up a crime scene of a homicide. Remember, most often a person defending his/her home with a weapon have it turned on them. Don’t try it.

Unfortunately, most people don’t think or do anything about home security until they or someone they know has had a break-in. Burglars look at homes they think are easy targets. There’s many things you can do to make your home less likely to be burglarized. A lot of police departments will gladly send out an officer to survey your home and give you suggestions on home security. Take advantage of this service. It’s free and will possibly save you a lot of grief and aggrevation in the future. Hind sight is always 20/20.

The first place to look is the outside of your home. Here are some tips you might consider:

* Keep your yard well maintained. Make it look like someone is living there.
* Have good locks on windows and doors. Install reinforced deadbolts on all doors.
* Be sure all sliding doors cannot be lifted up out of their tract. You can drill a small hole at the bottom and place a nail through it so the door stays in place.
* Trim all shrubbery so as not to give a burglar a place to hide.
* Don’t display your family’s silver service or valubles in front of a picture window. That’s just an invitation to take it.
* Don’t hide a key anywhere outside your home. The best hiding place you can think of is probably the first place he will look. Leave a key with a trusted neighbor or friend.
* Be sure your mail box has a door on it that will not display your mail. A mail box full of mail is a good sign no one has been home for quite some time. If you are going to be away from home for any period of time have someone pick up your mail and news paper or have them stopped while you are gone.
* Don’t leave front door porch lights on during the day. That means you are away and won’t be home until after dark. That gives them an idea or time frame how long they have to steal from you. Have a light that comes on from dusk to dawn. That way you will not have a beacon telling would thief your family’s schedule.
* Of course, I’m a believer of home security systems. Burglars survey the neighborhoods and would rather not be interupted by a loud siren.
I recommend a loud siren alerting both the criminal and your neighbors that an intruder has been detected. Display the sign your security company where it can be easily seen. Studies have shown that has detoured thieves.
* If you are going away for a while call your local police department and tell them. They will cruise by your home more often.
* Do not leave ladders outside in your yard. Even if you do not have a two story home your neighbor might. You would be suprised as to how many people do not lock their upstairs windows.

Next blog we’ll discuss what to do on the inside of your home. When it comes to security, think about what you would do to gain access to your home if you were a criminal.

Posted on April 9th, 2008 at 07:17 by Alex Smith in Home Safety,Home Security,Home Security Systems,mailbox security,security doors - Comments (2)

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