Home Security Blog.

So that long awaited vacation trip has now arrived. The whole family is excited to go on that cruise, tour that foriegn country or whattever your plans are. Preparing your home for this trip is as important as the trip itself. You will want to come home to the same home as you left it.

First, don’t broadcast your plans to anyone. Many people brag on their trip and you never know who might be listening, Tell the kids not to talk about it as well. Tell everyone about your trip when you get back. It will make a muh better story anyway.

Make your home look like someone is there.
Have a neighbor park his/her car in your driveway.
Have the lawn cut before you go. If need be, have it cut while you are gone.
Have the mail and news paper stopped or have it picked up by ssomeone.
Don’t hide a key to the house. Leave it with a neighbor or relative.
If you you use automatic lights have the kind that come on at different times. Not the same time everyday.
Unplug ALL electronic devices VcR’S, DVD Players , TV’s, Cable Boxes etc. They all have a circuit that is still active even if it is turned off.
Notify the police to watch over your property when they drive by. They would rather do that than fill out a burglary report.
If you have an alarm system, notify them what times you will be traveling and of course be sure you set the alarm before leaving.
Leave an itinerary with a neighbor or relative of where you will be staying and phone numbers that you can be contacted.
Have a list of all medications of family members and any medical needs they may have. List your doctor’s, your pharmacist’s, and at least one emergency contact person’s phone number.
Be sure you have all the necessary travel documents current. Pass ports and visa’s have and expiration date. Check with a travel agency or government office to see what documents you may need. Requirements change often so be sure ou have the latest and correct documents.
Some countrys require a special driver’s permit so don’t assume because you have a valid US driver’s license you can drive in that country.
Hope you have a great trip and take a lot of pictures. Oh yes, don’t forget the camera and film.

Posted on May 26th, 2009 at 04:00 by Alex Smith in PERSONAL SAFETY,Uncategorized - Comments (9)

I am really amazed at the advancement of closed circuit camera systems now available to the general public. Most systems now are “plug & play” so you don’t have to be a computer programmer to set up and use your own system.

One of the relatively newcomers to this market is company called SVAT. They have some really advanced systems that are user friendly. In the past you had to partition out different phases for what you wanted to achieve, but this product can do it with one simple DVR. (digital video recorder) SVAT systems automatically shift from daylight to darkness and can record in total darkness. It’s true you are limited to about fifteen feet seeing in total darkness so the placement of the camera can be critical. The day light hours are recorded in full color and can distiguish facial features clearly.

They have several systems ranging from one to sixteen cameras that can be used both inside as well as outside monitoring. Some come with a full color flat screen that you can have four cameras, quad screen, displayed at the same time. You may wish to view just one camera full screen by itself.

Most of the cameras have a “built-in” motion sensor so that the DVR will only record if there is movement. Most of their DVR’s can record up to 154 days before the hard drive is fully loaded. You may have the DVR over-write at that time if you wish or have the DVR stop recording at that time.

I have not used any of these sytems myself, but looking at all of their specifications, they look impressive. For more information about SVAT systems, click here.

Recently I got a direct mailer from the NFRP, “the National Federation of Retired People.” I went to their website and found out they have been under investigation since 2001 for their deceptive mail out practices.

It seems they try to represent themselves as being approved by the Social Security Agency. By law no company, corporation or business may use any language that denotes any connection with the SSA.

In fact, they are really a company that buys mailing lists especially concentrating on people of retirement age. This is very dangerous because they ask you to respond and give your personal information. Having access to this information can lead to identity theft. Any insurance agency can buy these lists from them so, infact, they indirectly represent the insurance company that bought the mailings. Santonio, Texas is where they operate out of.

The owner of the company’s name is Elmer Gibson. Has been appearing in several different court proceedings beginning in a case initiated by The Social Security Administration October 28, 2002. Legislation is still pending in several other courts about this matter. Until a final ruling can be met it seems Mr. Gibson’s company is still mailing out these confusing and misleading mailers.

Bottom line, “the the buyer beware.” I suggest you check into any company before releasing your personal information you receive via the mail or phone. The mailer I got wanted me to mail back to them on an enlarged post card and place my personal information on the outside of the for the whole world to see. Anyone handling this return mailer would have my personal information in plain sight for identity theft. Common sense should tell anyone it doesn’t make any sense to broadcast your personal information on the outside of any material you are mailing. you for me or anyone

Posted on January 5th, 2009 at 20:27 by Alex Smith in Home Safety,Idnentity theft,mailbox security,U S Mail Security,Uncategorized - Comments (3)

Be cautious responding to any phone call or emails from Area Code 809, 284, or 876. There have been many scams connected with these area codes.

Here’s how it works. You get an email or call from one of these area codes saying sorry I missed your call. Or they might tell you that some relative of yours is sick or in trouble. No matter what the call or email it is designed to get you to return a call connected to an “international” phone number the results of which you will be billed an exuberant rate and billed as such. (has been reported to be as much as $25 per minute)

Unfortunately there’s not much you can do because these are legal charges for the country that they are operating in. Most of them are in the Dominican Republic, Canada or a Caribbean country. They don’t have to comply with United states Laws regarding such calls. The bad thing about these calls is that you probably will not realize the costs of these calls until you get your telephone bill.

Never return calls to any unfamiliar number or person. You can call the directory assistance operator to get information on any suspicious call you may have recieved. They can check the area code location of the call.

Carefully read your telephone bill when you receive it. Check all charges and any fees that might be connected with any charges listed on your bill.

If you feel you have been scamed contact the carrier the charge was originated from. The name and phone number should be printed on your bill. Often the charge can be resolved by simple phone call. If the carrier refuses to resolve the charges then call your carrier or ATT&T. ATT&T will work with your carrier to try to cancel any fraudulent charge and help remove it from your bill.

ATT&T has been working hard to eliminate these scams for some time now. You may also file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission and give them the information to look into your situation.

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)

Most people give the information a person needs to steal their identity without knowing it. Leaving documents around or throwing them in the trash is an example. Here are a few tips to safegaurd your idenity information.

* Buy a shredder. You can purchase one very inexpensively at any discount store. They simply fit over a trash can and will shred paper documents as well as the “old” credit card. First rule of thumb, shred all personal documents. Even those unsolicited credit applications your receive .

* Protect your social security and driver’s license numbers. Don’t give them out to someone you don’t know. Your driver’s license numer can be just as dangerous to give out as your social security number. This number tags you to your identity. That’s why all wotk and credit applications ask for it. If fact, it’s best not to carry your social security card with you. Remit it to memory. Don’t have these printed on your checks.

* Never give out personal information over the phone, internet or mail before you know who you are dealing with.

* Protect any of your passwords. Don’t use an obvious password like your birthday, street address, some numbers of your social security card or mother’s maiden name. If you have forgotten your password, be suspicious of any website you click on to have them email it back to you.

* Remember, even your residence may not be a safe place to keep personal documents. This especially true if you have a roomate, employ outside domestic help, do a lot of entertaining, or work done in your home.

* A lot of links on the internet are “trogan Horses.” Never click on any unsolicited email link. Use only a website address you know. Have a “firewall”, spyware or antivirus software added to your computer. I have all three on my computer. Some antivrus programs, such as AVG, are free and very good. Use a program that always up-dates your software. They can automatically do this daily even at a time you don’t use your computer.
*The government has a great site for additional information. If you need to file a complaint for some type of identity or would like more information, check this site.

Since I have a lawn service business I work outside. I don’t have to tell you we’re experiencing hot waves all over our country. Yes, I know you’re “bullet proof and ten feet tall.” You jog on a regular basis and you can handle the heat, but heat exhaustion and heat stroke can attack you before you know it.

Some symptoms include, cramps, fatigue, clammy skin, headache , nausea, hyperventilation and irritability. Our bodies usually regulate it’s temperature by sweating, but when it experiences unusually hot weather it can’t keep up with regulating itself. When temperatures start rising to 104 to 106 degrees ( 41.1 degrees celsius) you are a candidate for a heat stroke. Heat stroke can occur in just 20 minutes under the right conditions.

If somone is having a heat stroke get them to a shady area immediately. Remove clothing and spray the body with cool (not cold) water. Place ice packs under the arm pits and get to a medical facility as soon as possible.

The most important thing you can do to avoid heat stroke is to be sure you drink a lot of water and don’t overdo exercise in extreme hot conditions. Do not drink alcoholic beverages in excess in very hot conditions. Alcohol dehydrates the body. Heat exhaustion/stroke is the result of the body losing fluids and salt excessively. This is what causes cramps as well. Be careful in hot conditions and you can avoid these conditions.

Posted on August 15th, 2007 at 13:29 by Alex Smith in Safety in Hot Weather,Uncategorized,warning signs - Comments (0)

It always amazed me of how many people would put in a security system and not arm the second floor windows. Most of these homes had the Master Bedroom on the second floor. That’s the most treasured room in the home because that’s where most of the “stuff” a burglar wants is in the master bedroom. Jewelry, cash, passports, blanks checks, guns, etc.

Many ladders are left outside giving the burglar access to the second floor. It might not be your ladder, it could be your neighbors.

Even if you don’t have an alarm system it’s still wise to lock ALL windows & doors in your home. A burglar that sees a window cracked open on the second story will go to great lengths to come into your home through it. Word for today, “Lock It.”

If you have an automatic garage door opener your over-head door could opened by a would be burglar.

Go out into your garage and notice a string with a handle on it. This should be hanging near the front of the door when the door is in it’s down position. It is used in case you loose power and pulling on it releases the door latch from the rail so you can raise the door manually.

A criminal can use an “Electrician’s fish” to run it over the top of your door and snag this string. Pulling on the fish may un-latch your over-head door. Wham! he’s in your garage.

I have developed a devise that will cure this problem. Email me for complete details at: handymaniv@yahoo.com.

Posted on November 13th, 2005 at 18:42 by Alex Smith in Uncategorized - Comments (0)

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