Holiday Shopping Safety Awareness Tips

November 15, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Home Security Headline News

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holiday-mall-black-fridayThe 2010 Holiday Shopping Season officially begins on Friday, 11-26-10, known as BLACK FRIDAY. This name alone should cause you to be a little more cautious as you make your way to the mall or favorite shopping area.

Although most people are heading to the mall with the thought of being thankful and grateful for what they have and the ability to buy gifts for those they love, there are criminals lurking in and around the mall aiming to take what you have.  With personal crimes increasing it is imperative that you keep the following holiday shopping safety awareness tips in mind as you go about your holiday shopping and festivities over the next six weeks.

Be sure to also follow holiday home security and safety tips.  You want to make sure your home is a secure and safe place over the holidays.  We are now entering an extremely vulnerable time  - the Christmas Holiday Season - where home burglaries and home invasions always tend to increase.  Keep your personal safety and security a priority whether you are at home, shopping, or traveling.

Stay Aware Of Your Surroundings At The Malls, Stores & Shopping Centers

■  Carry some type of personal protection device like Personal Alarm with a loud 130 decibel siren to alert others around that you need help.  For greater security protection you may want to consider Pepper Spray or Mace. (Check local laws pertaining to TASERS/Stun Guns and even pepper sprays). Your safety and those of your family members should be a priority. If a criminal attacks you for your purse or packages, give him your belongings. Your life is more important! If he tries to hurt you or a loved one, use your personal device to protect yourself and those with you.
■  If using an ATM at the mall, be vigilant and aware who may be around you. Try not to make large cash withdrawals. Remember the malls may be extremely crowded and this would be an excellent time for a criminal to catch you off-guard and grab your cash.
■  Shop during the daylight hours whenever you can. If shopping at night, try to go with another person. If shopping alone and leaving the mall late at night, ask a security officer to accompany you to your car.
■  Always choose a bank with an ATM located in a highly visible, well-lit area. If you notice anyone suspicious approaching, cancel your transaction and leave.
■  Avoid using ATM’s where you must go inside the ATM area unless you are with others. This leaves you highly vulnerable to a criminal attack. Use the drive-up ATM whenever possible.
■  Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Don’t advertise large rolls of money in public. You don’t know who may be watching.
■  When you leave your vehicle, make sure to lock your doors and keep windows closed. If you have an alarm on your vehicle, use it.
■  Even though you may be rushed and have a thousand things on your mind, stay alert to your surroundings.
■  Don’t leave valuable items inside your car that are visible to others. Place packages in the trunk of your car.
■  Avoid carrying too many packages that may make you a target.   Make regular trips to your car to drop off packages.
■  Keep your purse tucked close to your body at all times. Don’t let it dangle from your shoulder as this may be a perfect setup for a purse-snatcher.
■  For men – carry wallets in front pocket rather than back pocket or jacket. Thieves are looking for easy targets as they move through the crowded malls.
■  Park only in well-lit parking areas and as close to a mall or store entrance as you can. Don’t settle for an isolated parking spot just because you’re in a hurry. Hold out for a safe spot to open up.
■  As you walk through parking lots, make sure you are aware of your surroundings and walk with authority. Don’t look like a victim.
■  Don’t be talking on your cell phone as you leave the mall walking to your car. You need to pay close attention to your surroundings and anyone who looks suspicious.
■  Approach your car with car keys in hand and survey the exterior and interior of your vehicle before entering. Place your packages in the trunk all the while aware of anyone who may be nearby or approaching you.
■  Don’t get into your car if you are being followed or are suspicious of anyone standing near your car. If so, return to the mall or store or where there are other people. Ask for store security assistance.
■  Beware alert and aware of strangers who may be approaching you for whatever reason. At this time of year there are “scammers” trying various methods to distract you with the intention of taking your money and belongings.

Because of our crazy economy there seems to be an increase in carjackings, personal assaults, and robberies.  Pay close attention to those around you and have your keys ready as you approach your car.  Put your Pepper Spray on your key holder just in case.  Better safe than sorry!

Home Security - Protecting Your Home While On Vacation

November 5, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Home Security Headline News

bahama-vacation-pic1Have you already made travel plans for an upcoming holiday vacation?  Are you going out of town to visit relatives for Thanksgiving or Christmas?  Or have you made some major plans to go to an exotic location - like Hawaii or Cancun - someplace warm and relaxing?

If so, what plans have you made to ensure your home is well protected from a burglary or fire while you are away?

For a lot of people protecting your home sometimes falls last on the list and by then it may be late.  Over my 20 years as a home security specialist with ADT I have met homeowners who put their security system in after they came home from vacation - when they found the door kicked in and their home ransacked.

Therefore, I am a big proponent of encouraging homeowners to be proactive about home security protection.  When you invest the time, energy and resources into building a solid level of protection in and around your home, you stand a better chance of NOT becoming the victim of a home burglary/home invasion robbery crime.

So what should you do to make sure your home is protected not just while you are on vacation but 24/7 - 365 days a year?  For people who have already protected their home with a 24/7 alarm service - I salute you.  You can go on vacation with tremendous peace of mind knowing if something happens help is immediately on the way.   For those who don’t have a security system you must rely upon neighbors, friends and/or family members to come and check your home while you’re away.

Here are some home security and safety tips to keep your home secure while away on holiday vacation:

1.  If you don’t already have one, install a quality home security system with 24/7 monitoring for burglary, fire and low temperature protection. If you already have security but not these services, check with your alarm company tp see about adding.  A fire can devastate a home.  And if the electricity gets knocked out due to weather in below freezing temperatures causing the furnace to go out, pipes freeze and sometimes burst causing flooding.  A low temperature detector would alert someone very quickly that there is a problem.

2.  Tighten up and harden the outside of your home. Look at the deadbolts on each door and determine if they are strong enough to withstand a forced intrusion.  Check the bolt on the deadbolt - 2-3″ bolts are recommended.  If you’ve never changed your locks/deadbolts and they are over 10-15 years, it may be time to invest in solid quality deadbolts.  Doors are usually the first point of break-in.  Make your doors impenetrable to an intruder.  When you leave for vacation, make sure you’ve locked all doors.  Common sense I know, but many people leave doors unlocked.

3.  Check windows to make sure locks are adequate and that they are locked when you leave. Recommendation is to reinforce the windows with dowel rods that can be placed in the track of the windows to prevent lifting or sliding if someone breaks the window to unlock.  If the burglar has to work with any effort at getting into the home, chances are the burglar will give up and move to an easier home.  The key is to make your home impenetrable to an intrusion.

4.  Be part of a neighborhood watch group. It’s a good idea to get to know neighbors on either side of your home and across the street then watch out for one another.  When you get ready to leave, let 2-4 of your close neighbors know so they can keep an eye on your home.  If you’re not expecting anyone other than a family member checking your home, let them know that and give them a number to call just in case anything suspicious happens.  If a U-haul pulls up in front of your home and starts unloading your valuables, that should be cause for concern and to notify police.  When neighbors help each other by keeping an eye out, it helps  reduce crime in your area.

5.  Have the newspaper and mail delivery stopped before you leave or have a trusted neighbor pick these up.  A stuffed mail box or newspaper box is a telltale sign that no one is home.

6.  Install motion sensor lights on the outside - garage, front, back and sides of your home provide the best coverage. When these lights come on at night, it gives the impression someone is home.  My recommendation is to also connect the motion lights to a lamp(s) on the inside which will come on once the motion lights come on.  This looks as though someone really is at home.  Most burglars don’t want to confront the homeowner so if they think someone is home, they may move on as well.

7.  Check your electrical plugs, Christmas lights and all outlets before leaving. Unplug as much as you can to alleviate having a fire while gone.  Check your battery smoke detectors and replace batteries accordingly.  If no one is home and a battery smoke detector goes off, no one knows.  If you have a monitored smoke detector, your alarm company can alert fire authorities and others and possibly prevent a major fire disaster.  Every year we hear of fire destroying homes and families due to negligence.

8.  If you have an alarm system, best sure to test your system from time to time and especially before leaving on vacation. Make sure your emergency contact list is up-to-date and let your alarm company know the dates you will be gone.  That way if they get an alarm they can dispatch authorities immediately.  Anyone having access to your home and your alarm should no how to work the alarm, have the 4-digit code and no the password in case they accidentally trip the alarm system.  That way you avoid a false alarm.

9.  If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, you might have someone clear the sidewalk or your driveway if you get a major dump of snow during the holidays. When snow builds up in the driveway or sidewalk, this can give the appearance that no one is at home.  And that’s what burglars really like - no one at home.

10. Pull curtains and mini-blinds so people can’t see inside. Don’t display valuables near windows for burglars to see.  This may be too tempting if someone is really desperate.  Set lights and lamps up on timers to give the impression someone is home.

We all seem to be on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Community Sites.  Be careful how much information you give about being away from home on vacation.  You never know who your “friend” may be on Facebook or Twitter and there have been many cases where a home has been robbed not long after information was “tweeted” or “shared” on a social media site.  Use precautions about what you disclose about being gone, on vacation or personal information.  We don’t always “know” our social media friends that well.

Keep in mind that burglaries tend to increase during the holidays just because people have presents, valuable gifts, cash and other things that burglars want.  But in today’s volatile economic climate there’s more desperation from people who are out of work, don’t want to work, or on drugs.  As homeowners it is up to us to secure our home.  Sometimes that means we have to invest a little more but in the long run keeping your home and family safe and secure is worth the investment and peace of mind.

Your home security and personal safety should become a 24/7 habit - a mindset.  Not that you should become paranoid but realistic in knowing that crime is encroaching upon even the nicest, once the safest neighborhoods.  Being proactive and doing your part to protect your home and family whether you are home or on vacation means you’ll enjoy your vacation more and have a better sense of peace of mind.