| Mar 07, 2014
At Monitronics, our mission is to give customers peace of mind with consistently exceptional alarm monitoring service. Families invest in home security because they want to live worry-free during the day and sleep easier at night. We’re here to help.
And, as a home security provider that cares about your overall well-being, we want to know: Are you generally sleeping well? Are your children?
This is National Sleep Awareness Week, which encourages people of all ages to consider the current quality of their sleep and how to improve it. Opinions differ on exactly how much sleep children and adults need, but too little (and too much) can often prove unhealthy. The Mayo Clinic suggests:
- 9-10 hours per night/3 hours of naps for infants
- 9-10 hours per night/2-3 hours of naps for toddlers
- 9-11 hours per night for school-age kids
- 7-8 hours per night for adults
But, just like study time for students or work time for busy professionals, quality is more important than quantity. If you’re tossing and turning for eight hours, you may only be getting a couple hours of genuinely recuperative rest.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) offers these tips for good “sleep hygiene:”
- Train your body to fall asleep and wake up at the same time, even on weekends. Easier said than done for children and parents of restless children, right?
- Enjoy something peaceful and relaxing, like a long bath or a book, before bed.
- Avoid naps (school-age kids and adults).
- Exercise daily.
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool and free from noise.
- Put down your smartphone!
Of course, frequently disturbed rest despite these self-help techniques could be symptomatic of a sleep disorder. The NSF has comprehensive information on a variety of sleep issues and disorders.
Just remember: how you sleep affects how well you’re able to attack the next day. Sleep long and prosperous!
- Mayo Clinic – http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/expert-answers/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/faq-20057898
- National Sleep Foundation – http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips
- Today – http://www.today.com/health/all-night-parents-kids-are-losing-sleep-their-devices-2D79300546
| Feb 28, 2014
Delivering exceptional professional alarm monitoring service to over 1 million homes and businesses, Monitronics’ Alarm Response Center has won two Bronze Stevie® Awards in the eighth annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.
Monitronics won in the Contact Center of the Year category for the second consecutive year and was also recognized in the Front-Line Customer Service Team of the Year category. The awards were presented during a gala banquet at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service are the world’s top sales awards, contact center awards, and customer service awards. The Stevie Awards organizes several of the world’s leading business awards shows including the prestigious American Business AwardsSM and International Business AwardsSM.
More than 260 executives around the world participated in the judging process for the 2014 awards to determine the Finalists and then the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award placements.
True to their vision statement “Security is Our Priority,” Monitronics’ Alarm Response Center (ARC) directly engages customers during an emergency situation, quickly assesses how an alarm should be handled, and puts customers at ease by contacting emergency personnel or educating them on how to handle future alarms.
The ARC, a UL listed, Five Diamond certified central station, is an industry leader in two-way voice technology and a charter member of the ASAP electronic dispatch program. Well-prepared for any life-threatening or exceptional property loss event, the ARC continues to set standards for consistent alarm response.
“Our team focuses on treating every alarm with the same sense of urgency as they would want for their own home and family,” said Darin Anderson, Monitronics’ Vice President of Monitoring Operations. “We’re honored to win, and we remain dedicated to protecting what matters most to our customers.”
| Feb 27, 2014
February marks Heart Health Awareness Month, a campaign designed to raise awareness about heart disease and healthy living. Heart disease is a major problem in the U.S., responsible for one out of every four deaths. According to the American Heart Association, around 715,000 people have heart attacks every year and 600,000 people die from heart disease annually.
The most common causes of heart disease are cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Fortunately, both of these are preventable and controllable through simple healthy living steps. Lifestyle factors put people at a higher risk of developing heart disease. The following six tips are designed to help you live your life right, long and happy.
1. Eat Healthy
Diet plays a huge role in a healthy heart. The more you put away foods that are high in saturated fat, the more strain you put on your heart. Look to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables –at least five servings every day for adults. You should also lower salt intake and look to decrease blood pressure. Cut down on red meat, cheese, and milk and introduce more fish into your diet.
Participating in 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week can dramatically reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Exercise helps maintain healthy weight and low blood pressure. You don’t have to go overboard by joining a gym or hitting the treadmill every day – a few brisk walks a week and opting to take the stairs rather than the elevator will help.
3. Don’t Smoke
Smoking is perhaps the most well known cause of heart disease, with chemicals in tobacco causing significant damage to heart and blood vessels. If you want to keep a healthy heart, don’t smoke.
4. Cut down on Alcohol
Too much alcohol is believed to raise blood pressure, and health professionals suggest men should consume no more than two alcoholic drinks per day and women no more than one.
5. Get a Checkup
It’s recommended that adults have their cholesterol levels checked by a doctor at least once every five years and blood pressure checked once every two years. The cholesterol checkup involves nothing more than a simple blood test and will help ensure heart and blood vessels in good shape.
6. Don’t get stressed
Stress, while not directly responsible for symptoms, can cause you to do things in excess, such as eating or smoking – both of which are damaging to your heart. It might be easier said than done, but try not to become worked up about things beyond your control. Stress in young adulthood is linked to high blood pressure in middle age. To avoid this, consider meditation or create a distraction for yourself to take your mind of what is causing the stress. Another great tip for de-stressing is to ask yourself, “Will it really matter two months down the line?”
Implementing the above steps in your daily routine can decrease the risk of heart disease by as much as 80 percent. Feeling better about your heart means feeling better about yourself!
| Feb 20, 2014
For children and young adults, the snow and ice of winter means snowball fights and family fun. For America’s 36 million seniors, however, this time of years poses many challenges and significant risks to their health.
During the winter months, it’s important to keep in mind the health of your elderly loved ones and take steps toward ensuring their safety. Seasonal hazards to be aware of during this time include:
- Hypothermia – It’s estimated that around 10 percent of all people over 65 suffer from some sort of temperature defect, and between 3 and 4 percent of all hospital patients over the 65 are hypothermic.
- Depression – Cold weather generally results in a lack of social activity for seniors, and increased isolation can cause seasonal depression.
- Risk of falls – The snow and ice makes stairs and walkways particular dangerous, and any slip or fall can cause serious injury.
- CO poisoning – The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is much greater during winter as fires and space heaters tend to be used more, often improperly.
How You Can Help
During the cold weather, it’s essential that you, a family member or a friend pay extra visits to your elderly loved ones. Daily check-in calls should be arranged to make sure that seniors are warm (thermostats should be set to 70 degrees), safe, and have everything they need for the day. Spending a little bit of time with a person every day will ensure “cabin fever” doesn’t become an issue.
While it’s good for seniors to venture outdoors for a short time whenever possible (providing it’s safe to do so), it’s best for them to stay indoors when the weather is particularly bad. Offer to run any errands: picking up medical prescriptions, food shopping, pay bills, etc.
Clear walkways will provide much safer surroundings for seniors who must go outside to pick up the mail or take out the trash.
Recognizing the Signs of Hypothermia
Hypothermia is the biggest threat to seniors, and it’s important that you’re able to recognize the symptoms. These include:
- Skin that’s cold to touch
- Rigid muscles
- Persistent shivering
- Slurred speech
- Drowsiness and confusion
- Loss of movement in fingers
- Fingers, toes, and the tip of the nose showing a blue color tone.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s essential that you contact a physician immediately.
To prevent hypothermia from becoming an issue, ensure that your loved one is eating hot meals regularly, has easy access to warm clothing and blankets, and is avoiding alcohol.
Avoiding CO Poisoning
If an elderly in your care is relying on a fire or space heater for warmth during the cold weather, make sure that appliances have undergone a safety inspection from a registered professional. Also, check that CO detectors are installed and working. If your loved one has monitored home security, ensure that the connection between the detectors, the control panel and monitoring center is working as it should be.
| Feb 13, 2014
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, the one day of the year dedicated to spending precious time with your loved one and one of few times when you get to enjoy romantic time free from the stresses of everyday life, if only for a few hours. During this special time, the last thing you want is to be disturbed by a piercing alarm siren and emergency services knocking on your front door.
Unfortunately, for many people, Valentine’s Day will be ruined by a false alarm. But it’s not just couples who are affected by these avoidable instances; it’s the staff at the monitoring centers and the emergency personnel that are incorrectly dispatched to properties.
So, to ensure a peaceful Valentine’s Day, here are some tips to avoid the dreaded false alarm.
Tie Down Those Balloons
Red heart-shaped balloons, teddy bear balloons, balloons with a romantic message – all balloons make great gifts. However, they’re also a prime suspect in Valentine’s Day false alarms.
Home motion detectors are highly sensitive devices designed to pick up on movement when your system is armed and alert the monitoring center when unusual activity is detected. As highly advanced as these sensors are, if a balloon happens to drift across a sensor’s field of view it could trigger the alarm. Make sure you keep them tied down in a safe place, preferably somewhere away from motion detectors. Same with flowers – avoid placing them in the path of the sensor.
Going on a romantic break this Valentine’s? Who’s checking on your home? Millions of loved up Americans choose Valentine’s as the perfect time of year to enjoy a romantic getaway and ask that their neighbors or relatives check upon their property while they’re out of town. Unfortunately, many forget to inform these trusted friends how their alarm system actually works.
According to the False Alarm Reduction Association, 80 percent of all false alarms are caused by user error. If you’re planning on having someone check on your home when you’re away, make sure they’re familiar with how the system works, as well as the alarm codes, emergency contact numbers, and the process for cancelling a falsely activated system. You should also let your home security company know that you are going away and provide them with the dates of your trip.
Testing Your System
Before you leave on any trip, make sure you’ve tested your system to confirm that everything is working as it should. Check sensors and magnets on doors and windows to ensure there are no loose connections. Also, test the signal between your control panel and monitoring center. As most systems are wireless these days, it is important that batteries are checked and changed if necessary. Low battery power is the second biggest cause of false alarms and one of the easiest things to avoid.
Follow these steps to ensure a distraction-free romantic day!
| Feb 07, 2014
Only 15% of U.S. homes have security systems despite the peace of mind and protection they offer against burglary, fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning. If you don’t currently have a home security system
– preferably one that includes 24/7 professional monitoring – these statistics show why it’s a great idea, no matter how safe your neighborhood appears to be.
| Jan 30, 2014
Every January the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas brings out the best electronic gadgets destined to hit store shelves in the near future. Among the vendors are America's most well-known home security companies offering all the latest in state-of-the-art home security equipment. This year's show was no exception. Having said that, we want to pose a question:
Is there any suitable technology replacement for quality alarm monitoring? We don't believe there is.
Technology is a great thing. In fact, modern technology has enabled home security companies like Monitronics to include home automation packages to customers. Home automation allows property owners to control lighting, thermostats, electrical appliances, and even their security system options from anywhere in the world with just a mobile device and an Internet connection.
Yet despite all of the advances in technology, we believe the human component is quite valuable, too. Boxes stuffed with computer chips and lots of wiring can’t correctly assess every security situation while at the same time offering comfort and support to the customer on the other end. That's what quality alarm monitoring accomplishes.
Eyes, Ears, and a Voice
When you include alarm monitoring in your home security package, you’re getting an extra set of eyes and ears to pay attention to your property. However, you’re also getting the voice of a fully trained operator on the other end of the line. That certified professional can give you explicit instructions in the event of any incident and provide comfort and reassurance as you wait for emergency services to arrive.
In addition, where emergency services are concerned, the representatives in the monitoring center have instant access to first responders in your local area. At the first sound of an alarm, the operator assesses the situation and, if necessary, quickly alerts the appropriate authorities. Monitronics is combining this valuable human element with new technology; they’re a charter member of the ASAP (Automated Secure Alarm Protocol) program that works with police departments to exchange dispatch information electronically. Currently available in select cities, the 3-4 minutes needed to convey emergency information to a police department is now reduced to a matter of seconds.
Burglary, Fire, and More
So what do companies like Monitronics offer by way of alarm monitoring? The most common type of monitoring is for burglary, but we offer additional layers of protection, including monitoring for fire, carbon monoxide and even medical emergencies.
When you add fire and carbon monoxide monitoring to your package, we install special sensors in strategic locations around your home. The alarm will alert you to leave your home immediately while one of our security operators informs the local emergency responders.
Medical emergency monitoring is a service intended for families with elderly or ill members. With this service, caretakers can leave home knowing their loved ones are not truly alone. In the event of a medical emergency, the affected individual can activate the alarm with the press of a button on their medical alert pendant. A security operator at the monitoring center will contact the individual and alert help if necessary.
A home security system with alarm monitoring is one of the most cost-effective ways to help protect your home from burglary, fire, carbon monoxide, and more. Monitronics is here to make it happen for you. All it takes is one phone call to Monitronics to get things started.
| Jan 24, 2014
Some experts estimate that the home security industry will double within the next decade, resulting in three out of every 10 homes in America armed by an alarm system with monitoring. Total sales could also reach $20 billion annually by that time. Given that so few other industries experience such growth, what’s driving the home security industry?
The answer to that question might be as simple as the smartphone you’re holding in your hand. In simple terms, technology appears to be one of the main driving forces catapulting the home security industry into the future. Technology is not only making security systems more reliable and usable, it’s also making them smarter.
Where We're Going
Over last couple of years, there has been a growing consumer interest in adding home automation to security systems. In fact, Monitronics has been involved with home automation since it first became available. Our customers who choose to add HomeTouch to their systems enjoy the convenience of remote home management.
What is home automation? It is a combination of your alarm system and electronic and software components enabling you to automate certain functions of the home environment. With it, you can control thermostat settings, lighting, security cameras, and so on. The best part is that you program the system and forget about it.
That said, the future of home automation looks pretty exciting. Down the road, who knows? We may see even smarter control panels able to monitor all sorts of activity within the home – from electricity usage to foot traffic – and report that activity directly to you via computer, smartphone or tablet.
Technology Makes a Better World
Back in the 1950s and ‘60s it was common for the technology companies of the day to promise a better world through the gadgets they created. In some cases, they lived up to their promises; in other cases, they did not. Where home security is concerned, new technology is indeed creating a better, and safer, world for homeowners.
Estimates suggest that approximately 15% of America's homes are equipped with a home security system. If your home is among the remaining 85%, what's holding you back? The cost for a monitored home security package is a lot more affordable than it used to be. You might be surprised by how cost effective it can be for you.
If you would like to start with just a basic system and burglar alarm monitoring, that's great. Many of our customers do just that. If you would like a little more protection, fire and carbon monoxide monitoring are critical home security add-ons. Of course, we can also custom-design a top-of-the-line system that includes all of our monitoring services as well as HomeTouch remote security and home automation.
At Monitronics, your safety and comfort is our number one goal. We hope you will consider contacting us for more information about one of our technology driven home security systems with alarm monitoring.
| Jan 21, 2014
In Oldham County, Kentucky, police responded to more than 900 false alarms during the 2013 calendar year. That's a substantial number when you consider the county’s population is only about 61,000 residents, comprising about 21,000 total households. Let's go a little bit deeper by doing some math.
A little more than 15% of American households now have home security systems. If Oldham County holds true to form, that equates to approximately 3,150 of the county's 21,000 households. Based on the 900 false alarms reported during 2013, one out of every 3.5 households with home security systems registered at least one false alarm last year.
It's easy to see from these numbers why Oldham County has announced a plan to aggressively begin assessing fines against homeowners with excessive false alarms. The fines were originally instituted in 2009, but the county has not enforced them to date. That’s now changing.
From this point forward, each homeowner will be allowed two false alarms before being assessed a fine. After that, every successive false alarm will result in a financial penalty. The third false alarm garners a fine of $75; every false alarm thereafter is penalized at a rate of $150. All fines have to be paid within 10 days.
Why It Matters
At Monitronics, we do our best to make sure each of our customers fully understands the importance of false alarm prevention. You see, false alarms are more than just an inconvenience to neighbors and the police department. They are also financially wasteful and potentially life threatening in some instances.
From a financial standpoint, local authorities are spending resources responding to false alarms when those same resources could be spent elsewhere. For example, responding to just a single false alarm can take 30 to 90 minutes out of an officer's day, requiring him to work a little bit of overtime in order to complete his reports. That's money being wasted.
More important, however, is the fact that responding to a false alarm may take resources away from a legitimate emergency that could be life threatening. Imagine learning that a false alarm generated by your security system resulted in one or two officers being unavailable to respond to a legitimate home invasion. That's not a good thing.
Inspection and Testing Important
In order to avoid false alarms, Monitronics recommends regular inspection and testing of your system. A visual inspection includes things like:
- the position of window and door sensors
- the position of motion sensors and cameras
- examination of battery backup systems
A thorough test ensures that your entire system is working as it should. If anything is malfunctioning, a technician should be immediately dispatched to come out and fix the problem.
When your home security system is regularly inspected and tested, it greatly reduces the chances of a false alarm. And of course, any false alarm that does occur should immediately be followed by a thorough inspection and test. Do not take any false alarm lightly. The last thing you need is a hefty fine from the police department or your local code enforcement officer.
| Jan 15, 2014
Now that the Christmas holidays have passed, many Americans are looking forward to a late winter vacation to help carry them into the spring. If you’re planning to be away for any length of time, make sure you take the proper precautions.
Assuming you’re one of millions of homeowners with a home security system, don’t be fooled into thinking you can just arm your system and forget about it for 10 to 14 days. There are plenty of other things to consider.
In order to help you keep your property as safe as possible, we have put together a checklist you can use before you leave home on your vacation:
1. Have Your System Tested
Owners of home security systems should have them tested once a month. A good time to do so is just before you leave home on vacation. If you have a system from Monitronics, just contact us at your earliest convenience. You can also test your system through your online Monitronics account.
2. Check Motion Sensors
If your home security system includes motion sensors throughout the home, they should definitely be tested to make sure they aren’t too sensitive. When they are, they can easily be set off by motion as slight as draperies moving when the furnace or air conditioning kicks on. False alarms are never a good thing, but they’re an even bigger hassle when you’re on vacation.
3. Door and Window Locks
Before leaving on vacation, check to make sure all of your door and window locks are in good working condition. If any of them show even the slightest bit of compromise, replace them immediately. Install deadbolts on first-floor doors if you’re not currently using them.
4. Camouflage Your Valuables
In the old days we used to say, “Hide your valuables” where burglars are least likely to find them. Today we prefer the term “camouflage” because it’s more accurate. Also, keep in mind that burglars tend to head straight for the master bedroom and family room because that’s where most valuables are found. The last places they tend to look are kitchens, bathrooms, and interior rooms without an easy means of escape.
5. Visit with Neighbors
Your neighbors might very well be your best protection against burglary while you are away on vacation. Let them know of your plans, and ask them to grab your mail and put your garbage out to the curb during your absence. If you’re leaving a car at home, having the neighbors move it around from time to time is also advisable. If your neighbors aren’t willing to assist, have your newspaper and mail delivery stopped while you're away.
6. Social Media
As tempting as it is to brag about your upcoming vacation on social media websites, don’t do it. Social media is not nearly as secure as most people assume it is. And in fact, it’s now a great source of information for burglars looking for easy houses to hit. Keep your vacation plans to yourself until you have arrived home. Then feel free to post all the pictures and stories you want.
At Monitronics, we want you to be able to enjoy your vacation by knowing your home is as safe and secure as it can be. We would be more than willing to help by providing you with home security system that meets your needs and budget. Just call us to get started today.
| Jan 10, 2014
Home burglary is a devastating experience that can hurt even worse during the holidays. Such was the case when two burglars entered a home in Vestavia Hills, Alabama on Dec. 23, walking out with valuable jewelry and a safe. Thankfully, security cameras enabled police to identify at least one suspect who is now in custody.
According to local authorities, the two men scoped out the neighborhood on the pretense of looking for a lost cat. When the owners of this particular home left for church, the men entered by forcing open the back door. What they didn't realize was that the homeowners had a security camera pointing directly at the door.
Video released by the police department shows one of the suspect's faces very clearly. That footage allowed one individual to be identified and arrested.
The Value of Home Security
No one wants to be the victim of a burglary or home invasion. That's one of the reasons companies like Monitronics exist. We know that while a home security system is incapable of eliminating 100% of the risk, it goes a long way toward mitigating it.
A home security does two main things for you in terms of burglary protection:
- Deterrence – While it's true not every home burglar is deterred by alarm systems, statistics say most of them are. Most run-of-the-mill burglars are of the “smash and grab” variety who would much rather hit a house without an alarm than risk being caught at one that is armed.
- Response – In cases where a burglar is not deterred or enters a home ignorantly, an alarm system provides an immediate response. The noise it makes will either frighten them away or cause them to spend less time in your home than originally intended, as operators at your monitoring station spring into action to notify authorities. As the Alabama story demonstrated, the added benefit of video surveillance provides valuable evidence.
Tips for Effective Home Alarm Use
A home security system is definitely an important part of a comprehensive security plan. Nevertheless, an alarm alone can’t completely protect you. Other strategies need to be implemented in order to enjoy maximum safety.
For example, never write down your alarm system passcode and post it on the wall next to the panel; never write it on the panel cover, either. Doing so enables the burglar to shut the alarm off as soon as he enters your home. Unfortunately, some homeowners have found themselves victims of burglary for this very reason.
Second, be careful about your window blinds and draperies. When blinds and draperies are left open, you are essentially advertising what you have to offer. Sheer draperies are a good option for allowing sunlight in while obstructing a burglar's view just enough to prevent him from knowing what's inside.
There are several other strategies you can employ to make your home security system is effective as possible. At Monitronics, we would be happy to explain the strategies as we come out to offer a comprehensive security assessment of your home. We custom-design home security systems to meet customers’ needs and budgets, as well as comprehensive monitoring packages for burglary, fire, carbon monoxide, and medical emergency.
| Jan 03, 2014
There is thought to be more than 11 million people living in gated communities in the Unites States, and that number continues to rise year on year. Modern housing and clean neighborhoods are undoubted attractions of these communities, but the ultimate reason for people moving to these estates is the extra sense of security.
Communities are fenced from the rest of the local population and are protected by large security gates with guards on 24-hour watch. It is easy to see why gated communities are viewed as being a safe place to live, and with such security measures already in place many residents opt against installing home alarm systems. Research, though, shows that these large automatic gates may be nothing more than a status symbol, giving the illusion of security but not actually making homes any safer.
Edward Blakey, co-author of the book “Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States” and writer for The Washington Post, says gated communities “do not have less crime than the suburbs from which they're walled off.” Based on surveys of more than 1,000 residents of gated communities, Blakey found that many said they chose to live in these fenced-off estates because they “traveled or worked long hours, so they had no time to meet neighbors and used the guards as their home security system.”
A False Sense of Security?
In truth, driving through large iron gates only serves to provide those living in gated communities with a false sense of security. Estates are generally much quieter, which means that more people feel doors and windows can be left open without any consequence. The problem with this is that thieves know residents are living with this false sense of security and specifically target gated communities as a result.
Burglars know that residents travel to work and spend long days at the office; they also know that the gated community population is a wealthy one. For clever criminals, getting in and out of a gated community is a straightforward task. Often, a simple disguise and a fake ID card is enough to dupe unsuspecting attendants.
Installing Home Security
Many gated communities do operate Neighborhood Watch groups, which are beneficial in tackling property crime. However, as Edward Blakey’s research has shown, many residents have no time to meet neighbors and join local groups. Therefore, home security is an essential purchase and will ensure that criminals looking for an easy hit do not target your home.
With Monitronics’ home security monitoring, residents are provided real peace of mind that comes from not only having advanced alarm equipment installed in the home, but a trained and certified monitoring team watching over your property 24/7 - whether you’re home or away.
Residents of gated communities across the United States should be able to feel safe in their home and in their neighborhood; home security monitored from Monitronics can help ensure that’s the case.
| Dec 23, 2013
Home security has advanced greatly in recent years, with technology now available to help protect you from many risks in the home. Despite this rapid progression, the issue of false alarms continues.
Fortunately, thanks to the state-of-the-art equipment such as two-way voice control and remote home management, false alarms are much less of a problem today than five or ten years ago. Nevertheless, they’re still an issue.
During the holiday season, when various comings and goings are a regular occurrence, false alarms become common. This is largely due to houseguests not knowing how the system works, or what to do if the alarm were triggered.
If you’re expecting a visit from family and friends this Christmas, here are some steps you should take to ensure emergency services are not called out by mistake.
Teach the code
You probably know your alarm code like the back of your hand, and every other member of the household probably does too. Houseguests, on the other hand, will have no idea how to arm and disarm the system. If you expect a houseguest to be accessing your home when you’re not around, you should make sure they’re familiar with the code. This will help eliminate one of the most common causes of false alarms.
Check the system
A working system will help lower the possibility of false alarms and prevent panic for houseguests. If you do encounter any problems with a security system monitored by Monitronics, our team of security specialists is just a phone call away.
Provide an up-to-date contact list
In the event that the alarm is triggered by mistake, Monitronics will call to clarify the situation. To prevent the emergency services from being dispatched by mistake, it’s important that we have up-to-date contact details. If you expect houseguests to be staying with you for more than a few days, you should provide Monitronics with an updated contact list that features their contact details.
One good way to eliminate the problem of false alarms with houseguests is to take advantage of remote home management. Using your smartphone, you will be able to arm and disarm the security system at the touch of a button. By having control of the system from virtually anywhere, you can take away the need for houseguests to operate the system.
| Dec 18, 2013
The holidays are a time for joy and celebration. Don’t let your family and friends fall victim to accidents that can easily be avoided. Christmas trees, lights, and open fires are all special decorations; just remember to place as much importance on safety when capturing the magic of the season!
| Dec 13, 2013
Santa isn’t the only person looking to visit homes in the wee hours of the night this Christmas. Burglars are also interested in getting up close and personal with the inside of a property. For would-be criminals, the influx of gifts and gadgets provides the perfect incentive to burglarize, and the value of the loot means that they are willing to take more risks than normal.
To ensure burglary does not ruin your holidays, here are seven ways to protect your property.
1. Check for weak spots
34% of burglars gain entry to a property through the front door, while 23% use first-floor windows. With doors and windows taking a battering from the winter weather, it’s important to carry out regular checks for weak spots. Fitting new hinges where necessary and adding window locks and deadbolts will help fortify your home.
2. Close the curtains
Burglars like to identify potential loot by having a peak through the window before attempting to break in. A simple way of keeping your valuables out of sight is to close your curtains at night.
3. Don’t hide your keys
It’s common practice for homeowners to hide keys under rocks or doormats, and burglars know this. Criminals love an easy entry, so will check in all the usual spots for a spare key before taking a crowbar to a door. Instead of hiding a spare key, leave it with a family member or trusted neighbor.
4. Think about your packaging
A good way for a burglar to identify a lucrative target is by looking at the garbage. If you leave a 50-inch plasma TV box out on the driveway, it will tell burglars that there are some valuable goods to be had. Keep all garbage out of sight and put items out on collection day only. Remember, trash collection dates generally differ over Christmas so make sure you familiarize yourself with revised collection times.
5. Use solar lighting
Outdoor lights add a real festive touch to a home over the holidays, but think about how you install them. Many homeowners power lighting by feeding extension cables through partially opened windows. Even a fraction of an inch is enough of an opening for burglars to pry open a window. Instead purchase solar-powered lights – they’re cheaper to run and great for the environment.
6. Shine a light
On the subject of lighting, burglars tend to shun the limelight so will be deterred by some bright exterior lighting. As well as Christmas illuminations, consider installing some motion detection lighting.
7. Invest in home security
If you haven’t already, you should look to invest in home security. A home security system monitored by Monitronics provides you with state-of-the-art equipment and advanced monitoring to help ensure that no criminal will be successful in ruining your holidays.
| Dec 05, 2013
The holidays are a time for families to get together and celebrate the most joyous season of all. Unfortunately, burglars see opportunity to target the homes of unsuspecting vacationers. While most people enjoy handing out gifts to loved ones, criminals enjoy taking precious items from homes that can be an easy sell.
If you’re planning a vacation this holiday season, here are six valuable home security tips:
1. Secure your mail
A mailbox full of letters and newspapers is a clear sign to criminals that you’re not home. This gives them ample opportunity to not only target your property, but also target your identity by using your mail to gain access to personal information. Before you travel, request a vacation hold on mail and newspapers, or ask a trusted relative or friend to collect it for you.
2. Let trusted people know you’re away
When you’re going on vacation, it’s good to let trusted people know: friends, neighbors, and your home security company. If possible, give a spare key to a friend (don’t leave it in a hiding place) along with contact details of your home security company. Similarly, your home security company should be provided with the contact details of your friend. Always be sure to keep your emergency contact list up to date, too.
3. Stay away from social media
Today’s criminals are forward thinking, happily checking social media to see if anyone is broadcasting about a trip away. Make sure that you keep all accounts private and do not give away any clues that indicate you won’t be home for an extended period of time. If you have any photos that you wish to upload, make sure you wait until you’re back home.
4. Install motion-detecting lighting
Burglars don’t like to be spotted, and a bright light in their face often is enough to send them hightailing out of there. Have motion sensors installed around the exterior of your property, especially around out-of-sight entry points.
5. Think about your answering machine message
It’s common for families to leave callers a nice descriptive answering machine message detailing where they’re going and how long they’ll be gone. Don’t do it! Phoning a home to see if anyone answers is a classic way for burglars to check if anyone is home. They love to know that they have plenty of time to break into a property. The default automated computerized message will do just fine.
6. Embrace remote home management
Home security has advanced greatly in recent years, and with Monitronics home automation and remote home management, complete home security rests in the palm of your hand. You can use your smartphone to arm your system and remotely manage your home. So even though you’re not physically home, you’re definitely there in spirit!
| Nov 27, 2013
For many of us, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the annual holiday season that concludes with the passing of New Year's Day. The last thing we want is for an accident or criminal activity around Thanksgiving to ruin the entire season.
Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to get together with family and friends for good food, sports, family games, and so much more. However, it also presents the opportunity for accidents, injuries, and crime. To help you make your Thanksgiving as safe as possible, we offer you the following five tips:
1. Stay in the Kitchen
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the increase of activity and people during the Thanksgiving holiday make the kitchen more dangerous than during other times of the year. One of their first safety recommendations is that you stay in the kitchen whenever food is cooking on the stovetop. Food being prepared in the oven should be checked on regularly.
It’s also good idea to limit access to the kitchen among smaller children. The kitchen is a place filled with hot appliances, cutlery, bulky and heavy food containers, and more. Keeping children out of the kitchen is a great way to keep them safe.
2. Exercise Caution with Deep Fryers
If you've ever had a deep-fried Thanksgiving turkey, you know how tasty they can be. However, please be cautious with the use of these fryers. A deep fryer large enough to hold a good-sized turkey also contains a several gallons of dangerously hot oil that could be upwards of 350 degrees. Whenever using a deep fryer for turkey, adhere to the following guidelines:
- fryers should always be placed outside, on level ground
- keep deep fat fryers off wooden decks and away from combustible material
- monitor oil temperature – anything above 350 degrees could cause ignition of the vapors
- always completely thaw and dry your turkey before cooking
3. Keep Travel Plans Quiet
If you plan to be away during the Thanksgiving holiday, do yourself a favor and don’t post your plans on the Internet. Believe it or not, social media is a tool now being used by burglars to find empty homes. When you post your travel plans you’re inviting trouble.
Along those same lines, be sure to suspend delivery of your newspapers and mail or have your neighbors take them in for you. Turn off telephone ringers, put timers on your lights, and do whatever else you can think of to give the appearance that someone is home.
4. Clean the Yard
Thanksgiving usually means kids running around the yard while the adults are watching football and conversing. Make sure to clean up your yard before your visitors arrive. This includes rocks, twigs and tree branches, gardening tools, and lawn maintenance equipment. Basically, anything that could cause injury should be cleared out.
5. Enlist Your Neighbors
Get together with your neighbors just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday to enlist their help in keeping the neighborhood safe. Whenever neighbors watch out for one another, a neighborhood becomes a much safer place to be. You might even meet some really nice people this way.
As always, a home security system monitored by Monitronics is a cost-effective way to add an extra level of protection against burglary, fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Monitronics has a system to meet every budget and need. Call us if you're interested in learning more.
| Nov 26, 2013
With autumn now in full swing, we’re fast approaching the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. This time of year offers the opportunity for plenty of family celebrations and community activities. Unfortunately, some take advantage of this festive time of year as an opportunity to perpetrate a number of scams.
Holiday scams include door-to-door collections, online phishing scams and telephone identity theft. All of us need to be extra diligent. If you observe anything that seems at all suspicious, never be afraid to contact the authorities.
Door-to-door scams can take on any number of appearances. For example, you may have someone knock on your door claiming to be collecting money for a charitable organization or a specific holiday event. They may be soliciting contributions via cash, personal check or credit card.
If anyone shows up at your door soliciting donations, first ask to see proper identification. Then use that identification to contact the organization they’re representing. Anyone who resists this type of scrutiny is likely a scammer.
Other types of door-to-door scams include sales representatives trying to gain entrance to your home, people selling popular gift items at unreasonably low prices, and contractors offering to do remodeling projects to get your home ready for the holidays. Just be careful with anyone who knocks on your door uninvited.
One of the more popular online scams is something known as phishing. This type of scam involves creating an e-mail or website that appears to be from a legitimate company when it is, in fact, put out by a scammer.
A typical phishing e-mail will direct the consumer to click a link that involves further action. For example, sometimes a scam e-mail or website will ask for personal information to "verify" some sort of account. Before you click any links in an e-mail, you should hover over them with your mouse to see the embedded address. This will tell you right away if you dealing with a phishing attempt.
Telephone scams are usually about identity theft. During the holiday season, they seem to become more popular due to the increased propensity for people to spend money. A good example would be a scam artist who calls while posing as someone from a local department store you're likely to visit.
Phone scammers can also pose as fundraisers for charitable organizations. They may ask you to donate to the charity using your credit card or bank account.
No matter who calls, you should never give out this information over the phone unless you have verified the veracity of the call. One good rule of thumb is to never provide personal information over the phone unless you’re the one who initiated the call.
The holiday season is one filled with plenty of opportunities for scammers. Be on the lookout for your own protection. If you plan to be away from home during the holiday season, we suggest you consider having a home security system with 24-hour monitoring installed. A home security system provides an extra layer protection at a price you can afford.
| Nov 22, 2013
By now, you should be pretty familiar with most of the home safety principles Monitronics and other home security companies advocate. However, we tend to forget about these basic precautions due to our busy lives and schedules. It never hurts to have a quick refresher.
Below are some home safety reminders related to burglary and accidental house fires. Following a few basic guidelines can help you keep your family and property safe.
Burglary is one of the more frequent property crimes committed in the United States. For purposes of the law, it’s classified as any type of breaking and entering with the intent to steal. Burglary can apply to your home, any outbuildings on your property, and your car as well.
Here are some tips to reduce the likelihood of burglary:
- Trees and Shrubs – Most home burglars gain entrance through a first-floor window or door. It's important to keep trees and shrubs trimmed so as not to block visual access from the street. You can install shrubs near first-floor windows that might help deter burglars.
- Lighting – Exterior lighting can go a long way toward dissuading burglars during the evening and nighttime hours. Consider motion sensitive lighting for maximum effect. Inside your house, make sure lights are programmed to go on and off if you plan to be away for an extended amount of time.
- Locks – Always make sure every exterior door and window is locked. It’s recommended that doors are secured with deadbolts as well. Windows should also be beefed up with supplemental locks.
- Home Security – A home security system is a very important anti-burglary tool. It acts as a deterrent that can help prevent a burglary. Should a burglar try to enter your home, an home alarm system monitored by Monitronics swiftly alerts our 24/7 emergency dispatch operators.
Accidental house fires are responsible for serious injuries and deaths every year. Tragically, many of these injuries and deaths are completely avoidable. Here are some tips you can use to reduce the chances of a house fire:
- Candles – Believe it or not, candles are one of the biggest hazards when it comes to house fires. They should only be used with proper supervision and in areas free from combustible materials. Never leave candles unattended while burning.
- Cigarette Smoking – According to FEMA, nearly 1,000 smokers and non-smokers are killed by house fires caused by burning cigarettes and other smoking materials. Never smoke in bed, for starters. Also, never smoke anywhere indoors if you're feeling the slightest bit drowsy. Make sure all cigarettes are fully extinguished before discarding.
- Smoke Alarms – Every home should be equipped with working smoke alarms in close proximity to the kitchen and all bedrooms. It's true what they say: smoke alarms save lives.
- Escape Plans – Every family should develop an escape plan in the event of a house fire. Rehearse your plan at least several times a year.
- Fire Monitoring – Just like a home security system can monitor for burglary, it can also monitor for fire. Given the danger posed by smoke inhalation, fire monitoring should be part of your home security system.
We hope these reminders are helpful to you and your family. Remember that safety begins with the appropriate mindset. If you think safety, you are more likely to act safely.
| Nov 19, 2013
To say social media has permeated most of our lives is an understatement. In fact, it’s rare to come across someone who doesn’t use social media in one form or another. Yet, using it improperly can present some very serious safety risks – especially during the holiday travel season.
Whether people know it or not, criminals use every tool available to them to increase the chances they will succeed in their work. Social media is a tool that can help their unlawful intentions significantly. To illustrate what we mean, here are seven ways your social media practices can increase your chances of becoming a victim during the holiday travel season:
1. The Countdown
One of the ways we like to remind our social media friends of our pending travel plans is to conduct a countdown, citing the number of days until your big vacation. However, according to a recent article published by the Huffington Post, this is a very bad idea. A countdown is a dead giveaway that you plan to be away from home for a period of time. It's an open invitation to burglars.
2. Holiday Plans
Even if you're not planning two weeks away in Mauritius, letting it be known you're spending just two or three days away with family can be equally dangerous. A burglar who knows his craft only needs about 10 minutes to get what he wants from your home. Three days while you're visiting mom and dad is plenty of time. Don't publish your holiday plans online, even if you're only going to be away a few hours.
3. Checking In
Are you annoyed when your Facebook news feed informs you that a friend or relative has checked in at a local coffee shop? What you find annoying could also be an open invitation to burglary. It’s never a good idea to have your mobile device set to automatically check in on Facebook whenever you reach a destination with Wi-Fi access. For the same reason, when you reach your holiday hotel, you should not check in to your social media manually, either.
4. Communicating with House Sitters
If you plan to be away from home during the holidays, it’s a good idea to use a house sitter or enlist the help of family members or friends to regularly check on your property. However, never communicate with these individuals using social media. Make your arrangements over the phone or using a secured, private email account.
5. Holiday Pictures
Do we not love to post photographs on social media? Unfortunately, a picture does paint 1,000 words, or, in the case of home burglars, perhaps $1,000. It's better to keep those holiday party pictures private.
6. Event RSVPs
It's sad but true: burglars pay attention to events and RSVPs listed on social media. As convenient a scheduling tool as this might be, it's an easy way to signal to burglars exactly when you’ll be away from home. If events aren’t confined to private groups, you should never RSVP online.
7. Past Experiences
Lastly, avoid giving burglars any hint of this year's plans by rehashing past experiences. For example, if you say something like, "for the past five years we've taken a cruise at Christmas," you're essentially telling burglars you’re not at home at sometime during the holiday season.
The best tip we can offer you is this: be very cautious about your social media use during the holiday season – and the rest of the year, too.