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    Video Surveillance and Preventing Child Abuse

    by Rob Howe | Apr 14, 2014

    Child abuse by nannies and babysitters unfortunately does get reported in some U.S. homes. Home alarm systems and video surveillance from Monitronics can help prevent abuse from happening.
    Homeowners often seek information on home alarm systems with video surveillance as a means to protect their family from criminals. What many don’t realize, however, is a criminal may not always be a stranger. While parents across the U.S. have trustworthy daycare providers, nannies and babysitters that become an extension of their family, each year there are also reported cases of child abuse by at-home childcare providers.

    April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and it’s important to note that video surveillance of a family home can help deter more than just burglary.

    Taking Steps to Protect Children

    Even before installing home alarm systems with video surveillance capabilities, there are steps parents can take to help protect children from abuse by at-home babysitters or nannies. When hiring someone to care for a child, we suggest going to the experts for help.

    It’s critical to perform a thorough background check that includes a review of criminal history. Contact a local or state police agency to learn the process for obtaining criminal background checks. In some cases, the potential sitter may have to visit a precinct and submit fingerprints, while other checks may use personal identification information such as a Social Security number. Some police agencies charge for these services, so it may be advisable to obtain these checks only on the top candidates.

    Look for red flags during the interview process, such as unexplained gaps in work history, little interest in the child during the process, or a candidate who has moved around considerably. Nanny agencies are also available for parents who want professional assistance during the selection process.

    Recognize the Signs

    Even after a thorough background check and interview process, it’s possible that someone hired to care for children could still become an abuser. Therefore, it’s important for parents to recognize early signs of abuse. These may include:

    • Unexplained Injuries – Although children often may have bruises, cuts or scrapes from everyday activities, burns or bruises in the shape of distinct objects may indicate abuse. There may also be inadequate explanations for how the child was injured.
    • Behavior Changes – Children who are being abused often change their behavior, such as appearing scared, anxious or withdrawn. Some children may become more aggressive if they’re being abused.
    • Age Regressive Behaviors – Children may revert to behaviors exhibited at earlier ages, such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting or fearing the dark. Some children lose language skills or experience memory lapses.
    • Changes in Eating or Sleeping Habits – If a child begins eating larger quantities of food or stops eating completely, he or she may be feeling stress brought on by abuse. Other children may begin having frequent nightmares or suffer from insomnia.
    • Inappropriate Sexual Behavior – A child who is suffering from sexual abuse may exhibit overly sexual behaviors or begin using sexually explicit language.

    These symptoms may be subtle and could be mistaken for normal childhood changes. It’s important to keep lines of communication open with children. When changes in appearance or behaviors are noticed, talk with them about what may be happening.

    Video Surveillance

    For parents who suspect child abuse by an at-home childcare provider, installing home alarm systems with video surveillance may enable them to prove or disprove suspicions. In most states it’s legal to install video surveillance without informing the babysitter, as long as it’s not installed in areas of privacy, such as bathrooms. However, some states do not allow audio surveillance without notification of the person being recorded, so it’s important to check local statutes before installing a system with audio recording.

    Not all childcare providers are honest, reputable, and choose the profession because of their love of children. Home alarm systems with packages that include remote video access give parents the ability to remotely monitor the care of the children. It’s also important to note that home security systems with video surveillance do not replace thorough background checks or good hiring practices.

    Monitronics proudly monitors over 1 million home security systems, and our remote home management service, HomeTouch, gives customers secure access to video on their smartphone so they can check on their house at any time, from anywhere with an Internet connection.

    To learn more about how home alarm systems with video surveillance that can add a layer of protection for your family, visit us online at http://www.monitronics.com. Be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

     

    Sources:
    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cm2012.pdf
    http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/child-abuse/basics/symptoms/con-20033789
    http://www.care.com/child-care-nanny-cam-yes-or-no-p1017-q21097627.html

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    Monitronics Security: Tips for Medication Safety

    by Rob Howe | Apr 08, 2014

    Monitronics Security, which provides 24/7 monitoring of home security and medical alert systems, reminds readers of the need to maintain the security of their medicines at all times. The variety of medicines available to consumers today is extraordinary. The number of written prescriptions continues to rise annually and topped the $4 billion mark in 2011 alone, according to a report published in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience. When combined with the array of dietary supplements, herbal remedies, and over-the-counter medications used by Americans, the lineup of bottles and packages sitting on a kitchen counter or in a medicine cabinet can make a home resemble a small pharmacy.

    There’s no doubt these medicines can help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives. But they can also do harm if used in the wrong combination, the wrong dosage, or by the wrong person. Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable because they tend to take the most medications but may lack the clear vision and crisp memory required to help them see and comprehend information on packaging of prescription medicines. Picking up the wrong bottle of medicine just one time might have devastating results.

    Unfortunately, senior citizens end up in emergency rooms each year due to medication mix-ups and accidental overdoses. Monitronics Security provides 24/7 alarm monitoring for over 1 million customers with home security systems and medical alert systems. We want to remind folks of some of the things that are generally recommended to ensure the medicines in their households are stored and used properly. Here are some suggestions:

    • Keep a current list of all medications and include the proper dosages and times of day when they should be taken. Include over-the-counter medications and herbal and dietary supplements as well, as these can adversely impact how a medicine acts in the body. Carry this list with you anytime you visit a physician or pharmacy.
    • Consult the physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers about what the medicines are for and why they’re being taken, and keep the lines of communication open. Make sure all questions get answered before leaving the doctor’s office, and call and consult with the clinic or pharmacy if in doubt after leaving. Never guess or intentionally ignore the directions written on the prescription bottles, because certain medicines must be taken at certain times.
    • Store all medicines appropriately and always out of reach of children and older adults who may have difficulty understanding the directions. Medicines should be kept in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, preferably in a locked medicine cabinet. Discard all medicines that have passed their expiration date.
    • Never give anyone a medication that was not prescribed for him or her. The consequences can be dangerous, even fatal.

    Families who have elderly parents or grandparents staying with them may also want to consider a medical alert pendant or ID bracelet for their loved ones. Monitronics Security provides monitoring for home security systems as well as medical alert systems that equip customers with a pendant to wear around the house; it directly alerts the Alarm Response Center with the touch of a button, giving the rest of the family peace of mind if they can’t be home every second of the day. These systems are excellent for various emergency situations, including those when a senior may be having an adverse reaction to medicine.

    Medicine safety is a serious responsibility with serious consequences. Following the tips listed here can help ensure the right medications are taken by the right people, at the right times, and in the right quantities. Plus, elderly family members should strongly consider a medical alert system monitored by Monitronics Security, for the tranquility of the entire family.

    To learn more about the products monitored by Monitronics Security, including home security systems, automation systems, and medical alert systems, visit our website at www.monitronics.com, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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    World Health Day: Protect Yourself against Diseases

    by Rob Howe | Apr 07, 2014

    Monitronics home security helps protect your home from intruders, just as proper precautions can help protect you from vector-borne diseases.

    Home security
    is important in protecting your family, and on World Health Day, it’s a good time to think about other ways to keep your family safe. Just as home security systems are necessary to protect against intruders, certain precautions are important in protecting against illness and diseases. This year on World Health Day, think about the ways you can care for your loved ones, and consider the people who live in parts of the world where disease prevention is problematic.

    April 7th is World Health Day, and it also marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). World Health Day offers opportunities for countries around the world to emphasize safety and health-related topics. Past themes have ranged from Health Care Workers to Road Safety to Healthy Environments for Children. This year, the theme of World Health Day is Vector-Borne Diseases.

    Vector-borne diseases are illnesses caused by organisms that carry pathogens and parasites among people or animals. Commonly found in tropical areas and places where sanitary conditions are problematic, they include diseases like malaria, dengue, lymphatic filariasis, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever. Because trade and travel connects us all globally, these diseases are beginning to appear in countries where they previously did not exist.

    Protection from vector-borne disease is relatively straightforward. Vaccinations can be extremely helpful in slowing the spread of illnesses like yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis. The best way to help prevent the spread of these diseases is to guard against coming in contact with the vectors, which include things like mosquitoes, sandflies, ticks, and snails. Simple measures like installing window screens, applying bug repellent, and sleeping under mosquito netting can help keep people safe. It’s also important to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed. Raising awareness of these practices in areas affected by vector-borne illnesses can help stop the spread of these diseases.

    Protecting your family from disease involves vigilance, and protecting your home from intruders requires the same kind of watchfulness. Home security can give you peace of mind, especially if you use a security company that has a reputation for excellence. As the nation’s second-largest home security provider, Monitronics Security has a Five Diamond Certified Response Center that helps protect your family against burglary, fire, carbon monoxide, and medical emergencies. For more information about Monitronics Security and home security, visit our website and connect with our online community on Facebook and Twitter.

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    How Home Monitoring Works

    by Monitronics Blog | Apr 07, 2014

    At Monitronics, we talk a lot about home monitoring because a home security system without 24-hour monitoring is merely a noisemaker in the event of emergency. While noise is certainly better than nothing, adding home monitoring to your security system takes its capabilities to the next level.

    We encourage home monitoring service because it adds an extra set of eyes and ears keeping track of your property. That means action can be taken on your behalf, in the event of an emergency, even if you’re not home. And taking action is what home monitoring is all about.

    So how does home monitoring work? Here's a brief, non-technical explanation:

    how home monitoring works

    1. The Control Panel

    Every home security system has a control panel that acts as the system's brain. That control panel is also the main tool by which the customer controls the system. What you may not know is that the control panel is programmed with all sorts of data that identifies the system to Monitronics, contains information specific to the customer's property, and makes it possible for monitoring operators to determine the extent of an emergency.

    The control panel has access to a central monitoring station by way of a landline telephone, VoIP line, or wireless connection. As an add-on feature, it also allows for two-way communication between your house and the monitoring center in the event of emergency.

    2. Sensors

    When a security system is installed, installation will include multiple sensors based on the services ordered. For burglary, there are sensors put on windows and doors. Specialized detectors are used for fire, carbon monoxide, and flood. Homeowners can even include medical monitoring and remote video monitoring, which means they get secure access to video feeds of their property from their own mobile device.

    When a sensor detects a problem, a signal is immediately sent to the control panel. In turn, the control panel makes a connection with the monitoring center and the data is immediately routed to an individual workstation. Information is displayed on a computer screen, enabling a monitoring operator to assess the situation and take the necessary action.

    The data sent by the control panel tells the operator exactly what's going on with the system. In a situation like fire or carbon monoxide, the operator would immediately dispatch first responders before trying to make contact with the homeowner. In the case of a medical emergency alert, the operator may first attempt to speak with the homeowner over the system's speakers in order to assess the seriousness of the problem.

    3. Connections

    As previously mentioned, a security system control panel can make connection with the monitoring center via landline, VoIP, or wireless signal. Having said that, landline systems are fast becoming the dinosaurs of home security.

    As late as 10 years ago, having a landline telephone was the norm. However, the proliferation of cell phones has changed that. Today it’s common for families to forgo the landline in favor of each family member having his or her own cell phone. Home security companies have had to adapt accordingly. Thus, the rise of the wireless home security system.

    Monitronics is proud to offer our customers a range of options to meet their particular needs. We’re also proud to offer a state-of-the-art monitoring center staffed by fully trained and knowledgeable specialists who take your security very seriously. We would be honored to help protect you and your family with a home security system and 24-hour alarm monitoring. If you already have a security system, you can transfer home monitoring to us as well.

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    Youth Sports Safety | 6 Tips for Keeping Your Children Safe

    by Rob Howe | Mar 31, 2014

    Monitronics Security is a home security company concerned with protecting you and your family, wherever you are. Whether at home, at work, or at play, it’s important to have the right equipment and knowledge to make sure everyone is as safe as possible. To that end, Monitronics Security has some suggestions for keeping your kids safe as they head off to play sports this spring.

    Monitronics Security, a home security company, offers 6 tips regarding youth sports safety.

    1. Make sure your child’s body is ready for the intended sport. A physical exam is a must before beginning any athletic endeavor. While you’re thinking about medical care, it’s a good time to find out who is responsible for caring for your child’s team. Many schools don’t have athletic trainers and simply rely on coaches and parents with first aid training to keep kids safe.
    2. Being ready for the game is not just about physical fitness. You may be gung-ho about seeing your son or daughter competing on the soccer field, hitting a home run out of the park, or sitting atop a cheerleading pyramid, but it’s important not to push kids into competition before they’re ready. Psychological readiness is just as important as physical ability; if your young athlete’s mindset is not attuned to the tasks at hand, he or she is more likely to be injured during competition.
    3. Headgear IS cool! Don’t skimp on protective gear; use the right pads, helmet, and other safety equipment to help prevent injuries from occurring. Remember, gear that is of poor quality or doesn’t fit properly offers little more than wearing no gear at all.
    4. Check out the facilities and staff. Coaches should be qualified to coach, and volunteers should be well vetted. Don’t trust your child to anyone whose credentials and background are unknown. In addition, make sure the locker room, gym and showers are clean, because MRSA and other infections can be extremely hazardous.
    5. One step at a time. It’s been a long winter, but it’s about to get hot! Increase your young athlete’s heat tolerance slowly over a two-week period. Also make sure that he or she understands the importance of staying hydrated.
    6. Teach your kids to speak up if something is wrong. Symptoms like dizziness, loss of memory, and fatigue can all be related to serious head injury. Playing through an injury can lead to further harm. While we all want our kids to be strong competitors, it’s also important to teach them to listen to their bodies’ cues that something isn’t right.

    Keeping your kids safe on the playing field is a matter of using the right techniques and equipment. Keeping them safe at home is all about having the right home security. As the nation’s second-largest residential security provider, Monitronics Security has a Five Diamond Certified Response Center that helps protect your family against burglary, fire, carbon monoxide, and medical emergencies. For more information about Monitronics Security, visit our website or connect with our online community on Facebook and Twitter.

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    Use Spring Cleaning to Make Your Home Safer

    by Monitronics Blog | Mar 27, 2014

    Are you dreading that annual spring cleaning project that has been on your to-do list for the last several weeks? Don't worry – you're not alone.

    Yet as long as spring cleaning is on your list of things to accomplish, you might as well use it to make your home a safer place. That's right – spring cleaning is a great time to make home safety a priority.

    Why use spring cleaning projects to deal with home safety issues? Because spring is a time when you already have a mind to make changes for the better. Taking advantage of that mindset can help you establish some new ways of doing things that will make your home safer.

    spring cleaning

    High-Traffic Areas

    During your spring cleaning project, take a step back and consider what parts of your home tend to see the highest amount of traffic. Right away you might consider hallways, the kitchen, or the family room where you gather to watch television or play games. These high-traffic areas provide the perfect environment for household accidents. Consider the following in all high-traffic areas:

    • Obstructions – The clutter in many of our homes often results in numerous traffic obstructions that can present a certain amount of danger. For example, a small table in a narrow hallway can easily cause children to injure themselves by running into it or tripping trying to get around it. Make sure you remove all obstructions from any areas where traffic is heavy.
    • Carpeting – Loose carpeting in high-traffic areas is responsible for quite a number of accidental falls in the home. If you notice any loose carpeting, contact a professional who can come in and take care of the problem. It’s an easy and inexpensive fix in most cases.
    • Lighting – There should be adequate lighting in any area in your home that receives heavy traffic. Poor lighting can contribute to stumbling and falling, especially among young children and seniors. Lighting should be strategically placed in a way that fully illuminates where people will be walking.

    Games, Toys, and Other Possessions

    A number of personal possessions can contribute to household accidents. Children's toys are the first thing that comes to mind. Spring is a great time to establish new family guidelines regarding where toys are stored and where they can be used. And by all means, games and toys should be cleaned up immediately after use.

    Here are a few other personal possessions that can be dangerous when not approached with the safety mindset:

    • Sporting Equipment – Sporting equipment like baseball bats, ice skates, and skis can present great opportunities for accidents if left lying around the house. Equally dangerous are things like fishing tackle, pocketknives, and archery equipment. Establish storage areas for these types of things along with policies regarding how these items are used.
    • Small Appliances – Small electrical appliances like hair dryers and irons seem fairly harmless, but they can be dangerous under the right conditions. For example, an overheating hairdryer can spark an electrical fire in the bathroom. An iron placed near water represents electrocution risk should the two come into contact. Every family member should be made aware of the proper use of small appliances.

    Monitronics encourages families to take advantage of spring cleaning to make homes as safe as they can be. We can help by providing home security systems with 24-hour monitoring. We offer a variety of different monitoring and equipment packages, ranging from simple burglary protection to complete home automation.

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    Spring Reminder: Practice Safe Landscaping

    by Monitronics Blog | Mar 24, 2014

    Spring is the time of year most of us get outside after being holed up in the house all winter. It’s also the time of year we work on landscaping projects meant to enhance the look and value of our homes. As a home security provider concerned with your safety, Monitronics hopes you practice safe landscaping.

    What do we mean by “safe landscaping?” We mean adopting landscaping strategies that will reduce the risk of burglary, home invasion, and accidental injuries. Bear in mind that your landscaping choices play a big role in the overall safety of your property. When you practice safe landscaping, you and your family are much better off.

    safe landscaping

    Planting Choices

    Many Americans will choose new shrubs and trees for this year's landscaping projects. Just remember to choose your shrubs not only for the beauty they offer, but also for their potential to enhance your personal safety. For example, prickly shrubs can deter burglars when planted in front of first-floor windows.

    You can use the same strategy when choosing shrubbery and trees for the perimeter of your property, or when picking spreading plants to cover fencing and latticework. Try to make whatever you choose as uncomfortable as possible for criminals. And don't worry – plenty of plants, shrubs, and trees look beautiful while enhancing your safety.

    Strategies for Placement and Trimming

    You obviously want to place your landscaping elements in a way that makes your home as attractive as possible. By all means do so. But also keep in mind that placement choices and the way you trim your plants and shrubs can also affect home security.

    We have already talked about planting prickly shrubs in front of first-floor windows, but also consider thorny trees on the perimeter of your property. As for your regular trimming, it’s important to make sure that a clear view of your home from the street is not obstructed by your landscaping. Burglars prefer to enter homes using a first-floor window or door. When landscaping allows for a full street view of your home, burglars have less to hide behind.

    If you’re planning to plant new trees this year, consider their placement in relation to their potential growth. In other words, if you’re planting a tree that could grow taller than the second floor of your home, don't plant the tree close enough to the home that it eventually allows easy access to a second-floor window. Criminals may prefer first-floor entry, but they’re not opposed to second floor entry if that's what it takes.

    Lastly, make sure to take good care of whatever landscaping elements you decide to install this spring. A well-kept yard is a signal to potential burglars that you are diligent about caring for your property. This will make them think twice before entering your home. Conversely, an unkempt yard is an open invitation to burglars because it suggests to them that you’re careless or possible away from home.

    Monitronics reminds you that safety and security doesn’t happen by itself. It requires homeowners to take specific actions to that end. If you’re interested in more than just safe landscaping, please call us and ask about our home security systems with 24-hour monitoring. Between our state-of-the-art equipment and monitoring packages, we can help protect you against loss from burglary, fire, carbon monoxide poisoning and medical emergency. We can even help you save money by adding home automation to your system. Call us today and we’ll be happy to schedule you a free consultation with your local Monitronics dealer.

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    Spring Planting and Safety Go Hand-In-Hand

    by Monitronics Blog | Mar 20, 2014

    Spring is in the air all across America. That means most of us will be outdoors in just a few weeks, taking care of the yard and landscaping work needed to clean up the mess winter left behind. For some of us, that means new spring plantings of flowers, shrubs and trees designed to give our homes that special curb appeal we’ve always wanted. Nevertheless, here's a question: did you know you could increase the safety and security of your home by adopting some simple spring planting strategies? It's true, you can.

    When we talk about increased safety and security with spring plantings, we’re referring primarily to preventing burglary and home invasion. Remember that those who commit such crimes aren’t interested in your entire neighborhood getting alerted. They want to get in and out as quickly as possible. By making that difficult, you can help deter criminals from making you a victim.

    Ideas for Shrubbery

    Statistics show that the vast majority of home burglaries are accomplished by entering through a first-floor door or window. Assuming you have deadbolt locks on your doors, you can use various types of shrubbery to deter burglars from trying to breach your windows. Here are just a couple of ideas:

    • Barberry – Also known as “sticker bushes”, barberry is a prickly shrub with lots of different varieties. The bushes are known for their three-spine thorns that can be very painful should you get caught up in them. The bushes offer beautiful color, especially in the fall, and are easy to trim and shape.
    • Pyracantha – Pyracantha is a large, evergreen shrub with many varieties. It produces small berries that can be either red, orange or yellow, along with very attractive white flowers. What makes them a possible deterrent to burglars are the numerous thorns growing throughout the bushes.
    • Roses – The rose is one of the most loved thorny bushes in America; there are plenty of varieties that offer stunning colors. Some varieties, like the wild rose, can be encouraged to grow densely across a picket fence or decorative latticework. When grown thick enough, a rose bush can be nearly impenetrable.

    The key to using shrubs and bushes to enhance security is to plant them in front of first-floor windows, close enough that a burglar cannot stand between the foliage and the house. However, keep them trimmed low enough so that the windows can still be clearly seen from the street.

    Ideas for Trees

    Not every burglar or home invader will enter a property from the street. Some will come in from the perimeter, using the yards of neighbors on any side. To deter such entry, there are a number of thorny trees you can plant, including the following two:

    • Hawthorn – Known more commonly thornapple, this tree can grow as high as 25 feet under the right conditions. What's more, the smaller trees grow very closely together, creating a very dense thicket that is hard to penetrate. The thorns are extremely painful and quite dense.
    • Black Locust – The black locust is a deceivingly beautiful tree that produces incredibly vibrant white flowers. However, tucked under the base of each leaf is a set of nasty thorns burglars really don't want to become acquainted with.

    Using your spring planting as a way to enhance your home security is a wise idea. If you would like to go one step further, consider a home security system with professional 24/7 monitoring from Monitronics. We have monitoring packages and state-of-the-art equipment to fit any budget. Feel free to call us if you would like more information.

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    Observe Poison Prevention Week | March 16-22

    by Monitronics Blog | Mar 18, 2014

    Monitronics would like to encourage you to observe Poison Prevention Week, which has been observed faithfully every year since 1961 thanks to a proclamation by then-President John F. Kennedy. This week, community organizations, government agencies and businesses band together to educate people about accidental poison and how it can be prevented.

    According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), poisoning causes as many as 35,000 deaths every year. Even more frightening is the fact that roughly half of all accidental poisonings involve children under the age of six. Children can be accidentally poisoned by household cleaning products, cosmetics and personal care products, prescription and over-the-counter medications, and more.

    Dual Themes of Poison Prevention

    There are two primary themes for this year's observance: “Children Act Fast... So Do Poisons!” and “Poisoning Spans a Lifetime.” The dual themes are meant to remind parents about being vigilant in regards to their children and themselves.

    We know children can move quickly and act fast, doing things before their parents ever realize what's going on. Most of the time such behavior is completely harmless. However, in the presence of potentially poisonous materials, the curious nature of children puts them at a dangerous disadvantage. Parents are reminded to keep any and all poisonous substances out of the reach of their children at all times.

    Adults need to be just as vigilant about poison prevention. The HHS statistics show 92% of all poisoning deaths claim victims over the age of 20.

    Think Safe, Be Safe

    At Monitronics, we encourage people to “be safe by thinking safe.” Adopting a mindset of safety will encourage you to practice healthy habits that will eliminate as much unnecessary risk in your life as possible. In the area of accidental poisoning, the think-safe mindset encourages parents to find a place, out of the reach of children, to store any potentially poisonous substances.

    However, that thinking goes much further than just poison prevention week. Thinking safety also includes protecting your home against burglary and other potential dangers. This is where Monitronics’ expertise lies.

    We provide state-of-the-art alarm systems with 24-hour monitoring to customers around the country. Our services help keep you safe by deterring home burglary and providing an extra set of eyes and ears to watch your home when you are away.

    We’d be happy to put you in touch with your local Monitronics Authorized Dealer for a free home security needs consultation. Rest assured we have home security monitoring plans to fit just about any budget. Whether you're looking for simple burglary and fire monitoring or a top-of-the-line system including home automation and remote access, we have what you’re looking for.

    If you’re interested in learning more about poison prevention, we encourage you to visit the PoisonPrevention.org website. On that site, you’ll find numerous materials you can download free, including a list of more than 50 tips to avoid accidental poisoning.

    Sources:

    1. HHShttp://www.poisonhelp.hrsa.gov/resources/materials/infographic.html
    2. Poison Preventionhttp://www.poisonprevention.org/faq.htm#1
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    Tips for Preventing Accidental Poisoning

    by Monitronics Blog | Mar 11, 2014

    In light of Poison Prevention Week (March 16-22), we believe it’s important to pass along some vital tips to avoid accidental poisoning in your home. Accidental poisoning causes about 35,000 deaths annually, and among the hundreds of thousands of poisonings every year, about half involve children under the age of six.

    In light of those statistics, we all must pay greater attention to things in our homes that could potentially poison family members or visitors. It’s also a smart idea to keep the phone number of the local poison control center handy at all times, just in case.

    Tips from PoisonPrevention.org

    Thanks to the PoisonPrevention.org website, there’s lots of helpful information available to consumers about Poison Prevention Week and avoiding accidental poisoning. They’ve provided the following list of tips for avoiding accidental poisoning in your home:

  • Household Cleaners – Keep household cleaners away from children and locked in a secure place. Also, be sure the original product warning labels remain intact and easily readable. Labels provide important information about poisoning – information that could save a life.
  • Discarded Containers – Children and animals are curious by nature, so getting into the trash may be a common activity. It’s a good idea to rinse and recap all containers of poisonous substances before discarding them. If they can be discarded in a separate and secure location outside the house, that's even better.
  • OTC Medications – Poison Prevention recommends you only purchase over-the-counter medications that are sold in child-resistant packaging. However, they also remind consumers that child-resistant does not mean childproof. OTC medications still need to be stored in a place where children can’t get to them.
  • Prescription Medications – Prescription medications are, by their nature, dangerous if not used according to the doctor's instructions. You should never use such medications in any way not indicated on the label supplied by the pharmacy. As with OTC medications, keep your prescriptions out of the reach of children. Any unused medicine should be flushed down the toilet or turned in at a local recycling event.
  • Visitors – It’s a good idea to remind visitors to your home not to leave purses or bags within the reach of children if they contain any potentially poisonous substances. If those substances can be left in the car, that's even better.
  • Babysitters – Babysitters should be thoroughly versed in what to do in the event of an accidental poisoning. This includes showing the sitter where to find the phone number for the poison control center quickly and easily. Babysitters should be reminded never to let children out of their sight for any length of time.
  • At Monitronics, we hope you will take these tips to heart – not only during Poison Prevention Week, but also throughout the year. With common sense and some planning, you can reduce nearly all risk of accidental poisoning in your home.

    Monitronics also wants to remind you that you can make your home safer where burglary, fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning are concerned. We offer home security systems and around-the-clock monitoring capable of substantially reducing your risk in these areas. If you would like to know more, please feel free to call and speak to one of our representatives.

    Sources:

    1. HHS – http://www.poisonhelp.hrsa.gov/resources/materials/infographic.html
    2. Poison Prevention – http://www.poisonprevention.org/faq.htm#1
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    Sleep Awareness Week : How Rested Are You?

    by Monitronics Blog | 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!

    Sources:

    1. Mayo Clinic – http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/expert-answers/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/faq-20057898
    2. National Sleep Foundation – http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips
    3. Today – http://www.today.com/health/all-night-parents-kids-are-losing-sleep-their-devices-2D79300546
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    Monitronics' Alarm Response Center Honored for Exceptional Customer Service

    by Moni Blogger | 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.”

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    Heart Health Awareness Month: 6 Tips for Healthy Heart

    by Monitronics Blog | 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.

    2. Exercise

    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!

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    Keeping Elderly Loved Ones Safe During Cold Weather

    by Monitronics Blog | 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

    Daily Check-ins

    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.

    Running Errands

    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.

    Shoveling Snow

    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.

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    How to Avoid False Alarms this Valentine’s Day

    by Monitronics Blog | 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.

    Traveling Away

    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!

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    Why Home Security Is Essential

    by Monitronics Blog | 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.

    Why Home Security Is Essential
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    There Is No Replacement for Quality Alarm Monitoring

    by Monitronics Blog | 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.

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    Is Technology Driving Home Security?

    by Monitronics Blog | 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.

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    Beware: False Alarms Can Equal Fines

    by Monitronics Blog | 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.

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    Use This Security Checklist before You Leave Home

    by Monitronics Blog | 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.

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