Part One of how to keep your family and home safe
There are ENDLESS ways to keep your home and family safe. One straightforward way is to think seriously about a house alarms security system, but there are other ways. I’ll go through these in various stages.
Imagine the following scenario…
You left home and got into your car. You then noticed an unfamiliar vehicle parked a few houses away and strange-looking types sat in it, gazing your way. For a few seconds, you sit in it and hesitate to turn the ignition key. You then pull the key out, leave your car, and run back home to confirm if you’ve pulled the front door closed. You’re relieved to find the door was closed properly after all, and laugh at yourself since your mind was playing tricks on you…but you still wonder.
Halfway through your journey, you completely forgot about the suspicious people, but the thought of whether or not you turned the fire off before you left enters your mind. A lump forms in your throat, and your heart misses a beat as you visualize smoke coming out from one of the windows of your home, although you are more than certain you had left it in a safe way, or at least you think you have. But, have you really?
Can you relate to this? If yes, I don’t blame you for worrying, as bad things might happen, especially when you least expect them to.
To add to these fears, here’s a quick glance at some figures…
Real Fear 1
Statistics show that in 1977, there were 723,500 home fires, with 5,865 civilian deaths, 21,640 civilian injuries. At the time these amounted to $2.7 Billion in direct property damage.
Fast forward that to 2015! The number of homes which had a fire was down to 365,500. The figure basically halved, but it’s still a relatively huge number. There were 2,650 civilian deaths and 11,075 civilian injuries. This amounted to $7 Billion in damages.
Thankfully, over time, the fires, deaths, and injuries went down, however, the numbers are still alarmingly high.
Real Fear 2
According to the FBI, the most common threat to our homes is the infamous break-in, also referred to as a burglary. Every thirteen to fifteen seconds, a home in the U.S. is burgled. Incidentally, there are four different types of burglaries, but the bottom line is that somebody has entered your property without being invited.
We don’t need to go into the technicalities of these four different types, as the result is basically the same – You’ve been robbed! Just the thought sends shivers up and down my spine. The feeling of somebody being in my home, and stealing, or worse, is very disturbing.
And YES, you do have reason to worry if you left the front door open, or if you’ve left a fire on.
You start to understand that the need for some kind of home security system is quite necessary.
If you are away from home, the best way to have peace of mind is to have a set of eyes present, even when you are not physically there.
If you have visions of somebody breaking into your home, or it catching fire when you have to leave it for a few hours to go to school, or to work, leaving your home FOR A WEEK OR TWO to go on holiday would seem like your worst nightmare.
Even though home fires are reducing in numbers, sadly enough, the figures on burglaries seem to be on the increase. Most of these have been connected to the troubled country’s economy.
A troubled economy brings about many repercussions, with the loss of jobs being one of them. People still have bills to pay, commitments to honor, and still, would like to enjoy the odd treat. Having no job, and hence no income tends to pose certain financial difficulties which will easily prompt people to turn to the life of crime out of desperation.
Your home, and family, could be on their list!
Although this is sad, it is the reality of life!
As much as you feel for these unfortunate people, you wouldn’t wish them to break into your home and steal your valuables, not after all the sacrifices you’ve probably made to acquire them.
Drug-related crimes are also on the increase. These are normally committed by males who are in their early twenties. When these people strike, they tend to go for expensive items which they can easily push for cash. Amongst others, their targets include portable electronic equipment, jewelry, and the most efficient of all, hard cash.
To add to Real Fear 2, a troubled economy will also bring about budget cuts in many departments, including those of the police force. With a lesser budget to contend with means less service being offered by law enforcement personnel. The police force is made up of humans too, and they can only do so much in 24 hours. It’s not a pleasant thought, but that too is the reality of life.
In such circumstances, people have realized the greater need to have a home alarm system, and the fact that they need to be in two places at once.
As usually happens, people will only think about installing some sort of intruder alert once the deed has been carried out, which would be somewhat late. If the burglar makes off with your valuables is bad enough, but what if your family’s welfare has been jeopardized?
Are you going to be the next victim?
To avoid these potential tragedies to take place, or your family getting hurt, it would be a very good idea to start thinking about some form of protection at the very earliest, like NOW would be a good idea!
If you are confused at what to buy, if you don’t know where or who to turn to, or if you never thought about it, don’t worry. Start from the beginning, start from here.
What is a home alarm system?
This is a very broad question which expands into various branches.
- The most common is a standard alarm system. It’s one which uses sensors to detect if a door or window has been opened. This usually includes movement sensors. Some systems also incorporate an auto-dialer. You might even wish to add additional units that cater for carbon monoxide levels, floods, and smoke/fire detectors. Normally, these last three units would need to be purchased separately.
- You can also opt for video surveillance. The upper-market models will also be accessed online so you can monitor your home when you’re away.
- The third option, which is perhaps the cleverest of them all, is to make your house ‘SMART’.
- This last option carries a lot of weight, which, sadly enough, not many people seem to think about. This is that you don’t make yourself, your home, or your family, an easy target.
Is home security expensive?
Luckily, it might not be the case, unless you go for an ultra-modern unit that comes with all the bells and whistles. The cost depends on what you have in mind, and how far you wish to go.
There are many factors which alter the price considerably.
One of them being if you decide to purchase the separate components yourself, and install the system in your own time.
If you don’t feel you’re up to this, you can always have qualified personnel do the job for you, usually, these would be the people you bought the system from.
Another point worth considering, since electronic equipment does eventually give you some trouble, is the cost of technical support, and repairs involved. This would depend on if you have some sort of arrangement with the suppliers, and if you will be given a warranty period even if you do decide to do the installation yourself. If your technical skills are up to it, this wouldn’t pose too much of a financial burden, although the parts would still need to be bought, unless whatever arrangement with the supplier would cover this, at least for a limited time.
Be aware of hidden expenses
Furthermore, another ‘hidden’ expense that arises would be if you decide to go for monitoring. What monitoring means is the involvement of a company that, through remote access to your alarm, can guard your home. This would obviously involve payment to the company for services rendered. However, going for such a company is purely optional since most modern alarm systems come with an auto-dialer.
Expanding on that a bit more, an advantage of having a monitoring company means that you don’t really need to do anything, or almost anything since the company of your choice will do all the dirty work for you. Amongst other things, this includes their calling the police if they notice unusual activity, and would also notify you of other possible threats to your home, and all this on a 24/7 basis.
Just how does a standard home security system work, and what is a home security system?
All security systems, be they for business or for home, work on the same principles. They monitor vulnerable points in the premises, like entry points. These include doors and windows, mainly the easily accessible ones at ground level. Motion sensors cater for the interior, in the eventuality that a burglar has managed to enter through a door or a window without being detected.
The more windows and doors your premises has, the more security components you would need, but, these discreet units aren’t expensive. The most expensive part in a standard alarm system would be the control unit, which is the brains of the network to which all these units are connected to.
A breakdown of a standard alarm system
The Control Panel
This is the smartest section of the whole system. Typically, this is installed in a convenient place in a home, close to the front door. This unit will arm and disarm the alarm following a sequence of numbers, or characters punched into its keypad.
From this same keypad, the control panel can be easily programmed to meet your requirements. Once it’s armed, and one of the security zones is breached, the alarm would be triggered, and sound the siren. If available, this will also activate the auto-dialer, if available.
Doors and Windows Sensors
These work on the principle of magnetism. A door or window sensor comes in a set of two components. One of them is an ordinary magnet, while the other is a magnetic switch. When the magnet is near the magnetic switch, the switch makes contact, and the circuit is made. The magnet is usually mounted on the door, or window, that is the fixture that moves.
The magnetic switch is mounted in a fixed position. This has wires to the control unit, and moving it about isn’t practical as the wires can break. Once these two components are separated, like in the case of a door or window opening, the magnet will be moved away from the magnetic switch, and this will break the circuit. The control unit, when armed, will be activated, and the alarm will be raised.
Also known as PIR, work by sensing motion within a specified zone, usually triangular in nature. Open spaces would require motion sensors, and these can be used both indoors, and outdoors.
Some can reach up to quite a distance, but if the room is large, there might be the need for more than one of these sensors to cover the required area.
Siren, or a very loud alarm
Its sole purpose is attracting attention and putting off the would-be burglary. Burglars don’t like that, and it scares the living daylights out of them.
They should disappear right back from where they came from. With any luck, and they will look elsewhere for a silent place to break into.
As its name implies, this dials several numbers of your choice when the alarm system has detected an irregularity. An auto-dialer would be pre-programmed with a set of numbers, namely yours, and the police. It some cases, this also notifies an alarm monitoring company, if you are working with one.
This is just a brief introduction, and is aimed at making you aware of the dangers you are exposed to, in more ways than one.
Part Two, to follow soon, will go into more detail.