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Watch for Candle Fires and Stay Safe all Winter Long

December 31, 2013
Candles are used for a variety of reasons throughout the year, but in most households winter is the season for increased candle use. Most people understand that they should exercise caution when burning candles, but accidents still happen. Though the following guidelines may seem elementary, it’s a good idea to review safe candle burning policies from time to time.

Ambiance

Flickering candlelight leaves a soft glow over the entire room. This can have a spellbinding effect when it hits the sparkle of glass and crystal. When romantic souls do not have fireplaces, they might burn candles during a cozy dinner with that special someone.

Candles During Power Outages

Winter storms cause power outages frequently in areas that are prone to high winds. Most residents are not surprised by the loss of electricity and will stock up on flashlights and candles for the storm. Those who don’t must rely on candlelight in the event of a power outage.

Prevent Candle Fires

The U. S. Fire Administration reports that more than 55 percent of the fires that start as a result of candle use begin because the flame was too near other materials. Candles should be kept away from combustible materials, especially paper and fabrics. Those materials are not fireproof and will catch fire quickly. The flame should also be kept away from drafts.

Candle Safety

Children should never have access to candles, lighters or matches. They shouldn’t be allowed to have a candle in their room. If the lights go out, the whole family can gather into one space, so everyone can use the candles. Place candles on a level, stable surface to keep them from falling over onto combustible materials, and be sure to extinguish all candles before going to bed.

Combat Home Fires

Professionals in home alarm safety systems recommend a fire extinguisher be placed in various rooms throughout the home, but not in the basement. Extinguishers should be placed in accessible areas, so in the event of a fire, they will be easy to reach. Home alarms should be wired to smoke detectors and monitored by an alarm company. The fire department can be contacted immediately in the event of a fire that is too large to handle with a fire extinguisher.

Fire Escape Plan

Even though the home has extinguishers, there is a time when everyone should leave the house. Don’t stay and fight a fire with a small home extinguisher. Let the professionals handle it. Have an escape plan for your family and make sure everyone knows the plan. Point out the exits, so everyone knows how to escape the home. Mark a meeting spot in a neighbor’s yard for the family to gather.

When a smoke detector is wired directly into a house alarm system, the alarm company can send the fire department at the first sign of trouble. This will make it more likely that everyone in the family will get out of the house without a problem. In most cases, the resident’s possessions will be largely intact too.

Alarm Companies in California Want You to be Safe Online

December 27, 2013
Geotagging lets your friends know exactly where that photo of you with the breathtaking castle in the background was taken. While it’s a fun way to bond with others who have been to the same locations, geotagging can have a detrimental effect on the safety and security of your home.

An alarm system in California should help residents keep their home and family safe from burglars, but it’s best to learn how you could be vulnerable from something as simple as sharing status messages with friends online.

Alarm companies in California are warning their clients about the dangers of geotagging and the new threat of criminals cybercasing homes through the Internet. Many law-abiding citizens don’t understand how easy it is for criminals to case a home from status messages and pictures.

In 2010, three men were arrested after they burglarized almost 20 homes in New Hampshire. They netted between $100,000 and $200,000 in property by checking status messages online and hitting the property of people who said they would be away from home.

Since these types of cases are being reported with more frequency, most Facebook and social media users are becoming aware of this new way thieves are trying to break into their homes. Inside most smartphones and digital cameras, there are settings that will embed data-like GPS coordinates into a photograph. Thieves purchase software programs to read that data and find out where you took that photo.

Some social media sites, like Foursquare, advertise a consumer’s current location and give him or her deals and coupons for the business they are visiting. It might not be worth it, however. When businesses publicize your location to advertise, they are broadcasting your whereabouts to social media sites, which can be a huge problem.

This allows criminals to not only narrow down your location but also learn your activity patterns, which will help them break into your home. As the world becomes more technologically savvy, so do criminals. You don’t have to stop being social on social media, but it pays to be more cautious.

To help protect against cybercasing, disable the geotagging setting on your cameras. Each type of phone has the settings or options to turn off geotagging. You can switch it off if you’re taking local pictures and switch it back on for vacation photos that you’ll show when you get back. In addition to disabling the geotagging feature on photos, avoid advertising your vacation online before you leave or while you’re away from your home.

Social media sites have settings for geotagging too. To be safe, remove yourself from these options. This is helpful, especially if you’re not exactly sure how they work.

Alarm companies in California want their customers to remain safe. An alarm system is the first step in personal and home security. Being aware of potential trouble when you’re out in the streets and even online is essential too.

California Security Companies Want You to be Protected Online

December 24, 2013
Like alarm systems protect your homes, good online safety practices can protect your computer and your financial information. Security companies suggest you follow these online shopping tips to keep from being swindled this holiday season.

1. Beware of scams

Unfortunately, while you’re thinking about what to buy your children or significant other, scammers are finding new ways to trick you into giving up your personal information. Be careful about phishing scams. These are very popular around the holidays. A common trick is to receive an email telling the customer that their bank information has been compromised. They are directed to log in and fix the problem by providing personal information. Never follow hyperlinks from your email. Always type the address into the browser instead.

2. Mobile Malware and Malicious Apps

Many people use their smartphone to scan product codes to find out about deals and coupons. Many malicious scammers are using the bar codes to hide viruses. Not everyone is aware that mobile devices are as susceptible to viruses and malware as a computer. They surf and download without a care in the world because they don’t realize that smartphones are vulnerable to attacks too. One way to stay safe is to only download official apps from stores you’re familiar with using. Skim the reviewer’s feedback before downloading as well.

3. Fake Contests and Promotions

Fake contests and promotions will suck you in with a fabulous prize like the newest game console or high-definition television. When you’re announced to be the winner, the scammers will insist on getting credit card information and other personal information like bank account information. These contests are on social networking sites like Facebook, which makes them seem legitimate. There’s nothing wrong with participating in fun online contests, but be sure they are from legitimate sources and never provide your personal financial information.

4. Check for the Lock

When legitimate websites are responsible for taking payment information, they want to keep you safe from theft. They will normally have a lock on their shopping cart section. Some websites like PayPal have a lock on the entire site because they are dealing with sensitive information. The lock or https in the address bar means that the site is protected. Don’t shop with a site that isn’t protected with https in the address bar or the lock in the secure area where you’ll be entering credit card information.

5. Protect Your Computer

It’s important to have up-to-date virus and malware protection on your computer. It’s not always necessary to have expensive software installed to save your computer from attack. There are many free blockers and virus protectors out there. Find one that updates automatically, so you can be safe from the newest scammer’s creations. It will help you breathe a little easier when surfing the Internet. Don’t forget to keep your other Internet-enabled devices free from malware and viruses too.

Alarm systems from California security companies can be trusted to keep your home safe with monitoring. Be sure you’re protecting your personal information with monitoring through vigilance, smart shopping and these tips for protecting yourself from computer attacks.

Alarm Company Advice for Securing Holiday Decorations

December 2, 2013
Elaborate displays of Santa and his reindeer as well an incredible number of holiday lights cover many homes around the country, but the effort that goes into such amazing landscapes must be joined by attention paid to security during the holiday season. Careless habits in December could make a home more vulnerable to theft and stolen decorations, but homeowners who keep an active home alarm safety system in Los Angeles should be well-protected.

Resisting the Urge to go Overboard

There are many ways that homeowners can protect their decorations and retain the festive spirit. For homes where holiday vandalism has been high in past years, a few strands of lights might be the best option. These colorful bulbs will showcase holiday spirit without becoming a temptation for criminals.

Securing Decorations and Lights

Exterior light strands may be outfitted with plugs that lock making it difficult for a vandal to sabotage the family’s holiday display. Not all strands of lights come with locks; however, if a family doesn’t want to invest in new strands, wrapping the cords around bushes and poles may be enough of a deterrent. Vandals usually want to get in and out of an area quickly and won’t take the time to unwind a lengthy cord.

Smart Placement of Decorations

The roof is often one of the best places for decorations that aren’t a simple strand of lights. Placing the giant inflatable Santa there does require extreme caution. Additionally, using the roof for decoration allows the holiday display to be seen from a distance. Make sure that roof decorations are never secured alone. Always have an adult partner on the roof to help.

Consider Indoor Displays

It might not feel as festive as a display on the front lawn, but bringing the decorations indoors and placing them in front of a window might be the safest way to avoid acts of holiday sabotage. If the family doesn’t wish to keep all the decorations inside, sometimes it’s best to bring the expensive decor inside and place just a few simple holiday items on the front lawn.

Using the Security System

Homeowners who work with an alarm company to keep the property protected may be able to use devices like motion sensors around important pieces of decor. Additionally, it’s easy to upgrade a home alarm safety system with surveillance cameras since wireless cameras are easy to secure and install. Allowing the alarm company to install cameras also offers police an important visual document if theft or vandalism occurs.

Getting the Neighborhood Together

Speaking with friends and neighbors about increased vigilance during the holidays is a short yet important conversation. No matter the type of holiday celebration a family will experience, getting the neighborhood together to watch out for vandalism is an important part of a comprehensive holiday safety plan. An early holiday gathering might be the perfect time to speak with neighbors about being aware during the season.

Hanging strands of holiday lights and getting into a festive spirit is an exciting time of year, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to ignore safety and security. Ensure a happy holiday season by taking smart steps to hang, secure, and protect holiday decorations.