It’s everyone’s worst nightmare: you’re home, whether by yourself or with your family, and all of a sudden a person with a gun bursts through your door. There are a number of factors at play in such a scenario, from how the intruder got in to your instincts to your actual response options based on your physical ability and the layout of your home. This post will discuss ways to prevent such a scenario from happening in the first place, and the next post will discuss ways to respond, should the worst actually happen.
Prepare your home
Having a home security systems Dallas is one of the very best ways to protect your family, home, and belongings. Simply having signs for an alarm company visible from the outside of your home will serve as a deterrent for criminals who are not very committed to their cause. An audible alarm that sounds when a door is opened or a window is broken may cause intruders to run away rather than actually entering, since the neighbors and law enforcement personnel who may be in the area will hear the alarm. It’s important to have alarms on second-floor windows as well as those for the first floor, because ambitious thieves may go right for a window in the master bedroom in search of jewelry. (Also, if a neighbor happens to hear a loud noise such as a breaking window but then does not hear anything after it, it’s likely they will assume they either heard wrong or you have the situation under control, and they will just go about their business. It’s unfortunate, but it’s human nature.) It’s important, though, to be sure any panels for the alarm system are not visible through windows or glass doors, so that potential intruders can’t see whether or not they are set. Many people only turn their alarm system on when they’re leaving the house, but there’s no reason it can’t be set while you’re inside as well. If you are interested in installing or updating an alarm system, or if you have any related questions, ProtectUS Security, your company for home and business security systems in Dallas, would love to hear from you.
Some Dallas alarm systems contact 911 as soon as they are triggered, and some have a panic button that can be pressed to connect you with emergency assistance. Some home or cell phones have a button that will dial 911 when pressed. Be sure everyone in your house knows how to use this feature and how to turn on the speakerphone function, so emergency personnel can hear what is happening in your house or apartment. Even if the call gets disconnected, the police are required to investigate the situation.
Having a household escape plan in case of an invasion is just as important as having an escape plan in case of a fire. In fact, the physical escape routes may end up being pretty similar. Include where to go for help and what to say when going over the plan with your family. Consider multiple ways to exit the residence, including windows, in case the ideal route is blocked. Also, develop a code word that can be shouted out to alert family members, especially children, that they should hide in case the situation is too dangerous to attempt escape.
Stay safe when strangers come to your house
Many intruders gain access to homes by knocking at the door and seeing if someone will let them in. If there’s an unexpected knock at your door, scope out the visitor by looking through a one-way peephole in the door. (Chain latches on doors are generally not effective barriers when a door is partially opened, so it’s much safer to have a peephole.) If you’re home alone, you may want to yell “I’ll get it!” before opening the door, to give the impression that someone else is there with you.
Often, criminals will try to get you to open the door by pretending to be someone they’re not. They may pose as delivery people, salespeople, political canvassers, or someone conducting a survey. Don’t be shy about asking them to identify themselves before you open the door and wait while you contact the company, especially if they claim to be a delivery person and you haven’t been expecting a package. If the person on your doorstep is really who they say they are, they will wait patiently while you check the situation out. Never let an unexpected guest inside your home unless you are absolutely sure who they are. If you have people working on or in your house, doing tasks such as roof repair or kitchen remodeling, be sure to watch them very closely, and check to make sure your doors and windows are still locked and undamaged after they leave. It’s all too easy for a worker using your bathroom to unlock the bathroom window so he or she can break in at a later time.
Stay tuned for the next post on how to react if an invader does manage to get into your home…
Obviously, the main function of a safe is to protect treasured, irreplaceable items. This can mean protecting them from theft, but it also can mean protecting them from natural disasters such as fires, floods, and even earthquakes. Placing important documents in a safe can also save you lots of headaches simply because you’ll know where everything is, rather than having to sort through filing cabinets or desk drawers every time you need something. This last point can be particularly important in case of a sudden death, so the executor of the estate will be able to quickly and easily access all the information he or she might need.
Home safes come in a variety of styles, so you’ll want to take into account the types of items you plan to store inside the safe and the space in which you plan to keep the safe itself before making a purchase. Some safes are secured with a key, some have a keypad for typing in a code, and some employ both methods. Most are black, gray, or silver, but if you look hard enough you can find brighter color options, in case you’re hoping to match your décor. Some models are particularly designed to store file folders and paper documents, while others have plenty of space inside for safeguarding three-dimensional or abnormally shaped objects. Most of the available models can be easily identified as safes from their outward appearance, but there are other options disguised as common household objects, such as a book, that could readily blend in to an office, bedroom, or living room setting. A final consideration when choosing the kind of safe you want is maximum safe temperatures for the items you want to protect. A safe with a rating of UL 350 will not exceed an internal temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit during a fire, meaning it is safe to store paper. A safe with a rating of UL 72 will not exceed an internal temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit and is a better choice for storing computers, disk drives, and other electronic equipment.
So what should you store in an in-home safe? Really, your only limits are the size of your safe and the collective size of the items you wish to preserve. Commonly, people use safes to store original copies of personal documents that don’t need to be used every day, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, Social Security cards, wills, passports, deeds, and contracts. Safes are also commonly used to preserve expensive jewelry, family heirlooms, and valuable collectibles. Other safe-worthy items may include copies of health records, copies of educational records, receipts for large amounts of money (perhaps for renovations or home furnishings), insurance information, financial information (including stocks, bonds, and other investments), and any other personal information that the executor of an estate might need in the case of an unexpected death.
If you’re an adult living in the United States, you almost certainly have a few things that would be better protected in a safe than outside of one, even if you don’t own any valuable jewelry or baseball cards. Even with a home security system from your Dallas home security company, owning a safe is one more way you can protect yourself, and even better, keep everything organized!
At ProtectUs Security, safety is our number-one priority. Although we specialize in installing home security systems in Dallas (and business security systems in Dallas, too!) we believe in practicing safety in all forms!
Summer Grilling Safety
Barbecuing, cooking out, grilling…whatever term you use, using a charcoal or propane grill is a classic
summer tradition that results in fun times with family and friends and delicious steaks, chicken,
vegetables, and more. But 16,600 people went to the emergency room with burns from grills in 2014,
and two-thirds of all grill fires occur during the summer months. Read on to find simple ways to use
your grill safely, so you can enjoy all its benefits without stressing about its risks.
Preparation is Key
Grills should be located at least ten feet away from landscaping and any portion of the house, including
garages, porches, and patios that are attached to the building. Never grill under a wooden overhang, in
case of a sudden spurt of flames, and place the grill on a level surface to reduce the chance of a tip-
over. Be sure to also store propane tanks far away from the house, and be sure they are completely
turned off. Make sure your grill is in an outdoor, open space where carbon monoxide will not build up.
Never use gasoline to power a grill, and if you have a charcoal grill, use only lighter fluid designed for
grilling. Make sure hanging baskets, pillows, umbrellas, and furniture are far away from the grill,
especially since synthetic materials are liable to burn fast and hot.
When you first pull out your propane grill for the year, check for blockages in the hoses, especially in
the tube that runs to the burners, and clear any problems with a pipe cleaner. Feel along the hoses for
brittle spots, and check for gas leaks by making a solution of one part water and one part dish soap and
rubbing it over the hoses. Open the lid and turn on the gas. If any large soap bubbles form, that means
there are either cracks in your hoses, or the connections aren’t tight enough. Be sure your grill is clean
and free of grease and fat build-up. Make sure hoses are away from hot areas and not in the path of any
potential drips. Be sure to continue these inspection and cleaning practices throughout the season at
times when the grill is cool. Go over grill safety practices with your children in advance of your first
Before you start up your grill for a meal, be certain you’ve thoroughly planned all cooking steps and
have laid out all the ingredient you’ll need within reach of the grill. Leaving a grill unattended for even
a moment while you run inside to grab a seasoning could result in an emergency. Also, overloading a
grill, especially with fatty meats, is liable to cause a sudden burst of flames.
Never turn on a grill while the lid is closed, as this can cause gases and fumes to build up inside and
then release a fireball once the lid is finally lifted. Be sure to protect yourself with an apron and oven
mitts that go up to your forearms, and use long-handled tools for stoking the grill and moving food
around. Keep pets, children, and adults who aren’t involved in the meal prep at least three feet away
from the grill. Have a spray bottle of water within reach in case of minor escaped flames – fortunately,
if the water gets on your food, it won’t ruin your meal. Also have a fire extinguisher within reach and
know how to use it! If a large fire starts and you can’t get the fire extinguisher to work immediately,
give up and call 911 from a safe distance. According to fire crews, many deaths and injuries occur
when people try to fight a fire themselves instead of getting professional help right away. If you smell
gas while cooking, immediately move away from the grill without touching it further and call the fire
department. If the flame goes out while you're cooking, turn off the grill and the gas and wait fifteen
minutes before re-lighting.
The grill will remain hot for a while after use. Be sure all the parts have cooled before you try to clean
it, cover it, or store it. Thoroughly soak coals from a charcoal grill with water before disposing of them.
Be sure your grill is well-covered to prevent curious insects and critters from getting into it or chewing
on the hoses.
In case of emergency
Always call 911 in case of fire if you have no fire extinguisher, if you don’t know how to use a fire
extinguisher, or if a first attempt at using a fire extinguisher does not work immediately. Remember
that fires double in size every minute they keep burning. Even if a fire extinguisher is successfully
employed, call the fire department so they can assess the scene and put out any flames that were
missed or alert you to any structural dangers.
If someone receives a minor burn, treat it right away by removing any clothing or accessories from the
area and running the burn under cool water. Do not cover burns with bandages, butter, ointments, or
salves. For anything worse than a surface burn or if you have any doubts about how to provide care,
call 911 right away.
ProtectUs Security cares about your safety and hopes you have a fun and tasty grilling season! If you
have any questions about fire safety, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
(Planning a vacation this summer? Let us keep an eye on your home while you’re away! Contact us about installing a home security system in Dallas and beyond!)
Your bags are packed, your airline tickets are booked…but is your house ready for you to go on vacation? Follow these simple tips to keep your home safe while you’re out of town!
Be Careful on Social Media
Don’t publicize the dates you’ll be gone on Facebook, Twitter, and other websites where criminals may be able to access what you post. Communicate privately with anyone who needs to know your itinerary; otherwise, you may as well send out invitations for people to try to break into your house while you’re gone! Also, be sure that your voicemail message, home answering machine message, and email auto-reply don’t say that you’re away from home. Stick with “I can’t come to the phone right now” or “I’m out of the office.”
Phone a friend
Arrange to have a trusted friend or neighbor keep an eye on your place while you’re gone. Ask them to walk or drive by your place once a day and make sure everything looks all right, and give them a spare key so they can check on any possible problems and perform any essential household chores, such as feeding your gerbil or watering your plants. You might also want to leave them a spare car key if you park your car outside – you never know when a vehicle will have to be moved. Also have this person collect mail or newspapers, so they don’t pile up outside and announce to the world that no one is home. (You can also go online or contact your local post office and newspaper delivery company and ask them to put a temporary stop on your service.) If you’re going to be gone a really long time, ask your house-watcher to mow your lawn occasionally, because an unmowed lawn is as obvious a sign as a week’s worth of newspapers on the front porch. If someone other than your house-watcher will be stopping by (say, a cleaning service or a designated cat sitter), be sure to let them know about each other so they don’t call the police when they see someone else at your empty home! (Also, remember to give each person access to your home through your Dallas home security system so that you do not have an accidental call to the police!)
Let Your Home Security System provider Know You Will Be Away
Be sure to let your Dallas home security company know that you’ll be out of town, and if a friend or neighbor is looking after your house, provide the company with their name and phone number. (Be sure to leave security codes and pertinent phone numbers for your friend or neighbor too!) If you’ll be gone for a week or more, consider letting your local police know about your trip. If you live in a small town, they may be able to drive past your place occasionally. Be sure to let the police know about anyone who is supposed to be visiting your house while you’re gone.
Get ahead of potential problems
If you leave a hidden key under a lawn decoration or above your door frame, remove it while you’re on vacation. If a criminal does manage to learn that you’re out of town, they may go looking for a spare key on your property. Lock up valuables and important documents that you’re leaving behind in a fire-proof safe, or take them to a safe deposit box. Unplug your microwave, computer, toaster, television (unless you plan to put it on a timer), and any other appliances that don’t need to run while you’re away. This will protect them from power surges and prevent possible fires that could go unnoticed till they’re too big to handle, and it will also cut costs on your electric bill, as many devices use power even when they’re turned off. You can also raise the setting on your air conditioning (85º is a good bet) and change the setting on your water heater.
Keep up appearances
Leave your curtains as you normally have them. Closing the curtains may keep someone from peering inside to see whether or not someone is home, but it can also prevent neighbors or police from seeing inside in the case of a suspected break-in. Plus, keeping all the curtains closed for several days is a dead-giveaway that the occupant is out of town. If you normally open and close your curtains throughout the day, consider leaving some open and some closed, or leave them open but make sure to have lights go on and off in those rooms. Investing in a couple of z-wave smart light switches and lamp/appliance modules is one of the best things a home security system in Dallas can do to protect your home while you’re away – having lights go on and off at logical times (think of when and where you normally use lights during the day) is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than leaving some lights on for the duration of your entire trip, and it gives the appearance that people are still in the house. You can even plug your TV and radio into an appliance module and turn them on and off remotely to further the illusion that someone is home.
You definitely don’t want to be worrying about home safety while you’re trying to enjoy your vacation, and you don’t want to have to deal with any crises once you get home. Follow these simple preventive measures before you leave, and home will be safe and secure while you’re off having fun! Let us help YOU install a home security System in Dallas so you can enjoy your vacation this summer
There’s so much to see and do in Dallas this month! Check out some of the fantastic events listed below, as curated by your Dallas home security system company!
Historic Dallas Through Photography
June 6 – 12, St. Matthew’s Cathedral
Stunning photographs of this great city are presented through a partnership with Preservation Dallas, which works to revitalize and preseve historic buildings, regions, and neighborhoods in the city of Dallas. The photos are the result of a class taught by professional photographer Carolyn Brown. A gallery talk will be given at the opening reception by Willis Winters, an architect, photographer, and director of the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department. See your city from a new (or old!) point of view!
Fair Park 80th Anniversary Celebration
June 8 – 11, Fair Park
The whole family will love this four-day, free festival! Enjoy live music, carnival rides, historic exhibits, fireworks, and more. This event celebrates the 80th anniversary of the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936, which in turn celebrated the 100th anniversary of Texas’s independence from Mexico.
More information: http://fairparkanniversary.
Dallas Egg Show
June 11 and 12, DoubleTree Hotel, 4099 Valley View Lane
It’s not Easter, but there will be plenty of eggs! The showroom at the annual Dallas Egg Show will be open for the public to be amazed by real egg shells turned into jewelry, dioramas, kaleidoscopes, and more. The most egg-citing art you’ll see all year!
More information: http://www.dallaseggshow.com/
A Community Cooks
June 14, Paul Quinn College
A host of Dallas’s most talented chefs will come together with food lovers to celebrate the We Over Me Farm, a two-acre, organic farm run by Paul Quinn College students on the school’s former football field. This event will raise funds and resources to help the We Over Me Farm combat the food desert conditions in the surrounding community. This year’s feast precedes a fabulous performance by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Bon appetit!
Tickets and more information: http://www.weovermefarm.com/?_
Let us protect your home while you are out having fun in the summer! Contact us today for a free consultation on installing Home Security Systems in Dallas and beyond!
Don’t leave notes on your door for family members, employees, or the mailman. This is an obvious sign that your house is unoccupied. If you go out of town, make sure your home appears occupied. Have someone house sit, if you can, and notify the post office and any subscription services to hold your mail. You may want to put your lights on a timer (easily done from your phone with our home security systems), and don’t leave a spare key outside, no matter how well hidden you think it may be. If you know your neighbors to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, you might trust them enough to exchange spare keys. The entrance to your home should be easy to see and well lit, since it is the most likely place an intruder would try to break in. Lights triggered by motion detectors, pruned shrubbery, home alarm systems and signage, and video cameras are all deterrents to a potential thief who wants to go undetected. You should also double check to make sure you have interior door hinges. If the hinges are on the outside of the door, all a robber would have to do is take out the hinge pins, gaining access into your home.
Remember, the best protection for your home and family is high quality home security systems in Dallas. Besides being a deterrent to thieves, they also automatically and immediately dispatch emergency authorities, and notify you of potential threats. If a criminal sees that you have an alarm system, it’s much more likely they will skip your house, and find an easier target. Even if you’re renting, home alarm systems in Dallas is a good investment. A burglar can’t tell if you own your home or not. Most home break-ins occur during the day, and an alarming seven percent involved some sort of violent victimization (according to the www.bjs.gov website). ProtectUS is proud to be locally owned and operated, centrally headquartered in Dallas, TX, and we want to make sure our neighbors stay safe.
With a home duress code you can call for help without making a sound. The code will silence your alarm but will also notify your security company and dispatch police right to you- without the intruder knowing.
Here are 5 common questions about adding a duress code to your home security system–
Who can use the duress code?
Anyone you trust to have the code. Experts recommend that all families know and use a duress code. This code will be your sign of distress, and give you secret control over the situation at hand. Once you set the duress code on your home security system, make sure your family is aware that it is for emergencies.
What can be set as the duress code?
On your alarm system, be sure to use a number different than the code you have to disarm your system normally. It can be something easy for the kids to remember like their student ID number, or something extremely unique like the date you started your job. You should use a number that is easy for you to remember, but hard for any intruders to figure out.
When should I use the duress code?
Remember, this code is for emergencies. Since it will be disarming your alarm AND dispatching the Police, you want to be sure to use it only when necessary. Of course if you feel unsafe, or someone is threatening to hurt you or your family, that is a great time to quickly put in the code and get help.
Where is the duress signal sent?
When the duress code is typed into the keypad, a silent duress signal is sent to your security monitoring operator and to the local police dispatch center. Feel safe knowing that the authorities are on their way when you need help.
Why should I care about having a duress code?
It’s easy to see that a duress code can make the difference between life and death. If someone is threatening you, you would have no other way of getting help without them knowing. This simple feature can mean everything in that emergency situation.