Home Security’s fastest growing company has been added to the Inc 5000 for the 3rd straight year. We sat down and talked to CEO Chris Johnson about what it took for SafeMart to make the list 3 years in a row and how he views the future.
Home Security’s fastest growing company has been added to the Inc 5000 for the 3rd straight year. We sat down and talked to CEO Chris Johnson about what it took for SafeMart to make the list 3 years in a row and how he views the future.
We sent out a press release earlier in the year celebrating our 3rd straight addition to the Inc 5000 but we just finished a great interview with our CEO Chris Johnson and decided to re-release the press piece on our blog with the video.
Thanks to all of our customers and fans–we continue to improve for all of you!
Press Release with new video:
SafeMart, America’s most recommended home security company, achieved a spot on the exclusive Inc. 5000 list for the 3rd straight year. Each year, Inc. Magazine ranks the fastest growing private companies and SafeMart is proud to be named to the list as a leader in the home security and alarm monitoring industry. SafeMart has more than doubled over the last year leading the home security industry online by focusing on providing a great customer experience.
Founded by a paramedic, and with roots that go back 35 years, SafeMart is a growing family of thousands of delighted customers nationwide. SafeMart is trusted by: Police, Firefighters, State Troopers, Military, U.S. State Department, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Thousands & Thousands of Homeowners across the Country. “Our business depends on our customers trusting us to provide the peace of mind that comes from a secure home and a safe family”, says SafeMart President, Chris Johnson. “Customers turn to us because they know they can rely on SafeMart to protect their loved ones.”
The SafeMart team attributes this success to its unique ability to provide award-winning home security systems and alarm monitoring service while delivering the most delightful customer experience. SafeMart is leading a major paradigm shift in the home security and alarm monitoring industry by providing the most secure technology, and making it easy to deploy. By improving technology, streamlining delivery, providing world class service and fair contracts, SafeMart helps customers save 30-70% each month on their families’ safety.
Johnson notes, “The age of companies locking their customers in with long-term contracts is over; educated buyers now know they can set up and monitor their home security equipment for a fraction of the price and expect twice the service. SafeMart confidently stands behind its service while allowing customers flexibility and providing world-class service.”
We are going to do a little bragging in this post. We’re normally not boastful, but we’ve been on a roll!
The Top Ten Reviews Award for 2011 is just the latest in a long string of awards for us. Earlier this year, Inc. magazine named us one of the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies in the nation for the third year running. Before that, Alarm.com named us their Top Partner and GE awarded SafeMart with national account status. Our customer-centered approach to security solutions is winning over customers and critics alike.
The independent consumer website TopTenReviews.com ranked SafeMart ahead of the Swiss-based conglomerate, ADT, in both price and customer service. We’ve won over so many savvy home security customers with our customized security solutions and our fantastic support.
Here are a few flattering quotes from the article:
“[SafeMart] has a great reputation for taking care of customers before and after a purchase. If you have questions about home security monitoring, need help choosing the right devices, installing the devices or handling a return or exchange, SafeMart representatives can help you any time of day or night.”
Top Ten Reviews calls SafeMart “our top choice for self-installed systems” and says “SafeMart offers a wider range of devices than any other company on our lineup, with several major name brands represented and wired and wireless options for most devices.”
If you read our blog, chances are you’re a customer or you’re thinking about becoming one. We are really proud of the award and will continue to work hard to win awards and keep you happy!
Hi Brad, Thanks for doing this interview with us. Can you explain to us what your business is about?
SafeMart has been described as the Amazon, Zappos or eTrade of Home and Commercial Security. Founded by a paramedic, SafeMart delivers professional-grade home security systems and commercial security solutions across the country with a focus on delighting customers at prices 30-70% less than the competition.
How did you come up with the idea for this business?
My partner Chris came up with the original idea for the business. He saw that the internet was changing other industries, but home security remained the same. That combined with proven wireless technologies for protecting property really made this an interesting opportunity for us to help customers protect what is most important to them with our award-winning service while also giving them the best value in the industry.
What makes SafeMart so different?
What is your marketing strategy?
It is primarily word-of-mouth. We try to delight each and every customer so that they can’t help but tell their friends and neighbors about us. SafeMart stands for Safe & Smart. When you have our Safe & Smart security at prices that are well below the competition, you tend to tell people about it. We really love how much our customers have helped propel our growth. It helps keep our costs low, which saves them money in the long run too!
How do you use Social Media to promote your business?
Social media is a great tool to communicate with customers. We primarily use it to keep in contact with our customers about new products, innovative ways to use the systems or new features in our service. Blogs, Twitter and Facebook represent our primary channels of social media.
What qualities do you think are needed in an entrepreneur?
Another entrepreneur (Alex White of The Next Big Sound @shalek) uses the phrase “Relentlessly Resourceful” about successful entrepreneurs. I like that phrase a lot. You have to be tenacious, resourceful, resilient and tough. Our team strives for perfection every time and we expect it of everyone around us. That toughness and resourcefulness when things are challenging will help see you through.
We also talk about knowing that there is always a solution. If there is a problem, there must be a solution. It empowers us to look at things in new ways and to search for new products, services and strategies that will help our customers.
Do you believe entrepreneurship can be taught?
Absolutely entrepreneurship can be taught. Just like at one point, some poor music teacher taught me piano and a coach taught me basketball. I wasn’t ever going to play at Carnegie or Madison Square Garden, but they did teach me those skills at some point. We may not be able to teach everyone enough that they become the next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, but we can give them skills that allow them to fulfill their entrepreneurial potential to its greatest degree. In the end, it’s the intersection of talent, education and decision-making/risk-taking that create entrepreneurs, not any one of those things alone. It’s important to teach entrepreneurship. Just like it’s important to teach piano, basketball, math and physics. While there is only one, Stephen Hawking, MIchael Jordan or Steve Jobs, teaching these skills broadly helps all of us understand what it takes to succeed in those areas and it elevates the entire community.
What are your plans for the future?
We plan to continue to protect our customers. We are finding new avenues for growth every day with customers that are literally demanding our service. It’s very exciting to see. It’s an extremely tough and competitive market, but we have some great new services that we are rolling out for our customers. As I said before, we are relentlessly resourceful and focused on delighting our customers, so we’ll continue looking for new opportunities to serve them and protect them.
Brad Morehead is CEO of SafeMart (Bolster LLC Security) and a Licensed Home Security Professional and Do-It-Yourselfer that is passionate about technology and innovative products to secure families. Learn more at: SafeMart(www.SafeMart.com) Follow Brad: @BradMorehead to get more great tips. Brad has worked in entrepreneurship, home improvement, investment banking, private equity and venture capital/angel investing.
It has been nearly impossible to avoid hearing about the unfortunate situation involving Airbnb and one of its customers–known as EJ through her blog posts. EJ rented her home using Airbnb’s service and came home to find that the home had been vandalized and she had been robbed of valuables and irreplaceable personal items.
Situations like this get us worked up at SafeMart because this is something that can be prevented and is a major reason why we push LiveWatch Interactive Services and home automation–you should always know what is going on in your home!
In order to illustrate how helpful a system can be in preventing a situation like EJ’s, let’s assume that when you rent your home out, you want to:
First, you’ll want to add a security system that uses cellular communication and that has interactive services. This does 2 things:
To secure the room where you’re storing your valuables, a door contact that monitors the opening and closing of a door as well as a motion detector that monitors movement will do the trick. You can also monitor the container where you store your valuables by using a wireless door contact and setting your interactive services settings to alert you if the container is opened.
EJ’s biggest concern after the incident was that the keys might have been copied–naturally she was scared that the vandals might return. Avoid making copies of keys altogether by installing a door handle that works with your security system that doesn’t require a key. This gives you the ability to lock and unlock the door remotely and will also allow you to give the tenants a passcode rather than a key. Using SafeMart’s LiveWatch Interactive Services you can delete the passcode remotely after the tenant has left and add a new passcode for the next tenant.
Lastly, if you want the ability to see the inside of your home while you’re renting it, add a wireless IP camera to the system. Our cameras can be controlled remotely and don’t require a physical connection to the Internet in your home!
Anytime a customer purchases a system after they’ve been burglarized, we feel awful. While we are always happy to help after the fact, it is even more exciting to prevent issues rather than react to them. If you have people coming into your home, please take the above precautions to make sure that even while you’re not there, you have control over your home.
Wireless Home Security–Changing The Industry
Technology changes every industry. Sometimes it’s disruptive and sometimes it expands an industry by making the goods or services more accessible, easier to use, more fun and more reliable. In the home security industry, the technological shift from phone line based monitoring to cellular monitoring is lowering the barrier to purchase, improving interactive services and delivering more reliable service–and it’s a lot more fun.
Phone line is an adequate form of alarm monitoring communication:
Problems with phone line monitoring:
Cellular is the best form of alarm monitoring communication:
The bottom line is that phone line systems aren’t as reliable, they can cost more money than cellular systems and the technology is far inferior to cellular systems. If you’re thinking about a new security system, make it cellular.
As you know, one of SafeMart’s foremost goals is customer delight; not customer service, or customer satisfaction, but actually delivering an experience that leaves a customer (or just a passerby) truly delighted. It may sound cliche, but at SafeMart we really stand by the policy that if a customer spends time with us and is merely satisfied, then we failed.
“Interesting,” you may be thinking, “but what does all of this have to do with SafeMart Tech Support?”
Customer Delight and SafeMart Tech Support intersect with you. We’ve taken the feedback from our customers, best practices for our industry and others, and created a special section of our website just for you: Introducing: www.safemart.com/support.
At SafeMart’s Support Section, you can get the answers you need as quickly as you want. From the industry’s top Video Tutorials to our Community-Based User Forum, our thorough Quick Start Guides, and more, www.safemart.com/support represents the best of what sets us apart as America’s best choice for home security.
Have suggestions for how we can continue to improve this section? Leave us your ideas in the comments section.
My brother just spent a few weeks vacationing in the Emerald Isle. He and a few of his friends traveled together, witnessing historic sites and gathering authentic experiences. One of the most vivid memories seems to have been the Irish weather, renowned especially in this season for its preponderance of rain. They had arrived well-equipped with camping gear, but abandoned the idea after only one night’s effort, learning quickly that the cost outweighed the gain. The rest of the trip found them mostly in hostels, and that brings us to the current topic…
Hostels — low-budget supervised lodgings more common in Europe than North America — have always been an ominous idea to me. I had a friend who once got quite a scare at a hostel in Poland when several young men – the worse for drink – broke in during the night, shouting and acting boisterously. Thankfully nothing came of it, but that remained my only impression of the hostel idea, so it stuck with me. I asked my brother Joe about it when he got back and he was surprised to hear my dubious thoughts. He said there are all kinds of hostels, from wow-are-you-sure-this-isn’t-a-hotel to you-might-as-well-be-sleeping-on-the-street, and it totally depends on what you go with. He himself searches on www.hostelworld.com, sorting by reviews to choose a good hostel in the area, since the price doesn’t always reflect the quality.
Still, I’m unsure whether I’d ever stay in a hostel, or that I’d recommend women traveling by themselves to do so. My brother met a German girl who was traveling on her own, just staying in hostels along the way, but I don’t know that I could ever see myself doing that; the dangers just seem too great. I have traveled alone on transatlantic flights and day-long trips on trains, but to spend the night in a hostel strikes me as a whole different story. The benefit is the savings on travel expense, so I’m interested in what you think. Do any of you ladies have experience with this? Stories, comments, tips? I’d love to hear them if you do so please share! And in the meantime, stay safe in your travels this summer, especially if you go abroad!
Friend’s Home Caught Fire Saturday Night at 2:30AM
Last weekend I received several calls at 2:30 in the morning. Multiple calls at 2:30AM are never a good thing.
A friend was calling to tell me that his family’s building was on fire (below is the actual picture of the fire) and they needed somewhere to stay for a couple of nights. Luckily, everyone made it out okay.
To think about what could have happened is completely disheartening.
The fire was caused (apparently) by others in the building grilling out on what was otherwise a beautiful summer day. It seems that a coal fell out of the grill and smoldered for 12 hours until it caught the dry wooden deck on fire and it burst into the flames you see below.
I’m so thankful that everyone is okay. Because of this incident I feel the need to write this to you (my friends and family – both in person and online) so you can know the importance of monitored smoke detectors. Typically, I think our outstanding solutions, cutting edge products and smiling service speaks for itself, so I don’t usually push our solutions to my friends and family (although so, so many of you have bought them and I thank you for it).
However, in this case, I want everyone to know the importance of having monitored smoke detectors in your home attached to your monitored security system. My immediate and extended family have this service and I feel that it is one of the most important parts (if not the most important part) of our alarm system. Making sure you have these monitored smoke detectors with a service like our LiveWatch Monitoring and that you test those smoke detectors and replace the batteries regularly can save lives.
When fire strikes your home, authorities say you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape. My friends saw this as emergency personnel rushed in to break down their door and wake them up. When you are exhausted from taking care of the kids, working a long week or dealing with stressful obligations, you might lose precious seconds during a fire.
So many times I hear from people about how they don’t need a security system because they have a dog or a gun or a baseball bat. However, what happens when you aren’t at home? Can your dog call the police? Can your gun dial the fire department? Can your baseball bat call the paramedics?
SafeMart was founded by a paramedic to revolutionize the security industry and help you protect yourself. As friends and family of SafeMart, if you read this, pass it along to your friends and family so you don’t get the call at 2:30 in the morning that I received.
Please be safe this 4th of July when we celebrate the birth of our country with so much good food and great fun, but dangerous possibilities for fire.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July.
Sunday was an awesome day. Not only did we wind up having glorious weather after a prolonged anticipation of stormy skies and rain, but we also had a company party! Thank you to the Monitoring Department (especially the supervisor Brigitte) for organizing; it turned out superbly! Co-workers brought their families and we all gathered in a picnic area where the directors took charge of preparing the grill. After a scenic ride around the park on the mini train we were ready for lunch! Chris J (The Boss) served up hot dog after hot dog and burger after burger, but the best was yet to come – the specialty du jour, “Kickin’ Chicken” – proclaimed as scrumptious beyond belief and relished to the last tidbit.
Before long, all were nourished and happy — a well-wrought happenstance, between the pasta, potato, and carrot salads, the veggie trays, chips and salsa, and delicious homemade cookies. And then, when the kids had played on the swings and slides, the men had thrown Frisbee and lasso golf, the babies had been cuddled and fed and passed around and admired, and everyone made generally content, we loaded up the leftovers so we could head over to the zoo.
It turned out to be a pleasant surprise! I’d never been to the Topeka Zoo and they had some intriguing creatures, including bats in the rain forest building, one of which darted in a circle in the dome as we watched. Flamingos, owls, caimans, turtles, snakes, elephants, apes, and a variety of others made for a very neat and instructive experience. Who knew that giraffes have the longest tails of all land mammals and only need a few minutes of sleep out of the entire day?!
So thanks to everyone who came and made it such a great time. For those who weren’t able to make it, plan to come in the Fall! We’re looking forward to it!
This past month it seems like I’ve been flashing an ID more than usual. Between eating out more often and visiting Costco in our neighboring state, it’s been a busy era for the plastic. I’m surprised more often than not to find myself casually waving my DL or debit card in the air as I distractedly make small talk with the cashier or my shopping buddy. Despite the large amount of security and red tape in the world (for better or worse), identity theft is a well-traveled avenue, and not one in need of advertisement.
A couple years ago I was working in a bridal shop in our capital city of Topeka (somewhat known for its crime). One day, a thing happened. It was in no way unusual. A group of girls came in and dispersed throughout the store, checking out their options and gathering dresses to try on. After some time trying on all kinds and colors of these, they decided on a wedding gown, a few bridesmaids’ dresses, a tiara, a beautiful veil and some wedding jewelry. They were ready to buy. It’s hard to think twice in a situation like that, despite some red flags that may pop up in your mind. A fellow clerk closed the sale with them. They paid with a check, and my boss went to the back office to call their bank and double-check that all was well. She learned too late that the checks were stolen and the account had been put on hold until they could track down the responsible party. That very large sale – a happy fact on most days – had a very sad ending. The moral for me was that, although you don’t want to be jaded about people and what they will do for a little gain, you can’t be too naive about human nature. As someone once put it so wisely, “it is what it is”.
In this particular instance, the checks had been stolen by a car window being broken and the lady’s purse stolen, but there are many more ingenious methods. I’ve heard of people taking a picture of a credit card or ID (even from a distance) on their cell phone. Nonchalantly waving my debit card as I waited in line may have been the most simple-headed to date but, between traveling somewhere (with a lot else on our minds) and letting our guard down in the comfort of familiar surroundings, to just being distracted (at the gas pump, for instance), it’s a healthy reminder of the value of a safe identity. When I remember, I like to keep my card in the palm of my hand if it’s not directly in use, and to be subtle with it when I do use it. What’s the point of inviting extra trouble into your life where it doesn’t have to exist?
Have a great week!
Hail and tornadoes and all kinds of storms have plagued the Midwest these last few weeks, in a way we haven’t seen in a long time, if ever. The skies have been more threatening than friendly and the temperature has been moody. After a brief stretch in the upper-90’s, we were brought to a shivering 39 degrees. Soon enough, though, we know the sauna-like summer climate of Kansas (not my personal favorite) will be back, and with it, the vigor of outdoor activity.
Warmer days will bring with them, hand-in-hand, the increased hazard of opportunistic home-breakers. The chill of winter and early spring wards off more than mosquitoes – it’s also a deterrent to burglars who, statistics have shown, are far more active in the summertime.
Whatever your outdoor state of affairs, if you’re already deep into the summer season or still venturing from spring, it’s a good time of year to do a check-up on things around the house to find any weak spots and to fix all those little problems that get pushed to the back burner in the wintertime, especially those related to home safety or your own personal protection.
Summer inspires us to be a bit more carefree, and relaxed, but how sad it would be if “the feelin’ is easy” ended in the regretted loss of a prized possession–or even worse, harm to someone you love. Now is the perfect time to remember the importance of home and personal security. Here’s to a summer enjoyed with peace of mind!
Raise your hand if this has happened to you:
We have a deep freeze unit in our basement that we keep meats and a variety of other frozen goodies. This is great as it allows us to make fewer trips to our grocer. Recently, my 6-year old has been helping out with loading and unloading the ice box. This has been going great, I will take one less trip up and down the stairs any day of the week.
Then it happened…
We returned from grocery shopping one Saturday night and I had my little helper run some things to the freezer as he had done (what seems like) a thousand times before. This time, things were a bit different. Instead of closing the freezer it remained agape.
Luckily I had made a chance trip to the basement to check my water heater and noticed that the freezer door was open and our frozen goods were embracing the room temperature. That’s when I decided not to rely on the distracted mind of a child to make sure the freezer was shut.
The very next day I purchased a micro contact from SafeMart (I will be honest, I get a heck of a discount working here ) and slapped it on the door of the freezer. Then, using my LiveWatch Complete Service, I set a Sensor Left Open notification so that if the freezer door is left open for more than 3 minutes the LiveWatch Service will send me an email and a text message. It will also send an email and a Push notification to my wife’s iPhone.
Spoiled food is a thing of the past with my LiveWatch Service.
Let me know your “beyond security” applications in the comments below. The best one will get a free month of service (my boss LOVES when I do that ).
Hello, friends – I hope you’re all doing great! Today I just wanted to mention a little tip in the practice of self-defense. It’s not a martial art maneuver but it’s still a phenomenal weapon in your favor!
When any sort of offender aims to commit a crime that involves confronting his victim, I believe that his first and greatest weapon is fear. If he can intimidate us, he can “victimize” us. Once we’re convinced he’s more powerful, the advantage is his. This is bad news (because fear is a strong emotion) but also good news, because if it means that his chief ally is actually in our minds!
Whenever something makes us afraid, that fear is debilitating – our muscles get weak, our knees quake, and we fall to the defensive. We don’t feel in control because that fear is dominating us. But because fear lives in the mind, we actually have the power to force our brains to ignore the emotion and look at the facts. Thinking, then, is the first weapon of defense. Thinking clearly in a compromised situation is the dawn of victory.
A little fear can be good, because without we might really be in trouble by doing something rash and risky, but staying cool, calm, and collected is the first defense in our reach. Thinking on what powers we do have is a lot more effective than dwelling on all the possible dangers ahead of us. I hope you don’t ever find yourself in a life-threatening situation, but in case you do, I think thinking is the best place to start!
At least I’d like to think so!
Hello Friends and welcome to my little corner of the blog here at SafeMart.com. I can’t express how excited I am to be able to be a part of the blog team. I am a nerd at heart that loves technology (sometimes to a fault) and I hope to bring you valuable tips on using your home security system and new products or services coming out.
To kick things off I want to tell you about the Silent Exit feature on your Simon XT. This feature allows you to arm your system but silence all beeps for the exit delay (except for the 1st two and last two beeps). I can tell you this feature is a must with a spouse and kids that don’t like to be woken in the wee hours of the morning.
To utilize this feature, arm your Simon XT by pressing DOORS+WINDOWS then press the SILENT button…that is it. This can only be done from the main unit but we are working on a new touch screen and firmware version to allow you to do the Silent Exit through the touch screen. I will be sure to keep you in the know as details unfold.
I would love to hear your feedback or questions on systems or services that you have (or are getting)!
Hello, friends, and welcome to our blog! I am the ladies’ voice in the choir here, and I’ll keep you filled in on tips related to safety and security, at home or out and about, with all sorts of anecdotes and practical help along the way. I’m happy you’re here to accompany me, and I hope you feel free to share your own stories and advice with the rest of us. The more the merrier!
Personal security has recently become a more conscious priority in our lives. It has always been a vital issue but now it seems even more so, and because of that it’s a wonderful area in which to invest time and effort. No one wants to be robbed or have their home broken into, and even more importantly, no one wishes to face a dangerous or life threatening situation. But because it does happen, and because we can’t be sure it won’t happen to us, nor can we predict when, it’s in our best interest to start learning right away how we can have the upper hand should the need arise.
Personal safety, home security, self-defense – knowing in advance how to safeguard what is dear to us gives us great peace of mind. The great old adage could not be truer – “Forewarned is forearmed”. Being prepared is a huge advantage. Plus, the tips and tricks offered here can be practiced by almost everyone. They don’t require a black belt in Tae Kwon Do or intensive physical training. Most of self-defense and home security is a matter of playing it smarter, not harder.
That’s the general purpose of my posts here and I hope you will find them useful and informative. If you have any questions, please leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to get back to you as soon as I can!
(Displaying this message on the computer screen was the first command I learned how to program a personal computer to do. Since I’m new to this blog, it seems appropriate here.)
I’m pleased to be invited to join this conversation as a regular contributor. I’ll try to bring some items of interest, and help find the answers to questions from our readers/contributors. Since some readers may wonder if I really know what I’m talking about (skepticism is healthy!), I’ll offer some shameless self-promotion and personal disclosure.
I began working in the field of security and fire safety when I left college in 1968, selling one of the first reliable, UL listed home fire & security alarm systems. In 1973, I founded a security and fire alarm company for home, commercial, institutional, and industrial clients that is still in business today. I’ve done installation, service, sales, and management functions. Along the way, I have seen tremendous changes and advances in the technologies used to protect Americans in their homes and businesses. I carry, and keep current, advanced engineering technology certifications in both fire alarm technology and security systems design. Probably my most important “teacher” was the responsibility of running an operating alarm company and meeting a payroll every week for 37 years.
Along the way, I got married and raised three children, who have blessed me with one granddaughter (so far). In addition to my interests in technology, I enjoy the outdoors, skiing, camping, sports, sea kayaking, and I am a life-long Green Bay Packers fan.
Next time here, I’ll try to have a useful idea, as well as answering any reader posts.
Alright friends, at the risk of seeming helplessly self-promotional (but, let’s be honest, I did put my picture at the bottom of every post), I have decided to post a daily SafeMart Review. Why? For two reasons:
Let’s just get to it:
My experience with SafeMart thus far has been just about the best that I have ever had with a company. Beginning in November when I first learned of your company and talked with Rebecca E. on the phone until my latest conversation this week with Pat in tech support I have become more and more impressed with SafeMart and the GE Simon XT. Now that it is now fully operational I couldn’t more pleased with all involved.
- WS, Maryland
Awesome! Also look for a post later today on the power of interactive monitoring. As always, leave your thoughts in the comments box.
New Home Security Reviews for SafeMart 1/2/2012:
We LOVE getting great home security reviews from great SafeMart customers! Here are a few of the many great SafeMart home security reviews that we’ve received lately!
“Everything was great. Service and instructions were great and an old geezer like myself, had absolutely NO trouble at all! It’s great!” – Johann N.
“It’s been great so far!” – Philip M.
“The process was real smooth, I liked it a lot.” – David E.
“I have been very happy with the customer service.” Sam M.
“The system is great. I like it a lot. I have had no issues at all. It’s been simply great.” Ed R.
“It was really really easy to sign up. It was even better than we expected it to be.” Marianne L.
“The entire thing was about as painless as it could have been. I am genuinely impressed. The customer service is outstanding. I am very pleased with every aspect of the company.” – John M.
Home Security Reviews for SafeMart 3/9/2011:
Hey friends, it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but we’ll get back to regular postings now. If you didn’t get a chance to check out our awesome new home page, please do. There’s more to come, so don’t you worry.
Now, what is the purpose of this post? Am I simply going to list a ton of SafeMart reviews? No, probably just one. The main point is to say that SafeMart delights thousands of customers every year and we have the testimonials to prove it. Here is a review I received just yesterday:
Doing business recently with you company was a pleasure not only because of the excellent products and directions, but more importantly for truly outstanding customer support. This is your company’s greatest asset and an element that puts you on a higher plane than your competition. In fact, I would say that you could serve as a model to many companies that I have had to deal within other industries that have not come near to your service in this regard.
Please know that your employees involved in the following order and case have earned an EXCELLENT from this customer in courtesy, product knowledge and prompt responses.
-P.M., New Jersey
Awesome! This guy is really delighted. But he’s not the only one. To read from other truly delighted customers, visit our SafeMart Reviews page.
Hey crew! It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, but we’re back in the regular posting business now, and you can expect some great stuff coming down the pipe…starting today. Let’s jump in.
This morning, I watched a presentation on home fires. It wasn’t on selling home security systems, or fire systems, or anything like that. It wasn’t even on fire prevention, which we’ve touched on in the past. It was on one specific focus: What does it feel like to be in a fire? What happens to you when you are in a fire?
The answers to those questions are shocking, and as the presenter pointed out, we definitely know more than most on fire safety and protection. Which means, to you, the average (well, let’s be honest, you’re above-average, right?) person, the answers will knock you off your feet.
The presentation started with four main things you don’t know about fire, but absolutely must know if you want to survive a home fire.
Ok, so, let’s be honest: You didn’t know this. You didn’t imagine that by the time you wake up (if it’s at night) during a fire, you will be essentially blind, completely disoriented from the smoke and gas, suffering under intense and sometimes deadly heat. What you also didn’t know, partially because I didn’t fully tell you, is that you will only have a a matter of minutes to get out, about four or five, and that it will probably take a minute or so after the fire starts before the smoke detector sounds.
What does all of this mean? In a fire, you will have almost no time to get out. By the time you wake up, you will need to immediately grab your family and get out. It’s not an exaggeration to say that every second counts in a house fire.
So, more to come on this, but starting thinking about how you can protect your family effectively from fire. Do you have adequate coverage on smoke detectors? Have you changed the batteries in your smoke detectors? Do you know exactly what you would do in the event of a house fire? Does your family? These may seem silly and dramatic questions, but at the end of the day, it could be the difference between life and death.
In high school, I took a delivery job working for a national pizza company to make some extra cash. They had done a great job of matching up delivery with customer desire and expectation. All across America, people knew (and still know) that if you order from Company X, your pizza will arrive within a set amount of time; it will be hot, and will look largely like every other pizza you’ve purchased from them, or seen on their ads. The expectations and desires of their customers line up with what the company did, in reality.
But, let’s be honest; consumers’ desires and expectations don’t always match up with a company’s delivery. It’s amazing what a bad experience will do. And by bad experience, I don’t mean that the company spit in your face and told you to get lost while taking your money; I mean a situation in which you expected something and what you received from a company didn’t match that expectation. I’ll give you a practical example from my own life (exciting, I know). For me, every workday starts with a cup of coffee from a great coffee shop in town; the prices are great, the atmosphere is nice, and the staff is very helpful. And I know that they always open fairly early (but I don’t know the exact time). They’ve always been open early, and they are my first stop after I groggily drop my laptop at my desk. From there, I walk, cup in hand, down to the coffee shop and get a hot, black, cup of coffee. It’s great. However, this past week, my expectations as a customer didn’t match their delivery as a company.
We’ve had some snow in the Midwest lately and everything has slowed down a bit. For those of you in the Northeast, not everyone really does know how to plow a road properly. So, combined with the snow was the fact that I had to do a series of trainings last week at…well, it was early enough. My only consolation as I dragged myself through getting ready that first morning of training was the thought of a cup of coffee from this shop. So, I pulled up to the office, dropped off my bag and walked over to find my favorite shop was …closed. Light out. No one home. It wasn’t a fun experience. Next day…same issue. And the next day. It stunk. Though a relatively minor experience, I was disappointed. The company dropped a notch in my expectation. Why? Because I think it’s legitimate for most people to believe that a coffee shop will open very early in the morning. When they don’t, you begin to think: Is there somewhere else I should get my coffee? Is that a crazy person’s thought? Maybe, but it doesn’t matter; I had certain expectations that weren’t met and I was frustrated; disappointed or not.
So, why mention this at all? I talk to a lot of people in the security industry. I see customer reviews, comments, emails; you name it, I’ve seen it. And one of the underlying issues is that customer expectations rarely line up with a company’s delivery in this industry. There are a few notable exceptions, and I think we’ve done a really good job of making sure we fall into that “exceptional” category. But not everyone does.
Some companies run ads that make you think the very instant your alarm goes off, you will receive a call from them. Reality? Most systems have a dialer delay to avoid false alarms. Other companies give you the impression of saving big, because you have little to no up-front cost. When you actually look more closely, you’ve paid for your equipment over and over and over again. It’s not a good experience. And yet, because “everyone” does it this way, you, the customer have come to expect it. And I’m telling you now, you should stop.
If your alarm company is charging you upwards of $40 per month, you’re overpaying; time to adjust your situation to a company that will meet your legitimate expectations of saving money. If your company has hidden clauses in your contract that aren’t fair, it’s time to adjust to a new company. That is, unless you like either lowering your expectations or having your legitimate expectations shattered. If you are that type of person, give me a call and I’ll tell you what companies you should go with.
If not, then find a company that will meet your expectations, and hopefully exceed them. Your security is far too important to leave to the hands of companies that really don’t care what you want.
Selling security is tricky, or at least it can be. On the one hand, you’re selling it as a protection (which it is) against potential future events which, if they happened, would be very bad. In that light, using a bit of fear to gently prod a homeowner into considering the need for security can be a legitimate path. On the other hand, when we discuss safety and security, it should be as something positive, so dwelling for too long on the potentially bad ramifications really isn’t helpful. Every security company needs to strike a balance between these. And, as with everything, some companies do it better than others.
This balance has been on my mind recently, largely due to an article I saw: Why Broadview Security Keeps Making Ads That Scare the Hell Out of Us. The basic premise of the article is that fear sells, and Broadview (the article claims) is exploiting that fear. We’ve all seen the commercials. An attractive young woman is home alone, and some stranger (or not a stranger) appears at a window or door and does something drastic: Kicking in a front door or smashing a window. The alarm system immediately sounds and the would-be attacker flees the scene. By the time the young woman is in her bedroom, the phone is ringing and Broadview is on the other end.
It’s a nice scene. It’s also unrealistic. Most security systems have a delay so that you can arm or disarm your system when you walk in your front door. The alarm simply won’t go off that quickly if we’re talking about the front door. Similarly, security industry standards dictate a certain dialer delay so that you can disarm your system in the event of a false alarm, even before it calls the central station; which means the phone won’t be ringing within seconds. Finally, most burglars aren’t trying to smash your doors or windows in, especially when they know you’re home. Most intruders are looking for crimes of opportunity.
Now, it’s easy to pick on Broadview (formerly Brinks) for this. Heck, even Saturday Night Live created skits that mocked Broadview’s selling point. But the question of using fear to sell security is something that every company must deal with. When companies try to sell you coats, they don’t do so by showing you someone inches from frostbite. Fear isn’t used in those cases, because the positive side of owning a coat is far greater than emphasizing what potentially bad ramifications could come from not owning one. Why can’t security be the same way?
What are the positive sides to having a monitored security system? Some of this may just seem like semantics, but I think it’s more than that. A security system means peace of mind; it means relaxing in your home knowing that your family is safe. And while that may seem to be simply the flip-side of fear, it’s a question of how companies play with your emotions. Buying a security system so that you can have a happy, peaceful home life is a much better way to make a decision than because you are simply afraid of a potential burglar.
What else? Today’s home security systems are far more than just burglar alarms. Many packages allow you to control lights, thermostats, locks, and more. Home automation is huge, and has absolutely nothing to do with fear; though it has everything to do with control.
And that brings us to our ultimate point: Home security is about control. It’s about controlling your home, your possessions, even your peace of mind. And between you and me, that’s a much better reason to purchase home security than fear.
Welcome back, folks. Hope everyone had a fun and safe Thanksgiving. The weather was unseasonably cold here that day, and the wind was relentless. But, with family and friends, we grilled turkey, drank some wine and had a sincerely good time. Hope you did as well.
Today, I’d like to talk about hunting safety. I don’t know about you, but around here (northeastern Kansas), hunting is a big deal. And while ducks, geese, turkeys and more have been in season for a bit, tomorrow starts deer season. And when you think about hunting, most people think about deer; which means it’s a good time to have this discussion.
Hunting safety is something often talked about, but seemingly too little thought about. The reality you have to face when hunting is this: you are carrying an incredibly powerful weapon that has the ability to injure or kill you in an instant. And you don’t have to be trying to do something stupid; you just have to be not trying to be smart. (And yes, that is a poorly constructed sentence). So, for all you hunters out there, here are some tips to help ensure that you have a safe hunting season.
That’s all for today. Let me know any stories, suggestions, or other hunting tips in the comments box.
It’s that time of year; the leaves are mostly all down (at least in those sane parts of the country that have seasons), there is a crisp chill in the air, and everyone is getting ready for Turkey Day. It’s always a fun yearly ritual. Family and friends gather to cook and eat a meal together, laugh and catch up on old times. And in today’s world, that often involves deep frying a turkey.
If you haven’t had a deep fried turkey, or if you are a health nut with objections to cooking 10+ pounds of turkey in a vat of hot oil, you can keep your comments to yourselves. We can be healthy most of the other 364 days of the year; on this day, it’s time to consume some deep fried meat.
About the time I went to college my dad got a turkey fryer. And every Thanksgiving we would cook two turkeys, one deep fried, and the other on the grill (which is a lot easier and tastier than you would ever imagine). It was always exciting to slowly lower the turkey into the oil and know that it was going to come out moist and delicious. Also, it gave my dad, brother, and I a chance to sit outside, drink beer, and chat.
The nice thing is, my father was always very careful about frying a turkey. Because let’s be honest, heating gallons of oil over an open flame can be very dangerous. Still, not everyone is so cautious, and every year a number of Thanksgiving-celebrating Americans start a fire while pursuing the perfectly fried turkey.
At some level, that’s incredibly surprising to me. This isn’t the first year anyone has decided to do this; the fad isn’t just now catching on. People have been deep frying on Thanksgiving for years now. And every year, fire departments all over the country issue a series of warnings and public service announcements prior to that day. Still, some people just don’t get it. So, to contribute to a happy and safe Thanksgiving, here are some safety tips about turkey frying to help everything go smoothly this Thursday. Sources are at the end of the article.
This list is not exhaustive; these are just a few basic facts. Read the instructions on your fryer for more information.
Basically, everyone needs to be safe and have a happy Thanksgiving. Use common sense and follow best practices when cooking your turkey, whether it’s in the oven or a deep fryer. And finally, just for fun, the below video is an example of what can happen if you don’t fry a turkey correctly.
This is more of a local post. As I’ve mentioned before, we’re located in Northeast Kansas, in a small town called Saint Marys, about 20 miles east of Topeka. Topeka is like any city; it has plenty of amenities, lots of different neighborhoods, and its own share of problems. One of those, historically, has been an issue with crime, and that’s why I want to talk about today.
You see, Monday night, three homes were burglarized in the Grand Oak neighborhood of Topeka. This isn’t a “bad neighborhood.” But, on Monday a burglar (presumably the same one) broke into three area households, while the families were sleeping, according to KTKA.
The first thing you’ll notice about the article is the fear all of these families are currently living in. Put yourself in their position. It’s one thing when your home is robbed and you’re away on vacation. Even then, the victims often relate a sense of violation and a loss of peace of mind. Now try to imagine the horror of waking up, seeing that you were burglarized, and realizing that a stranger was in your house while you were sleeping. Think of the thoughts that must race through your mind: “They were here, touching my stuff. Thank goodness they only robbed us. We didn’t wake up. We didn’t hear them. They could’ve done anything.” Imagining that will only give you some glimpse of the terror felt by each of these families.
Let’s ask the next question, now. Could this have been prevented, and how? The goal in discussing this is not to criticize any of the unfortunate victims of this crime. The goal is to see what can be done to make sure that you, the reader, will avoid becoming a victim, yourself.
In order to do this, the first thing to determine is exactly how the burglar entered these houses. Thankfully, the article already lays that out. The thief broke into multiple cars and found three which contained garage door openers. The burglar exited the vehicle, pressed the button and entered the homes through the now open external garage door.
CUT. This is the first point that should jump out at you. Leaving your garage door opener in your car is a bad idea; unless your car is parked in the garage, that is. It’s bad for the same reason that leaving a keychain remote for your alarm system in your car is a bad idea. It gives people access to your home who you may not wish to have that access. As the article says, take the opener inside with you when you get into your house.
Continuing on, the thief then entered the home by way of the internal door going between the home and the garage. CUT. This should be raising big red flags. First of all, I’m assuming these doors weren’t locked. Or if they were, that they weren’t deadbolted. Why? I think the problem stems from the fact that too many homeowners consider that door to be an internal door, as opposed to an external, perimeter door. And while, you may, and perhaps should, consider your garage as part of your home, you have to treat the door between your home and garage as if it were going completely outside.
Then, they entered the victims’ homes with impunity, acting like they owned the place. CUT. Why didn’t the siren go off on their alarm system? Why didn’t their alarm system contact the central monitoring station? I’m guessing (guessing is the operative word) that none of these homes was equipped with a security system. We’ve talked about this again and again. It simply makes no sense to own a home, with expensive valuables, the same home in which your family lives, and not protect it with an alarm system.
So, how should you proceed. Well, first off, do all three things mentioned above. Second of all, walk around your house and think like a burglar. If you had to get in, how would you do it? What would you use or do in order to achieve the goal of entering your own home. Once you’ve determined those problem areas, secure them. Finally, be cautious. If you hear something strange outside, check it out. If you hear creaking or cracking in your home, and it doesn’t sound normal, check it out. It’s really that simple.
Until next time…
Odd title, today, no? It’s the second revision of the title; the first was about three or four times as long. I finally decided that this would be just obscure enough to give me the leeway I need to make my point, while still being mysterious enough to be enticing (so I hope).
The article I’m going to comment on is from Wednesday’s Globe and Mail, a respected Canadian newspaper. It describes a phenomenon that has been taking place on the fringes of the home security world for the past few months (and really, much longer than that). So, here is my intention: To comment on the article and then to rant a little about our industry. Now, what are we talking about exactly?
The article, titled “Rogers set to break into home security field,” describes how Rogers Communications Inc., one of Canada’s largest communications companies (with specialty in cable television) is breaking into the home security market.
According to the article, “…the wireless and cable giant is set to break into the home security services market in the coming months…” Why? Well, according to the article, the goal is to bundle services together because it’s a convenience. You don’t have to worry about paying a phone bill here, and paying an Internet bill here, or a tv bill there. Now, security is being added to the mix.
Ok, fair enough. But let’s honestly ask why this is happening (and the article makes this point pretty fairly), “Because bundled customers are less likely to switch providers for lower prices at a competitor, this is another example of communications providers trying to be all things to every household.” Exactly! The goal here doesn’t seem to be providing great security (at least not primarily), but to tie another thread around your relationship with Rogers, making it far less likely you’ll switch somewhere else.
And why is that? Why are you less likely to switch? Is it because companies like Rogers are providing the best possible service across the board? Or is it more likely that you’re too tied in, and it would be a giant hassle to switch individual services to someone else? Now maybe that works with cable or Internet service, but it’s a pretty bad model when you’re discussing home security.
The considerations here are much more important. We’re not discussing whether or not you’ll get all 6 (or however many) MTV channels and all 10 (or however many) ESPNs. We’re discussing whether or not your family and your personal possessions will be safe and secure. Sorry if I’m dubious about a cable company’s ability to do so.
Which brings me to another point; the ignorance or arrogance of Roger’s CEO. Says Mr. Nadir Mohamed, “Rogers is redefining the notion of home security and taking it several steps further.” Oh really? How so? “Many Canadians already have alarm systems in their homes, protecting their valuables and their loved ones. Yet these systems currently operate on traditional phone lines and only connect with a network when an issue arises.” Really? Has Mr. Mohamed examined the industry he’s so boldly marching into with all the intentions of revolutionizing it?
The reality is this. Contrary to Rogers’ CEO, every security company I know offers cellular monitoring, and broadband, and yes, for those customers who still want it, traditional phone line monitoring. To pretend that his company is bursting into town with something totally new that will revolutionize the industry is naive to say the least.
The security industry has always been somewhat varied and fragmented. SafeMart has always focused more on the DIY model of home security, while trying to make it easier for the average homeowner to install and program their own system. We believe in that model. We always have. There are other companies, like Home Security Store or FrontPoint Security who fit in that model as well. For the big guys, such as ADT or Broadview, they have a “full-service” model where they do pretty much everything for you. Inside the industry, we’ve always had and always will have disagreements on which model is best, and which offers the best value for the customer. But at the end of the day, we’re all offering effective home security, and we all care about the industry as our primary focus.
But these communications companies masquerading as home security companies, whether it be Rogers or Comcast, are not primarily focused on home security. If you want home security, and you should, then go with someone in the industry who is trusted and knows what they’re doing. Let your cable company make sure you have Dancing with the Stars; but be wary of “bundling” everything else in there with it.*
*NOTE: I’m not saying that a communications company won’t be able to effectively offer real home security. I’m not saying they aren’t already close. What I am saying is that you should be wary of trusting your cable company to effectively provide home security, until they’ve proven themselves. I’m also saying that it’s a bad start for a company to pretend they’re revolutionizing an industry by offering what is already very prevalent in the home security industry.
Hope all is well. I know it’s been a week since I’ve posted, but we had a couple of pressing issues that prevented me from blogging more this past week. Rest assured, the blog is back as a main focus and won’t be so sporadic in the future.
There have been few stories over the past week about which I wanted to comment, but none really jumped out as blog-worthy. Today, however, I found an interesting and timely story, especially as it relates to an article on parenting teens we did a couple of weeks ago.
Huffington Post had an article this morning, titled, “Facebook Gets an ‘F’ From Online Services Security Report Card.” And while that title is a mouthful, the article contains some genuinely interesting information. Basically, Digital Society, an online-focused think tank, created a report card of many popular websites, in order to grade them on how securely they kept users data, and how vulnerable they were to attack. Unsurprisingly (to me at least), Facebook failed. You can read the report card at Huffington Post, or over at Digital Society, itself. Basically, your personal information is less than ideally secure on many sites, depressingly so on Facebook and Twiter.
Now, am I suggesting that you stop using those sites? No. I am, however, suggesting that you pay better attention to the real security of sites that you use every single day. Be circumspect in how you use social media sharing sites, and finally make sure you educate yourself on what precautions you can take to prevent becoming a victim.
That’s all for now. I just wanted to make sure that you all had this information at your fingertips. So, is this surprising to you? Have you experienced any security issues in using any of the sites mentioned in the article? Let us know in the combox.
Our friends across the pond are at it again. In addition to being responsible for inventing the rubber band and the fire extinguisher (among many others), the British can now add a new invention to their list: A Burglar Identifying Spray. AOL ran an article on this yesterday, and let me tell you, this is really, really cool. What’s that? You think I sound like a dork saying “really, really cool?” Well, I don’t care; keep reading and I think you’ll agree with me.
Before we get into what this does, it’s best to run over, as we did yesterday, what comprises a security system:
Now, the coolest thing about this system is that it does all three…at the same time! Ok, so what is it? The SelectaDNA Spray is a mist that you install in a commercial location (or a home, I suppose), and in the event of a robbery, you press a panic button. This does two things: (1) It signals the police that a crime is taking place, and (2) it sprays a light mist over everyone present. This mist leaves a stain on the person which can only be seen under UV light.
Get that? It’ll freak out burglars in advance. Already local police are reporting lower than usual burglary rates. Also, it has a response built in, at least in these systems, since it notifies police immediately. Finally, it has reporting because it literally puts an invisible tag on everyone present.
Now you see why this is so cool? It does everything, and it’s very James Bond-ish. Here’s hoping SelectaDNA Spray comes to this side of the pond soon.
One last word of caution: Don’t think this will in any way replace a traditional security system; but as a commercial add-on, it is pretty awesome.
I think it’s time for a slightly lighter post after the most recent potentially-controversial post on teen safety. So, I was scouring the internet for any home security and/or home safety related articles or headlines. While doing so, I found this headline from Florida’s Sun Sentinel, “Videos Dismay Victim of Pembroke Pines Burglary.” That’s an interesting title, I thought? I wonder what exactly in the videos, besides the robber itself, is causing this burglary victim his dismay?
Well, it turns out it is primarily the burglary itself; which isn’t odd, but does seem odd in comparison with the juxtaposition of his having security cameras. That is, the title makes it seem as if it’s the videos themselves that cause the dismay. So I read the article, and the thing is this: his house was robbed while he was on vacation with his family; he watched the robbery later on his iPhone, which is understandably disconcerting. Also, police have no one in custody yet (and don’t appear to have any suspects) which would also be a cause for concern. But ultimately, the whole thing comes down to the victim’s frustration that the security cameras he set up did not act as a deterrent.
The key to this entire story is why they didn’t act as a deterrent, so I want to get to that. But before we do, let’s discuss what I presume was the victim’s thought-process concerning security before this event took place.
1. Security should be a deterrent: It’s clear that the victim thinks this considering all of his frustration is with the failure of his cameras to act as a deterrent in the manner he expected. This was the right inclination; because according to statistics from the Washington Post, homes with security systems are three times less likely to be broken into than homes without.
2. Security systems should, ideally, have some sort of reporting feature in the event of a successful burglary. So, what did our subject do? He used real security cameras (not fake ones), which did capture the data they were supposed to capture. While police haven’t made any arrests so far, if and/or when they do, it will be in large part because of the captured security footage.
3. The best security should make use of the most up to date technologies. There have been tons of advances in the technology powering home security. It only makes sense to utilize these as much as possible. After all, crooks are getting smarter (well, some of them); you need to be smarter as well.
Ok, so I just went through and told you that the victim did almost everything right. So why in the world did he get burglarized? Well, first off, there are no 100% systems. And this is an important fact to remember. You can do whatever you want to secure your home, but it’s always possible that a burglar can figure out how to bypass it, or to get in and out quickly enough to avoid getting caught. The goal of a security system is to seriously minimize the risk of that happening.
But second off, he didn’t do everything right. In fact, he missed out on some of the more fundamental requirements of building a home security system.
There are essentially three parts to any home security system: deterrence, response, and reporting. You may have heard or seen them listed with different names, but this is essentially what they are. Let’s discuss each in turn.
Deterrence: The goal here is obvious; you’re attempting to cause the burglar to think that robbing your place is not worth it. It’s the first line of defense in a home security system. Security signs and stickers are good, but not enough. What’s needed is a well-lit house with real security equipment installed. Burglars aren’t stupid. They’ll look for alarm contacts in windows or motion detectors in houses before ever entering. And remember, they don’t want to get caught, which is why deterrence is the first step in the process.
Response: This is really the heart of the whole thing. To simply have deterrence is pointless because it may fail; to simply have reporting is pointless for a different reason we’ll show in a moment. But more to the point, what qualifies as Response? There are two types of response; one internal and one external. The first, internal, is a siren. This is a pretty good backup in the event that a burglar does decide to enter your home. First of all, he’s going to be afraid that if you’re home, you’re now awake, or if you’re away that your neighbors are now aware something has gone wrong. The second is external, and ideally involves central station monitoring. In this case, when your alarm is tripped, a central station is notified which, after following the initial industry protocol, will dispatch police and/or emergency personnel.
Reporting: The name should make obvious what this is. This is the evidence, in a video or audio format, that you can give to the police to help them catch the bad guy. It is only indirectly part of the security system; and while it may offer some deterrence, it’s going to be minimal, since most surveillance systems don’t typically involve any type of response.
Now, looking over that, it should be obvious why the victim’s setup didn’t work. He used video cameras, intended to be primarily for reporting, to cover deterrence; he left response entirely off the list. So, while I applaud him for his efforts, they would’ve been better spent in using only one or two cameras, and spending the rest of the money on a system itself.
All of which is to say that when it comes time to purchase a home security system, your best bet is to go with a reputable company with knowledgeable staff who will help ensure that you choose the right system for your needs.
Well, that’s all I have for today. As always, leave your thoughts in the comments box below.
*Important: I am not, by this article, trying to pick on the poor victim in this case. Obviously, he did not deserve to be robbed and have his security and peace of mind taken from him. I sincerely hope that whoever did this to him and his family will be caught, arrested and receive a heavy punishment from the courts. That said, it is helpful to use real life situations when explaining some of these things. It was in that spirit alone that I used this story.
**DISCLAIMER: THIS POST DEALS WITH SOME MATURE ISSUES AND MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR YOUNGER READERS. PARENTAL DISCRETION IS ADVISED**
This post isn’t going to be overly light-hearted. It’s also not going to be a list of tips or recommendations. Those are helpful (I hope) and they’re fun (or at least, they can be). This is going to be more of a rant. This isn’t going to deal with symptoms of teenage problems; rather it’s going to deal with the heart of the issue itself.
When you’re trying to eliminate a cancer, you don’t simply cut out the external manifestation; you try to wipe it out at its root. And that’s what I want to attempt today.
OK, a lot of bizarre words from me. What do they mean? What teenage safety are we talking about? In this case, I’m talking about safety from themselves and their peer group. The reality that every parent of teenagers must face is this: Teenagers are experimenting with dangerous and illegal drugs at an incredible rate; they are engaging in dangerous sexual activity in unheard of numbers; they are compromising their own safety and security by imprudent participation in social media; they are potentially ruining their opportunities for future employment and happiness. And for what?
Before we start, I think it may be helpful to tell you why I’m even discussing this. What caused this rant? Recently, I saw an older article from a parenting blog titled, “Teen ‘Sexting’ Isn’t All That Dangerous.” Now, the author doesn’t approve of the practice, but she does say it’s primarily stupid, not dangerous. That was enough to set me off. How could anyone, let alone someone writing for a parenting blog believe that? So, that prompted me to begin this piece. Sadly, during my research I found another article that seemed to make it so much more poignant. That article dealt with the story of a young girl who had “sexted” an image of herself which found its way around school circles. The tragic story goes through the bullying of a teenage child, and ends with her suicide. I knew then that I wanted to write this post.
So, let’s see if we can tackle this subject. To do so, I think we need to establish three things:
1. There is a problem with the way many teenagers live their lives, and that it constitutes a real danger to them
Let’s begin with more “traditional” dangers facing teenagers. These would include drinking, drugs, and sex. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 20% of high schoolers have engaged in underage drinking, with a large number (29% in 12th grade alone) engaging in binge drinking. Binge drinking may be loosely defined as drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time with the purpose of becoming intoxicated. Why is this dangerous? The answer should be obvious. Drinking heavily can lead to long term damage in the liver, and brain, even causing memory loss. In some extreme cases, binge drinking leads to death. There is also the obvious factor that while drunk, your reason is hindered, or even entirely removed, which can lead to drunk driving and other risky behavior.
Moving on from booze, let’s look at drug use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a study of 12th graders revealed the following usage statistics for that grade:
These aren’t pretty statistics. Now, I know that some parents would freak out about LSD and Cocaine, but not bat an eye at Marijuana use. The reality is this: Marijuana can be a gateway drug. Additionally, studies have shown deleterious effects upon memory, resulting from marijuana use. They’re not safe. It’s as simple as that.
Now we come to the more unpleasant statistics: sexual activity. By the age of 19, 70% of never-married teens have had sex. Apart from any moral considerations, there are serious physical consequences and dangers from teenage sexual activity, and I’m going to focus on those today. Almost half of the new cases of sexually transmitted infections are diagnosed in those between the ages of 15 and 24, a group that counts only a quarter of the total sexually active population. This rate is mind-boggling. Let’s leave this delicate subject at that. Suffice it say, this constitutes a serious problem, and a serious risk for teens.
Finally, let’s discuss the question of online safety for teens. Over the past few years, crimes relating to or resulting from online activity have been increasing exponentially. And while teenagers would seem more likely to protect their personal data and privacy (being more familiar with these technologies), studies show the exact opposite. For example, to use one horrifying statistic, over 20% of teens have sent nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves to another student in their school. And from all indications this is increasing, not decreasing. They are exposing themselves to ridicule, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and more. And that’s only in the present. Many of these images are finding their way online. The potential risk to future employment is unknown, but since many employers are now using the internet to screen potential candidates, it seems unlikely that this won’t be a major hindrance.
I know we’ve gone on here for a while, but I think it’s important to bring home to you, parents, the serious dangers that exist in the teenage world. And, I hope you noticed another thing: most of these problems are self-caused, not external, which brings us to point number two:
2. Why, and how is this problem occurring?
This is a little harder to pinpoint, since we’re dealing with subjective human beings here. Psychologists will say one thing, pediatricians another, sociologists another. And perhaps each of them have some validity and importance to the general conversation. But, their problem is precisely that they’re too often specialized. They can only see the world through the paradigms of psychology, or pediatrics, or what’s far worse, sociology. What we need is some common sense informed by facts. That’s how I intend to proceed.
On a natural level this problem stems from peer-pressure, a lack of self-esteem and confidence on the part of the child, and an ignorance as to the seriousness of these activities and the risks associated with them.
Anyone who has ever been a teenager knows the brute, unyielding strength of peer pressure. It takes someone of an almost super-human character to really resist the movements of the crowd, especially at that age.
Self-esteem seems harder and harder to come by these days, and in many respects it fits with the first problem of peer-pressure. Too many teenagers can only define themselves by means of the crowd. They are not an “I” but a member of a sub-group within the teenage world. They don’t value themselves, but see their worth only in maintaining the bonds of that group. This means that a natural resistance to certain actions is broken down, especially as the teenager identifies with the group over their religion, family, and values. Again, this isn’t coming from any specialized focus; but from common sense looking objectively at the world around us, and using the facts listed above.
Next we come to ignorance. This is the easiest, perhaps, to excuse among teenagers. They’ve all heard that drugs are bad, but come on, they’ve seen all sorts of people doing them, and those same drug users don’t seem to have any problems. So, really drugs must not be that bad, right? Or, perhaps, they know that “everyone else” in their class is sexually active with seemingly no repercussions. It really can’t do much, right? These perceptions need to be fixed. Unfortunately, we have an entire world from magazines to TV to movies telling teens that drinking too much is fun, sexual activity is to be pursued at all costs, and drugs can be enriching in the “right circumstances.” This needs to be combated. Teens need to know that these activities are not OK, that they are dangerous and that there are serious consequences. All of which brings us to our last part of the problem: That would be us.
What Parents Can Do to Help Minimize or Fix This Problem:
I knew too many parents when I was in high school who looked the other way when their children had drunken parties at their house. I knew too many parents who were aware that teenagers were using illicit drugs, but didn’t want to say anything because they, themselves, had used drugs years before and didn’t want to appear to be a hypocrite. And I knew too many parents who looked the other way at all sorts of indecent and inappropriate behavior because, after all, kids will be kids. It’s time to say enough.
Being a parent is more than simply putting food on the table, buying Johnny a new car and footing his bill for college. It’s time to act like an adult and take some responsibility. Yes, “kids will be kids” if we’ll let them, and help them to do so. Instead, we’re forcing or allowing incomprehensibly difficult situations upon kids in which they’re attempting to act like, or being forced to make choices as if they were already adults. And that isn’t fair for a moment.
Now, what can we do, as parents to fix some of this. Well, some is easy. First of all, we need to start talking to our children. I know it’s considered cliché, but the kids in school I knew who talked to their parents about everything were precisely the kids who didn’t engage in the behavior we discussed above. So, first things first, let’s start talking.
Second, while we’re re-learning how to speak to our kids, we need to learn how to say the word “No.” It’ll come in handy, and it’ll save kids tons of ache later. Feel uncomfortable about the party your daughter just asked you to go to? Say No! Think Billy may not be telling you the whole truth about where he’s planning on going? Say No! Don’t trust your 12 year old to have a cell phone (and you shouldn’t*), Say No! It’s honestly that easy. Sometimes I think parents are the ones suffering from peer pressure. ”Well, the parents of all the other kids said yes, I guess I should as well.” No, we shouldn’t. As my parents used to say, “I don’t care what So-and-So does. I’m not their parent.” It was a good line then and it’s a good line now. Don’t worry about the other kids; worry about your kid. Let’s grow a backbone and say “No” when we need to.
Finally, stay educated on this stuff. Too many times one hears parents say, “Wow, I never knew that kids were doing X, Y, or Z.” Well, open a newspaper, or look at some news sites online. Stay in touch with your kids’ world, and take an interest in what they’re doing. Trust me, it’ll be much better that way.
Look, I know how things are. Life can throw curveballs, the economy is bad, and we’re all being pulled in many directions. Most parents do want what’s best for their children. Perhaps we’re trying as hard as we can, or perhaps we’ve meant to make some change for a long time, and we just can’t quite seem time to get around to it. Like, I said, I know how it is.
Teenagers want autonomy; they’d like to exist in their own world. And, that’s totally normal. Just like a bird that eventually has to learn how to fly so it can leave the nest, so teenagers have to learn how to act like adults in preparation for the fact that in a couple of years (or less) they’ll be leaving the home to go to college, or get a job. Either way, in the usual course of things, they’ll be leaving to do their own thing. At that point, they’ll really need to know how to function, or else it will be a disaster. That’s why they want to be on their own, so to speak; and in some sense, that’s ok.
Now, that may seem like a contradiction: Earlier I said we need to let kids be kids. Now, I’m saying that they need to learn to act like adults. Still, there’s no contradiction here. Or rather, there would be a contradiction if it weren’t for parents. They’re the missing piece of this puzzle. Just like a mother bird teaching her young how to eat and fly, we need to help our children become adults, while at the same time making sure that they don’t do so before they’re ready. That’s why it is so important to make sure we’re there for them, training them to make the right decisions on their own. It’s also why we prevent them from making bad decisions. We know what’s best for them. To a large extent they’re still learning, and the worst lesson we could give them now is that we don’t care what they do anymore.
So, let’s give them the guidance they need so that they’ll be ready. It’s only fair to them.
I think that ends my rant. Just remember, this stuff matters. In some cases you’re talking about life and death; in others you’re talking about the quality of that life. Either way, it’s not small stuff. But, it’s our job as parents to stand up and take responsibility. If you’re already doing this, I applaud you. If you’re not, it’s never too late to start. And even your kids will appreciate it in the long run.
As always, leave your thoughts, disagreements, or whatever in the combox below. Until next time.
Helpful Links for Parents**:
*Obviously, this statement is not intended to include children who legitimately need a cell phone to reach their parents, or for other serious or emergency situations.
** Listing resources does not constitute an endorsement of those sites nor of their respective owners or affiliates.
Teen driving is always one of those contentious issues. As a teenager, the instant I turned 15 I took my Driver’s Permit test. Basically, this allowed me to drive a vehicle, so long as any adult over 21 was with me, or over 18 if they were a family member. Suffice it to say, that as a fifteen year old, no one but my family was probably interested in letting me drive their vehicles. I drove everywhere I could; first around our neighborhood, eventually being allowed to drive up I-95 to visit family (with my parents in the car, obviously). I took my driver’s education courses, and logged the necessary hours. Finally, I went to the DMV and took my test. I passed and I was free to cruise the road (well, not entirely free, but you get my drift). And, I’ll be honest; for all the other goofiness of high school, I was a fairly safe driver (well, as much as any 16 year old will be).
Still, even attempting to be moderately safe at driving, there were distractions. We would blare the radio; on the ride to school I always had a few friends with me; etc. But, we all survived, and much, if not most of that is due to the preparation I received from parents in learning to drive and understanding the responsibility that went with that privilege.
Now, despite my personal experience with driving, and my parents’ willingness to let me drive immediately at the legal age, I had friends whose parents said, “No way.” And I still have friends now who aren’t interested in letting their own children learn to drive, even when they’re a year or two past the legal driving age. In high school, that seemed crazy to me. Today, I’m not so sure I agree with my high school self. In fact, I’m starting to see the wisdom in saying, “No” to driving at a young age.
Primarily, this is due to what I perceive as a lack of seriousness in most teens. Too many of them seem to take any and all obligations in the lightest manner. Peer pressure to act like an idiot seems stronger than ever, and kids seem to be combining that pressure with an ingenuity to discover new ways of acting completely stupid. All of which, in my mind, says: Don’t let them drive.
Still, I’m probably overreacting. I’m sure my parents and their friends thought the same about my generation, and I’m sure their parents thought the same about them. At the end of the day, it requires trust in your children to allow them to drive, since all-in-all, I’m not really sure that too much has changed in the stupid-arena (at least not for a while).
What has changed, however, are the distractions. There has been music in cars for a long time. And, there have been stupid and wild friends to climb aboard and distract you since before the automobile was even invented. But, the new era has brought with it a new distraction: Texting (and cell phones in general).
As if cell phones, weren’t bad enough, thousands of teens, and (I’m sad to say it) adults are now texting while driving. I’m not going to go into great detail about this, why it’s dangerous, etc. Basically, let’s leave it at this: If you are too stupid to know why driving and texting is a bad idea, you probably aren’t ready to drive. And that’s just as true when you’re 16 as when you’re 36.
By now you’re wondering if there’s some kernel of worthwhile information in this jumbled post. And, lucky for you, there is. You see, the inspiration for this post was a press release by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation about safe driving. Here are the tips recommended by PDOT:
- Always wear your seat belt.
- Never drink and drive at any age; drinking under the age of 21 is illegal.
- Avoid distractions behind the wheel, such as talking or texting on your cell phone, adjusting the radio, combing hair or applying makeup, and eating.
- Obey the speed limit; driving too fast gives you less time to react.
- Adjust radio/climate controls before beginning your trip, have your passenger adjust the controls for you or adjust the controls when stopped.
- Plan ahead – know where you are going and get directions.
- Leave early and give yourself plenty of time to get there.
- Expect the unexpected.
That’s a pretty good list. And I’d add one more: Use your head. This goes for parents and teens. Parents: If you think that your 16 year old is not mature enough to drive, then wait a little while later. Kids: If your parents allow you to drive at 16 (or whenever) be smart and don’t abuse their trust.
Did your parents let you get your license at 16? Was that a good or bad thing? Do you, or will you let your children get their licences at the earliest legal age? As always, let me know what you think in the comments box below.
As the entire world knows, yesterday brought (to some extent) an end to the Chilean miners’ ordeal, during which 33 miners were trapped for over two months in a small mine over 2,000 feet below the earth’s surface. It was a day of joyous celebration for the miners and their families, and also for Chile, itself.
The almost constant media coverage, while it no doubt helped raise awareness and increase drilling efforts, did have one negative side effect: Everyone became used to it. By the end, the whole thing seemed less shocking. And that’s a problem.
Think back to the first days after that Aug. 5 collapse. It was horrifying. No one knew the fate of these miners. There was no contact with them for the first couple of weeks. Then, as they began to make contact, and the news stories came pouring in, another thing emerged: It would take months to bring them to safety. The miners themselves knew nothing of the long wait to come. It was determined that telling them would be psychologically crushing. And so, they told them it would take some time, and encouraged them to organize their lives in some sort of normal fashion so that they could cope with the crowded, small space, the lack of sunlight, and the separation from loved ones and from their normal lives.
Amazingly, they all survived. Why and how did this happen? It happened because of their resolve to live, and because of their preparedness. They were quick to act, setting up daily chores, exercise time, rationing of food and water, etc. Now, why do I bring all this up?
Because, while you will probably never face a mine collapse, there are plenty of other possible emergency situations that could occur. And you’d better be prepared.
You could, for instance, be trapped without power or water in your home for a week or more during a winter storm. It happened here only two years ago. Or, you could be stuck on the side of the road during inclement weather, unable to reach help. In certain areas of the country, hurricanes have caused such damaging floods as to qualify as a real emergency for individuals. What would you do then? Here are some suggestions on how to survive in the event of an emergency. Basically, according to Ready.gov, there are three steps in emergency preparedness:
That’s all I have for today. Please share your thoughts or stories in the comments box below.
On this rambling excuse for a blog, we’ve discussed home security, home safety, workplace safety, travel safety, driving safety, and more. What I want to do today is remember that national security and defense are also part of the overall picture of safe living (the thing, not the blog title). And why remember that today?
Because today is the 235th Birthday of the United States Navy. I am not going to touch the question of current policies regarding the operations of our military overseas. That’s not the purpose of this post. Whether you’re on the right, left, middle, or if you’re a Methodist (if you don’t get the reference, you should listen to some more Johnny Cash), we should all be able to agree on one thing: That the brave men and women who offer their service to our country are worthy of our respect and admiration. It’s also worth remembering (again forgetting any question of policy) the many who have laid down their lives in service to their country.
And so, in that spirit, I’d like to wish the United States Navy a Happy 235th Birthday!
I live and work in the middle of Kansas (well, not the literal middle, but you catch my drift). Though I live in town, I frequently go out into the country to visit friends, which isn’t hard, since the countryside is all around us. The other night I was helping a friend on his farm. By the time we were done with our work, and a rewarding and refreshing beer, it was dark. And not dark like a city or suburb where there are traffic lights; dark like only the rural Midwest can be. So, I was driving home listening to the old time (or real, as I like to say) country music station and enjoying the crisp, cool air of October. As I was cresting a hill, I noticed to my immediate right, a buck standing on the road edge staring out into…well, whatever the heck it is that deer stare out into. By the time I noticed him, I was already past, out of danger. But despite our mutual safety, the reality of a close encounter between a deer and my car was a little unnerving.
And you see, I forget that every year. I’ve driven through the backroads of the glorious Commonwealth (where I grew up) thousands of times. And the deer there are as thick as can be imagined. You get used to looking for that greenish-white tint of reflection in the distance of the headlight. But, still, every year I forget. And my guess is that most people forget as well; at least until we’re a few weeks into deer-sighting season. And despite my close encounter of the Cervidae kind, it still totally slipped my mind again.
Thankfully, however, the Ohio Department of Transportation didn’t forget. Today, they sent out a warning that we are getting into that time where car accidents involving deer are going to become more frequent. With deer, this is the time of year that they all get together to play Deer-Frogger on the nation’s highways, byways and backroads. As a result, your chances of being an unwilling participant in their evil-deer games go up. But what can you do? Ah, glad you asked. That’s where ODOT really hit a home run. The following are (amended versions) of their suggestions.
Have any other suggestions or stories? Leave them in the comments below.
I know, it’s Thursday, and fire prevention week started Monday, but we simply had other things to discuss. I’m getting to it now; and that’s all that matters, right? Either way, it’s time to discuss it.
What is Fire Prevention Week?
Every year, the National Fire Protection Association sponsors a Fire Prevention Week. According to the Association, this has been going on for 90 years, and the goal is pretty obvious: It’s to prevent fires. In addition to having a constant purpose, each year the Association chooses a new theme. For 2010, that theme is, “Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With.” To be honest, I find the title to be a bit cheesy, but I suppose it’s catchy enough, and this is mainly directed towards the education of children, so I won’t pick on it too much.
What I would like to discuss, however, is the theme itself (minus it’s title). This year, the Association is trying to convince you that you probably need more smoke detectors than you have. And let’s be honest, that’s probably true.
According to their website, you should have one smoke alarm inside of each bedroom, one outside of all sleeping areas (like in a hallway), and at least one on every level of your home, including your basement. I’m sure many of you don’t have these. The reality is, in the event of a fire, every second counts. You have to get your stuff and your family out before it spreads and you’re trapped. You need to know that if a fire happens, no matter where, you’ll be alerted in time, which brings us to our next point.
You should seriously consider interconnected smoke alarms. It’s a bit of a hassle, and I’m not saying you must have them, but they’re a pretty good idea. Basically, if you have a fire in your basement, your smoke detector in your room will sound as well. Actually, they’ll all sound, which would be incredibly loud, and really obnoxious for a false alarm, but they’ll help you get out of your house quickly. And really, in the event of a fire, that’s what you’re looking for.
So, check out their site for the rest of their recommendations. It’s pretty well done and worth a read. Just be sure that you’re taking fire safety seriously. It’s really not something you want to mess around with.
I’ve travelled a fair amount in my life. As a child, I went overseas a couple of times, then a few more in my teenage years. I flew to Rome for a solitary ten-day sojourn in the Eternal City after high school graduation. In college, I studied in Italy for a semester and have been back since. I’ve also travelled south of the border a few times. All of which is to say, I’m not squeamish about travelling. I actually enjoy the international flight…I know, crazy, right? And for anyone who has done some travelling, and not been overly afraid, I’m sure you loved it as well. There’s something about all of the history, the sites and smells of local culture, and last, but certainly not least, the food. Oh, to eat real Italian food is truly something special. Anyway, this is a blog about security, and a post about safe traveling; I’ll stop reminiscing.
The reason this is on my mind right now should be evident to anyone who reads the news, or watches TV, or well…just doesn’t live under a rock. A couple of days ago, the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for Americans travelling to Europe. What they fear is a terrorist attack similar to those carried out in Mumbai in 2008. Apparently, according to a credible source, there were plots to attack Western European hotels and carry out attacks on civilians.
Ok, that’s particularly bad, but even without this, we need to think about safety when travelling abroad, especially in a post 9/11 era. In fact, according to the State Department’s website, there a number of places with travel warnings right now. Mexico, Sudan, Eritrea, parts of Israel, Haiti, Georgia, and 25 other places all have travel warnings, recommending that “Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country.” This is the government’s more serious warning.
Then, there are also Travel Alerts, which are less serious, in that they are supposed to only be short-term, but “pose significant risks to the security of U.S. citizens.” Not exactly a walk in the park, either. Does that mean I think we should avoid travel? Absolutely not. Do I think it means we need to think and act intelligently? Well, hopefully that goes without saying.
My goal in this post is to go over some tips, some from the State Department, and some from my own experiences, on how to stay safe when travelling abroad. Obviously, some of these are quite serious, but I’m also going to pepper in some lighter fare to keep things upbeat. Here we go:
That’s it for me. Please share your own tips, stories, and experiences in the comments box.
I love the Carolinas. First off, I’m a Southern-boy (even if I am exiled in the Midwest). I grew up in the great Commonwealth of Virginia (yes, its a Commonwealth, not a State) and, in many respects, my heart is still there. My extended family has lived in North Carolina forever (well, at least since my great-great-great (and so on) grandfather moved his family there soon after the Revolutionary War). And South Carolina? Who can say anything bad about that jewel of a state? Life there is still laid back in many places, the summers are hot and sticky, just like they should be. If you don’t know the joys of a real southern Summer, I can only tell you there’s something special about the combination of humidity and bugs.
So, it pains me to have to even discuss the question of workplace safety in the Carolinas. Why? Because, according to a new audit report, workplace safety in the Carolinas leaves something serious to be desired. Basically, both North Carolina and South Carolina don’t have very strong punishments in place for safety violations; they’re well below OSHA standards. Now, I’ve worked places and I know how much of a pain it can be to follow certain nitty-gritty rules. But, workplace safety is important. And there need to be punishments in place if someone is intentionally violating safety rules. It’s not fair to the workers, or the employees if that’s not the case.
For the rest of the info, check out the article. It’s worth a read. And, as always, have a great weekend. Next week, we’ve got some really exciting stuff coming up, and I can’t wait to share it with you. See you then.
We always seem to discuss home safety, personal safety when out, etc. We never discuss workplace safety. Why not? I guess I don’t really know why the subject never comes up. On the one hand, it’s an incredibly important topic (I’ll discuss why in a moment, in case you don’t know). On the other hand… it’s really rather boring, isn’t it? To sit and listen to someone ramble on about workplace safety is reminiscent of the old 80s and 90s instructional work tapes on safety. Or, perhaps it brings up thoughts of a big sign: Billy Bob’s Tire Factory: 256 Days without an Accident. Anyone else ever get the impression that if you did report an accident, you wouldn’t be the favorite guy on the crew? Anyway, the point is, it was/is boring. And that’s why no one wants to talk about it. Or at least, that’s why I haven’t wanted to talk about it.
That being said, it’s an important topic. Why? Because you spend the majority of your waking hours at work. It makes little sense to give a boatload of home safety tips while completely neglecting work safety. So, without further ado, here are some work safety tips. Please feel free to leave your own in the comments box, or to comment on the ones listed here.
Choosing the right home security company can be daunting. After all, it’s not like you’re just choosing which restaurant to eat at, or where to buy a camcorder; that is, we’re not talking about choosing a simple convenience tool or luxury. We’re not even talking about buying new, necessary appliances; we’re talking about home security. What’s at risk is your family, your property, the things that mean the most to you. So, why do so many people treat home security as if they’re buying a gadget?
I think much of this has to do with the idea that all home security companies are basically offering the same product and services, so the company is merely a vehicle for getting those items. In that case, you either go with the best known companies, or you go with the cheapest. And I think that’s how most people think. And that’s a problem, because not all companies are created equal, and the company you choose does matter. After all, they’ll have access to your personal information, you rely on them to help you select the right equipment for your personal security needs, and they’ll be the ones notifying emergency personnel in the event of an alarm. None of these are exactly small things.
Given that, you can imagine my happiness that the Electronic Security Association (one of the industry’s most respected trade associations) offers an article titled “10 Tips on how to select an Electronic Security Company.” It offers some great ideas. For example, it recommends that customers ask friends, neighbors or insurance companies for recommendations. Referrals from people you trust is a great way to get started, as long as that’s not the extent of your research. Additionally, it recommends checking with industry-specific and other national consumer protection agencies, such as the BBB. Again, this is a great way to weed out companies that will likely cause you hassle down the road.
Still, despite all of the benefits offered by the article, I think it makes some fundamental errors in its assumptions. It assumes that you are going to choose a traditional, in-your-home, installation and services company. And that may be fine for certain people. But for most people, it’s really not a great idea.
Going with a conventionally-oriented company really just means you’ll pay too much for too long for the same service you can get elsewhere. And what’s the point of that? You are much better off choosing a home security company with a focus on do it yourself home security systems. Why? Because most homeowners are capable of installing and programming their own system. And if they do, they can still get UL-listed, excellent alarm monitoring service, only they’ll pay a fraction of the cost.
So, if you’re committed to spending too much money, then by all means, choose one of the “big guys.” But, if you want great home security, at a much more affordable rate, consider looking at other options. It just makes sense.
Trying to get back into the grind on Monday morning is always a bit of a pain. You’re ready for the new week, but your mind lags just a bit behind. So, scouring through the pages of new junk produced by some members of the home security industry is never exciting. But, every now and then, you run across a small gem that really is valuable for homeowners; thankfully, today was one of those days.
I forgot that this past Saturday was Safety Saturday, co-sponsored by Lowe’s and the Home Safety Council, or else I would’ve posted it. But, what I did find, in doing some research on it, was a Home Safety Council website called mysafehome.net.
It’s an almost-interactive layout of a house. You can click on any number of rooms from the kitchen to the garage, and everything in between. When you do, you’re taken to an image of that room filled with a number of question marks. Each question mark warns you about potential safety hazards in that area and gives you tips to help make your home even safer.
Some of these are pretty simplistic. For example, in the kitchen it tells you to wipe up spills right away. That may be helpful if you are a total slob who would normally not mind having a glass of orange juice spilled all over the floor. But, it also offers tips that you may not think of, like having the right pool alarm or cover for your family’s pool.
So, who is this resource really for? I’d say it’s helpful for everyone, but would be most useful for families with small children. Having small children, I know that too many times something is overlooked in the question of safety. Until there is a problem, the danger is simply never recognized. Thanks to the Home Security Council’s new website, that won’t be the case. Stop by and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
Hey friends! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for Fall. I love Fall; the air is crisp and cool, the leaves begin to change color, football season is in full swing and life generally seems to slow down just a little bit. It’s great. And around here, we’re just on the cusp of it. Today is the last day forecasted in the foreseeable future that will be above 80 degrees. We have an afternoon storm coming, and then, in its wake, beautiful, wonderful Fall! So, you can see why its on my mind.
And Fall, like every season, has its own practices and rituals. One of those autumnal rituals going back to – well, I’m guessing the dawn of man – is the season’s first lighting of the old fireplace. There’s almost something iconic in it. Sitting down on a crisp, cool evening, hearing the wood fizzle and crack, watching the entrancing flames just does something to people. It always has and it always will. Kids may have the latest and greatest video game systems, they may be entirely isolated in their home due to the trappings of modern life, but sitting down by a fire will always move them; it hasn’t lost its ancient power to enchant.
Now, why all the raving and emotion about fire? Or rather, why bring it up on a blog dedicated to safety and security. Because, as Norman Rockwell-esque as sitting by the old hearth can be, it can also be, sadly, a giant fire hazard. Now, no pooh-poohing from my perspective. This won’t be a “don’t burn in the fireplace” post. What this will be is a “recommended tips” post on how to enjoy this immortal pasttime without burning down the neighborhood. So, without having to listen to me any longer, here you go:
These are just some of the tips for having a safe fire-burning Autumn and Winter. Though this list is not exhaustive, following these tips will help you to enjoy a safer year. Your home and loved ones aren’t risks worth taking. Use precautions and enjoy the season.
Note on the Title: It’s a line from Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem titled “Autumn Fires”
We live in a digital age. Technologies unimaginable 50 years ago are now part of our daily lives. Homes, businesses, entire industries, even nations, rely on these technologies to function in a normal manner. We are the most technologically advanced people the planet has ever seen; and we are fully dependent on that same technology.
Take today’s example. The East Hampton News reported that police have a fresh lead in the case of a home invasion and burglary that occurred in late July of this year. They have ascertained and distributed an image of a man taken using one of the laptops stolen in the robbery. That is a huge break for police in cracking this case.
But, just how did they get the information? The suspected robber opened up a social networking account which was still logged in from the previous user. He then accidentally took a picture of himself using the laptop’s built-in webcam. Hopefully this not-so-bright thief will be caught in the near future and the victims can have some peace of mind (and their stuff) returned to them.
Yesterday we discussed the question of staying safe online in order to protect yourself in the offline world. The problem, I stated, was that the online and offline worlds blend and overlap much more than anyone likes to pretend. Believing you’re anonymous on the Internet can lead to revealing too much information, which in turn, can lead to dangerous physical situations.
Hopefully we can all agree that we need to use caution when engaging the online world, be it Facebook, Twitter, social forums or games. But just how are you supposed to stay safe? What practical tips can you use to do so? Here are a few simple, but effective tips to help you stay safe online. Please use the comments box to add your own; especially since this list is by no means exhaustive.
Don’t “Friend” Non-Friends
The only exception to this is in business where you’re “friending” your customers or clients. Beyond that, there is absolutely no reason to become online friends with people you either don’t know, or barely know at all. Sure, maybe it’s a great ego boost to see that you have 500 “friends.” But that’s all it is. You don’t actually have that many friends (and given the amount of time you must spend online, you most likely never will).
Why is this dangerous? It’s dangerous because of the way people use social media. They add loads of friends who aren’t their friends, but then communicate primarily with only those real-life friends. This is problematic because you’re more inclined to share personal info with those few real friends while forgetting that you are broadcasting the same info to your mother as you are to your cousin’s old college roommate’s ex-boyfriend. Just say no!
Don’t Post Personal Information
Personal information should only be for personal relationships. And personal relationships have very little purpose online. It’s fine to use Facebook to share family pictures with relatives and friends who are scattered across the country. It’s fine to tell humorous, and harmless, anecdotes. It’s not fine to post personal information about vacation plans, house safety and security, images of your house that would let someone know what valuables you have and where they’re located.
Look, you want to share personal information? Do it personally. Be a human being, in the full sense of the word. Pick up the phone, or drive over to a friend’s house. Those are the venues for sharing the personal little details and stories; not online.
Follow Recommended Privacy Guidelines
This relates to the previous tip. Facebook, MySpace and others have recommended privacy guidelines. These guidelines are designed to help keep you safe online. Use them. Don’t share all information with all users. Protect your privacy and your information.
Use Common Sense
This is the thread that ties all the other tips together. It’s the tip that, if employed properly, makes all of the other tips obsolete. Be smart. Use common sense. If something seems like a bad idea, it probably is. If something seems like too much information, don’t share it. Have fun, and use social media to your heart’s content (get some fresh air every now and then, as well), but be careful when you do it. You’re not really anonymous, and what you do in the offline world can negatively affect you in the real world as well. Think about that.
Well, friends, I’m back after a week-long, crazy hiatus. It’s good to be back, and I’m ready to jump back into some of those pressing security and safety questions. So, without further ado, here we go.
In the news recently, there seems to be an increasing number of articles dealing with safely using social media. What makes these articles so compelling is that they don’t deal with this question in the “conventional” way. That is, they don’t tell you how to avoid losing your identity, suffering as a victim of online harassment, etc. Instead, these articles deal with problems that arise from a blending of the online world and the real world; and that is fascinating.
For too long, we’ve operated under the assumption that it’s fine to live in a separate world online than you do in the real world; or at least, that the dangers of online usage are primarily online dangers. But, recent trends don’t bear that out. For the past couple of years, thieves, intruders, rapists, and others have been using social media to perpetuate physical crimes in the real world.
For example, a blog post in the New York Times recently revealed a Nashua, NH based crime ring which used Facebook as its central tool. Basically, three men would use Facebook to determine when someone was going on vacation. This wasn’t difficult, since many of the victims posted a status update stating that they were going on vacation. Using other online information, it was not difficult to ascertain where the intended victim lived. From there, it was easy.
Almost a year ago, another couple happened to post an update that they were going out to a concert. When they returned, their home had been burglarized. The perpetrator was one of their “friends” on Facebook.
Now, why is all of this important? It’s important because too many people live as if what happens in their online world has no bearing on their real life. This simply isn’t true. Maybe it was for a time (I don’t think it ever was, personally), but it isn’t anymore. It’s time for people to being acting seriously online, and realizing that their social media actions can have devastating real-life consequences.
For today, we’ll leave it at that. Hopefully, you have something to think about. Tomorrow we’ll discuss what practical steps you can take to act in a smart, and measured manner while online.
Thanks. If you have any stories of your own, please include them in the comments.
1. Our first “genius” was already a convicted burglar; which means he was already caught once. But, taking to heart the idea of trying until you succeed, he decided to give it another go. Only problem is, he doesn’t appear to be the sharpest knife in the drawer. When police arrived on the scene of the crime, they found a cellphone; and it belonged to the criminal. It didn’t take them long to find and arrest him. As the Prosecutor said: “It helps when you’ve got stupid criminals.” We couldn’t agree more! Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20015518-504083.html
2. Our next entry contains not one, but four dumb criminals. As any child who has ever seen a cops and robbers movie (or has multiple working brain cells) knows, there are a couple of things necessary to pull off a burglary. You need to be stealthy and avoid being seen. You especially need to avoid being seen around the crime scene. Finally, you need to commit your crime in a place, where if you are seen, you won’t be recognized.* Guess what that excludes? Robbing your neighbor; which is just what they did. After calling the police, it took the resident no time to identify the criminals, since he sees them every day. Source: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/Neighbor-easily-identifies-stooges-who-robbed-him-102292959.html
3. A couple of Australian criminals decided that stealing and then selling a large, black python was a way to get some easy money. Problem is, it appears they didn’t know how to handle that sort of a snake. So, they were caught, eating in a McDonald’s parking lot, but having to wrestle and wrangle with the large, and now agitated snake. The police were called and the criminals went to jail. Source: http://news.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978508340
4. Our winner, and this does take the cake, is as follows (drum roll please): A Jefferson County, Alabama sheriff’s deputy was filling up her police vehicle with gas. While at the pump, a seemingly high man (and I don’t mean he was on top of the roof) walked over and asked her to please check to see if he had any outstanding warrants. Our friend with the constricted pupils assured the deputy he didn’t, but just wanted to be sure. Oh, and if he did, would she mind not arresting him. Well, shocker, he did have outstanding arrest warrants. What for? Another shocker, it was for unlawful possession of a controlled substance. So, she promptly arrested this week’s winner (it hurts to refer to him as a winner, doesn’t it), and took him to jail.
Well, folks, that’s all for today’s segment of dumb criminals. I hope you enjoyed it. Hopefully we’ll see you next week. Until then, if you have any stories of stupid criminals you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.
*This post is obviously not promoting burglary. The advice given is tongue-in-cheek.
It seems like forever since I’ve written a post. I was out of the office from Friday through Monday, and yesterday was playing catch-up. So, its been almost a week. Hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend and are well rested for returning to normal life again (whatever that may be). Today, I want to get back into the swing of things by briefly commenting on a news article dealing with fire safety. The topic is an old one, but the lessons to be derived from it are invaluable, particularly in this case.
The article, appearing on WSAZ.com, details the story of Roy and Ruby Workman. They were a middle-aged couple married for over 20 years. Both of the Workmans are in poor health, a factor that almost seriously worked against them.
Early in the morning on Tuesday, Sept. 7, a fire broke out in their Milton, WV home. The couple didn’t wake up because of the smell of smoke, nor the heat of the fire. They didn’t hear the popping and cracking of the flames. In fact, they didn’t notice anything. As Ruby admitted, its unlikely either of them would’ve awakened in time to be safe, were it not for a relatively small investment they made.
You see, Roy and Ruby were the owners of a monitored home security system. The fire alarm started sounding, but its unclear if that woke them up. What is clear is that the central station’s phone call finally jarred them into action. Their house is completely lost, along with many of their valuables; but Roy and Ruby are safe, and they still have each other.
Its a lesson worth reflection. Don’t think anyone will every try to rob you? You may be right; though I’d rather be safe than sorry. Even the safest neighborhoods have fallen prey to home intruders. Don’t think you’ll have a flood or freeze you need to know about? Those options are pretty inexpensive, and hey, I’d still rather be safe than sorry. But no one in their right mind can predict whether or not they’ll fall victim to a house fire. Every day we use a number of things that could easily become the source of a home fire. We’re surrounded by that possibility.
Be prepared. Purchase a home security system, complete with fire protection and central station monitoring. Its an investment worth making.
It’s that time of the year. College students are either already back in school or will be shortly. And whether your campus is full of ivy-covered stone buildings or of more modern materials and design, there is one thing that is the furthest from the mind of almost every college student: Security.
I know, it’s hard to even care about something like that when you’re in college. You’re out on your own for the first time, everything is fresh and new. The excitement on college campuses at this time of year is almost palpable. New classes, new friends, new parties. Everything is new. And, that newness combined with a more laid-back attitude in the collegiate world is great in most things, but sadly can lead to major security flaws.
This was brought to mind from an article that appeared in yesterday’s Gonzaga Bulletin. It was a thoughtful, and thought-provoking article from a young lady who seems to be in her senior year at Gonzaga University in Spokane. She’s reflecting back on her earlier years in the college, and on the fact that she didn’t lock her doors while on-campus, and maintained that bad habit while off-campus. She gives the reason as being one of time-saving; it was easy and convenient for her to walk up to her door and open it without having to unlock it. Yeah, probably not. While that might factor somewhere way down the list, even college students aren’t that lazy.
I would venture to guess that the real reason Ms. Noorani and her roommates did not lock their doors was a false sense of security, mixed in with some naiveté. I know, because I was a college freshman once. No one locked their doors; even after people in our dorm began reporting stolen money. Why? Because we were invincible; our utopian college life was safe. That attitude pervades too many college campuses, and the repercussions can be disastrous.
So, what should you do if you live on a college campus, or off-campus as the case may be?
So, all in all, the rules boil down to this: Be smart, use your head, and have a great time. This may not be “the best time of your life” (and, trust me, it won’t be), but its certainly a great time. Experience college to the fullest, but do it in a safe and secure way.
There were a few interesting stories this morning relating to our industry. One dealt with some new and hopefully upcoming technology. Interesting, but a little too boring for the blog this morning. Another dealt with the release of grand jury testimony by a handful of Hollywood stars, ranging from Orlando Bloom to Lindsay Lohan, and more. I thought about posting some of the article here and commenting on it. But, two things inclined me against it. One, we’ve heard those stories before. We’ve discussed, on this blog, the emotional toll a burglary can have on the homeowner; how they’ve lost their sense of security and peace. It’s not new in that sense. The only reason it would’ve worked, or been any different from previous articles, was the fact that it dealt with the rich and famous. Oddly enough, that was my second reason for not wanting to do so.
We live in a very strange world today. We are fascinated with the daily minutiae of people, who, for the most part, we wouldn’t even like if they weren’t famous. And to be honest, the consistently bad decisions they make in their personal lives do not lend themselves towards sympathy even equaling what I would feel for a normal person. So, that was out, but luckily I found something else.
There was an article in Mommies Magazine focusing on child safety. I want to take a quick moment to review that article, and then take a moment to discuss what tips I think really matter for child safety. But first, the article.
I’m alway pleased when articles give you a series of safety tips. It makes it easy to pull the meat out of an article and really “chew” on it. And then, when it’s done, you have a nice series of practical tips to proceed with. But, despite that, I have to say I was fairly disappointed in the article. Its not that anything in it was wrong, practically speaking, but I think the focus was wrong.
The article focuses primarily on child safety, in the home, from the perspective of preventing abduction. And obviously, you want your kids to be safe and avoid situations or circumstances that could lead to anything like kidnapping. There is nothing more heart-wrenching than hearing about a missing child, and the heart of every parent sinks when they hear about it. But is it really the best focus for an article on child safety? I don’t think so.
It’s not the right focus for such an article, because it’s extremely rare, especially the likelihood of abduction in the home. It would be like me writing an article on staying safe over the holidays and focusing entirely on the ways to survive airline crashes. Sure, people travel over the holidays and many of them will fly. But, even in a worst case scenario, only a few of them will ever be exposed to such circumstances. Tragic? Yes. Good focus for the general public? No. There are many other, more likely safety issues. The same idea applies to child safety.
To be fair, the article did end with a paragraph giving some tips on general child safety. I’ll include those and others in what I think should be included in a child safety article. From reading below, you’ll see that this list is primarily for younger children; as children grow older, many of these tips will be unnecessary or irrelevant.
These are just some of the many options for protecting your child at home. If you have others, please leave them in the comments box. I’d love to hear them.
I do want to close with one last point: There has to be balance. You should do the above, especially if you have young children. But, kids will be (and should be) kids. You have to let them explore, learn, and get scraped up a bit. Its all part of growing up. Our job is to make sure that when it comes to the big things, we’ve got them covered.
Yesterday evening, I was discussing with colleagues the situation concerning Oakland’s Chief Batts (mentioned before here and here). Anyway, we were discussing the insanity of that whole situation, and exactly what recourse is left to the residents of Oakland. The general consensus was that the only option left for them was to protect themselves. In Oakland, thats already taken the form of hiring a private security company and placing security cameras throughout the city. Hopefully, everyone can see the benefit of these sorts of programs in a place like Oakland. But, what if you live somewhere where the police chief is competent and the police are still actively pursuing any and all crimes for which they are called? Does a neighborhood watch program still make sense in these cases?
The answer is an overwhelming yes. First of all, the police cannot be everywhere at once. Even in a best case scenario, the police are only going to travel down your road a few times per day; which means that for the other 23 hours and 55 minutes, your street/neighborhood is not being actively monitored. The second point is that the police are normally only going to respond to crime, not prevent it. Even if someone suspicious is walking down your road when the police drive through it, how will they know? They don’t know everyone who lives in your area. And they don’t know if they need to keep an eye on a particular person. So, we know that the police, helpful though they are, can’t generally prevent crime; at least not in these cases.
But, can you? Can your neighbors? I think the answer there is yes. Obviously, you’re at an advantage because you know your neighborhood. You know who lives there. You know that what may appear to an outsider to be a crazy old man in a bathrobe, is simply Mr. McGee getting his mail as he does everyday. Or that the punk kid walking down the road is not a latent sociopath, but Timmy Ryder from a few houses up. On the flip side, you also know that the odd car you’ve seen driving up and down your road three times today does not belong to anyone one your block. That is important information. But its also exclusive information. Only someone who lives in and is familiar with a particular place will be able to identify these seemingly trivial events. And that is ultimately what’s needed to effectively prevent crime.
So, its clear that individual residents are well suited to identify suspicious persons and, with the assistance of the police, to prevent crimes before they happen. The only thing that remains to be seen is if the collective body of residents in a given neighborhood are better suited to this task than individuals. And that answer ought to be obvious, so I won’t spend much time on it. Suffice it say that an organized group of people, working together, with the responsibility to notice and report potential crimes will be far more effective than an individual without that communal mandate, who may or may not take the time to report suspicious behavior.
Well? What are you waiting for? Make some appetizers and drinks and invite the neighbors over. Get the program started sooner rather than later. Its easy, and the rewards are more than worth it.
So far, in our Why SafeMart series, we’ve discussed Customer Satisfaction, Tech Support, Product Quality, and the Size of Our Product Offering. Everyone one of those is a contributing answer to the question: “Why SafeMart?” But, today’s focus may be even more important or foundational than those discussed earlier.
Today, we live in a world where the question of price is front and center. Certainly, its not the only consideration. Heck, its not even the most important consideration. But, no one can deny that it is a consideration. In a time when almost 10% of the population is unemployed, and the much of the remaining 90% fear for their jobs, when banks have pulled back from easy lending, and when the future prognosis is not much brighter, price is a considerable factor in every buying decision.
Because price is so important, and because times really are tough, SafeMart wants to make it easy for you. We offer a low-price guarantee on all of our products. How does it work? To put it simply, we will match any legitimate competitor’s online price for the same item. Now, why would we do that? We are confident that we offer our customers fair pricing, and if for some reason, a legitimate competitor is offering it lower, then we’re happy to do so.
Its all part of our committment to delighting our customers. For more information on our low-price guarantee, check: http://www.safemart.com/low-price-guarantee.html
Fridays are nice. Its the end of the work week, everything is winding down, and no one wants to go crazy reading a long, focused blog post on home security. No one wants to write that sort of blog post on a Friday, either, for what that’s worth. So, we’re going to do a new segment on the blog. Every Friday I will recommend a handful of stories about dumb criminals.
Why? Because we’re happy when the bad guys get caught. Oh, and, lets be honest, we just love laughing at dumb criminals. So, without further ado, here’s what we have for our first edition:
Ok, folks. That’s all I have for you today. Leave your comments either on these stories or let us know some dumb criminal stories you have yourself. Have a great weekend. Until next time…
After yesterday’s corporate culture treatise, I decided that we would take it a little easier on the blog today; no long, multi-page posts. So, after I filled my cup at MJs (the areas best coffee), and walked back to my office, I began looking around online in news and industry blogs to see what, if anything was new and interesting.
As I’ve said before, almost every day you can find some story about a burglary and how security cameras helped catch the bad guy (which is cool), or how some homeowner was robbed and now they’ve lost their peace of mind (which is not cool, but helpful to illustrate the need for home security). But that’s not really what I was looking for today. Thus, I was pleased to come across an article in hometownlife.com, written by the training coordinator for the Livonia Fire Department, about smoke detectors.
First off, I always love articles written by people “in the field.” When a cop writes about security, or a firefighter about fire safety, there’s some real meat there. Its always worth a read because they bring a real-life perspective into it.
So I was excited to see what the author, Tom Kiurski, had to say. You can read the article here for all of the details. But, the main thrust of his argument is found in the title: A smoke alarm is the best piece of home safety equipment.
While I think I agree, I’m not sure Mr. Kiurski does a great job of defending his position. He tells a few stories about people who barely made it out alive. And those stories are compelling. But, why not tell a story of carbon monoxide death, or flooding death. Wouldn’t the same argument apply for those situations and their respective life safety devices? What he doesn’t say, and what I think would make his case more compelling, is that fire is the most likely scenario for an emergency. And, its incredibly dangerous.
So, lets go on with the author’s stated point and unstated reasons: Smoke alarms are the most important thing you can have because of the danger and likelihood of a fire. Now, what about the next chunk of the article. The author seems to indicate that it makes little difference whether the smoke alarm you use is stand alone or connected to a home security system. And, while its true that stand alone is better than nothing, its far from ideal.
Having a fire alarm connected to a home security system is right for one simple reason. You don’t have to worry about contacting emergency personnel in the event of a fire. You can focus entirely on getting your family and most valuable possessions out of the house. You can do that because you know that your central station is taking care of calling your local fire department. Thats true peace of mind.
So, I promised I’d keep it short and I will. Let me conclude with two points:
It just makes sense; the cost is relatively little, and the benefits are immense.
Corporate culture has been a buzzword in the business world for as long as anyone can remember. Every company has one, and the term itself is used in hiring literature, marketing materials, and board room meetings. And every company wants you, the customer, to know about their corporate culture and how great it is. But, just what is corporate culture?
Its always helpful to start with a definition. So, according to Wikipedia, corporate culture is an idea, “which describes the psychology, attitudes, experiences, beliefs, and values (personal and cultural values) of an organization.” Well, that’s only moderately helpful. Lets rip that apart a bit. So, corporate culture is an idea. That is, its not something tangible. You’re selling an idea, or a spirit, or a value system which you hope permeates your corporate structure. Next, it deals with psychology, attitudes, experiences, beliefs and values. So, its not something merely dictated from the top down. In order for it to “work” it has to be believed and practiced by the majority of people at a company. And, here’s the catch, it has be experienced by the majority of people in a company. So, it can’t simply be an idea; it has to be put into some sort of practice. Finally, it relates to a specific organization. That means, it has to deal with the way the business as a whole interacts or does business. Merely having an organization full of people who are committed to fantasy football, and play in their spare time doesn’t qualify. It has to relate to every aspect of business.
To recap, it has to be something that a majority of people believe in, that a majority of people put into practice, and it has to relate to the way in which a company does business (at some level).
As I stated earlier, every company wants to have a corporate culture. Its like living in a penthouse in New York City: you say your apartment has feng shui even if you have no idea what it is. Why? Because all the cool kids are saying it.
Clearly, some companies get it. Southwest, Zappos, Google all have very real corporate cultures that set them aside. For Zappos its an absolute commitment to customer service, above all else. As CEO Tony Hsieh puts it, they’re in the business of delivering happiness. For Google, it seems to be a combination of extreme innovation combined with their founding motto: Do No Evil.
But what does it tell us that these handful of companies come to mind so quickly? Why don’t thousands of other companies pop into your head as well? Because some companies are “doing” corporate culture in the right way, and others just want you to think they are. There are plenty of companies, for instance, who say they’re committed to customer service. But when it comes time to return something, or get assistance from tech support, their claim to a customer-oriented corporate culture seems a cruel joke. Its as if they’ve determined that their real corporate culture is to fool the customers. We’ve all dealt with these types of companies, and we’d prefer never to do so again. Our love or anger for a particular company ultimately stems from its corporate culture. So, how does this play into our industry?
The home security industry is hard to nail down. Its been fragmented for so many years. On the one extreme you have the “big guys” who have been entrenched at the top for so long they survive merely on name recognition. On the other you have the local one man show dealer/installer. He fights for business on a local level, and may do very well, but rarely makes a significant impact on the market. Most fall in between.
Despite this fragmentation, there are a few generalizations to make about the home security industry and its’ collective view of corporate culture. For the most part, the companies that make up the industry desire to present a view of their corporate culture as being professional, courteous and helpful, and committed to the welfare of individual homeowners. Many are also turning to social media to present a view of an up-to-date, modern company ready to engage the world on its terms. Is that reality, though?
No. Take a moment and read some reviews on the various companies in the industry. You’ll read horror stories about bad tech support, sleazy salesmen, and long and confusing contracts. So, customer service for the industry at large: Negative. Now, what about really looking out for customers? Most companies, large and small, charge a premium for home security monitoring. They’re banking on two things:
The reality is otherwise. They’re playing games to hoodwink you into signing up with them. ”Free installation”, “free system”, “only $99 down”, etc. And it sounds great; really, really great. But, if you look at the numbers, and what you could pay elsewhere, you realize that you are being overcharged, again and again.
But that’s not all. If you read those same reviews, you’ll find out that cancelling is a giant hassle. Somehow, its very difficult to cancel with most of these companies and you end up being auto-renewed for another 3-year term. Now, I have no doubt that the lawyers for these companies very carefully drafted their contracts. And, I have no doubt that if customers retained their own lawyer, they would know exactly how to cancel. But is that good customer service? Does that qualify as a great corporate culture? To ask the question is to answer it.
As I mentioned yesterday, we made the Inc. 5000 again this year. And I attributed that to our complete focus on customer delight, and a desire to offer our customers the newest and most innovative services. This, in large part, makes up our corporate culture. But, that could be just all talk. How can I prove it to you?
First, with our pricing. We’re competitive. We sell you equipment that you pay for up-front. We don’t sell you a “free” system and then add the cost in to your monthly monitoring rate.
Second, with our monitoring. We don’t force you to get it. We think you should. I think I’ve written about monitoring more times than I’ve written about anything else. We’re committed to security, and don’t think you’re being fully secure without monitoring, but its your choice. You don’t have to get a system with monitoring.
Third, with our monitoring price. Standard, phone line monitoring is only $9.95 per month. Is it lesser quality monitoring? Nope, its UL-listed, central station monitoring. They have all sorts of protections in place for redundancy, meaning no matter what, you’re covered. They are a well-respected and reliable central station. Your monitoring is not any different if you go with us vs. “the big guys.” So, why do we charge so little? Because we’re not trying to rip you off. We want you to have monitoring, and we want it to be affordable.
Fourth, with our contracts. We only you have sign a one-year contract, rather than the industry standard 3-year. Why? Because even though we’re convinced you’ll stay with us after a year, we want you to have the option to go somewhere else if you’d like. Its your system, its your security: it ought to be your choice.
Finally, with our customer recommendations. Check out our reviews on Google. Look on our site to see what our customers have said about us. Check out our BBB rating (its an A+). And for immediate proof, check out what one customer had to say about our team:
I am absolutely certain that I saved well over 50% of the cost I would have paid a commercial installer by dealing with SafeMart. I have the satisfaction of having first hand (sic) knowledge of my system’s capabilities and peace of mind that, should I encounter future issues with the system, SafeMart’s technical support stands behind the product.
Now that is corporate culture in action.
To conclude, in the security industry, corporate culture does matter. It affects your savings, your peace of mind, even your security. And the real corporate culture (not what’s portrayed) by too many companies in this industry is bad. Its bad for business and its bad for you, the customer. At SafeMart, our corporate culture is the real thing. We are devoted to the customer and delighting them. In the end, to customers, that’s more important than overpaying to go with a company just because its the “big guy.”
For the second year in a row, SafeMart is on the Inc. 5000. As you may or may not know, the Inc. 5000 is an annual list of the fastest growing privately-owned businesses in America. Its a pretty big deal, if I don’t say so myself, so we’re thrilled to be on there again this year. We have a press release coming out later, so all of the official details will be on that, and I’ll update the blog with a link when its live.
What I wanted to talk about today was a more intimate view of why I think we made the list again. In order to do that, its worth going back to our first listing last year. At the time, we realized that we had succeeded because of our employees. We were deep in the recession, everyone was feeling a little on edge, and many companies were cutting back employee resources. And, if they weren’t cutting back the employees themselves, then they were cutting back employee compensation and bonuses. We didn’t! Everyone else cut back, and our wonderfully “crazy” board of owners decided to invest in their employees and give everyone profit sharing (above their normal salaries). And, everyone got a nice check this year as part of that profit-sharing.
Think about that for a moment. We’re in the middle of the worst economic time since the Great Depression, many people were losing their jobs, every business is squeezing down as tight as they can, including massive layoffs, salary freezes, bonus cancellations, etc. and our company does the opposite. They decide to invest in their employees. And I can tell you, to a man (and woman) every employee here loves the company. They love the company because they know they’re really part of the team, not simply a number. What they do helps shape the company and they receive the benefit of that hard work. Its a recipe for success, which is why its surprising that so few companies do this.
Ok, so, if 2008 (and before) was the year of the employee (it still is, to be honest), then 2009 can safely be called the year of the customer. Our C-levels have always had progressive ideas when it came to customer service. And a desire to build a customer service machine was always part of the plan. We had it drilled into us (oh yes, even us in the marketing and ecommerce side of things) that our goal was to give our clients excellent customer service. But, in 2009, something changed. We moved from the idea of customer service to the idea of customer delight. And that became our goal. And that goal pushed all sorts of things in the right place.
That desire to delight our customers pushed us to have the latest and most innovative technology and services available. And, because we try to treat customers like family, our prices are fair and competitive. But thats a side note. The important part of the story is this: There is a way to do business that values everyone involved in the process. Our bosses choose to invest in those of us lucky enough to be part of this team. In turn, we give it our all and invest our focus, resources and energy in our customers. Its a win-win, and as you can see from the Inc. listing, its working.
So, sorry for the rambling “woo-hoo” but we’re pretty proud of what we’ve accomplished. And at least for today, we have bragging rights!
Its been a couple of weeks since I wrote a post in the Why SafeMart category. So far, we’ve discussed customer satisfaction, free lifetime tech support, and professional grade security equipment. Click on the Why SafeMart category at the bottom of this post to see the other articles. To refresh, the purpose of this series is to tell you why SafeMart is the right security choice for you, the homeowner. So, we have discussed and will be discussing those things that make SafeMart a best value for you; be they product selection or our same-day shipping. And, as I stated in the inaugural post, not all of these qualities are unique to SafeMart. Other companies may offer free tech support, still other companies offer professional grade security. But only SafeMart combines all of these traits in one business. And its that combination that really answers the question: Why SafeMart?
Getting down to today’s topic: what do I mean when I say we have a huge product offering? I mean that we offer more products than almost anyone in the industry. And I don’t mean we have just a few more products than our competitors. I mean we have the Mt. Everest of product offerings and our competitors have the anthill. And best of all? These products are professional grade security items. They’re not simply thousands of cheap consumer products.
Now, I know it can be great to visit a store with only one product. Perhaps you know exactly what you want, and perhaps that one product is just what you need. But what if it isn’t? What if you’re not entirely sure? No matter how knowledgeable their staff may be, a company with only a few products isn’t in a great position to offer you a solution that is perfect, just for you.
At SafeMart, on the other hand, we may only recommend a few different models to most customers. But our knowledgeable support staff have literally thousands of products to draw from, so that they can make recommendations that are specific to you and your needs. That doesn’t mean we don’t have the one product you were interested in at the smaller store; it means we have that product and a whole lot more.
So, why SafeMart? Because we have a product offering large enough to meet any needs you may have.
In an article written for the Cleveland Sun News earlier this week, Susan Ketchum relates her experience of moving from a reporter of crime to becoming one of its victims. You can read the article for all of the details; I won’t go through them here. What I really want to discuss are the feelings Mrs. Ketchum describes at the end of her piece.
I could deal with losing “stuff,” but the thought of being watched was creepy. What if I had come back for something, and found them there?
She was safe; her family was safe. The thieves took some electronics, but nothing material that couldn’t be replaced; though they did take something immaterial that was irreplaceable: her peace of mind.
We hear it all the time from potential customers. They’re embarrassed about the initial robbery, scared that it may happen again, and they no longer feel comfortable in their own home. Every creak in the night makes those feelings present and intense. They need a home security system to help restore some of that peace of mind. And its great that a system helps them do that.
But why not prevent the heartache and anxiety before it happens. Getting a home security system after you are burglarized is a wonderful, and perhaps necessary, thing. But why not purchase and install a monitored home security system before you’re robbed and help prevent it from ever happening?
Look, I’ll repeat it again: most burglaries are crimes of opportunity. Burglars don’t want to be caught, and they don’t want to trigger an alarm system. That’s why the Washington Post’s study shows that homes without a security system are three times as likely to be broken into than homes with security security systems.
So, purchase a home security system today, and invest in your peace of mind. Because once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.
We’re going to take a little different focus than usual on the blog today.
It was almost the end of yesterday’s workday. I was finishing up some last minute emails and looking forward to going home and enjoying a well-deserved beer. And, we all know that when you’re working later than five, your brain isn’t firing at full capacity. So, I didn’t have the energy to read an article from FastCompany on the creation of the “Most Secure City in the World.” I grabbed the url, emailed it to myself and went home for the evening.
After some much-needed coffee this morning, I pulled it back up, along with a new article from Gizmodo on “The End of Privacy.” I have now read both of those articles and let me tell you, what they are describing is insane. Its the sort of story you’d expect someone to tell you whose usual attire consists of a bathrobe and a tinfoil hat (not that there’s anything wrong with that). We’ll dig into the particulars, but the gist of the story is that Leon, Mexico will be installing iris scanners throughout the city to track the actions and whereabouts of both criminals and law-abiding citizens. What? Is this a joke?
Even in an age where we have sacrificed personal liberties, and a sense of decency and decorum, all in the name of a vague and abstract safety, surely this sort of activity must cause us to shudder, right? To think that literalizing (not even sure if that’s a word) the figurative “ever-watchful eye of government” is a good thing is confined only to the suits who darken the doors of the deep recesses of some governments. Right?
But if that’s so, then where is the outcry? Why aren’t the people of Leon simply saying No! to this intrusion into their daily lives?
And, lest you think I’m over reacting, lets look through some of the facts brought out in both articles:
So, a city of one million people will be subject to the next generation of tracking in what can only be called the beginnings of a police state. Since when does government have the right to monitor former criminals who paid their debt to society (obviously excluding those still on parole or probation)? Since when does government have the right to monitor banks and ATMs? What does this have to do with criminal activity at all? Since when does government have the right to keep a perpetual eye on their citizens? If this isn’t a police state, if this isn’t a recipe for tyranny, then I don’t know what is!
Now look, at SafeMart we’re big fans of security and safety. Its our whole life, the air we breathe. And we’re also big fans of police and other emergency personnel. We support any reasonable technologies or programs that help make their jobs easier, and our lives safer. We recognize that governments have a legitimate right to use their authority for the protection of their citizens and for national self defense. We are absolutely in favor of those things and defenders of the brave men and women who lay their lives on the line to help achieve that goal. And if we can do anything to assist them, we’re happy to. But, even security has its limits. And this crosses them.
So, lets end with this line from Gizmodo, which I heartily second. It comes immediately after noting that Rainmakers’ head, Jeff Carter, wants the whole world on the scanner database in 10 years:
Of course, that would be good for Carter’s business. For the best of the rest of us, I hope this never happens.
Its that time of year again. Its hotter than…well, you know what, rain seems to have travelled away to cooler climes, and the stores are starting to fill up with notebooks, pens, and binders (do they still make trapper-keepers?). That’s right, its almost time to go back to school.
And despite all of the excitement and anxiety surrounding this annual ritual, its important to ensure safety remains a priority. As a small child, I remember my mother getting us on the school bus, and waiting to meet us when we got off at the end of the day, if not at the bus stop, then certainly at the front door. That experience is simply not the case for every child anymore. More and more, mom (or a neighbor) gets the kids on the bus, waves goodbye and heads to work. And, in what is becoming increasingly more common, kids are getting off the bus by themselves and coming home to an empty house.
In fact, the issue has become so pervasive that we use a common term for these children: latchkey kids. The name derives from the fact that the only thing to greet them when they arrive home is a latch. Backing away from the potential problems with such a situation, the reality is that sometimes there isn’t another option. Children may, even if not every day, have to come home alone on occasion. But, how do you make sure they’re safe?
Here is a brief and introductory list of recommendations to help keep children safe once the school season is fully upon us:
We won’t be able to protect our children for the rest of their lives, but for the short time that they live at home under our watchful eyes, we should do our best to make sure that they are safe and happy. Following the above steps is one way to help do that.
What sort of safety tips do you use with your children for the school year? Let us know. As always, we love to hear from you.
Environmental safety is always a topic of concern. A few years ago, I knew about carbon monoxide detectors, but didn’t care if I had one or not (I didn’t). Today, I’m a big proponent of these type of life-saving devices. Why?
A couple of years ago, I sat down with someone in the industry and we discussed some of the serious issues that arise from carbon monoxide poisoning. Still, it seemed an unlikely reality. Then I found out that friends suffered mild CO poisoning, thankfully without long-term repercussions, but certainly with illness at the time. Then, not long after a friend from New York began getting sick on a regular basis and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Thankfully her doctor knew the signs enough to know that she was suffering from CO poisoning. Imagine if it had become worse, or if she didn’t go to the doctor. She could’ve died. Thankfully, she was, and is, fine. but, all of these things got me thinking, and ultimately committed me to CO protection.
Having discussed CO detectors before, I thought there wasn’t much more to say, but an article in the Belfast Telegraph piqued my interest. The title is, “Carbon Monoxide: don’t rely on detectors alone.” Worth a read, I figured, and I was right. The basic point is this: a carbon monoxide detector exists to alert you to a problem. It doesn’t identify the source of the problem and it can’t alert you to potential future problems. All it can do is warn you once the danger is already there. And that’s great. Its a huge and necessary thing to know as soon as CO levels become dangerous in your home. But, its the last step, not the first.
So, what does the article recommend?
Lastly, if you’re feeling sick, especially nauseated, check with a doctor. Carbon monoxide kills about 170 people every year in the United States(source); and while that number may seem small, its 170 too many for a killer that is preventable, and detectable.
About a month ago I wrote on the unfortunate and bizarre decision by the Oakland Police Department not only to significantly reduce its police force, but also to announce a number of crimes to which police will no longer respond. Reducing the police force may be a necessary evil; I don’t know, I don’t live in Oakland, nor am I in their budget office. But, Chief Batts’ decision to announce, in a press conference, to which crimes Oakland police will no longer respond was both bizarre and dangerous. Since then, I’ve been keeping my eyes and ears open for any further developments of this story. Today, we have the next chapter.
According to an article in today’s New York Times, private businesses in Oakland’s Chinatown district are investing in additional security, and pursuing the possibility of hiring a private security company to protect their property. Abstracting from who should really be doing this job, I think its a good idea, under the circumstances. And, since they’re no doubt helping the police immensely through this, perhaps they should be given a tax credit of some sort. I don’t know. I’m just throwing that out there. The point is, the residents of Oakland, particularly the business owners in Chinatown, are banding together to fix a very bad situation. We can all agree that’s great. Right?
Well, in another stunningly bizarre statement, Chief Batts doesn’t quite agree. According to the article, he praised the surveillance system efforts of these business owners, but, as it says, “he stopped short of endorsing the hiring of private patrols.” Why, you may ask? Let’s hear Chief Batts’ own words: “I hope people are not doing that because they are scared.”
Chief Batts, you hope they’re not hiring a private security firm “because they are scared?” Forgetting the obvious fact that the only reason someone would hire a private security firm is because they’re scared (making your statement completely unintelligible), lets take a look at the facts (all crime facts come from this source). All statistics are year-to-date for 2010. So far in 2010 there have been:
Oh, and lets add one other fact: In July of this year, you, Chief Batts, oversaw a significant reduction of the police force in Oakland, and announced to which crimes the Oakland PD would no longer respond! So, yeah, I’d guess they’re scared. Because in 2009, Oakland was the 3rd Most Dangerous City in America, and your residents no longer trust you to protect them.
So, lets commend the business owners in the Chinatown district. They’re committed to a safe and friendly Oakland, even if that means they have to pay for it out of their own pockets. We can only hope Chief Batts gets behind this effort before he loses any more credibility.
Today we’re going to discuss a new phenomenon (well, not that new) which is probably unknown to most of you. In fact, had it not run in the New York Times, I probably wouldn’t even bring it up, as it seems to fall into the category of too much information for would-be burglars. You know the type of story, Watch out: there’s a crazy security flaw that no one else in the universe knows about but me; but I’m telling everyone in a major news outlet so that you can prepare yourselves. The end result is always that bad guys who were too stupid to figure it out in the first place, now have a new means of attack. Back to the story.
So, what is the serious risk presented in this article? Online photos. According to the article mentioned above, users can easily download a browser add-on that will allow them to see the geotag that your camera or smartphone imprints. But what is a geotag? Its a longitude and latitude location of where you took your image. Which sounds really cool, right? And, at some level, it is really cool to be able to look back and know exactly where you took each image. Its really, really impressive. But, combined with Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, CraigsList and more, it could be an invitation for danger.
Why? Because with an easy Firefox download, you can view that data on anyone’s pictures who doesn’t have the feature disabled (And, yes, it is that easy; I just did a test). Once you’ve dumped those coordinates into Google Maps, you’ve got an exact location of where the picture was taken.
Now, if you took your pictures while on vacation in Italy, or the mountains of Colorado, no big deal. But, what if you took a picture of your family, sitting in your living room to upload to Flickr so the grandparents could see? Now, any potential thief knows where you live, and potentially what valuables are in the house. If you post home pics on Twitter, and then later update to say that you’re at work, the thief now knows you’re gone. It could be a complete disaster for you, and a field day for burglars.
Hopefully, you know enough now to turn this feature off if you take pictures with a newer digital camera or smartphone (the NY Times article links to resources to walk you through this). But let me give one last word of warning. Its increasingly (and disturbingly) becoming more popular for teens to take compromising photos of themselves and post them online. That’s a terrible idea no matter how you slice it. But with this security flaw, you’ve not only given potential predators your picture, you’ve given them your location. And that is a recipe for complete disaster.
Final thoughts? Don’t be stupid. When taking pictures and posting them online, turn off your geotag feature. And, take smart, appropriate pictures. Thats good advice either way.
Happy Wednesday, everyone! Hope everyone is enjoying this week’s hump-day and ready to move on to the nice, easy slide to weekend-land.
Today I want to discuss an article from news-press.com, about Cape Coral, Florida police. They have instituted a police volunteer program. Basically, when you go on vacation, you call the police department and they put you on a list. Then, on a daily basis, the volunteer squad will check all houses and call in robberies. Its like having neighbors keep an eye on the place, only they work for the cops. Not a bad deal, at all.
In fact, I think this is a great idea. You’re leveraging the power of the local community (remember, these are volunteers) to help keep an eye on things. And, you’ve got the full ear and support of the local PD. It really is a great program.
But, why not take it a step further? Why not create real, localized neighborhood watch programs?
We’ve discussed the idea of neighborhood watch programs before. The reason I think they make for better security than the volunteer police watch is that these people live in your neighborhood; which means that they have a vested interest in keeping the bad guys out. Also, the fact that they live in your neighborhood means that they’ll be more likely to notice things as they happen, not the day after. Everyone agrees that the sooner a crime is reported, the more likely that the bad guy will be caught.
So, police volunteer program is good; neighborhood watch is better. What’s best? The best option (though, ideally you’d have all three of these) is a monitored security system.
What benefit does a home security system bring? Well, just like a neighborhood watch program, it keeps an eye on your house; the main difference being: it is always keeping an eye on your house. And it notifies immediately if something goes wrong. Once that notification happens, a local siren alerts neighbors and friends that something is wrong. Your system also contacts the central station, who, after attempting to verify, will contact local police and/or fire personnel. Its like having a neighborhood watch, only the “neighborhood” consists of only your house.
So, best practices? If you have a police notification/watch program, that’s good. You should use it; you would be an idiot not to. No, I mean, really. If you don’t want to use a free program, set up by your local police to protect your home, just save some time and send me your valuables. Now, what about neighborhood watch? That’s better. If you have one, join it. If you don’t, have some of your more trustworthy neighbors over and pitch the idea. Communities should look out for one another. This is an easy way to do it. Ok, finally, get a home security system. This is your last line of defense, but its also your most powerful. Studies show that homes with a security system are 3 times less likely to be burgled than homes without. Installing a monitored home security system just makes sense. And, of course: if you can, do all three.
Yesterday I spoke about my frustration with the security industry at large. They talk, and talk, and talk, but once you stop to listen to what they’re saying, you realize its mostly just buzz. That, combined with all of the “big guys’” minions buzzing around, means there’s simply a lot of junk to cut through in order to get something worthwhile.
Ok. I won’t repeat my entire post. But, yesterday, I ended that with a plea to really look at the companies you’re considering for home security. Do they have real, valuable content? Are they fair and up-front on pricing? One I forgot to mention is customer satisfaction.
Determining customer satisfaction is normally a tough thing. You can read online reviews (though those aren’t always that helpful), check the BBB (another good indicator, but it doesn’t tell you if they’ve delighted their customers), or you can ask a couple of customers. The last option is what most of us do if we know one of their customers.
But what is another metric to determine how satisfied a customer is, specifically in the home security industry? Alarm monitoring retention rate. Sure, ADT or Brinks may have a gajillion customers for monitoring, but they also have 3 year locked in contracts. That doesn’t mean they’re keeping all of those customers at the end. It simply means they’re good in getting them through the door; whether they can keep them is another story. So, what about us? Where does SafeMart fall in this category?
SafeMart has a 94% retention rate (which would be even higher if you considered that some of those we “lose” have passed away). Did you just read what I said? Is it in your brain? We have a 94% retention rate! 94% Wow. That is almost unbelievable.
And lest you think I’m patting myself on the back, let me assure you, I’m simply the messenger. That wonderful statistic is due to all of the hard work and dedication of our sales and customer service teams.
Ok, basically what I’m saying is this: Listen to what our customers are saying: 94% of them are saying that they’re happy enough to stick with us, and have us provide for their home security. We’re fairly proud of that statistic, and hope it makes your decision easier.
So, why SafeMart? Because we make our customers happy!
So, you’re interested in home security. Perhaps you’re looking to increase your own home protection, or maybe you’re just wondering what options exist. Maybe you’re a student writing a report on home security or burglary rates in the United States. Who knows? The simple fact is that you’re looking for home security information, and you’re turning to Google to help you.
Here’s the problem: Most of what you find is junk, plain and simple. The home security industry has always been somewhat fragmented. You have a few “big boys” at the top who thrive mainly off of name recognition. Then there are the smaller “traditional” players. These would be heavily localized installers and dealers. And, finally since the advent of the internet (thank you, Al Gore), there have been online players. These companies (of which SafeMart is one), focus primarily on DIY home security, and use the internet (exclusively or almost exclusively) to present their offering. Those are the main sectors of the home security industry.
Almost all of the players in this industry have some online presence (doesn’t every business, these days?). But, not all of them are created equal. I was realizing this as I was checking the blogosphere and Google News for any security-related updates over the weekend. And what I found was total junk. Really, don’t believe me? Go to blogsearch.google.com or google.com/news and type in “home security.” Be prepared. I warned you.
In blog-land, its really bad. Thousands of affiliates from the “big guys” mentioned above, traditional dealers trying to build out a new website, and thousands of “entrepreneurs” living, working and shipping out of their basement are all rehashing the same content. And the content is low-quality.
I’ve known this for a while, but it really hit me today how it must affect you, the homeowner. I realized that, because I can’t stand sorting through all of the junk to find the one or two legitimate pieces of new content each week. In that sense, the industry at large ought to be ashamed of itself. It does no favor to its potential customers.
Now, why am I mentioning all of this? Sure, the home security industry’s online presence leaves something to be desired (like a giant online delete button), but so do many industries’ presences. What does it matter?
It matters for two reasons:
1. Home Security is an important decision and you need the right information to make the right choice.
2. In the pursuit of that right decision, finding yourself encumbered with all sorts of useless (at best) information, you will be tempted to simply back away from the online security world, and focus on a more “traditional style.”
And that would be a shame. Because in most cases, that is not the right choice. Too many traditional companies operate by pulling the wool over your eyes. You pay too much on a monthly basis for the service you receive, and the contracts are, at times, confusing.
So, what should you do? Don’t just go with the “big guys” simply because they’re big. Take the time to research different options (because most people don’t need an installer). And, when looking at blogs, corporate websites, social media, etc., immediately eliminate companies who offer little to no value, or simply rehash things found elsewhere on the internet.
A few days ago we discussed scammers who take advantage of the elderly in order to get either credit card information or, the worst case, actually rob their victims’ homes. I concluded that we have a duty to take care of those vulnerable, and venerable, members of our society. But what do you do when the protection a family member needs is from themselves?
This morning, WVEC.com, a local news station in Hampton Roads, Virginia ran a story about the return of a missing Alzheimer’s patient. The woman in question is older, lives alone, and has Alzheimer’s disease. She wandered away from her home to look for flowers. She didn’t return when she should have. Her family became concerned, and the police initiated a search.
Through the assistance of police, emergency personnel, and a host of local volunteers, she was found six days later, and taken to a local hospital. After recovering, she went home. That’s the theme of the WVEC story: her homecoming.
The older woman seemed somewhat embarrassed, asserting that she’ll never go out of her house alone again; that she’ll never get lost again. Its both touching, and humbling to witness someone realizing that what they’ve done for decades is now impossible. After relating her mother’s insistence never to leave the home by herself again, the daughter says, “Well, you won’t be by yourself anymore…” You’re brought to the point of elation that the daughter will take over her mother’s care. But what followed was certainly more than anti-climactic. The sentence finishes: “Well, you won’t be by yourself anymore, ’cause you’ll have your bracelet with you.”
I know I’m treading on dangerous ground here; I almost decided not to write this post. I’m making no judgments as to the concrete circumstances of this family. There are cases where an older family member simply won’t accept assistance, or where other realities make it impossible to take care of that relative. But, it must be noted that its a sad thing. The elderly cared for us when we were helpless children, raised us, gave us the best years of their lives. That they should be on their own in their vulnerable years must always be a tragedy, even if a necessary one.
So yes, lets use the best home safety and security that exists for our older relatives. Lets spare no expense to make sure that they are as safe and secure as possible. But, in those cases where it is possible for us to physically care for them, lets not use mechanical devices to substitute for real family life. After all, they never did.
Tell me what you think. Am I right? Does it matter? Who do you think is responsible for caring for the elderly, and how much care is enough?
Fire and fire safety have been on my mind lately. No, nothing bad happened; I simply had a very interesting conversation with someone in the security industry who is known for his devotion to fire safety and his extensive knowledge in the area. Obviously, I work for a security company, so I’m committed to fire safety. And, because I work with getting out the message, I’m aware of the dangers a fire can pose. Still, I wasn’t prepared for his statistics.
So, I began digging around, looking at the information available, and thought I’d like to make some of it available to you. So, at the end of this article, you’ll find a few resources that I think are highly reliable, and incredibly useful.
Back to my story. So, we were sitting at a greasy spoon, eating their (locally) famous hamburgers and hand-battered onion rings, and sipping glasses of iced tea. My acquaintance asked if I knew much about fire safety. ”Enough, I guess,” was something like my response. Well, apparently not. He proceeded to tell me that the time to get out of the house safely is a matter of only a few minutes once the flames break out.
A few minutes? C’mon, I thought. It must be longer than that, right? Well, unfortunately not. Generally, once the flames burst forth, you have less than 5 minutes to get your family and anything you will save, and get out of the house. 5 minutes. 5 short, precious minutes to save anything and everything you hold dear.
I recently watched the film Leap Year with my wife (alright if you’re expecting a predictable chick-flick), and in it the leading male role asks his potential love interest: If there was a fire in your house, what would you grab? In the movie, the purpose of the question is to show her rootlessness and superficiality. But, its a legitimate question. Ask yourself now: What would I grab if my house was on fire? Obviously, any loved ones, but then what? Now add up the time. Imagine you’re awakened from a deep sleep, and you have to get everyone in the family up and out of the house. Would 5 minutes even be enough? And supposing it was, would there be time to get those old family heirlooms that mean so much; those items that no amount of money could buy?
Now imagine how you would do that if you didn’t have fire and heat detectors in your house? It would be nearly impossible. Don’t believe me? Here’s a sobering statistic for you: According to a 2008 FEMA Study, every 3 hours, someone in the United States dies from a house fire. And a serious house fire breaks out every 60 seconds throughout the country.
So, do yourself a favor. Get educated, and get protected. There will be more on this to come, especially dealing with the benefits of having a monitored fire detection system, but for now we’ll leave it here. Don’t take risks with the most important things in your life. That’s not something you want to regret one day.
Some Easy Resources:
According to a news article from the BBC today, a group of criminals is targeting seniors over 80 years old in a home security related scam. The plot went something like this: Call and pretend you’re from a home security company. Ask the residents if they’re over 80 years old. If not, hang up. If so, warn them about dangers of not having a home security system, and ask personal information about their current home security protection.
Now, lets discuss a couple of things. This should have raised a ton of red flags.
Now, lets say you were the recipient of this type of call. What should you do? First, if they ask about your current home security protection, don’t tell them. Leave them with some very generic answers. If I were a recipient of these calls and was satisfied with my existing home security, I would simply say, “I have a great home security system already. So, I’m not interested. Thank you, though.” If I wasn’t currently satisfied and was legitimately interested, I would say, “I’m satisfied with my current level of protection, but would be willing to discuss your products and services. Can I have your company name and phone number, please?” Under no circumstances should you agree to let them come to your home at this point. Don’t give them any personal information. If they insist on setting up an appointment immediately, they’re using bad business practices. Simply hang up the phone.
Now, why would you do these things? You would do them for two reasons:
Look, this is not a problem that only affects our neighbors across the pond. This sort of thing is happening all over the U.S. on a daily basis. In the best case scenario, they’re merely looking to swindle you into paying them for a non-existent service. In the worst case scenario, they’re looking to rob you. Don’t let yourself be a victim. If you feel uncomfortable about any strange calls, alert the local police. If someone is coming to your house for an appointment, it may be worthwhile to ask a neighbor, friend, or family member to be there as well.
Oh, and a last thing: if you’re someone involved in these sorts of scams: Be assured, there’s a special place in Hell for people who take advantage of the elderly!
Today was a slow news day; which I realize is an odd commentary on our society. Because when you consider a headline such as: “Geithner: Unemployment Up Before Down,” and think that’s a “slow news day” it means that we are living in strange times. Anyway, I digress. The point is, its good/bad/indifferent (depending on your perspective) that its a slow news day, because I’m going to do installment 2 of Why SafeMart?
And today’s topic will be:
Professional Security Products
So, first lets start with what we have. We carry top-line wireless and hardwired systems from all major manufacturers. This includes, GE, Honeywell, Visonic, DSC and more. It includes their full selection of professional-grade security products.
Why does this matter? Who cares?
GE, Honeywell, Visconic, and DSC are giants in the industry. They have proven track records, incredibly reliable products and well-backed warranties. When you go with them, you know you’re going with quality, and history. And that’s worth something.
But surely, you must get the same products at every other security company. Its not like you’re getting lesser-quality security equipment…right? Well, that all depends where you go. While many companies also use professional-grade equipment, too many newer companies aren’t. They’re using equipment of their own creation, or GE-branded equipment of a much lesser quality, or something along these lines. And that’s a problem.
Look, if you’re buying a universal remote, by all means choose whatever you’d like that fits your budget. If you’re choosing a laundry detergent at the grocery store, go for the store-brand: its cheaper and probably works just as well. But, if you’re talking about protecting your family, the most important thing in your life, is Walmart-brand security really what you’re looking for? I think you and I both know the answer to that question.
So, for reason number #2: Why SafeMart? Because we offer the finest professional security products from the world’s top manufacturers.
Taking a page from the hallowed halls of Oakland’s beleaguered local government, the East St. Louis City Council announced last week that they would make significant cuts to the area’s police and fire force. (Before we discuss this issue, it is worth pointing out that their police chief did not announce which crimes they would no longer respond to, as another chief recently and notoriously did.) These new cuts amount to 30% of the existing police force, as well as a sizeable portion of the firefighters in the city. To realize the extent of the problems, one need only read in the article, that only one patrolman will be on duty for the midnight shift under the new cuts. Cities a fraction of the size of East St. Louis have more than one patrolman on duty at that time. To operate under the belief that this lone police officer will be able to handle all police duties in the city for that shift is to operate under a delusion.
And who is to blame? On the one hand its easy to blame the city council: They’re downsizing the force, leaving residents under-protected. On the other hand, according to the article, there is simply no money. They attempted to work out a deal whereby police and firefighters would take two unpaid days each monthly period, but the officers thought this was simply too much. Surely, some sort of compromise could have been reached. Because, as it stands now, the city council is becoming very unpopular, and those laid-off officers are making far less money than they would have, had they simply accepted the offer (painful though it may have been).
I don’t live in St. Louis. I can’t pretend to understand the very difficult decision facing the city council; nor can I pretend to understand the frustration of those police officers and firefighters who daily lay their lives on the line, only to receive pay cuts and layoffs. I’m not making a judgment call here as to who is in the wrong.
What I am attempting to say is this: there is a clear loser here. And those are the residents of East St. Louis. Where will they turn when crimes happen, or fires break out? To whom can they turn for protection? The sad answer is, no one (or at least not anyone beyond themselves and their neighbors).
I have no desire to use a tragic situation to make a sales pitch, so I won’t. But I will leave you with this. If you live in East St. Louis, you need to seriously consider some sort of burglary deterrence, and most definitely fire protection of some sort (preferably a monitored fire alarm system). Your family and your belongings are simply too important to leave in the hands of local bureaucratic wrangling.
In the past, I’ve expressed my frustration with the world of journalism. Too often they repeat either the same old tired clichés, or generate an impressive amount of ignorance in one single piece. So, imagine my surprise when I saw this article from the Carroll County News in Arkansas. The headline: Caution Needed When Shopping for Security Systems. Well, Carroll County News, you are a newspaper after my own heart.
So, what is the theme of this article? It’s nothing new, but it’s still good advice: Don’t trust door to door salesmen. Harsh, right? I know. And I’ll make in initial caveat: I’m not speaking about every door-to-door salesmen. Many of them are hardworking, and no-doubt sincere. But the reality is that in the security industry, door-to-door salesmen (in general) have a bad name, and there’s a good reason for it. Too often the companies they work for encourage sleazy tactics designed to hard sell you into a system you don’t need for a monthly price you can’t afford.
So, what tips do they offer? How can you “smell a rat” at your door? Among other red flags, be concerned if the salesman…
In closing, kudos to the state of Arkansas. If you live there (or even if you don’t) take their advice and just say no. If you are in the market for security (and let’s be honest, you should be!), stop by and see us. We’ve got the security you’re looking for.
Recently there has been a lot of talk about solar powered home security. The topics and ideas range from strictly solar-powered systems (attached to a dedicated, small solar panel) to simply using your existing home solar to power your control panel, just as you would use it to power your refrigerator. My goal today is to briefly discuss this new trend, hopefully avoiding getting into any muddy waters or angering anyone.
First, a disclaimer: I’m a big fan of solar power. I love the idea of sustainable, cheap energy. And lets be honest, once you cut past the political side of things, everyone loves the idea of renewable energy. What’s not to like? As I said before, its cheap (I’m speaking of the energy source, not the equipment to harness it), its renewable/sustainable, and puts a little more power in the hands of the homeowner. Its a win all-around.
That being said, I need to lay out another premise of my argument: Until all the bugs are worked out, and its completely reliable, there are certain things we don’t to power with solar energy. So, for example, (and I’m happy to be corrected by a competent authority), we wouldn’t want to power a military base, essential to our national security, entirely by solar power. I say entirely, because I think you could use it as a primary, normal source, as long as you had a completely reliable backup.
Which brings me to security. Securing your home is not something to be taken lightly. Its immensely important, protecting the most valuable things in your life: your loved ones. Protecting your home and property is great, and ranks way up there in importance, but your loved ones come first. In that case, I want my security system to be on, all the time, no matter what. Yes, there’s a 24 hour backup in most systems and that will certainly help. But I’ve looked into solar systems before (and I love them), but they have pretty serious weak points in the winter months. You really need to have a solid backup system in those events.
So, my final statement: Yes, lets move towards a more efficient, and more cost-effective method of powering our home, appliances, and home security systems. But, lets make sure that we do so in a way that keeps our families safe and secure.
Howdy friends. Sorry for the delay in posting over the past week. We’ve been working on some great things here at SafeMart, which I’ll be sure to share with you as we roll them out. Today, however, I want to discuss something a little different: Why SafeMart?
This is a fairly serious question. Choosing a provider for your home security equipment and monitoring is a incredibly important decision. The company you choose shouldn’t simply be adequate; it should be outstanding. After all, we’re discussing the safety, and security of your home and loved ones. This isn’t buying a new cd-player. All of which means: You need to find the best company; the company that stands out in the crowd. And, I can say, that company is SafeMart.
This may sound like a bold, and perhaps ridiculous, claim. But I stand by it. And over the next few weeks, months and years, I am going to prove it to you, by means of this blog series. While not all of the reasons will seem earth-shattering, and while not all of them will be exclusive to SafeMart, taken together they will paint a picture of a company that is completely and totally dedicated to the safety and happiness of its customers, a company with low, competitive prices (and a low-price-guarantee), and finally a company with the single best technical support staff in the industry. Put another way: They will paint a picture of the security company you want to protect your home; a picture of the best security company in the industry.
Free Lifetime Tech Support
Our technical support experts are available to you, Monday through Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm, for the life of your system. This may not seem like that big of a deal. But when you look at the industry at large, it is. Many home security providers offer technical support for only a limited period of time, or only while you have monitoring with them.
That may seem fair to you (hopefully not), but think of this. What if your system has a false alarm ten years from now, and simply won’t shut up. What if you want to start using a system again because you had a bad experience in your neighborhood. So what you don’t need it now. Apart from setup, you don’t need tech support early in your ownership. You need tech support when the system starts to fail; or after you no longer remember how to use it. And when that happens (and believe me, I’ve spoken to these people before) life is miserable. Sitting in your house with your siren blaring, all of the neighbors losing patience, and your hair falling out by the minute is precisely when you need lifetime tech support. And we have it. Lots of the other guys don’t.
Don’t waste your time and energy trying to diagnose a specialty problem on a piece of advanced technology. Let us handle that for you. Why SafeMart? Free Lifetime Tech Support, that’s why!
Wow. Today is one of those days. Each day, I come in, sip my coffee and run through the national (and sometimes, international) news concerning home security. Usually, this entails five or six break-in stories, a smattering of how security cameras helped catch the bad-guy, and a pinch of local police department offers home security advice. That is to say, while each situation is unique, it follows a pretty consistent pattern.
So, imagine my surprise…no, my shock when I read the following byline on DrudgeReport:
What? Obviously I couldn’t resist. I clicked through expecting to find nothing, fully expecting to be a dupe of the media who sensationalize headlines on stories a statue would find boring. But, instead of that boredom and duplicity, I found that honest-to-goodness its true. The Oakland police announced a list of crimes they will not respond to.
Ok, I thought, prior to reading the list, perhaps these are legitimately small things and the Oakland PD simply can’t afford it right now. Its good and well to have police responding to reports of skateboarders on the tennis courts, but maybe its just not in the budget.
Well, I was wrong. Without reading the entire list, I’ll give you just a few of the ‘minor crimes’ the Oakland PD has decided to avoid.
and, did you guess it:
Are you serious? Is the Oakland Police Department joking? Its one thing to choose not to respond to certain crimes. Its a far worse thing to tell the public what those things are. And its an unbelievable insanity when those crimes include the ones listed above.
To be honest, I don’t know what this means regarding home security systems. Will they respond to calls from the central station? It doesn’t appear so from the article, but its hard to tell. Will they respond to the calls of Neighborhood Watch programs? Again, the article appears to say no, but no one can say for certain.
What we can say for certain is this: The decision of Chief Batts to not only eliminate these crimes from his police response requirements, but also to announce them to the citizens, and yes, the criminals, of Oakland will rank as one of the most bizarre, and potentially dangerous decisions ever undertaken by an American police officer.
We’ve discussed do it yourself security fairly often in the past. After all, SafeMart is committed to supporting those homeowners interested in home security who also have the DIY mindset. And apart from us, there are a handful of other companies similarly committed. What you haven’t seen very often is a discussion of DIY home security by the mainstream news or from the “big guys” like ADT or Brinks. Is this because its a bad model, or simply too difficult? Is SafeMart appealing to an incredibly small demographic of extra-knowledgeable handymen with a ton of time on their hands to install and program a home security system?
Well, not quite. You see, I’m going to tell you the dirty, little, not-so-secret secret of the “big guys.” Their business model exists and, in fact, thrives on consumer ignorance. ”Sign up with (pick your poison) and receive a free home security system.” ”Only $99 for a system.” You’ve heard some variation of this line when watching or hearing TV or radio ads. And, the system is free or 99 dollars or whatever it is they’re promising. Whats not free is the 36 month contract you have to agree to in order to get the free or discounted system.
Still, a 36 month commitment isn’t that bad for a home security system with central station monitoring. And I agree, its not. What is bad, what ought to be criminal is the exaggerated monthly monitoring rate. You see with the “big guys” you’ll pay somewhere between $26 and $35 per month for standard alarm monitoring. Still doesn’t seem bad? Consider that SafeMart offers standard alarm monitoring from a UL listed, reliable alarm monitoring company for as little as $9 per month. Other companies committed to the DIY model do the same. Thats somewhere around a $200 to $300 a year difference in the cost of alarm monitoring. And remember, you’re tied to a contract for three years. Meaning, when its all said and done, you’ll pay somewhere between $600 and $900 more for alarm monitoring.
So, its clear that from that perspective, its really not a savings. But, what about the cost of the system. After all, if they give you a free system, you really are saving in the long run, right? Lets look at the GE Simon XT, the most popular wireless security sytem on the market, and one used by the “big guys” as well as those committed to the DIY model. Lets assume that the “big guy” is giving you the system for free. Lets assume they only charge $30 per month (the average to low-side of these contracts).
GE Simon XT System: FREE
3 Years Contract for Alarm Monitoring at $30 per month: $1,080
GE Simon XT System: $249
3 Years Contract for Alarm Monitoring at $9 per month: $324
Total Savings: $507
Now, I want you to remember when reading this: This is best case scenario! Most of the conventional companies will charge you an installation fee, and at least some initial payment for your system. But, even in this best case scenario, you’re talking about an additional $500 dollars. That doesn’t make any sense.
Make the smart choice, and if its time for you to get a home security system, don’t use one of the “big guys.”
*This is the first installment in a series of posts on Do It Yourself Home Security. The next post will deal with choosing a system and the last post will deal with ease of installation and programming.
*This post is not intended to make any claims about the cost, motivations, systems, etc. of any specific company.
Ok, here is a link to our newly revamped alarm monitoring page. I think you guys are going to love this. We tried to change some of our layout and language to make it the easiest for users to understand the whole process. Our new video guru also created a great video to explain the benefits of monitoring in general and the benefits of using us for monitoring. The page is here.
Security systems are not something most people think of when they think of Midwestern towns and cities like Topeka. They think low-crime, friendly farmers and a wide open landscape. And, for the most part, they’re right. But Midwestern cities are cities just like anywhere else, with their own sets of problems and criminal activities. The reason I’m picking on Topeka is because they’ve been experiencing a burst of crime in the past year or so. And, increased criminal activity means people in need to start thinking seriously about home security.
According to local Topeka news station, KTKA.com, the city’s rate of murder and rape have doubled compared to last year. And, robberies, assaults, thefts, and arson are all up as well, some as high as 50% compared to last years numbers. What does all of this mean? Hopefully in the long run it means nothing. Hopefully, Topeka’s police chief will continue to push ahead with increased security measures and all will be well. But, that will take time. What should a resident do in the meantime?
The smart thing for a Topeka resident to do in light of these startling numbers is to purchase a home security system. A security system offers burglary deterrence against would-be intruders, and, if monitored, offers emergency response assistance. All of which is to say that your chances of being robbed are significantly decreased and, in the unfortunate event that you are burgled, the central monitoring station can dispatch police and other emergency personnel.
Last week, the New York Times online ran an article in their business section titled: Weighing the Value of Home Security System (sic). The article opens with what the author no doubt hopes will be a shocking (and thus compelling) introduction: Security systems don’t work when you need them to. Alright, I’m hooked. I want to read and find out about when I will need a security system to work, and why it won’t (or may not) work in that circumstance.
More and more, we hear people who are interested in a GSM Alarm System. I find this interesting primarily because it shows a shift (however, subtle) in homeowners’ thoughts concerning home security. And, on a lesser note, I find it interesting that people are beginning to use the term GSM Alarm System. That may not seem interesting, but to someone in the security industry, it means homeowners are becoming more advanced in doing their research.
From WISHTV8 in Indianapolis comes an interesting story. Apparently, a couple went to a concert and returned home to find that $10,000 worth of their stuff was gone. They caught it on video tape, but something didn’t seem right. As the article says, “It’s as though the men knew exactly how much time they had…” Well that’s weird. How would criminals know exactly how long you’d be gone? Even if they scoped out your house, and knew you left, they wouldn’t know you’d be going to a concert, or for how long.
It’s getting to be that time of year again; birds are singing, grass is turning green and burglars are on the prowl. Wait…what? Yep, unfortunately, when you get to spring/summer it means an increase in home burglary and home invasion. But, there are things you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim. Let’s take a look at those tips:
1. Keep Bushes Around House Neatly Trimmed
That’s right, not only will it make your neighbors happy, it’ll give thieves less of a place to hide. One of the first things you need to know about home defense is this: Most burglaries are crimes of opportunity. Which means, if they have to stand in front of your house, trying to open a window or pick a lock and they have nowhere to easily hide (i.e. tall, unruly bushes) they’ll be less likely to pick that house; all for the simple reason that they have less of a place to hide. And did I mention it’ll make your neighbors happy?
2. Have Neighbors Pick Up Your Mail When You’re On Vacation
When we get into summertime, people love to take vacations. Whether its the beach, or getting away to the cool, peaceful mountains, summer = vacation in America. And that’s great. But you don’t want to leave a giant “Rob Me” sign when you go on vacation. Whats that? Of course you wouldn’t do that? Well, only sort of. A mailbox overflowing with mail and a driveway filled with daily newspapers is basically robber-code for: I’m not home. Please steal my things. Seriously, folks, have a neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers when you’re gone. If you don’t want to do that, then have the post office and newspaper company hold your mail.
3. Close Your Garage Door
What? My, garage door? You’re either thinking one of two things right now: A. I always close my garage door, or B, why does it matter if my garage door is closed. My response? No you don’t, and it matters because people will steal from you. Think about how easy and inviting an open garage door is to a thief. First of all, there’s a good chance he can wander in there, and break into your house, unnoticed by neighbors, through your inside door. But, even if that’s not his final plan, he can just as easily wander into your garage and steal those nice power tools (insert whatever other expensive things you have in your garage) you got for Christmas last year. Now, for this one, I have a little help: get a Garage Butler. They’re cheap, and they will automatically close your garage door if you leave it open for a certain period of time.
4. Have a Well-Lit Exterior, or Purchase Motion-Sensor Flood Lights
I’m guessing this one isn’t a surprise (hopefully none of these are). As I mentioned above, thieves like to rob places that are…well…easy to rob. They don’t want to risk your nosey neighbor peering out the window and seeing them, all lit up, right in front of your house. So, if you put in motion detector flood lights you won’t waste electricity, but you’ll still have the necessary (and startling) light coverage you need, when you need it.
5. Invest in a Security System of Some Sort
Security systems are cheap these days. No, really they are. You can get a top-of-the-line, sophisticated, sleek looking security system without breaking the bank. And it can be simple. You can choose just to cover windows and doors, and maybe a motion sensor or two. The great benefit is this: If someone breaks in while you’re sleeping or away, and you have a monitored home security system, then someone else will be notified. And, they can contact local emergency personnel, who hopefully, can nab the bad guy, and throw him in jail for a very long time.
I hope these tips are helpful. They are not comprehensive, but they are designed to get you thinking about securing and protecting your home, just using common sense. If you have any great tips to add, post them below. We’d love to hear them!
If you lived in ancient Rome or Greece (or anywhere in the ancient world for that matter) you were limited in your options of protecting your home. Sure, if you were a king, emperor, provincial governor or any other member of the elite class, you may have had some options when it came to security. But, if you were an average Roman, it was a sturdy door, your slaves, and you to fend off any would-be attackers…oh, that and a giant Beware of Dog sign. A giant Beware of Dog what??
Apparently, things don’t change much over a few thousand years. You still see beware of dog signs to this day, but none quite as elegant (or permanent) as the Cave Canemmosaics placed outside Roman villas. This particular one was found in the excavations of Pompeii, rediscovered in 1824. Source
Moats and Gates
This is a pretty slick idea. You have a city or personal castle that you want to protect against raging hordes of barbarians, or nighttime thieves…what do you do?
You build an enormous ditch (read river) around the outside of your property and fill it with water. This, like guard dogs, is apparently a pretty natural thing for humans to do. I say that because moats were used in ancient Egypt, Europe in the middle ages, and ancient Japanese imperial cities. Source
They were used to protect fortified cities, sacred temples and shrines, the palaces of noblemen and kings. Safe to say, if you were inside of one of these moated castles, you were living in a relatively safe place. And, let’s be honest…it looks really cool.
The gates idea goes hand in hand with this. Even if you got through the moat, the gate was going to keep you from getting in. Basically, in the middle ages, you would have two of these gates. The idea is that the guards would trap you between these two gates. Then they would drop heavy items on you, or shoot you with arrows through…wait for it…murder-holes. Yeah, they were serious about security. Source
In Ancient Rome, it was a big no-no to bring the armies of Rome into the city itself. It had been done, but always with great damage to the Republic. But, at the time of Caesar, and later, Augustus, the state organization switched from Republic to Empire. Still, the people loved their traditions, and weren’t interested in Roman armies hanging around. So, if you’re the Emperor, you’d like some military protection in the city of Rome, but can’t have the military itself. What do you do?
If you’re a genius like Augustus you create a paramilitary force called the Praetorian Guards. Basically, they were to keep peace and order in the city, and protect the emperor and his family.
p style=”margin-top: 0px; ma
rgin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal Helvetica; “>It was a great plan. Worth noting, however, that the Praetorian Guard sometimes did the opposite of their protection role. When things got crazy with the Emperors and the Guards had enough of their foolishness, they would kill the emperor and pick the new one themselves. This was always a possible downside of personal guards…if they’re close enough to protect you, they’re close enough to harm.
Home safes aren’t an overly difficult thing to make, so thats why they’ve been so ubiquitous throughout much of human history. What do you do to make a safe? Take a chest, slap a big lock on it, and you’re in business (at least on a simple level). That concept evolved until you get to the
all iron safe of the middle ages. These began to be a bit more burglar-proof. But, of course, they weren’t entirely, and given enough time and dedication, the thief would probably have all of your stuff. Source
Eventually, as the technology developed, safes became impregnable, utilizing unique keys, fire and explosion-proof materials, and, of course, combination locks. Today, you can put your stuff in a safe, blow up your house with some dynamite, and smash your safe with a sledgehammer…and it’ll be totally fine (depending upon the safe, obviously).
We finally come to the security system. And while all of the above are still in use (ok, maybe not moats and murder holes, but I digress), the electronic security system has come to firmly embody the modern age of personal and property protection.
With high-speed wireless systems like the GE Simon XT or reliable, incredibly expandable systems like the Ademco Vista 20P, home security is at a whole new level; and its just beginning.
In the next couple of years, we’re going to see completely customizable, ridiculously expandable, simple to use next-gen home security equipment. Only, home security (as an idea) will become (dare I say it?) a thing of the past. In the next era of home security, its all about home automation. The ability to use your security system to control everything in your home easily and remotely is already here, and that technology is really just ramping up.
Home Security Monitoring is one of those things that is often overlooked, except here at DIY Home Security, where we talk about it way too much. But that’s a different story.
Alarm Monitoring…so important, so often overlooked. Now, I know I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again, if you have a home security system, you should have Central Station Alarm Monitoring. Ok, lets talk about why thats the case:
What??? Did I just read that right? ADT bought Brinks? Well, yes, practically speaking. ADT is owned by Tyco. Tyco recently purchased Broadview, which is Brinks’ new name. Additionally, according their website, Tyco owns seven companies that make security equipment. Are you noticing a trend?
For those of you interested, here is a link to the LinkedIn page of SafeMart’s CEO.
Well folks, we’re back now from a long hiatus. We’ve been working on a ton of great stuff over at SafeMart, from new monitoring options to better more advanced system packages. I wanted to highlight just a few products/services to keep your eye out for in 2010. (Note: some of these have been around for years, but are worth taking another look at). So, in no particular order:
Part Five of a Five Part Series Taking a Quick Look at the SmartMoney System
Expandable home security is something that few homeowners think of, until its too late. But here’s the reality: Things change. You may add-on to your home, realize you didn’t purchase enough security devices, or your security needs may simply change over time. Either way, you need to expand.
With most companies, what does that mean? Well, it means that you’re going to pay a premium, both for the device itself and to have them add it on.
What does it mean with the SmartMoney package? It means that you pay the same wholesale price as everyone else, and you don’t pay a dime to have it programmed into your system. Should I repeat that?? You don’t pay a dime to have it programmed into your system! Its the ultimate expandable system.
Still not convinced that the SmartMoney Home Security Package is the most innovative, hottest offering on the market? Click on the link above to check it out in detail.
Welcome to part four of a five part series in which we’re taking an in-depth look at the SmartMoney Home Security Package from SafeMart.com.
Today we’re going to compare home security options between SafeMart, Protect America and ADT on the basis of cost, but focusing also on monthly contract length and a few other factors. I’m not really going to give much commentary here. I’ll just let the numbers speak for themselves.
Ok, so whats it cost? Well, this is where the affordable part comes in. You pay $78.95 down (plus the cost of any additional accessories), and then $29.95/month for the next 24 months. Its a low cost, short term payment plan option.
So, lets see how that price compares to Protect America or ADT?
For 36 Months (the length of ADT’s and Protect America’s contracts) the cost is as follows:
Protect America: $1,078.20
Why is it so much cheaper? Two reasons: 1. Our monthly cost is less than ADT’s. And our initial contract length (24 months) is less than both ADT and Protect America. 2. After the initial contract of 24 months is up, our monitoring cost goes to wholesale pricing: $9/month! With the other guys, your monitoring price stays high.
Just a few other comparisons:
Renters Allowed to Purchase Package?
Protect America: Yes
Industry Standard: 3 Days
SmartMoney: 3o Days
Thats some pretty powerful stuff. Oh, and one more thing. As opposed to many other companies, SafeMart allows you to add accessories to the SmartMoney package at any point during the two-year contract…for the retail cost. We don’t charge you any extra fee to program them into your system. Now thats impressive!
Today we’ll examine part three of the five part series on SafeMart’s innovative new home security package: SmartMoney
Every company’s home security system is “reliable.” And by that (including the scare quotes) I mean that every company claims their system is reliable. Ok, so lets look at this in two ways. If you’re choosing a home security system, especially if you’re choosing monitoring, there are two aspects to reliability: the reliability of the system itself (panel, accessories, etc) and the reliability of the company you choose. We’ll examine both.
Lets start with the system itself. This is a generally true statement, so long as you’re choosing a reputable company. If you’re not, beware. I know of many companies who either sell older, dated models as the newest item out there, or they actually sell junk equipment. In choosing a home security system, make sure you choose the right system (Ademco Vista 20P, DSC 9047, either GE Simon system, etc). Don’t go with knockoff names or systems that aren’t big names in the industry.
Now to the second point: the reliability of the company. When you’re choosing a system, its not enough to ensure that the system is top of the line; you need to make sure that the company you go with is top of the line as well. Why? Because you’re relying on this company to help you get the best product, at the best price, with valuable, dependable technical support. And you want to make sure that if something happens with your system, you have someone who knows what they’re talking about that you can call for help. Some of these companies you see running around probably won’t even exist in six months. Is that who you want to trust with protecting your most valuable possessions?
Ok, now we’ve laid ground rules, lets move on to application. How does the SmartMoney Home Security Package fare with regard to reliability?
The DSC 9047 is an incredibly reliable system, recognized as such across the industry. The accessories that come with the system are similarly state of the art, and they are all backed up by solid manufacturer warranties.
Now to the company. SafeMart offers trained tech support and customer service. The SmartMoney package is programmed for you by trained professionals with a great deal of experience in the industry. If anything goes wrong, you can be certain that SafeMart will still be there, still offering the same great service they always have. But don’t take my word for it. Look at our report on the BBB (hint, we have an A+ rating), or at the Inc 5000 (annual list of the fastest growing private owned companies in the nation…yeah, we’re on there!).
Simple home security has never been easier… no really, I mean it!
Welcome to part one of our five part series about the SmartMoney Home Security Package. Over the course of this series we’re going to look at the affordability, reliability, simplicity and expandability of the system. Finally we’re going to compare the system to ADT and Protect America. So, lets dig right in!
There are home security systems that do everything a home security system should do. They monitor your home via security devices and alert the system when a door or window is opened, a motion detector picks up activity, or a smoke detector senses fire. You can then have your system contact a central monitoring station to take the appropriate action. These systems will definitely give you peace of mind. Then there are home automation systems that do everything they should do. They control lights, thermostats, home theater, audio and more. These systems will increase your comfort and convenience level and make day to day living more enjoyable.
SafeMart is pleased to announce a new home security offering: The SmartMoney package. So, what comes with the SmartMoney package?
Home automation is something we frequently hear about, and frequently see in movies or TV shows. Usually its some super-rich home where everything can be controlled with the touch of a button. It also usually seems a little unrealistic. Well, while some of the automation in movies may be ridiculous, most of it is also entirely possible, and you don’t have to be a millionaire to have it.
Residents of Washington D.C. have a unique opportunity in home security. According to the following article from the Washington Post (click here), police are doing free home security evaluations. If you already have home security, this is a great way to see if your system “meets the mark.” If you don’t already have home security, its a good time to have someone come by to show you why you need one.
A high percentage of burglaries and home invasions occur by way of an open garage door. It simply makes sense. You’re in a rush, you leave quickly and forget to close the garage door. Maybe you think one of the kids will do it. Still, whatever the reasons, (and we can all imagine reasons why the door would be left open) an open garage door is still incredibly attractive to a potential thief/intruder. Ok, so what do you do?
The GE Simon XT is one of the finest wireless home security systems on the market. Its ease of use and functionality, not to mention the reliability of a GE product, make it the top choice in the wireless security world. Ok, so none of this is new. Why am I writing to you today?
This won’t be a long post. I just wanted to draw your attention to a featured video on Honeywell’s Security Channel concerning Internet Safety It is a short, good video; and any parent with a child using the Internet should watch it.
Swine flu masks are all the rage these days. News report after news report shows people in various walks of life and living in various countries happily (or unhappily) sporting a mask. So, are they really that helpful?
Home security is usually one of the last things on people’s minds as we head into the beautiful world of spring and prepare for those summer vacations. Unfortunately for us, its not even remotely the last things on a potential burglar’s mind. So, here are a few tips to remember for home security at this time of year, especially if you’re taking a vacation.
The brand new Ademco 5870API is a Wireless Indoor Asset Protection Sensor. Which is a long way of saying that its a small wireless device that attaches to your home or office valuables and notifies your alarm panel if those valuables are being moved. It will communicate with any Ademco security system that accepts their 5800 wireless technology.
Our friends accross the pond have come up with a great idea: give DIY vouchers to homeowners to beef up their home security. The reason is that police fear that crime will increase during the recession. And, we all now that a great way to avoid being burglarized is to have a home security system. So, if you choose to do it yourself, you’ll get a voucher to help defray some of the cost.
Access control systems are quickly becoming the first line security measure of choice for businesses and some homeowners. These systems have been used by big companies for years, but haven’t really taken off among small business owners. A high price tag and perceived lack of necessity have both contributed to this mindset. Well, hopefully we can change that.
I read an interesting story today about a burglary narrowly avoided. The general gist is that someone rang the doorbell, the woman, thankfully looked through her peephole and saw no one there. Then the bell rang again. It turns out that two men in ski masks were hiding outside her door. Her husband yelled at the men through the window and they ran off. This story illustrates two points.
People often look at SafeMart’s prices or other home security companies and think, “This is too good to be true. Their prices are a fraction of ADT, Brinks, and other similar companies. There’s something that doesn’t add up.” Well, you’re right, in a manner of speaking.
Fake home security cameras have been around for a while, but they seem to be coming up more and more these days…like this article. Why? Because they’re inexpensive and we’re in a recession. Fair enough. We all like to save a little money here and there and, let’s be honest, things are tight for everyone. So, it makes sense to purchase a fake home security camera, right?
If you are looking for alarm monitoring in Atlanta, you’ll come across a ton of sites that offer home alarm monitoring. One thing that you may not know is that most of those sites are not local Atlanta sites…which is ok. Because of the demands of running an effective central station for alarm monitoring, its difficult to have a really local company. So, what are you to do?
Key Digital produces some of the world’s best distributed audio and video equipment. Their applications work for jobs ranging from home theater or gaming to a distributed audio/video system for a sports’ stadium. Check out their site for a great run-down of their offering. And, if you want to purchase, or are interested in possibly purchasing, call SafeMart at 800-628-6093, or visit on the web for Key Digital products and pricing.
Its an unfortunate reality, but its true nonetheless. When the economy dips lower and people feel the pinch more severely, crime increases. I’m not going to go into why it happens, or how it might be avoided. The fact of the matter is, economic depression generally equals crime increase. Just something to remember when you think that you don’t need a home security system or that you don’t want to make the investment right now. Sad as it may be, now is precisely the time to make this investment. Here’s an article I saw today on this very issue.
We know customers frequently search for a SafeMart coupon code when they check out on our site. Frequently they may find a 5% – 10% off coupon. Well, I’ve got something much better in store for you. For a limited time, SafeMart is offering a $100 rebate when you purchase a GE
Just a quick note to anyone reading in Texas: You may qualify for a decrease in your homeowners’ insurance thanks to a little known law. All you need to do is have your home inspected for home security by an approved Home Security Inspector. Here is a link to an article explaining the law and letting readers in Lufkin know that the police department there will do free home security inspections. Even if you don’t care about the insurance discount, its worth it to call the police department and get a free inspection. Contact details are in the article.
Just a quick post. I wanted to alert you to an article that deals with simple home security solutions. Now, I still think that there is no excuse for not having a monitored home security system installed in your home. The safety it provides and the possible insurance discounts alone make it worth the cost. However, its obviously more important to have some home security than to have none at all. So, here is the article in question. Its got some good tips, so check it out.
The PowerMax Pro, Visonic’s latest version of its reliable PowerMax series is now available at SafeMart.com. The PowerMax Pro costs $330.00 and is well worth the money.
Home security forums are a dime a dozen. Every company, no matter how inexperienced, no matter how junky the products, has a forum. They do it as a way to generate some traffic, and draw in customers. And thats fine, but lets be honest. Home security isn’t a joke. If you need advice, or recommendations, or even troubleshooting help with a problem panel, you need accurate and reliable information. SafeMart has just that. Their forum is nicely laid out, moderated by their tech specialists and an overall great place to get information on home security. If you have a problem, comment, information, whatever on home security, then check out SafeMart’s home security forum.
The 5800PIR-OD is Honeywell’s new outdoor wireless motion detector. This is a perfect outdoor motion detector for places that need monitoring but are hard to wire. The system runs on AA lithium batteries for extended life and has a ton of great features, such as:
There often seems to be an automatic assumption in favor of the “big guys” like Brinks or ADT. Their name, reputation and the years they’ve been in the industry create an aura that says “DIY is good, and maybe even great for your money… but let’s be honest. Its not nearly as good as ADT or Brinks.”
Honeywell is a household brand name. From tires to thermostats and even aircraft engines, Honeywell produces many of the most reliable products we use every day, even if we don’t realize that they actually make those products. And while you may be aware that Honeywell is involved in many consumer markets, you may not be aware that they also produce top-of-the-line home security products.
Honeywell announced on Feb. 9 that they had released a new outdoor motion detector. According to the press release its a true wireless solution for hard to wire areas that you’d like to cover with a motion detector. Called the 5800PIR-OD, it should revolutionize the world of outdoor motion detectors. Its easy to install, has the ability to distinguish between large and small animals and has two PIR sensors that must both be tripped in order to sound the alarm. It all sounds pretty interesting. I’ll do another post in more detail at a later date.
SafeMart is pleased to announce that our LiveWatch service (wireless cellular monitoring) is now available with video. Basically, you can monitor and receive updates from your security cameras through your wireless monitoring service. Stay in touch and in control of your home and your family’s safety from anywhere in the world. Its affordable and easy to use. Check it out today.
The 5800CO is the new wireless carbon monoxide detector from Honeywell Ademco. It uses electrochemical sensors to detect accurate CO levels at a variety of concentrations. This great new sensor will notify you of the presence of carbon monoxide at lower levels than most other available CO detectors.
More and more we hear tragic stories on the news. Family of four dies from carbon monoxide poisoning, elderly man freezes to death in home. Sometimes the stories aren’t quite as tragic. We may all hear of a neighbor or a friend who has a pipe burst and suffers serious property damage. The thing that makes the human suffering all the more tragic and the property damage all the more frustrating is that all of these are avoidable. And you don’t have to pay through the nose to get protection for these things. So, in the interest of informing you, here are a few products that are life safety specific and will help you protect your loved ones and your home.
I’ve spoken of driveway alarms in the past, but I thought today I’d upload a quick video on them. Basically, a driveway alarm is a motion sensor that relays information wirelessly to a base in your home. It gives you a heads up on anyone coming to your home before they get to your door. They’re not expensive and they work great. Check out the video:
Vocal smoke alarms are an important consideration for families with children. By now everyone should understand the importance of having working smoke detectors in their living and sleeping areas. What you may not understand is how a child’s brain reacts to the sound of smoke detectors going off.
The Simon XT Wireless Talking Bi-Directional Keypad from GE is now available from SafeMart.com for the low price of $99.00. This product has been a while in coming and now that its here, I thought we should take a look at it.
The GE Concord 4 isn’t something we’ve talked about before, so I thought now was as good a time as any. This’ll just be a quick run down of the main features and benefits of a Concord system, so lets get started.
Receiving a discount on your homeowners insurance policy is actually easier than you think. And you can protect your home and family in the process. How? By purchasing UL listed central station alarm monitoring. Having alarm monitoring for your home security system is a simple way to get a discount on your monthly insurance premiums.
The Uplink DigiCell AnyNET GSM Cellular Communicator is here. We’ve already looked at what exactly is a GSM (see Jan. 10 post here). I don’t want to go over the same information, so if you’re confused, click the link to go to the previous post. The AnyNet GSM Communicator is a new tool that will work on any network. Most GSM modules are designed to work only with that item. So, for example, GE’s GSM module only works with the GE system. Other modules can’t read and report that particular code. The DigiCell AnyNET doesn’t have that limitation. It can be used as a GSM device with any home security system.
The TelGuard did pretty much the same thing, but it could only respond to alarms in general. So, it wouldn’t send information about which door was opened, or what motion detector was tripped. It would merely alert the monitoring company that there was an alarm (it would, however, differentiate between burglar and fire alarms). This new module will tell the monitoring station that there is an alarm, and precisely which sensor tripped it. And, the best part, it’s less expensive than the TelGuard. Visit SafeMart.com for more information on this and other great home security systems.
Here’s something pretty interesting for you: SecureLogic’s new In Wall Safe, the InvisiVault. You can store cash, savings bonds, passports, etc. in the vault for complete security. The cool thing about this wall safe is that it looks just like a picture frame. In fact, it is a picture frame. You can put any 16×20 or 12×16 picture in it. The other nice feature is that it operates by remote. So, you use the remote, enter the pin, and…the safe opens.
The reason I like this product is that it is completely hidden. A thief or a nosy house sitter would never even think to look at your picture frame for your valuables.
This interesting book is the latest in the “Savvy Guide” series. It examines all of the options available when buying and installing a home theater set-up. As people are continually updating their home electronics, they are faced with a million different options, which can be fairly overwhelming. This book is a helpful guide in determining the best home theater system you can get while staying inside your budget. The Savvy Guide to Home Theater is certainly worth a read.
SafeMart is now offering a whole line of JBL speakers. These are top quality speakers that can be easily integrated into an existing home theater or a home audio system. They are also paintable, so your system can be very discreet. Right now, we have the residential, in-ceiling and in-wall models. However, watch for us to begin carrying a commercial version designed for school auditoriums, concert venues, etc. This really is a whole new level of audio.
Wait a minute! Why are they carrying audio speakers? Isn’t SafeMart a home security company? It is, but it’s also much more. Our specialty and primary focus has been and always will be home security. We are still committed to offering you the lowest prices on the best systems with excellent customer service.
However, many customers have asked us about other “smart home,” low voltage, do-it yourself type features. So, we decided to add them. We are now carrying items ranging from speakers to central vacuums to GPS systems. It’s all part of our goal to make your SafeMart experience the best it can possibly be.
SafeMart is now carrying new LCD monitors from Daewoo.These top of the line monitors offer a beautifully clear picture on a large screen.
Now, what do LCD monitors have to do with home security? Having a high quality monitor is important for anyone with a security camera, but even more important for certain homeowners.If you are using your security monitors to view who is coming up your driveway, or knocking at your door, you need a clear, high quality picture.Viewing grainy feeds on a black and white monitor when you have a high quality security camera doesn’t help all that much.Check out these security monitors for more information. You won’t be disappointed.
If you are looking at buying a home security system, you’ve no doubt seen the term GSM at one time or another. Unless you are technologically savvy, you probably had no idea what this meant. So, for the sake of your sanity, here it is. GSM stands for Global System for Mobile communications. It’s the same system that your cell phone uses to connect to a certain network. A GSM device uses this system to communicate back with your security system. The opposite is also true. So for example, if your phone line is cut, your security system will still be able to contact your central station, via GSM.
Still confused? Here’s a prime example. SafeMart just started carrying the Telguard Primary Residential Cellular GSM Communicator (see picture). Why would you want this? Well, let’s say that you don’t have a landline telephone; you only use cell phones. Normally, a security system runs into your landline. In this case, you don’t have one, so how will your system communicate with the central station? By using a GSM Communicator. This Communicator provides the link between the home security system and the central monitoring station. So, let’s say you have a fire. Your alarm system will use the Global System for Mobile communications to contact the central station.
If you don’t have a landline, this kind of technology is indispensable. But, even if you do, it’s not a bad idea to have one. This way, if a thief were to cut your telephone line, the GSM would kick in and make the call to the central station.
Honeywell has just released the new Ademco Wireless Keychain Remote. It has a sleek new design, easy to use functionality, and is very affordable.
I know this isn’t a completely new concept. Ademco, and other companies have had wireless remotes for years. Still, its a nice new design with added buttons and functionality. Basically, it’s designed to allow you to control your security system from a remote location. So, for security reasons, you may want your control panel in the closet of the master bedroom, located upstairs. The keychain remote allows you to arm and disarm the system from outside. The cool thing about it is that you can also program it to control your light features, close your garage door, etc. If you already have an Ademco system, I highly recommend adding this feature.
You can always find any products previewed on this blog at SafeMart.com. And as always, SafeMart will match any competitor’s price.