Chicago: A City Coping With Crime

Published September 28th, 2017 | By

 

A Popular Location to Visit

Tourism is key in “The Windy City.” Last year, tourism accounted for more than 145,000 of all jobs and brought in $15 billion to the economy. In 2016, there were over 54 million visitors who travelled to Chicago. Compared to the year before in 2015, there was a 2.9 percent increase in travel. These overall numbers included people both on business and on vacation.

The two main reasons for the increased number of visitors are due to the various large-scale city events and attractions. Famous landmarks draw in an impressive number of people, locations such as: Wrigley Field (home of the Cubs), Millennium Park, Cloud Gate, Skydeck, Field Museum, The Magnificent Mile and others. These places are iconic—people want to be a part of something they have always heard so much about and finally have the opportunity to experience first-hand.

And while tourism growth has reached record numbers, Henry Hartevelt, the President of the Travel Industry Consistency Atmosphere Research Group stated, “The city will need to curb some of the violence continually making headlines to maintain that momentum.” He continued, “It may take a toll on leisure travelers who have complete discretion on where they choose to go.”

So despite Chicago’s popularity, the city will have to tackle its alarming crime rate if it wants to maintain its place as one of the leading travel locations to visit in the U.S. People want to feel safe and secure anywhere they venture—not just visitors but the residents of Chicago as well. One of the best ways to prevent crime is to come together as a community.

 

Life In Chicago

Despite its current issues with crime, Chicago is an appealing city for many people to live in. It is more than a place that continues to have issues with crime— stemming from its infamous Al Capone mafia days in the 1920s during the Prohibition era. Then, there was literally terror openly on the streets. Fast forward to today, Chicago is also more than a city that is renowned for simpler things, such as its deep-dish pizza.

Chicago is a sprawling metropolis with an abundant culture of diverse food, music and art. There is no place quite like it. As the third largest city in the U.S.—ranks just behind New York City (8.5 million) and Los Angeles (3.9 million), Chicago is home to an estimated 2.7 million people. The median age of its residence is 32 and mainly comprises of people of Caucasian, African American and Latino decent. The number of occupied homes is 1,045,560 and consists of mainly family-led households.

 

The Housing Market

Regarding the housing market, those in the metro areas have done best since the Great Recession of 2008. It has taken many areas to bounce back years after the recession ended. Other locations, such as the Northwest side have fared better than those on the Southside. Those on the Northwest side have more home equity, whereas those on the Southside frequently are facing underwater mortgages.

Only 15 percent of Chicago homeowners are viewed as being equity rich, meaning they have over a 50 percent steak in their homes. On the contrast, over 17 percent owe 25 percent or more than their current market home value. Regarding equity wealth, areas throughout the Northwest side are doing the best, including these neighborhoods: Old Irving Park, Mayfair and Jefferson Park, Logan Square and Avondale. These areas and numbers only reflect homeowners and don’t take into account the financial statuses of renters throughout the city.

One thing is clear: neighborhood wealth directly impacts the levels of crime a specific area will experience.

 

Migration to the City

One alarming thing to note is that Chicago’s population numbers are seeing the greatest population losses of any other major U.S. metropolitan city. The U.S. Census Bureau released this data in March of 2015. The report shows that the metro area decreased by 6,300 in a one-year span (July 2014-July 2015). This is part of Chicago’s total loss of over 80,000 people. Within the U.S., Chicago is losing its people to other locations (domestic out-migration) more quickly than it is having people migrate to the city.

Other large cities, such as New York City and Los Angeles see large domestic out-migration as well, but also see migrations to the city, offsetting any losses. After Chicago, the second worst city to see a net population loss was Detroit, which has had a floundering economy.

It goes to say that Chicago is at a crossroads if it’s not careful with things that can negatively impact its population. Crime is undoubtedly one such component that will potentially make people want to pack up and leave.

 

Chicago and Crime

As stated before, Chicago has a complex relationship with crime—stemming from over a century ago. Al Capone set the stage for the mafia presence in the area, but it wasn’t the last stint of corruption it would see. Plenty goes on today in various forms. From theft, burglaries, violent crimes and assault, murder and rape, Chicago is a city that has it all.

To put it into perspective: halfway through 2017, violence in Chicago had claimed the lives of 323 people. From an annual perspective, 2017 is likely to see over 700 homicides—more than what it has been in 20 years. Even in comparison to the more populous cities of New York and Los Angeles, Chicago has a higher murder rate.

Much of Chicago’s violence surrounds its gangs, which have a hand in everything from petty crimes to drug dealing. Other factors include unemployment, racial divide and hardships of the South and Western parts of the city. And while there are police to help prevent citywide crime, Chicago as a whole now faces a strong resentment of its police force due to recent cases of racially-related police shootings of citizens.

 

How Can You Protect Your Home and Family?

Where your home security and personal safety are concerned, there are things you can do to ensure that you are better protected from things such as burglaries and violent home invasions. Every year, approximately 2 million homes experience a home invasion; however, with a home security system, your home will be 3 times less likely to be targeted. Home security systems provide a peace of mind, allowing you to worry less and focus more on the things that matter most to you, such as your family and daily activities. Enjoy all that Chicago has to offer—after all, it’s a city with plenty of great things to offer.

3 Financial Benefits of Having a Home Security System

Published April 21st, 2017 | By

A home security system will require paying for upfront costs. And while those costs vary—depending on which package option you choose with ADT monitoring (Basic package: $36.99/mo.; Basic Wireless package $48.99/mo.; ADT Pulse package $52.99/mo.; ADT Pulse + Video package $58.99/mo.), there are numerous financial benefits of having a home security system in your home. Consider it an investment that also provides constant security monitoring to help protect your home and loved ones. It’s beneficial no matter what perspective you look at.

So now, you may be questioning how exactly will a home security system provide financial benefits. Here’s three different ways that’ll put money back into your pocket:

 

1. It Reduces Homeowner’s Insurance

Having homeowner’s insurance isn’t necessary to have; however, some mortgage lenders do require it to help protect their investment. Regardless, homeowners should know the importance of having homeowner’s insurance, since it protects against a variety of unforeseen circumstances—such as fires, floods, personal property damage, structural repairs, etc.

For example, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, a small flame can turn into a devastating fire within 30 seconds— which then costs an average of $4,000 in property damage. And that amount is simply the average: it can easily be more— leaving a household in financial hardship.

Having a home monitoring system not only helps protect against fires and floods, but it can directly impact insurance premiums. Whatever your homeowner’s insurance premium may be, it’s still an additional household expense— and bills certainly do pile up. A home security system often reduces home insurance costs by up to 20 percent. It’s definitely worth investigating.

 

2. May Be Tax Deductible

First of all, you’ll want to speak with your accountant on this specific matter, but generally speaking, home monitoring systems can be tax deductible for home businesses. Be aware that there is specific criteria in claiming a home business (the IRS takes this particular claim seriously). But if you do work or run a business from home, you can claim that specific work area (which is protected by the home monitoring system) as a business expense.

To claim a home business you have to meet certain requirements, which you can find more about on the IRS Home Deduction page. Deduction requirements essentially include:

  • Regular and exclusive use. Meaning you have a designated area that is used solely for business purposes. You’ll have to measure the dimensions of this space and use it to base your home business claim. The larger the space, the larger the deduction.
  • Principle place for business. This means that your home is the main place of business, where you conduct your business either full-time or substantially.

 

3. Increases Home Values

Home investments are a beautiful thing—particularly if they can increase the value of a home. When looking to sell a property, potential buyers are aware of home upgrades: anywhere from kitchen appliances, flooring, etc. A home monitoring system is no exception; it is another selling factor that can encourage a potential buyer to make an offer at a good asking price.

10 Steps Toward Energy Efficiency at Home

Published October 13th, 2016 | By

No matter where you live across the United States, you’ll need to kick on either the air conditioning or heat at some point each month. Now that it’s currently cooler, you may be thinking of ways you can save money on heating bills. The answer is: making your home more energy-efficient.

There are dozens of methods that one can abide by to practice better energy usage, but we are going to highlight those that are most readily accessible for yourself and your family. Saving on energy doesn’t have to include an overall lifestyle change, but thinking better about your daily choices and living can certainly make all of the difference.

1. Regularly replace your air filters

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This is probably one of the easiest habits you can get into to make your home more energy efficient. An old air filter will not be as effective in heating or cooling your home, and will actually make your system work harder (and expend more energy) in order to deliver the desired temperature.

Some manufacturers will recommend replacing your air filter once a month, but take note of what your own system calls for.

2. Seal up your home

Even if your doors and windows are shut, it doesn’t mean that cool or hot air isn’t escaping. Making that your home is better-sealed can mean big things for better energy usage in your home. It is recommended that you have a professional energy auditor take a look at your home and check for where air might be escaping.

According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), common places where air can escape includes window frames, attic hatches, areas around wires and pipes, and many others. You can see a full list here.

3. Do less laundry

Here is where some lifestyle changes can potentially come into play when it comes to better energy usage. We often don’t think about how much energy gets used to do laundry, especially when hot/warm water is involved.

According to HouseLogic.com, a load of laundry that uses hot/warm water can cost, on average, about 68 cents. Compare this to a load with cold water, which costs about four cents.

Also consider that there is nothing wrong with reusing a towel after a bath or shower. Towels take up a lot of space in the washer, which is why they tend to constitute the better part of a load. Try reusing your towels, and note how you might be doing less laundry as a result.

4. Unplug chargers when not in use

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With mobile devices being so intertwined in our daily lives, we love having a charger ready to go when we need it. However, it’s important to realize that even if a charger is plugged in but not in use, it is using energy.

5. Stick to ENERGY STAR-approved appliances

Years ago, it was fairly safe assumption that ENERGY STAR–approved products were more expensive than standard appliances. Well, technology advances in a short period of time. There’s been an increasing demand for products that save on energy consumption and costs, which now drives the entire market of what’s available to consumers. More often than naught, you’ll find ENERGY STAR-approved appliances, which are sometimes cheaper than their standard counter parts. This means you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for something that will save you money on energy each month.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, within a 1-year time span, over $100 can be saved with an ENERGY STAR-approved appliance. Within 5-years, that amount increases to up to $600 in savings. These are based on 2015 models. As each newer model comes out each year, you can expect to save even more on energy costs.

This isn’t an endorsement. ENERGY STAR is a program of the federal government that encourages customers to buy products that meet the requirements of efficient energy usage. Check and see if your current appliances are ENERGY STAR-approved, and consider replacing your old appliances with ones that have the mark. Approved machines help customers save money over time.

6. Put your shades and curtains to use

While it may not seem like it doesn’t very much, drawing your shades and curtains during colder nights can actually help maintain the heat in your home. On the other side, keeping them open on cold, yet sunny days, allow the sun to provide extra heat to your home. This is one of the most cost-effective methods of maintaining your temperature.

7. Skip the car. Ride a bike.

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Cycling is becoming a more popular method for transportation in recent years, and for good reason. Other than the health benefits that come with cycling, putting less reliance on your car can mean major savings on gas. With local cities and towns implementing bike lanes, check to see if your commute or trip to the store is something that can be done on a bicycle instead.

8. Install a smart/programmable thermostat

Smart/programmable thermostats are capable of learning the temperatures you prefer to keep your home at, so you don’t have to be the one constantly making the adjustments. Consider learning more about how you can better control your heating and cooling with ADT Pulse security automation if you are looking to cut back on energy usage. ADT Home Security has recently partnered with Nest Learning Thermostats for a more complete experience in home automation.

9. Do away with incandescent lights. Use CFLs and LEDs.

Incandescent lights are quickly going by the wayside in favor of more energy-efficient LED and CFL lightbulbs. Take a look around your house and if any incandescent bulbs are still being put to use, and replace if possible. According to InterNACHI, CFLs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and LEDs use even less than that.

10. Keep your interior doors open

If you’re trying to improve the flow of cooler or warmer air throughout your home, try keeping all interior doors open so that improved airflow can happen.

Top Tips to Baby-Proof Your Home

Published September 22nd, 2016 | By

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Your home should both be and feel like a safe place for your family. But as a new parent, it’s sometimes difficult to know what’s a potential danger for your child. You’ll have to switch gears a little and inspect your home for items that are potentially dangerous. Here are some great tips at baby-proofing your home.

 

The Staircase

Each year, around 100,000 children are rushed to the ER for falling down the stairs. That translates to roughly one injury every six minutes. With that said, the stairs can be one of the most dangerous areas for a baby or toddler. Whether they are crawling or walking, they can seriously injure themselves or worse. To prevent a nasty fall, make sure you invest and install a baby gate.

Here is a vital note to make: never use a pressure-mounted gate; these can be pushed on can be made loose. Instead, you should install a hardware-mounted safety gate. Also, make sure your gate opens out and away from the staircase, this is especially important at the top of the stairs.

 

The Kitchen

It’s crucial that your child stays out of reach of detergents, other types of cleaners, as well as dishes. To ensure this, you should baby-proof all cabinets that are within their reach. One idea to keep in mind is to switch standard cleaning products, made of bleach, ammonia, etc. to more organic compounds made of vinegar, mineral oils and other natural ingredients. That way, if something were to potentially be ingested, the product is less of a hazard.

According to the Poison Control National Capital Poison Center, every 14.6 seconds, there is a reported poison exposure to Poison Control. In 2016, U.S. poison control centers gave telephone assistance to over 2 million callers, who were calling about human poison ingestion. Concerning child poisoning, out of 1,000 children (under 6 years of age), there were an estimated 41.3 poison exposures.

Also in the kitchen, you should make sure that any storage or grocery bags are kept out of reach, as these could become potential chocking or strangulation hazards. And it goes to say that all knives and other sharp objects should be properly stored and inaccessible to youngsters.

 

The Living Room

Living rooms aren’t normally decorated with young kids in mind. And it’s likely that some aesthetic sacrifices will be made in the name of safety. After all, there are plenty of dangers in this one room in particular. For instance, coffee and end tables have sharp corners. To ensure that your child isn’t accidentally injured on these edges, make sure you install edge and corner guards. Window blinds have long cords that hang. Make sure your child doesn’t accidentally strangle or harm themselves by adjusting the cord length. If you have hardwood floors, a nice area rug could soften a fall or tumble.

 

Electrical Outlets and Power Cords

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Babies and small kids don’t mesh well where electricity is concerned. The National Fire Protection Association states that nearly 2,400 kids 

suffer from severe shock and burns caused by tampering with electrical sockets. As you can imagine, you’ll want to do all in your power to minimize the risk of electrocution. Make sure all unused sockets have socket guards or electrical outlet caps. You’ll have to keep a heavy that your child doesn’t play with cords. To help with this, try to tidy up your cords and safely organized/kept out of reach.

Want to better protect your kids? ADT Pulse provides the ultimate home protection. Learn more about ADT Pulse.

 

 

Sources:

    http://www.parents.com/baby/safety/babyproofing/babyproofing-home-top-to-bottom/
    http://www.babycenter.com/0_childproofing-your-kitchen-for-babies_755.bc
    parent.guide/how-to-baby-proof-everything-electrical/

College Safety Tips

Published August 23rd, 2016 | By

Throughout the country, parents have recently dropped off their kids to college for another new, exciting fall semester. And a lot goes through a parent’s mind when having to watch their child take another step towards adulthood. None of the constant worrying will effectively prepare a student for campus life. And while universities do all in their power to protect their students and enhance student life (many universities provide safety awareness programs that predominately focus on assaults only), there are a number of things students can do themselves to ensure their safety. Whether it’s in the dorm room or throughout campus, these are the best ways to stay safe.

For those living on campus, the dorms present the first step in personal independence. It’s not an apartment by any means, since there is a resident advisor on every floor, but incidents still occur– especially theft. Students should do the following:

 

1. Remember to keep dorm rooms locked when the room is unoccupied and at night. This will help deter possible theft. Personal property must be protected. You’d be surprised by the degree of theft in the dorms.

One of the most recent statistic reports about college crime comes from a 2011 report by the FBI. That year, colleges and universities experienced over 2 million burglaries– which accounted to 25 percent of all property crime in the U.S.

During this time period, the top 5 schools that had the most crime included:

  1. University of California, Los Angeles
  2. Ohio State University
  3. Benedict College
  4. Arizona State University
  5. Florida State University

 

2. Follow the dorm guest policy. Many dorms require an electronic passkey to enter. Oftentimes, people will wait by the dorm building waiting to be let inside. But reality is this: if you don’t know the person, you don’t know what their business is there. They should never be let inside. Instead, the student should ask that person is looking for and then alert the person that is being sought out.

 

3. Keep your student ID safe. A student ID normally holds student cash credit and meals. If a card is lost, the appropriate campus personnel needs to be contacted. Not contacting someone about a lost card puts the card in jeopardy of being used.

 

4. Never walk alone at night. Campuses are equipped with emergency alert stations, which let’s students either place an emergency call or press an emergency alert button (which then notifies campus police). These are great safety tools; however, it’s essential to prevent instances that place a person in that type of jeopardy. Start by never walking throughout campus alone at night. And if that’s unavoidable, the student should be aware of his or her surroundings (not on the phone and distracted).

 

If you have a student in college, or you attend a university yourself, please share this information. It could make a world a difference and keep a number of people better protected. For more security tips, check out the rest of our ADT monitoring blog for a range of topics.

Preparing for Your Next Getaway

Published July 22nd, 2016 | By

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We are in the heart of summer. For many of us, it’s hard to not daydream of our up and coming trip to the beach, mountains, etc. This is the opportunity to prepare for your trip—not just at your future destination, but back at home. Did you know that recent reports indicate that a burglary happens nearly every 14 seconds somewhere in the U.S.

It doesn’t matter if you are well off or are just scrapping by; a burglary can happen to anyone and in any neighborhood. Life is too risky to leave things up to chance. Preventative measures could save you not only thousands of dollars (most burglaries cost the average victim over $2,000 in losses), but it could also save your life and the lives of your loved ones. ADT home monitoring provides exceptional protection—24/7. Letting you enjoy life without all the worry, stress and anxiety.

So to prepare for your vacation, there are additional things you can do to protect your home. A home monitoring system is the best defense, but you can do a number of things to increase your protection. Here they are:

Stop your mail and newspaper delivery

It’s fairly easy. All you have to do is put a hold on your mail by going online to https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/ and filling out the form. Stopping your newspaper delivery requires you to contact your newspaper delivery service provider and doing the same hold process as your mail. The reason for doing all of this is to prevent your mailbox and yard clear of days or weeks worth of mail and newspapers. When you are home, you check and remove these items daily; so it’s obvious if these pile up. You are clearly not home if these are accumulating.

Trim back your bushes and have your lawn maintained

Having overgrown bushes and trees can easily block the views of your entryways. It’s a great thing for burglars, since they want to make their entrances as inconspicuous as possible. Proper trimming will give these entranceways a clear view for anyone to see, which is a great robber deterrent. In having your lawn maintained (even while you are away), you are again giving the appearance that someone is home. How many times have you seen a home with an overgrown yard and wondered whether anyone was even home? Exactly…it made you at least wonder the possibility.

Setup automatic timers

Appearances say so much. Automatic timers do just that. Set specific times for your lights to come on—both indoors and outside. A dark house screams that it’s vacant; precisely what you don’t want people to know while you are away for an extended period of time.

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Have someone keep an eye on your home

If you are leaving for more than a couple of days, it’s a good idea to have someone you trust (like a neighbor, friend or family member) come and periodically make sure everything is okay. They don’t have to do much– just pass by and make sure the automatic lights are turning on, that the mail and newspaper are being held, etc.

You can give them a spare key as well as an alarm guest code for your alarm system (which is easy to setup) to give them access to your home while you are away. This is not only a good safety measure to have in place, but it’ll also give you some comfort and peace of mind.

 

****Another thing to consider is upgrading to ADT Pulse for remote home protection. Pulse lets you monitor and control your home from anywhere—provided that you have a Wi-Fi Internet connection.

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How to Take ADT with You…Anywhere

Published May 27th, 2016 | By

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We are all familiar with the functions of a home security system. They help protect households from burglaries, fires, carbon monoxide poisoning and help in the event of a medical emergency. At one point, users could only arm or disarm a security system—and if something ever happened, the security company would only then notify the homeowner. You couldn’t check up on things while you were away (unless you reached out to a neighbor or house sitter). Home monitoring, with smart technology operates much differently—providing remote home monitoring and video surveillance.

ADT Pulse is Revolutionizing Home MonitoringADT Pulse

ADT Pulse combines all of the great home monitoring features and capabilities that is standard of ADT monitoring systems, but goes a step further. It integrates remote monitoring, which allows instant security access to a home— from virtually any location. All that’s needed is an Internet connection and a compatible Apple iOS, Android or Windows device.

Remote monitoring is a great feature that allows you to stay in control… regardless if you are across town or in another country. ADT Pulse sends email and text alerts; informing you when any of your custom settings are triggered. With ADT Pulse, you are in control and can know your home’s status instantly.

Keep tabs on your home and have a newfound peace of mind—24/7. To put it plainly, ADT Pulse allows you to take your home and monitoring system with you, anywhere you go.

Transform Your Home Into a Smart Home

Remote monitoring with home control transforms any home into a smart home. Home control provides the following remote functions:

• Lighting Control
• Door Lock Control
• Appliance Control
• Temperature Control

Monitor Your Property with Video Surveillancevideo

ADT Pulse’s video control provides live stream and recorded video of your home. Now you can monitor when someone is scheduled to arrive, make sure your kids are okay while you’re gone or even keep tabs of your pets. A picture says a thousand words, making video control a vital part of taking your home—and ADT home monitoring with you, anywhere.

 

Did you know? ADT Pulse can help you save money on home energy expenses.

Steps to take when moving into a new home

Published February 13th, 2015 | By

Moving into a new place can be an exciting time for anyone. Some see it as the start of a new life, especially when moving to a new state or city. Before you let too much excitement pass over you, it’s important to consider several steps in making sure that your new property is at the proper standards of safety.

It’s easy to overlook some things about your new place that you might assume is already set, so some responsibilities simply lie with you as the new owner or renter of a place. Take some time to consider some of the following steps:

1. Find the main circuit breaker

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This isn’t necessarily the first thing you absolutely must do when moving in to your new place, but it’s certainly an important step to take. Knowing where your circuit breaker is will allow to know where to run in the even of a power outage and so forth. It’s also important to have a full comprehension of the labeling, so you know what controls what part of your home.

2. Are there smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? Do they work?

Now this is something you want to immediately consider when moving in. Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are an essential part of any home, and they can mean the difference between life and death in the event of a fire. Make sure that all smoke and CO detectors are fully functioning by hitting the “test” button that should be visible on the devices.

Also think about how many detectors there are throughout the home. While one is the bare minimum, you ideally want detection in each room where possible (best locations include each bedroom, the living room and the kitchen). The more detection there is, the better chance of risks being caught before serious issues arise. You’ll also have to make sure you keep up with the batteries to make sure the detectors continue to operate. Batteries should be replaced about once a year, but you’ll want to periodically check on them by pressing the test button.

Food for thought, a home catches on fire every 86 seconds, which leads to an injury every 34 minutes. A 2015 report by the National Fire Protection Association stated that there were over 500,000 structure fires in the U.S., resulting in nearly 2,700 deaths and 13,000 injuries. The estimated property damage from these fires was $10.3 billion in losses. These statistics are greatly reduced when there are fully functioning smoke detectors in the home.

3. Change The Locks

If your new home had previous tenants or owners, it’s critical to change all of the locks. This is especially applicable if you’re renting your home. Previous tenants could have easily had their keys replicated before turning in their original keys to the owners. Make sure that this is okay with your landlord – but it is unlikely that you’ll run into any problems.

Having the locks changed will ensure that only you and your family have key access to your home. If you’re interested in automated locking that can be done from your phone, be sure to learn about what ADT Pulse can provide.

4. Get to know your neighbors

You don’t have to become best friends with your neighbors, but it is good to familiarize yourself with others who live around you. Building trust among neighbors helps foster a stronger community. You don’t want to necessarily let your guard down with trust when it comes to home security, but having a solid base of knowledge of who your neighbors are can help change the dynamic of your living situation.

 

Simple measures you can take outside to protect the inside of your home

Published February 5th, 2015 | By

While the focus in home security tends to circulate around the protection of the inside of you home, there are plenty of ways that you as a resident can optimize the outside of your home to provide extra security.

Your home is everything to you, and the outside is the beginning point for an intruder thinking of making their way inside. These are just some of the things that you can do to help boost your security along with your ADT Home Security system.

1. Defensive plants and shrubbery

If you’ve ever gone for a hike in the woods, you have surely seen some plants that you know for certain that you would want to go nowhere near in fear of getting some cuts. Sure, the natural vegetation may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, but there are other species of plants disguised as attractive landscaping that deliver painful pricks and cuts.

Whether they are catcus, trees, berry-bearing plants, there are plenty of options thorned vegetation that provide good looks as well as effective defense.

Bougainvillea

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Native to South America, bougainvillea plants come in close to twenty varieties. Their colorful array offers plenty of attraction, but when you get up close, you’ll see that these plants are heavily thorned. Other than thorns, it’s important to know that the sap of bougainvilleas are toxic to humans, causing skin rashes. Any intruder who thinks these plants are there to provide cover will be in for a very rude surprise.

Pyracantha

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Pyracantha is the genus of a shrubberies that features white flowers with a range of colorful (non-edible) berries and a high concentration of thorns. Also known as the firethorn, Pyracantha plants can reach up to twenty feet.

Cactus

As most might know, cactus of thousands of varies feature signature thorns. While most would believe that cactus need heat to survive, they can thrive well in colder climates as well. Place them against your home, and intruders are less likely to target what’s inside of your home.

Rose Bushes

Roses transform any yard into one with big flowers, rich in color. They are as attractive in beauty as they are painful to touch with all of their thorns along their long stems. Place these plants under a window, and the thorns will work as a great deterrent to anyone wanting to climb inside.

There are plenty of other plants that you can employ for your home, and some more information can be found here .

2. The Power of Lights

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If you are on top of the security of your home, you know about the value of timing your lights to turn on at night while you are away indoors. Why not apply that same principle to the outside of your home?

Let’s relate this to the protection of your own vehicle. An effective tactic that drivers use at night is parking their car until heavy street lights where intruders will have a hard time staying in the dark.

You may have a porch light up and running during the night, but how about the rest of your home? Consider placing a lighting system that covers all sides and corners of your home at night, illuminating the surrounding area enough where visibility is enough for you and your neighbors.

With ADT Pulse security automation, you’ll be able to control what lights are on and off from anywhere you are. This will be an invaluable tool for when you are away for an extended period of time

If you haven’t started a Neighborhood Watch program, consider doing so for the safety of your entire community.

3. Put those yard signs to work

If you already have an ADT home security system at work and haven’t employed the yard signs and window decals, consider their effectiveness. According to several studies discussed, yard signs exhibiting that your home is protected by a security system has served as a large deterrent against intruders.

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This doesn’t mean that an intruder won’t attempt at all, but if faced with one home that has a sign and one that doesn’t, it is reasonable to believe that the intruder will go for the home that appears to have no protection at all.

There are homeowners who think they can beat the system and skip out on home security, but still have a yard sign in front of their home with nothing else. It surely sounds like a reasonable idea, but the gimmick has been catching on.

If you’re going to place the yard signs out, it is best to have a security system in place to back up your claim as well. You’ll come out winning in the end.

Preventing frozen pipes in your home

Published February 3rd, 2015 | By

February is in its beginning stages, and the temperatures continue to stay briskly bitter and cold across the east coast. Another winter storm is expected to sweep across the Northeast later on this week, while temperatures in the mid-Atlantic have been plummeting to the 20s during the night.

Apart from heavy snowfalls (for some areas) and keeping your car warm, another tough run-in that some households have the misfortune of experiencing are frozen pipes. According to an article published last year in the New York Times, the average insurance claim for frozen pipes in the home averages $18,000. Why so high? It’s not the pipes themselves, but the damage that can occur to flooring, drywall, and other parts of the surrounding structure.

One thing to know:

Frozen pipes are more likely to happen in Southern homesfauc

While the beginning of 2015 would make it seem like it’s a common occurrence, the American South typically does not experience the bitter cold that it is currently facing. As a result, homes built ten to twenty years ago were not built with much insulation around pipes.

When temperatures do reach freezing point, it makes sense that southern homes are susceptible to damage rather than, say, the Midwest.

How to know when you have frozen pipes

Would you know when the moment happens? The first indication that you have frozen pipes either very little, or no water is coming out of your faucet. If there is no water coming out at all, it is critical that you immediately turn off your water. Keeping it on can cause further damage. Take a moment (as soon as today!) to know where your main water valve is.

However, if there is a little water coming out, the Red Cross suggests keeping your faucet open to allow liquid water to melt the currently frozen water. In some instances, a frozen pipe can potentially be thawed out with a hair dryer. Begin from the part that’s nearest to the faucet and work your way down the pipe.

Regardless, you’ll have to act quickly. State Farm  insurance states that were you to have a 1/8-inch crack in a pipe, up to 250 gallons of water can be gushed per day once the ice thaws. This can not only cause some obvious flooding, but it may lead to some major structural damage and mold.

If you have frozen pipes, it’s important to reach out to appropriate services such as your plumber to get on repairs. You’ll also want to reach out to your insurance company, and hold on to any pieces of damaged infrastructure. This is especially in regards to the broken pipe. Treat it as you would a car accident, and have photos of the damage available for your insurance company as well.

Let’s prevent this from happening…

From what you may have gathered, dealing with frozen pipes isn’t exactly a fun way to spend your weekend. Even if you are in an environment that is susceptible to the setback, there are several measures that you can take to avoid it.

  1. On cold nights, leave your cabinet doors open to allow warmer air to circulate around water pipes. As suggested by the Red Cross, be thorough in making sure that no harmful chemicals or cleaners are within the reach of your children or pets.
  2. Keep your heat on at a reasonable level – around 65-70 while at home, and around 55 degrees if you are going to be away for a while. Remember that with ADT Pulse, you are able to control your heat from an Internet-connected mobile device
  3. For nights when the weather is extremely cold, let your water run at the slightest amount to prevent pipes from freezing. If you are conscious about your water usage, let water collect in a large container over night and use it for boiling, watering your indoor plants, or any other household applications


 

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