HOME SWEET HOME: Keeping your home safe as the holiday season arrives

HOME SWEET HOME: Keeping your home safe as the holiday season arrives

With the holiday season rolling in, the threat of home burglaries raises. Homes that are left vacant during the holidays create ample opportunities for burglars to break in. Even non-vacant homes are more enticing with the knowledge of the electronics and other treasures behind the door.

With this knowledge, it is important to arm your house with a good security system. Below, State Farm experts have laid it all out, from wired to wireless and everything in between.

Monitored vs. unmonitored systems

Monitored systems involve someone from a private company on the other end, surveilling your home 24/7. They are in charge of alerting police if something goes wrong while you are away.

Unmonitored systems are just as they sound. They have an on-site alert system with flashing lights that will let your neighbors know if there is an invasion, but there is no surveillance on the other end.

According to State Farm experts, the best security comes from monitored systems, because their vigilance is constant. They typically function in the following way:

  1. The system’s sensors are triggered in some way, such as a door opening.
  2. The system waits 30-45 seconds to give the homeowner a chance to deactivate the system to prevent false alarms.
  3. If the alarm is not deactivated, the security system sends a message to the monitoring company over telephone lines or by a wireless device.
  4. The monitoring company receives the message and verifies the alarm, generally by placing a call to the home or homeowner’s mobile phone. If they do not receive the proper passcode or do not receive an answer, the company calls the police.
  5. The police respond.

Hardwired vs. wireless systems

Traditional or hardwired security systems use some or all of the following components:

  • Control panel: All the operations of the alarm system are centered in this panel, including the connections to the central monitoring station, either through a phone line or via cellular/radio means.
  • Central monitoring station: If the system is monitored, and the alarm is set off, the control panel sends a message here.
  • Touchpads: This is where the system is armed and disarmed. They should be placed near doors so they can be armed on your way out and disarmed after you return. Most work on a passcode system.
  • Key fobs: Similar to your car lock/unlock fob, this will allow you to arm and disarm your alarm system from outside the premises without using a passcode.
  • Sirens: A siren will sound an alert when an alarm is set off.
  • Door and window sensors: These set off the alarm when a door or window is opened. Glass break sensors are also available and recommended.
  • Motion detectors: Motion detectors are activated by movement within the protected room. There are various styles to meet the individual needs of the homeowner.
  • Video monitoring: Surveillance video is an option with most systems at an additional cost. The images can be sent to the monitoring station directly, captured and stored locally, and/or viewable online by computer or smart phone.
  • Alert Panic buttons: the central station of an emergency situation that requires immediate response by the police.

The latest wireless home security systems may come as part of a ‘smart home’ with features such as window and door alerts and heat sensors. You can learn more here about the options and the systems’ potential insurance discounts.

Choosing an alarm company

If you’re looking to get a security alarm system, do your research. Before calling any alarm companies, speak to the local police first. Get an idea of how long it takes them to respond to a home security alarm after being contacted by an alarm company. Valuable time can be lost (as well as valuables themselves), which may influence your purchase decision. Next, ask them about fines for false alarms. To ensure your safety, it is recommended that the company that monitors your property be certified by Underwriters Laboratory, Factory Mutual or some other Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL).

State Farm Expert tip

According to State Farm experts, you should always get quotes from different alarm companies in your area and compare detection coverage and features. Make sure to ask them about the criminal screening process for their employees and extra costs to the monitoring fees billed by the companies. Beware of long-term contracts from these companies, because they may be difficult to break if you decide to cancel service or move from your home. Inquire about warranties and safety guarantees. Verify whether the equipment is to be purchased or leased.

Things to consider

Figure out whether or not you will be utilizing a hard phone line or a cellular line to connect to your homes security system. If the hard line is still utilized, you should know that many burglars know how to cut a telephone line before infiltrating a home. However, if the phone line is inaccessible and run underground, the thieves can’t tamper with the telephone line until after they have broken in – which is too late for them. An alternative is to purchase a cellular alarm system, which will not allow thieves to tamper with the transmission of the alarm signal.

State Farm is here to protect you and your home. They have teamed up with ADT® and Canary® to provide special discounted pricing on home monitoring systems if you are a State Farm customer. Plus, you could be eligible for a discount on your homeowners insurance.

For more suggestions about practicing good theft deterrence and home security, read the guide to protecting yourself against home burglary.

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