Why Smarter Home Security Is Perfect For Parents

Did you know that as a parent, you're more likely to be up to speed with a certain type of cutting-edge technology? 

When it comes to smart home technology, parents are the new trendsetters, according to our new Homeowners Survey. Nearly two thirds of home-owning parents are either ‘very' or ‘extremely' interested in owning it. 

It makes a lot of sense. As a parent, you're focused on keeping family safe, secure and comfortable. Smart home technology gives you new ways to do this, for every stage of parenting

You're also more discerning on the technology you allow into your home. You don't have a lot of time to waste, for example. You want reliability, ease of use, and professional support when you need it. 

If your priorities are similar to the parents we surveyed, you'll love Alarm.com. 

1: Do you prioritize safety at home? 

Security and safety are at the core of Alarm.com. An Alarm.com smart home includes true security features like professional security monitoring, fire, smoke and CO protection, crash and smash protection, a dedicated cellular connection and a range of proactive, automatic safeguards for your home. 

For your kids, meanwhile, Alarm.com gives your home a whole new layer of childproofing. Contact sensors can be attached to any door or drawer to generate real-time alerts on your smartphone when opened. Motion-activated lighting helps children stay safe when they get up in the night. As your kids grow, so do the options, with new devices and sensors easily added.

2: Would you like tasks around the house to be easier? 


When did you last have to stay home to let a contractor in, or wait for a package? You don't have to. With Alarm.com, smart locks and user codes let you give access to trusted contractors remotely. Our Wi-Fi doorbell camera lets you see, then talk to the delivery person at your door through your smartphone while you're at work. You can even open your garage with your phone and have them leave the package there. 

Ever left home, running late, only to turn around again because you thought you left the garage open? Parents with Alarm.com get and alert if they ever leave their home unsecured. It's not just a reminder—these alerts come with a button that let you secure your garage door, smart lock or security system with no need to turn around. 

3: Would you like everyday jobs taken care of for you? 

Imagine if your house knew when you left work, or picked the kids up, and got itself ready for you. 

That's an everyday reality with Alarm.com's geo-services technology. It uses your smartphone's location to know exactly when you're on your way home, and take action. It can have your outdoor lights turned on when you arrive, and your garage door already open. It can trigger your Alarm.com Smart Thermostat to come out of ‘savings' mode and into ‘comfort' mode, giving you the perfect temperature to come home to. 

You can also set up Scenes – a set of ‘magic buttons' in your Alarm.com app that trigger several devices with a single touch. There's one for securing the house when you leave, another for arriving home, and you can create your own for occasions like dinnertime, bedtime, and movie night.

4: Do you prefer technology that's easy to use? 
 


Alarm.com gives you a single super-smart app that controls every Alarm.com-connected device in your home. Your security system, thermostat, locks, video cameras, lights, garage door—even your shades—are all side by side on your smartphone. Every member of the family can have their own app – and their own user code for the door. 

Our app isn't just for smartphones, though. You can control your home via the family tablet, or your Apple Watch. You can view your video camera feeds through your TV. But what your kids will love most is controlling Alarm.com with voice commands through Amazon Echo. Take a look: 

What to Look for When Purchasing Alarm Monitoring Services

Alarm systems are essential for protecting your well-being and your belongings. It has been proven that homes with security systems are two thirds less likely to be broken into, and if infiltrated have smaller losses. They are known to effectively deter criminals and alert authorities in emergencies. With advances in technology comes a higher demand and necessity for security systems as well as a more evolved system of protection methods. Almost 80 percent of alarm owning residents believe that their systems are effective when it comes to protecting their homes and belongings, according to the Consumer Reports National Research Center. When looking at your options to buy any kind of alarm monitoring service, it is critical to first determine your exact needs. By listing and establishing what the system must contain and what your goals are, you can easily narrow down your choices and make the decision process less tedious. Some factors to consider include:

 

  • Cost.  Determine if/what your maximum budget is.  This can help cancel out several options right off the bat.  There are many different options regarding cost when it comes to protecting your home, depending on how much money you are willing to spend.  Simple to use and highly affordable, image sensors can be placed in any room and will take pictures day and night.  For example, the Image Sensor, powered by Alarm.com, is a compact, all-in-one device that combines a traditional motion sensor, an integrated still camera, and interactive controls so you can see what’s happening at your home when you’re not there.  
     
  • Accessories.  Systems vary with different personal needs. If you live in an area where it would be beneficial for higher security measures, security cameras are available. If you do not require higher levels of security but still want protection, a simple home alarm system is the best choice. Sound and light alerts are also available for some security systems, and can deter criminals as well as signal homeowners and neighbors in the event of emergencies.  Aside from the standard alarm system, accessories and add-ons are available for higher levels of security. Motion detectors are helpful in some cases, and sense human presence in a room - with special detectors or settings to avoid false alarms for people with pets. Magnetic door and window monitor contacts are helpful as they sound an alarm when either is opened, alerting anyone home of any kind of intrusion. Smoke, gas, fire, and carbon monoxide detectors are also available. These can alert homeowners if they are in any danger, which are essential to have so that you are alerted before the situation gets out of hand. Panic buttons are added alarm accessories that can be put in rooms or can be portable hand-held buttons, helpful for anyone who would not be able to get to a phone quickly. Pressure mats are also available, which are placed under carpets to detect footsteps and alert homeowners when activated, usually when the house is vacant and owners are on vacation. There are also water detectors which are most commonly placed in basements, which help detect any leaks so that damage can be fixed and further prevented. 
     
  • Reliability.  A system that can withstand common vulnerabilities to keep you protected when you need it most is critical.  Dedicated and secure cellular communication provides safe and reliable uninterrupted protection.  Having the ability to communicate directly with first responders via a security panel is key.  Make sure your system will continue to work even if the security panel is damaged or the phone line is cut.  It’s important to have the ability to check in anytime, arm or disarm your system remotely, and receive notifications—from anywhere. You should also be able to check on other connected devices including lights, locks, thermostats, and garage doors.  You’ll want to be able to get real-time notifications by text or email the moment something happens in your home.  And for added reliability, create unique user codes to know who’s coming and going at all times.  Look back at activity over time or search for specific events.
     
  • Mobility.  Stay in control of your system at all times. An easy to use mobile app puts your home in your hands. Managing access to your home enhances your security with complete control and visibility over all the entry points to your home.  A system that seamlessly can integrate door locks and garage door control into one intelligent platform is ideal.
     
  • Lastly, credibility is important when researching which alarm system is the best fit for your needs. When buying any important product, especially security systems, ensure that the company has a positive reputation. Examine not only their website, but customer reviews on other websites to ensure authenticity. Before you go ahead and purchase an alarm system, knowing that the system is going to do its job correctly is important.

Four Essential Back-to-School Alarm.com Alerts for Parents

Things can get hectic in back-to-school season. Schedules change, everyone gets busier, and it becomes easier to forget small but important details as you adjust. 

When it comes to keeping your home and family secure, though, Alarm.com has your back. Because our home security technology is smarter, it can recognize when someone forgets something important, and send you an alert. Often, you'll be able to fix the problem with a single tap on your smartphone. 

Here are four types of Alarm.com alerts which are well worth setting up before you and your family navigate the back-to-school transition. 

1: Security Reminders 

school-alerts-garage.jpg

When the clock is ticking and you're all running late, it's easy to forget to secure your home. 

With Alarm.com, you can fix the situation without turning around. You'll receive an alert telling you what you forgot to do. On the alert is a button that remotely controls your smart lock, garage door, or security system. Tap it once, and your home is secure. 

2: User Code Alerts 

When school is done but you're still at work, knowing that your kids got home safely is essential to your peace of mind. 

Alarm.com alert can let you know automatically, without anyone having to call or text. Give your kids their own user code for your security system or smart lock, and create a user alert. When they let themselves in, Alarm.com recognizes their code and sends you a confirmation that they're home. 

3: Smart Video Clips 


If your kids are starting a new school this year, making new friends is part of the fun. As a parent, though, you probably don't want them all in your house unsupervised just yet. 

A video smart clip from a camera at your front door, delivered to your phone, shows you exactly who comes home with your kids after school. The ‘smart' element is that these clips are activated only by a specific trigger – in this case, it could be your kids' user code – so you don't get inundated with irrelevant clips. 
 

4: Door Left Open Alert 

Even when they're all home (with approved guests only), Alarm.com can still help keep an eye on things until you're home. One useful safeguard is the ‘door left open' alert, triggered by your front door's contact sensor being left open too long – an indicator that the kids didn't close it properly. 

As well as triggering an alert, this information can also trigger your Alarm.com thermostat to set back, minimizing energy waste until the door is closed again. As the weather gets colder, you'll be protecting your energy bill as well as your home's security. 

Real-time alerts are just one of the smarter home security benefits you get with an Alarm.com powered security system.

Keep Your Vacation Home Safe All Year with Smarter Home Security

When you leave your vacation home this year, how will you keep it safe? 

With a place you love and want to protect, out of sight does not equal out of mind. You can check and double-check every window and door; you'll still worry about your home away from home. 

Give yourself peace of mind this year with a smart home system powered by Alarm.com. Our security technology proactively protects your vacation home all year round, both from crime and from everyday problems that arise when you're away. Controlled with a smart phone app, it lets you check in visually anytime and control aspects of the home remotely, giving you an instant link to your vacation home in the palm of your hand. 

Right now, there's an Alarm.com dealer near you who can quickly install and set up an Alarm.com powered system before you leave. Here's what you'll gain from this smart, affordable investment. 

Professional protection from crime

Whether you have valuable equipment stored there or not, your empty vacation home is always a potential target for burglars or vandals. Smart home security is both a visible deterrent, and a proactive line of defense against crime. 

All Alarm.com-powered systems come with 24-7 professional security monitoring. If an intruder breaks in, your system will quickly detect them and alert a monitoring station, where a security professional will assess the situation and dispatch local law enforcement. 

You'll get an alert too, but you won't need to call anyone or scramble for the local sheriff's number (calling 911 in your hometown doesn't get you there). Help will be on the way.

Easy access control with smart locks 

If you're considering renting your second home to vacationers, smart access control is essential, and Alarm.com has a complete solution. You can create temporary, four-digit codes for your smart lock which expire after a set time. When your guests leave, Alarm.com deletes the code and they'll no longer have access. 

For trusted contractors, or a cleaning service, you can create a permanent code. You have the option to receive a smartphone alert every time a code is used, which makes it easy to keep track of who's coming or going. When you know the house is empty again, you can use your app to check the status of all locks, and re-arm your security system for protection. 

Remote control of your home's thermostat 

Your smart home security system can include an Alarm.com smart thermostat which gives you control of the property's HVAC system via your phone. 

This is particularly useful if you're renting to guests. You can set high and low ceilings on the thermostat which allow them to adjust it only within a given range, keeping your energy bills to a minimum while still allowing them to customize the temperature. When guests leave, you can set the thermostat back yourself to save energy, or have Alarm.com do this automatically when you remotely arm the security system. 

If there's ever a sudden temperature drop in mid-winter—indicating an HVAC malfunction, your thermostat will alert you so that you can arrange for a local professional to visit the house before any pipes burst due to freezing

Early awareness of problems around your property

A low temperature alert from your smart thermostat is just one example of how Alarm.com's technology can detect and respond to problems that other security systems can't notice. Alarm.com keeps you up to date on all sorts of important things, and it's easy to set up a range of smartphone alerts for different events around your property. 

Another example is water leaks, which can cause thousands of dollars in damage if not addressed quickly. Your Alarm.com dealer can place smart water sensors in danger areas—under sinks, or in the basement by the sump pump—which will alert you in the event of a burst pipe. You'll be able to call a local professional to the house immediately, minimizing the damage and the cleanup costs. 

If there's a fire at the property and you have smart smoke detectors connected to your system, your professional monitoring station will be alerted and quickly dispatch local firefighters to your home. 

Security that doesn't rely on broadband          

Unlike many connected security products which only work via broadband connection, Alarm.com uses a wireless, dedicated cellular connection to communicate with your app and with professional monitoring services. This means that you don't have to pay for broadband during the off season, and your property will stay connected even if there's a power outage. 

 

J&J Security’s Guidelines for Starting a Business Watch Program In Central Florida

Business Watch programs have proven to be beneficial in protecting communities in Central Florida. Much like the Neighborhood Watch, it implements tactics towards keeping small businesses connected and safe through local efforts. The programs are beneficial for increasing and maintaining security and protection by allowing owners to be aware of what is happening in their community and decreasing chances of becoming a victim. It is fairly simple to begin a program in your area and a good choice to consider when looking for necessary added security.

 

 

    The first step is to establish the geographic region of where you want your program to be. Recognize how big will it be, which shops you want to includes and what types of stores could benefit from being involved. Take into account several factors that can influence crime, such as:

  • law enforcement services available

  • crime statistics

  • security systems, equipment or accessories present

  • types of stores or organizations (healthcare, financial, manufacturing, etc.)

  • hours stores are open

  • the store’s economic condition

  • a businesses’ reputation

    

    These factors above will influence whether or not a business will attract criminals. Next, create what exactly your program will do. Have a mission or something that you would like to accomplish, identify what the outcome should be and how you will measure progress. This could mean creating awareness or decreasing crime frequency within the area. This step allows employees to understand and participate fully.

 

    Another important step is to form partnerships and alliances. This means making connections with other businesses, and connecting this community of businesses as a whole to law enforcement. Establish individual roles in the program, based on their position within their business, expertise or talent, and their access to certain information.  

After you have both law enforcement and businesses involved, establish what exactly one should do to help the community and be active within the program. This can include night patrols to monitor criminal activity, teaching others how to implement security systems and accessories such as alarms and cameras, and knowing how to identify a dangerous situation properly and alert authorities. Each program may have a different goal based on the community’s security situation and crime rates, and can become successfully active once a strategy is developed. This comes after setting the goals, creating awareness to get others involved, developing a schedule, and having an efficient communication system - whether it be through email or telephone. Overall, Business Watch programs are a good option to consider in Central Florida when it is necessary to upgrade and enhance protection within your community.

 

J&J Security Presents: What Is a Business Watch Program?

 A business watch program is much like a Neighborhood Watch, but instead of neighbors looking out for each other it is a community of businesses and a partnership between law enforcement and businesses. The Business Watch is beneficial for many different aspects of protection and allows owners to be aware of what is happening in their community and decrease chances of becoming a victim. This Program can effectively help reduce crimes including shoplifting, theft, and vandalism around the businesses. Additionally, it informs locals about protecting their businesses and allows them to learn what measures to take regarding security. Owners are able to get advice about security and learn about the best technologies available when it comes to protecting their properties.

A Business Watch program creates connections between small businesses and forms an agreement with law enforcement to ensure protection. It is businesses (often with participating community groups) taking steps to reduce opportunity for crime in a specific local location. A successful group maintains the following key Program aspects: has communication between businesses and law enforcement, encourages cooperation among owners, teaches how to properly protect properties, watches over others businesses, and reports any suspicious activity. They also may develop a list of telephone numbers or emails to quickly inform everyone about crime. Overall, Business Watch programs, other than bringing higher levels of protection, allow opportunities to network with other businesses, offer employee education, and bring publicity regarding your establishment.  In these programs, police officers assist anyone involved in local businesses to:

  • learn how to report crime properly
     

  • effectively observe and record suspicious activities which could lead to crime
     

  • label equipment or machines with traceable numbers
     

  • add security measures to decrease robbery or burglary
     

  • deter criminals, detect activity, and alert the police
     

  • recognize dangerous and suspicious situations and how to protect oneself to prevent this


    Business watch programs, like a neighborhood watch, are beneficial in reducing crime and deterring criminals in an area. By making it known that there is a program present (signs on streets or shop windows), criminals are less likely to execute suspicious activity. It also can help track criminals and aid investigations, as higher security is present, and police are notified quickly. The programs have proven successful in reducing crime rates and protecting small businesses.

Is a Smart Home Right For You?

You may have heard that Smart Homes are just for celebrities, tech enthusiasts and millionaires. 

That's how things used to be, but new technology and local dealers have made smart home technology affordable, easy to own and useful for everyone.  It's now a fast home improvement that comes with some big benefits—security, savings, convenience, peace of mind— for you and your family. 

Want to know if it's right for you?  Take this questionnaire to find out. 

Do you own a home? 

Then a Smart Home is for you! Upgrading your home to a Smart Home enhances and protects your home. It gives you the latest in home security to keep your family and home safe from burglars, fires and floods. It makes life more convenient with automated everyday devices like locks, lights and garage doors. It let's you know if something is wrong when you're away, via an easy smartphone app that controls every device (and impresses your friends). 

You may even be able to sell your home faster when you move. 

Are you buying a home? 

This is one of the best times to get acquainted with smart home technology. It's one of the easiest move-in improvements you can make, and it'll protect your new investment from day one. 

Do you go to work? 

Then a Smart Home is for you.  Whatever takes you away from your home, smart home technology keeps you connected to what's happening when you're gone. 

You can leave knowing that your house is secure – in fact, your Smart Home will even remind you if you leave your garage door open. You can let people in when you're not there, or give them their own user code for your front door. If you travel for work, a smart home makes that easier too. 

Do you have children? 

A Smart Home is definitely for you. From video monitoring in your nursery to sensors that tell you when your doors are open, you'll have new ways to keep up with your kids and keep them safe. If you have teens, smart locks and access codes let you give them more independence while still staying close. 

Are you a child? 

Oh, you'll love a Smart Home and its gadgets. You should ask your parents about getting one. 

Would you like lower energy bills? 

A Smart Home is for you. Our smart thermostat will save you energy without impacting your comfort. It knows whether you're home or not and adjusts automatically, so you don't waste money heating and cooling an empty house. On hot days, it will scale back your cooling slightly to save you money. If you want more savings, a Smart Home will help you find the devices that use the most energy, then turn them off automatically using smart plugs when you're not using them. 

Are you wealthy? 

Trick question – you don't need to be! An Alarm.com-powered smart home is affordable because you don't have to pay a large upfront fee for the equipment. In fact, it's about the cost of a security system, depending on the options you choose from your Alarm.com service provider.  You get to spread the cost of your equipment out over several years, with professional security monitoring included in the package. 

(If you are wealthy, you'll enjoy a smart home too. And if you have a second home, upgrading it to a Smart Home will keep is secure and running smoothly when you're not there.) 

Are you tech-savvy? 

You'll love customizing your smart home and getting into its automation, rules and energy-saving features. 

If you're not, a smart home is still for you. We design our smart home technology to be easy and intuitive to use. You don't have to install anything, thanks to professional installation and configuration from Alarm.com's service providers. Your smart home technology will work right away, and you have a trusted local business to turn to for hands-on support if you run into problems. 

So, is the smart home right for you? 

Meet the Alarm.com Smart Thermostat!

Saving energy at home should be simple. With Alarm.com's new Smart Thermostat, it is. 

The new thermostat lets you save energy simply, with no guesswork, complexity or inconvenience necessary. In fact, you'll barely notice… except when it comes to your power bill. 

Fully integrated into your smart home security system, it can do more than other smart thermostats. That's because it has more information about what's going on inside and outside your home, enabling it to take smarter actions that give you the perfect balance of energy savings and comfort. 

It learns from all the triggers in your security system 

While standalone thermostats use a single motion detector to ‘learn' your ideal heating and cooling schedule, ours has access to every sensor in your security system.   Instead of guessing what's happening based on a single room, it takes real cues from your security panel, the motion sensors throughout your house, your door and window sensors and more. 

It cares about which room you're in

Using wireless temperature sensors, our Smart Thermostat delivers precision comfort to the rooms where you spend your time. Simply place these tiny devices around your home, and optimize your home's temperature for comfort in specific rooms. Create a multi-sensor schedule for precision comfort throughout the day, or average your overall temperature between different sensors. 

It reacts to your location in real-time 

Learning isn't everything. After all, your own schedule changes from day to day. Our smart thermostat reacts by using real-time data to adapt quickly to changes in your routine. One example is Geo-Services.  If you're on your way home early, for example, our location automation feature will set the thermostat forward out of ‘savings mode' to cool your house to the perfect temperature. 

It saves as soon as you leave home 

Our Smart Thermostat knows right away when you leave home, thanks to your security panel's status and Geo-Services. While standalone thermostats are still wondering why there's no motion in their room any more, ours is setting back to an energy-saving temperature before you're even in the car. 

It saves when you open a window 

A big cause of wasted energy is running your AC with an outside door or window open – a problem that standalone thermostats can't address. Our thermostat knows if you're ‘cooling the neighborhood' thanks to your door or window sensors, and will set back automatically to save energy until you close the door. 

It even knows what's happening outside. 

With access to real-time weather data, our Smart Thermostat can even adjust automatically on extremely hot or cold days to take an additional bite out of your energy bills. It's also compatible with ‘demand response' programs from utility companies, making you eligible for reduced rates if your electric company offers them. 

It protects you from smoke and CO2 

Because it's connected to your security system, our thermostat can even help safeguard you from environmental threats like smoke and carbon monoxide.In the event of your connected smoke / CO sensor detecting either hazard, our thermostat instantly shuts your HVAC down, minimizing the chance of toxic gas or damaging smoke circulating through your home. 

It's completely integrated with your Smart Home 

Our Smart Thermostat is the first thermostat built specifically for the smart home. It's integrated fully into the Alarm.com smartphone app, letting you control your temperature alongside your security panel, lights, locks, garage door, and more. Behind the scenes, the Alarm.com platform – a cloud technology connecting millions of homes – enables intelligent savings, new feature updates and security-grade reliability. 

Enjoy Precision Comfort With Temperature Sensors

The Alarm.com Smart Thermostat now has an even clearer picture of what's happening around your home, enabling it to take smarter actions to maximize comfort and energy savings. 

With our new wireless Temperature Sensors, it delivers precision comfort to the rooms where you spend your time, not just where the thermostat happens to be. Here's what to do. 

1: Install sensors in your favorite rooms. 

Chances are that your thermostat doesn't live in the room where you spend most of your time. Even if it sits in your living room, it doesn't know the temperature in your kitchen or bedroom, which tend to be different. 

The solution is a temperature sensor on the wall of each room where the temperature matters to you at some point during the day. Your bedroom and living room are strong candidates, but everyone's needs are different. If you're a new parent, for example, you'll want a sensor in the nursery. 

2: Adjust comfort to the room you're in 

Now that you have temperature sensors around the house, you can specify which sensor commands the thermostat. 

For example, let's say that it's bedtime. Downstairs, where the thermostat sits, the temperature is a comfortable 72 degrees. Upstairs, though, it's 76 degrees—too warm for a comfortable night. 

Simply open your Alarm.com app and tell your smart thermostat to optimize the home's temperature for the bedroom until your bedroom sensor registers 72. 

3: Create a room-based thermostat schedule 

It's easy to create a schedule where your ideal temperature ‘follows' you around the house throughout your day. 

In this simple example, the user assigns a different sensor to each thermostat mode in their Alarm.com app. For energy savings in the daytime (Away), they use the main thermostat. For evenings (Home), they use the living room sensor. At night (Sleep) the bedroom sensor takes over. 

After that, they use their slider as normal to control when each mode takes effect. 

4: Or, use a whole-home average temperature 

If your family don't tend to congregate in a single room, you can set your thermostat to target the average of every sensor's temperature. This enables you to heat your home based on the general temperature throughout the house, with warm and cool spots taken into account. It's a great way to make your home more comfortable overall. 

5: Be sure to use your other thermostat features 

Temperature sensors are just one source of intelligence that the Alarm.com Smart Thermostat uses to save energy while keeping you comfortable.

Window Security for Houses, Apartments and Businesses

 The importance of window security is often overlooked compared to other entry ways (i.e. doors, garages, etc...). With a property being burglarized every 15 seconds, about 23 percent gain entry through a first floor window, as observed by the FBI. In order to prevent easy access and ensure maximum security, consider taking steps in securing your home or business’ windows.

 

    It may seem obvious, but invest in proper window locks. This prevents entry and can slow down burglars who try to get in and out quickly. Locks are easily installed by either hiring a locksmith or handyman, or you can buy add-on locks at most hardware stores.

 

    Another important step to take is to inspect the area of the window - outside and in. Always be aware that all windows have working locks and do not contain any cracks. Outside, keep trees or shrubs trimmed below the window, as these provide cover and attract burglars. Remember to close your curtains or blinds when you are not home or at night time so it is not as easy to see inside of your home. This prevents criminals from seeing anything of interest that will influence their decision to burglarize.

 

    Adding security pins to your windows may also be beneficial to protecting your property. These add an added layer of protection, especially to older wood-framed double-hung windows. These are installed by putting pins in the upper part of the window frame, allowing it to open around just six inches, preventing any person to fit through. Since they do not allow entry, make sure that they are easily removed from the inside and that you know how to remove them in case of emergency.

    If you live in an area that requires maximum security, security bars are very efficient for lower or basement windows. These usually come in metal bars or grills placed over the window so that the window can open fully, but with a barrier preventing any entry. It is best to have them properly installed by a professional to ensure that they are securely attached, and will not come off easily for burglars. Again, make sure that you can release them quickly from the inside in the event that you need to get out during a fire or other emergency.

    If you live in an older home and are able to, upgrade your windows. Install ones with security or tempered glass, which is much harder to damage and break than other types of window glass. As window locks get old they tend to wear out, so newer ones are most efficient. Security film is also a good deterrent as if the window is broken, the film keeps the glass in place.

The Five Stages of Smart Home Parenting

Welcoming children into your household is one of the most special and exciting times of life. It's also one of the greatest challenges you'll ever undertake. 

Help will come in many forms: family, friends, the new social networks you'll make as parents. It also comes in the form of technology that makes the everyday work of parenting easier. From electric bottle warmers to space-age stroller designs, you'll soon discover technical fixes for every challenge. 

Some of these are more valuable than others, and most technical fixes are specific to a short stage in your baby's development. A few, however, are versatile enough to address multiple parenting challenges and adapt to new situations over the years. 

One of these is smart home security a technology that protects your home and everyone in it. It's hassle-free install and easy to expand with new equipment, making it an outstanding parenting investment that keeps on giving as your children grow. 

1. The Newborn Stage: Comfort and Closeness    

Having a newborn in your home is a time of wonder. You wonder at the magic of it all, and you wonder when you'll ever sleep properly again. Your focus is on keeping your baby happy and comfortable, and acting quickly if they're in distress. 

Comfort starts with the Alarm.com Smart Thermostat and its remote temperature sensors, which help you ensure the perfect temperature wherever your baby sleeps. 
 

Video monitoring in your nursery helps keep you connected to your baby no matter where you are in the house. When they nap, you too can catch up on sleep without worrying. 

2. The Toddler Stage: Activity Awareness 

When those baby steps turn into toddling and exploration, childproofing everything within four feet of the floor is the name of the game. 

You can't contain your toddler's curiosity—nor would you want to—but you can stay aware of what they're exploring by installing contact sensors around your home. 

Thanks to instant smartphone alerts from Alarm.com when a sensor is triggered, you'll have a sixth sense for trouble—whether that's playing in the fridge or opening the bedroom door at 3am. 

3. The School-Age Stage: No Time to Waste 

Life with school-aged kids is busy!  Simply getting children out the door and off to school while preparing yourself for work can be an everyday adventure. Your smart home security system makes everything easier. 

Securing your home is as easy as a single tap on your Alarm.com app, thanks to our new Scenes buttons. Should you ever forget, Alarm.com will send you a reminder
You can also automate your home to take care of things. Geo-Services can do things like set your thermostat back when you leave home, using your smartphone's location to trigger proactive safeguards and other actions. 

4. The Teen Stage: Managed Independence 

Teens want independence. You want to keep them safe, and your home secure. Your Alarm.com system keeps everyone happy with smart access control and easy ways to keep an eye on your home-alone teens. 

It starts at the front door, where a smart lock and a video doorbell let your teens come and go as they please, while also letting you know when they arrive home and who else is visiting. When your teen starts driving, smart garage door technology will give you additional peace of mind. 

5. The College Years: Go on Vacation! 

An empty nest is an opportunity to travel more. Whether you're visiting the kids at college, or exploring new places on your own, Alarm.com makes any trip more relaxing. 

Professional security monitoring gives you peace of mind, while smart access control and video check-ins help you manage pet-sitters. If you're considering a second home now that the kids live elsewhere, Alarm.com will protect that too. 

Top 10 Tips to Keeping Bad Guys Out of your Home in Central Florida

When it comes to property protection, many steps are often overlooked. It is important to have many different means of security throughout your home, ensuring your safety.
 

  1. Window bars are important for lower or basement windows, as they prevent entry to these easily accessible areas. Usually metal bars that go directly in front of your window, they allow the window to be opened from the inside without any worries of possible entry. Make sure that you know how to properly and quickly remove these from the inside in any emergency events that require escape.

  2. Current updated locks are important to have. Always make sure that your locks are working properly and efficiently, and replace when needed. As locks get older, they tend to wear out and become less protective.     

  3. Security cameras are great burglar deterrents. By just recognizing that a home has a camera will prevent many burglars from entering. They also help in investigations and identifying criminals.

  4. Alarm systems are the most common and obvious step to take when protecting your home. Have a working alarm system at all times that can alert you and the police department when there is forced entry within your home. Many burglars will flee the scene at the sound of an alarm, as it exposes them easily.

  5. Window glass comes in specific security and tempered designs, making it harder to break and enter. This is beneficial to any windows that are accessible from the ground and slows down burglars who are trying to get in and out quickly.

  6. Screen or iron bar doors are helpful as they add an extra layer of protection to your doors. While your main door should be equipped with efficient locks, it is always beneficial to have this added locking door in the way of entry.

  7. Have an exposed perimeter. This means that do not have any tall trees or shrubs in front of windows or near doors, as they can provide criminals with cover. When an area is open and the burglar is easily exposed, they are less likely to commit the crime.

  8. Keep your blinds shut at night or when you are away. This prevents burglars from seeing that you are not home, and seeing anything desirable that may convince them to break in.

  9. Place a stop mail when you are away. Accumulated mail shows that you are obviously away, making your home vulnerable to break-ins. You can either place a stop mail with your delivery company, or have a neighbor collect your mail each day.

  10. Proper locks seem like an obvious protection solution, but many don’t take necessary steps to ensure that their locks are efficient. Have main entry doors equipped with around 2 locks, one doorknob and one deadbolt.

J&J Security Services Decodes the Language of Locks and Security Hardware

With technology continuously evolving, it’s hard to keep up with understanding exactly what certain security terms mean. When looking to upgrade your locks and security system, it is best to research each device’s purpose and how they function. It may seem tedious and complex at first, but fortunately most locks use one of six mechanical functions.

 

  • Deadbolts are used for added security, usually combined with a mortise lock (defined below). It often unlatches with one operation and is installed on doors that are push or pull. Most have an external cylinder which moves the bolt, and a thumbturn or key cylinder on the inside.

  • Electrified locksets are fairly simple, and are used with cylindrical or mortise locks. When this lock system is used, the outside lever is locked but the inside is not, allowing occupants to leave from the inside. This is ineffective in the event of a power failure, and will negatively affect security.

  • Padlocks are not permanently attached to anything else, and can be used for various different entryways. Padlocks come in two varieties: keyed and combination, and does not become unlocked without either, ensuring maximum security.

  • Rim latch locks can be customized, with a rim cylinder on one side and surface mount latch lock on the other. Used frequently in apartment complexes, these automatically lock after opened. They ensure safety as they lock the door behind you so that locking the door is never forgotten. Rim locks are mounted on the inside of the door and run completely through the door into a locking mechanism. They are held in place by screws, and are used on commercial doors and entry glass doors.

  • Mortise locks are similar in function to rim locks, but come in several different lengths and screw into mortise hardware mounted within a door. They are held in place by a set and screw, using a cam to control the locking.

  • Cam locks are usually the locks found in filing cabinets and mailboxes. They come in different lengths and can be used with other locking mechanisms depending on necessity.

  • Lever handle locks are used often in commercial settings. Easier to open than knob locks, they have a push down handle that allows easier access for a person with a handicap.

  • Knob locks are the more recognizable and commonly found locks, and are found throughout homes or are a primary source of security combined with a deadbolt. They are not the best option for external security, as the lock is found in the knob and not the door, making it easier to be broken off with force.

  • Jimmy proof deadbolts are usually found on apartments and double doors. They are a surface mount and require the least  amount of door modifications, and are not able to be opened with force. The lock is attached onto the inside of the door, and installation only requires a hole to be drilled through the door.

 

J&J Security Services Shares Home Security Prevention Tips from the Seminole County Sheriff's Office

It’s always helpful to learn as much as you can when it comes to keeping your home and family safe.  One of the best ways, is to research your own County’s Sheriff’s department.  They usually offer many valuable programs and advice for homeowners and businesses looking to safeguard against burglaries and break-ins.  For instance, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, is a wealth of information.  Below, are excerpts taken from their Home Burglary Prevention brochure.

The majority of home and apartment burglaries occur during the daytime.  Burglaries are committed most often by young males, less than 25 years of age, looking for items that are small, expensive and can easily be converted to cash.  A high percentage of burglars use some amount of force to enter a dwelling, but their preference is to gain easy access through an unsecured door or window.  A burglar will simply bypass your home if it requires too much effort or requires more skill and tools than they possess.  

The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office recommends the following 7 tips to minimize the risk of break-ins and make homes unattractive to potential burglars:

  1. Use a home safe and install it away from the master bedroom and anchor safe to floor if possible.

  2. For sliding glass doors, secure with secondary locking devices and use anti-lift devices such as through-the-door pins or upper track screws.

  3. For doors and locks, use a solid core or metal door for all entrance points.  They should have a heavy-duty, dead bolt lock with a one-inch throw bolt and a quality, four-screw strike plate with 3-inch screws to penetrate into a wooden door frame.

  4. Alarm systems should be properly installed, programmed and maintained.  Activate alarms when home alone and keep your alarm response call list up to date.  Always ensure that your alarm service provider’s stickers and signs are visible.

  5. Use timers for interior (mostly for when you’re on vacation) and exterior lighting.

  6. Secure all accessible windows with secondary blocking devices that prevents them from opening no more than six inches for ventilation.

  7. Trim your bushes, hedges and shrubs so they are no higher than 2-3 feet.  This will prevent a burglar from hiding behind them.  If you need larger foliage, plant thorn-types of bushes.  Also, trim tree branches so they are no lower than 6 feet from the ground to provide good visibility from your home to the road.

What Exactly Is a Neighborhood Watch Program? J&J Security Services Explains

You’ve most likely come across a neighborhood watch street sign at one point or another, advising that suspicious people or activities will be reported to law enforcement. Neighborhood Watch is a community crime prevention program that was launched by the National Sheriffs’ Association in 1972 to encourage citizens to look out for each other, work on neighborhood problems, and make themselves safer.  According to the National Neighborhood Watch Program, more than 40 percent of Americans live in areas covered by Neighborhood Watch groups. Having a Neighborhood Watch Program, if done correctly can reduce burglaries and crime.  In a research report by the National Crime Prevention Council, 53 percent of the 36 studies demonstrated positive effects of Neighborhood Watch, defined as a reduction in crime of nine percent or more.

A Neighborhood Watch Program is a system created and run by residents of a neighborhood to monitor and discourage crime, especially burglary throughout the neighborhood. The National Sheriffs’ Association nationally manages the program with help from the Department of Justice and local law enforcement. Those involved patrol mainly by walking and actively staying aware of what is going on within the neighborhood. Signs posted around the neighborhood make it clear that the area has extra protection and can help deter criminals. Communities involved work with local police, but have no authority to take direct action or make arrests. Weapons are often discouraged and are not a part of the watch program, even if local laws and permits give a volunteer legal authority to carry a gun. An effective program helps neighbors to share information and become better equipped to look for signs of suspicious activity.

A Neighborhood Watch can successfully create a sense of community, bringing law enforcement and the citizens together to reduce crime. Seeing neighborhood watch signs alone can deter criminal activity. Additionally, the program builds bonds between neighbors.  People look out for each other, stimulating neighborhood awareness. It also reduces the risk of being a crime victim, as participants are taught how to take preventative measures decreasing their chances of becoming a victim, and allows them to be better prepared to respond to suspicious activity. Overall, the program enhances homeland security, working collaboratively with other civic and community activities, and creates a greater sense of security and reduces fear of crime within the area. Neighborhood watch programs are very effective and easy to start, and will benefit everyone in the area by reducing crime and adding another layer of protection

Four Ways to Interact With your Alarm.com Smart Home

Imagine that there's a visitor at your door, right now. What do you do? 

Obviously, it depends. What time of day is it? Are you home or away? Are you by the door, or in the yard? Are you expecting someone? Are you in the middle of a movie? 

Every homeowner and every situation is different, which is why Alarm.com gives you a lot of options for interacting with your home. Our smart home security app can be used on a wide array of devices in many different everyday contexts. Here are four very different but equally useful ways to interact with your Alarm.com smart home. 

Anytime, Anywhere: Smartphone and Tablet 

Our mobile app for iOS and Android turns your smartphone into a command center for your home, pairing portable convenience with the ability to interact in depth. 

From instant security alerts and quick one-tap device commands, to creating custom rules that command multiple devices simultaneously, our smartphone and tablet apps give you a complete spectrum of smart home control at home or away. 

Voice Control: Amazon Echo 

The Alarm.com skill for Amazon Echo brings the hands-free convenience of voice commands to your smart home. 

Want to check the arming status of your smart home security system, change the temperature, or turn your living room light off? Just ask Alarm.com via Alexa, the Echo's voice-controlled assistant. 

You can use your voice to control and check the status of the most important connected devices around your house. Just say "Alexa, ask Alarm.com to…" followed by your command or question. Alarm.com either gives you a quick answer via the Echo, or automatically triggers the device into action. 

Big Screen Monitoring: Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV 

Watching TV when the doorbell rings? Use the remote control of your Amazon Fire Stick or Apple TV device to quickly navigate to your Alarm.com app, and see exactly who it is. 

Designed for comfort and convenience, these two apps enable you to view up to four live feeds from your home's security cameras simultaneously, without ever having to look for your phone or leave the couch. 

Quick Interactions: Smartwatch Apps 

Our app for Apple Watch gives you– awareness, control and visibility –all with a glance at your wrist making it ideal for interacting with your home when you're at work or on the go. Taptic feedback on your wrist lets you know when something's happening; one-touch commands let you address the situation with just a quick tap. Click on the demo below to try it. If you're a Pebble smartwatch fan, we've got an app for you too

Which US Cities Have the Most Connected Homeowners?

You may have read futuristic visions of how the smart home will change our lives.  But the smart home is already an everyday reality here at Alarm.com, with our technology delivering real value to millions of homeowners across the US and the world. So, instead of speculating about what the smart home could be, let's talk about how it's actually being used today. 

By analyzing aggregated and anonymous data from Alarm.com's own platform, which powers millions of smart homes, we have some unique insights to share over the next few months. 

To start with, we decided to identify the "Most Connected Cities" in the US: the cities with the highest number of Alarm.com-powered smart homes per capita. 

With the summer heat bearing down on us, we also wanted to learn how homeowners in those cities are using smart thermostats to keep their cooling costs down, and to find out which cities have the ‘greenest' homeowners. 

Most Connected Cities powered by Alarm.com

To identify the Most Connected Cities, we looked at cities with a total population greater than 500,000.  To control for population differences, we ranked them based on the number of Alarm.com-powered smart homes per capita. 

Here's our list of the top 10 Most Connected Cities: 

What Are the Top Energy Saving Features? 

Smart thermostats powered by Alarm.com offer a broad range of features to help homeowners save energy, from multi-sensor learning to responsive automation. To understand which energy savings features are the most popular, we ranked them based on enrollment by homeowners in our Most Connected Cities.