15 Home Safety and Security Tips

There’s always a perfect time to assess your home’s safety and security. Do you employ all of the following practices?1H

  1. Make sure your house’s roofing is fire resistant. If not, get it remodeled.
  2. Not only should you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, but you should also regularly inspect them for lint and dust buildup. Plus, they should all be integrated, so if one goes off in the kitchen, the ones in the bedrooms and even basement get triggered.
  3. If your mailbox isn’t one that locks, get one, so this way you won’t be leaving outgoing mail with sensitive information sitting in an unlocked box.
  4. If you need an extension cord for an outside appliance, make sure it’s one that says: “Suitable for Use with Outdoor Appliances.”
  5. Never leave any stickie notes on your door saying you’ll be back in a few minutes…even if you’re expecting a delivery.
  6. Know that if there’s a power outage, the food in your freezer will last for up to 48 hours. Have a backup generator or only stock up on dry/canned goods.
  7. When you’re done using an oily rag, set it outside to dry, then put it in a metal can with a lid. An oily rag is flammable even when not in contact with a flame.
  8. If a battery is non-rechargeable, don’t try to charge it, as this could make it explode.
  9. To repel an intruder from getting in through your windows, plant thorny bushes around them.
  10. If you have a home security system, display the company’s decals on your windows and signs in your yard. If you don’t have a system, you can get these items online; display them anyways.
  11. When you get a snowfall, clear a path to your door, and better yet, shovel the driveway—even if you’re not going anywhere, as this will make burglars think someone is home.
  12. Before leaving on any extended errands and especially travel, set your home phone’s ringer to mute so that an incessantly ringing phone doesn’t get a burglar’s attention that you’re not home.
  13. Before leaving town, put a vacation hold on your mail and newspaper, and tell a trusted adult of your travel plans.
  14. Before leaving for a trip, arrange with a trusted person to have them park their car in your driveway.
  15. While you’re enjoying your vacation, avoid posting about it on social media. Burglars peruse social media to see who’s not home.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

15 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe During the Holiday Season

Most people don’t like that “fall back” time change every November, but you know who does? Burglars. Burglars love to “fall back” because it gives them more time to practice their criminal activities thanks to the earlier veil of darkness. This is also a convenient time for them as the holiday season is upon us and most people have a lot of newly purchased gifts in our homes. Perfect bait for burglars.

2BIn general, most homeowners will take precautions around Christmas time to prevent fires due to Christmas lights, yet they do not take extra security measures to prevent home robbery. Though fire prevention is certainly important, your home is far more likely to attract the eyes of a burglar than to go up in flames. So, here are 15 ways that you can keep the burglars away:

  1. Keep doors locked at all times. This is true even when you are home, and even when it’s light out.
  2. Keep your windows locked, even those on the second floor. Burglars DO have climbing skills.
  3. Use door reinforcements and top-flight locks.
  4. Keep the curtains and blinds closed. This will ensure that no one can take a peek at your valuables.
  5. Install security films on the windows. These help to prevent the penetration of objects such as a baseball bat or crow bar.
  6. Give your home a “lived-in” look with a home automation technology system. Many of these can be controlled by a model device or scheduled to turn lights on or off at a specific time.
  7. Collect your newspaper and mail as soon as they arrive.
  8. Place a large pair of men’s work boots near the door, and make sure they are scuffed up to make them look worn.
  9. Put a large dog bowl near the entryways of the home, but make sure it looks realistic. Do this by adding a chewed up toy or large leash to the scene.
  10. Make sure there is no shrubbery crowding entry points of the home.
  11. Go to Google news, and type in the phrase “door kicked in” along with your city and state. You will be shocked by the results. To protect yourself, consider a device such as Door Devil, which is a high-level door reinforcement device.
  12. If you have a garage, make sure you are packing and unpacking gifts from the car inside of the garage so no one can see what you purchased.
  13. Don’t advertise your Christmas gift purchases on social media, as many thieves use social media to find potential victims.
  14. Make an investment into a home security system. The best systems provide a clear view of what is happening in the home on your mobile device when you are not there.
  15. If you have a car parked out in the drive, place a pair of men’s gloves on the dash. Most burglars will think twice if they believe there is a large man living in the home.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com discussing Anti-Kick door reinforcement on YouTube. Disclosures.

1 in 4 Female Undergrads sexually assaulted

One in four (25 percent) of college women reported they received unsolicited sexual contact while in college, says the recent Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey of 150,000 students.

1SDHow can on-campus safety be heightened?

  • Students should have a hardcopy and smartphone-stored list of contact information for all kinds of help. The school’s emergency and security numbers should be on speed dial.
  • Memorize key numbers in case your phone is stolen or the juice dries up.
  • Ditch the headphones when walking outside.
  • See if the campus has a security escort service.
  • Take self defense classes often. Many college campuses have martial arts clubs; join and learn.
  • Don’t always walk the same paths to and from classes so that predators don’t learn your patterns.
  • Review the privacy settings of all your social media accounts, as some accounts have geolocation features that can reveal your location via photos.
  • Keep your windows locked! Always keep the door locked as much as possible and always overnight.

What about social settings?

  • Out late at a bar? Never leave alone; always have someone with you. And make sure you know precisely how to get to your next destination.
  • Never get drunk. Yep, I’m serious. Though many victims are sober at the time of assault, getting drunk can open many opportunities for being victimized, such as being unaware that someone just slipped the “date rape” drug in your fifth drink.
  • In fact, never let your drink out of sight. If you don’t want to take it with you to the restroom, then either finish it or trash it first.
  • Never accept a drink that you didn’t see poured, and never accept an opened can of soda.
  • If you feel it’s time to leave, it probably is. You don’t owe any explanations. In fact, if you say, “I have to go,” pushy people will ask why and urge you to stay. So instead, silently and nonchalantly make your exit. If someone nabs you along the way, tell them you need to 1) get some air outside, 2) make a phone call or answer a text, 3) get something from your car.
  • If it’s more obvious you’re leaving for the night (e.g., putting on coat and boots), say you 1) just received an urgent text, 2) have an early exam tomorrow, 3) look ‘em hard in the eye and say, “I’m leaving. DEAL.” Then leave.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Do It yourself home security getting easier

How would you like a home security system that’s also your personal assistant? Angee Inc., a new company out of San Francisco, knows you’d like one.

ANG2Features of the Angee Device

  • Smartphone controlled
  • Has a Full HD camera with night vision.
  • Learns habits of and senses presence of household members to automatically arm and disarm.
  • Camera rotates 360 degrees—and does so as it detects motion; intruders will not be able to get out of view while they’re burglarizing.
  • Security tags provide security of a property’s entire perimeter, so that entrance via a tagged door or window will be detected.

Furthermore, says an article on gizmag.com:

  • The Angee system is portable, is powered by a battery and has local data storage.
  • So if there’s a power outage, Angee will be able to keep monitoring your home for at least eight hours.
  • Angee can record about an hour of high definition footage, and longer at lower quality.
  • Footage can also be stored in the cloud. However, Angee can distinguish between benign activity and suspicious activity, so there shouldn’t be any useless footage time.

How can Angee tell suspicious activity from normal activity?

  • It learns to recognize the movement patterns of household members. Intruders move differently.
  • Burglars also enter and exit their target homes in a peculiar manner.
  • If the burglar has an accomplice, there’s likely to be conversation, and Angee will detect these unfamiliar voices.
  • Angee will recognize familiar people by their voice or by a Bluetooth signal that connects with their smartphone.
  • If the Angee user has an iOS or Android, they will receive an alert when Angee detects suspicious activity; Angee will then stream video of this activity.

The gizmag.com article further explains that Angee can be controlled by voice commands, including recognition of vocal passwords. Angee is practically human, as it can even remind you to close windows if rain is predicted. It can also check your calendar and answer the phone. There are many ways the user can “program” Angee to behave, and Angee also gets smarter and more personalized the longer you have it in your home.

Through a Kickstarter campaign, Angee Inc., has raised over $260,000 and is still going. The unit is projected to retail at $429, and the expected delivery date is October of 2016.

Robert Siciliano, personal and home security specialist to Angee. Learn more about Angee in this Video. Support Angee on Kickstarter. See Disclosures.

How to Choose a Home Security Safe

Home safes aren’t just for expensive jewels and wads of $100 bills. They can be for anything you’d be crushed about if it were stolen, lost or burnt in a fire. This could be a birthday card that your child made for you when they were five, or a photo of you and your grandmother.

4HHome safes come in all sorts of designs and sizes. An article on community.homeclick.com provides tips in choosing the home safe that best suits your needs. Let’s first look at the three types of locking mechanisms: keypad combination, cylinder dial and keyed lock.

Keypad Combination

  • Fast access
  • Can be customized
  • Uses batteries (which means replacement is necessary).
  • This type of safe may be small enough for a burglar to just carry away, intending to figure out how to open it later. Bolt it to the floor.

Manual Dial

  • Requires knowledge and skill (including a screwdriver) to change the combination.
  • Because of this, most people settle for the manufacturer’s preset combination.

Keyed Lock

  • Some models/brands can be easily picked with paperclips; YouTube is full of tutorials. Buyer beware.
  • No thief is intimidated by this kind of locking system. At worst, he’ll just take the safe with him and deal with getting it open once he’s home. Bolt it to the floor.
  • Nevertheless, these safes can protect from water and fire damage.

A big heavy safe with a good locking mechanism is not inviting to a burglar. Ideally, the safest safe is big, heavy and has a digital or manual dial locking system. Even if you have only a few valuables, a big hulking safe will deter a burglar. But if you’re not concerned about burglars, at least be concerned about fire protection—or rather, slowing down a fire.

The ability of a safe to withstand searing heat varies. They are rated for this ability. For example, says the community.homeclick.com article, a common rating is that of one hour at 350 degrees. But this rating probably will not protect sensitive electronic items in a house fire. All safes have a fire and water protection rating.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Sheriff’s office offers Home Security Tips

Here’s good advice from a sheriff’s office about how to protect your house.

1SBurglars and home invaders don’t give a flying hoot if you keep thinking, “It can’t happen to me and this is a safe neighborhood.” In fact, the issue isn’t how safe your neighborhood is or how watchful your neighbors are. The issue is how easy it is to simply break into your home.

Think of the other safety precautions you take daily even though the odds of an unfortunate outcome are very small, such as making sure you take your vitamins, or making sure not to miss brushing your teeth before bedtime. Yet you leave your garage door open because you think your neighborhood is safe? What the…?!

Keep your garage door closed. A threat may not be imminent, but any passer-by may actually be a thief scouting around to see who has the goods, and he sees some real goodies in your garage; he’ll make a note of your address for a later crime.

Don’t leave boxes that contained expensive items sticking out of garbage cans. Did you know that burglars love to see what’s poking out of garbage cans? Trash cans are the windows to the soul of your house.

Religious thumpers. Savvier burglars will go door to door pretending to represent a religion—they may even have a bible on hand—but their goal is to feel you out. I’m not suggesting that you shout at them to get lost and slam the door so hard that it shakes the frame. But if you present as wishy washy and unable to say “No thank you,” this tells the burglar you’re easy prey.  It’s better to talk through the door opposed to opening it.

Petition supporters. The burglar may be pretending to sell something or collect signatures for some strange petition.

Product sales. Another scam is for the burglar to name a date and time they’ll be back to deliver a product if you show an interest in it. They’re hoping you’ll say, “I won’t be home then; can you stop by another time?” The crook will be sure to show up at the time you won’t be home—to rob you cold.

Alarm company employee. If someone’s at your door claiming to be from your alarm company (if you have one), or some alarm company (if you don’t), this IS a ruse to find out if you have an alarm system that works—even if he’s wearing an outfit with the company’s name. Alarm companies don’t send people out in the field for unsolicited visits to homeowners.

Secure all entrances. Don’t just layer up the security of your front door. What about a porch door in the back? What about windows to your basement?

Makes sure valuables are not visible through your first-floor windows. This is another way thieves case houses.

Before leaving for out of town, contact the local police and request a vacation patrol check of your house. Be sure to indicate whether or not anyone is expected to be there such as someone to mow the lawn.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Can an App really act as a Bodyguard?

In the event of an attack, new smartphone applications can be used to send an alarm to a pre-chosen person. And the potential victims location can then be tracked.

1SDBut is this faster and more secure than a woman whipping out pepper spray and blasting a drunken buffoon who has her cornered in a parking garage at night?


Apps meant for personal security are simply one layer of protection but in no way should be relied upon for personal protection. I mean, come on!!!! IT’S AN APP!!!!!!!

For the iPhone and Android, one such app is called STOP-ATTACK. This can be programmed to call 9-1-1. Once this app is activated it will record video and audio that gets sent to a cloud. This way, you’ll have evidence of who was on top of whom or if someone really did reach into their pocket and pull out a metallic-looking object.

The threatening person won’t even know he’s being recorded. STOP-ATTACK also has an alarm and light that, once triggered, might scare off the perpetrator. It can be activated without actually logging into your phone if your device normally requires a security code. You get all this for $3.99 per year.

Will STOP-ATTACK actually stop an attack? NO. The name is misleading.

Others are out there (e.g., StaySafe, Circle of 6, Panic and Guardly), but the bottom line is that there’s really no reason not to have one—even if you’re a big brute. Women concerned about assault represent one slice of the pie. Muggings over smartphones are getting more common, and often, victims are men.

Like with the can of mace, the potential victim needs to be prepared to handle the smartphone’s security feature very quickly, even slyly, before the perpetrator can grab it—whether he just wants the phone or wants to commit assault. So if the phone is in a woman’s purse while she’s walking around town alone past midnight, it does no good.

Nevertheless, an application like this adds a layer of security to the user. The user needs to insert some human factor into the equation when a threat arises. If a woman senses danger, and she must dig into the deep crevasses of her purse to locate her smartphone…she could have already bolted from danger or leveled a right hook into the would-be assailant’s temple. A trained woman can debilitate an attacker with proper training. But please, DO NOT rely on an app to protect you.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Promote Child Home Safety

A recent controversial SuperBowl commercial from a major insurance company depicted a young boy who died as the result of numerous preventable household accidents such as poising and falls. The commercial got lots of traction via social media. Although it was presented tactfully, many people didn’t approve. The truth hurts and sometimes isn’t pretty. However the message was clear; so many child deaths are preventable!

1H“I’m home!” If your child is not reliable at notifying you they’ve arrived home from school, set up a real-time alert system. Home security/automation systems can assist with this.

Don’t answer the door. Your kids should be under strict orders never to answer the door no matter what. Role play this with them; pretend you’re a stranger on the outside of the door, begging to use the phone for an emergency. Instruct your child that if someone’s crying help, to NOT open the door and instead dial 9-1-1.

Smoke detectors. Have smoke alarms in the house and educate your kids about them.

Carbon monoxide detectors. Newer smoke detectors are 2-in-1 carbon and smoke detectors. CO gas is odorless and invisible. Ingestion is painless. That’s why it kills so easily.

Hide cords and wires. Not only are these a tripping hazard for adults, but toddlers just love to pull at these. Toddlers have been known to put these in their mouths and stick objects into electrical outlets. Put “baby proof” covers on outlets and bundle and/or hide the cords.

Eliminate anything that can act as a noose. It’s difficult to imagine how a toddler can end up hanging dead from a curtain cord, but it’s happened.

Buckets. Babies and toddlers love playing in small spaces like card board boxes and even buckets, but buckets can easily robs them of life under certain circumstances. Never leave a toddler unsupervised near a bucket of water (you’re bathing the dog and you leave the area to answer the phone or check your cooking food).

Toddlers have been known to topple head-first into buckets of water and drown because they couldn’t lift their heads out. Note the proportions of a toddler’s head to the rest of his body and you’ll see why this kind of fatality happens.

Baths. Never leave babies or young children unattended in bathtubs, even for “just a few seconds.”

Hide the matches. Why is it that parents can be so good at hiding the candy but not the matches? All to often we read about home fires being started because a child was “playing with matches.” Disclosure: I lit an entire couch on fire in my house as a kid while playing with matches. My mother will vouch. Sorry mom!

Hide the guns. Keep your guns available to you for protection but impossible for your kids to get to. There are numerous gun safes and lock that should be deployed.

Poison control. Our first child was allowed to go into the bottom kitchen cabinets and pull out everything she wanted to and scatter it all over the floor. Once. Made for a fun video. Of course the cabinet containing the cleaning supplies was off limits. The second child didn’t have this option due to all the cabinet locks. Don’t forget the bathroom and linen closets and even the garage.

Home security. The smartest child in the world can still be victimized by a thug who broke through a window. Windows should have shatter-proof film. Your child should learn how to activate the house alarm so that it will go off if someone tries to break in. You can be connected to all this with smartphone applications.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Survival is about being Persistent

“Survivor.” What comes to mind when you see or hear this word? A victim of a disease or of a perverted crime? A TV show? We’re all survivors in that every day, we do something to stay alive—life-saving things we don’t even think about as life-saving, such as eating healthy and exercising. People die every day from killing themselves with food.

1MSurvival also may conjure up true spectacular stories of survival, like the man who cut off his arm to free himself from a boulder because he was starving to death, and the man who ate a caterpillar and lotion from a bottle because he was starving to death after getting lost in the wilderness (both men fully recovered, though one has an artificial arm).

Sometimes we get a chance to survive, like being lost in the wilderness or adrift at sea in a raft. Sometimes that chance is shorter, like being in a house that catches fire.

And sometimes you don’t get a chance to employ tactics, like the guy who’s hit in the head from behind (or even from the front), falls to the cement and the pavement shatters his skull, causing a fatal acute subdural hematoma. Of course, that’s a better way to go, perhaps, than experiencing the terrifying six minutes it takes for an airplane to take a nose dive from 35,000 feet.

You can’t do much when you’re sitting in that plane or your leg’s in that wood chipper that’s rapidly pulling you in and nobody could hear you screaming. Ouch!

However, many people die because they simply didn’t have their wits. They had the time to survive, but made the wrong choices. Sometimes, survival begins with a choice. Do you want to get into that stranger’s car just because your legs are a little tired? Will walking kill you? Probably not. But the stranger who’s offering a perfectly able-bodied, young woman a ride in perfect weather likely has something sinister up his sleeve.

So many people worry about survival in terms of things that they’re very unlikely to ever die from, such as a terrorist attack. Don’t forget that the No. 1 killers are heart disease and cancer. And believe it or not, medical errors rank right up there in the top five too.

Perhaps the greatest weapon for survival, however, is the mind. Are you a screamer or a fighter? Panic disables, but anger enables! I’m reminded of a woman who was assaulted by a tall teen boy. After struggling, she eventually got him on the ground, pinning his arms over his head and sitting on him till police arrived. She states in an article at torontosun.com: “When I get angry, I have a lot of strength. The secret to getting through something like this is, ‘Don’t panic, but think through what you’re going to do now.’ ” Love her!

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

14 home security tips before you pack up for the Holidays

The holidays are just about here, and so is your not-so-friendly neighborhood burglar. Burglars know that during the holidays, there are just more goodies to steal, and not only that, but there’s a lot of traveling away from home. During this time of year, homeowners need to be extra vigilant about protecting their property, and that includes making potential intruders think you’re home rather than away for the holidays.

5HThere are many ways to spruce up the security outside and inside your house:

  1. Most burglars get in through the front door, so equip this with a heavy duty deadbolt/lock system. Look for one that even has a built-in alarm and can be remotely controlled and activated. Nexia™ Home Intelligence is the brains behind remote locking, unlocking and more. This home automation system allows you to control locks, thermostats, lights, cameras and even the new Linear Z-Wave Garage Door Controller, from wherever you and the internet happen to be. Lock or unlock your door from anywhere with your mobile device and receive text or email alerts when an alarm triggers or when specific codes provided to your kids or visitors are entered at the lock.
  2. Intruders occasionally do get through windows, especially if they realize you’re not home and a window is open. A veteran burglar can slip through a window and steal some jewelry faster than you can walk your dog down the street and back.
  3. Keep your lawn manicured. Overgrown grass tells a thief you haven’t been in town for a while. And if you do leave town, arrange for someone to mow your lawn and rake leaves. If snow is expected, arrange to have someone shovel it. These tasks will make it appear you’re not on vacation.
  4. A light that never turns off is a sign you’re not home. Manage your lighting by scheduling it based on time such as sunrise or sunset or activate them remotely with Nexia Home Intelligence.
  5. Have the post office and newspaper delivery do a vacation hold for your mail and paper, respectively.
  6. How many times have you seen in some TV show a family loading up the top of their station wagon, in broad daylight smack in the middle of the driveway, for a vacation? Leave this to TV, and in real life, pack your vehicle inside the garage with the door closed or in the cover of dark, so that casing burglars don’t connect the dots.
  7. Arrange to have someone leave their car in your driveway while you’re gone.
  8. Lock up all your valuables. And even when you’re home, make sure that any piles of holiday presents are not visible from the outside.
  9. It’s a no-brainer, but people actually disregard this golden rule: Lock all possible entries to your house.
  10. Don’t blab on social media about your vacation until after you’ve returned.
  11. Do not reset your voicemail to say something like, “Hi! We’re enjoying the sun and surf in Tahiti for a few weeks, but we’ll be back soon!” Clean out your voicemail mailbox so that it doesn’t say “full.”
  12. If you don’t have one now, invest in a monitored home security system so you can fully relax on that white sandy beach.
  13. Install security cameras that can be remotely viewed on your mobile, tablet or PC through a self-monitored system like Nexia Home Intelligence.
  14. Put “Beware of Dog” signs in a conspicuous place even if you don’t have a dog.

Travel is supposed to be fun and stress free. And it’s always better when you know your home is safe and sound while you are away. Take the time to implement these tips and have a happy holiday season!

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Nexia Home Intelligence discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.