Home security technology has come a long way, especially now that video cameras are easily integrated into home security systems. If you’re adding cameras to your home security, below are 10 tips to help you make the most of them.
Think through where you need the cameras Rather than putting up cameras helter skelter, be careful in your placement. Better placement improves your coverage but also reduces the number of cameras you’ll need. This applies to inside and outside your home. Think through what you want to be able to see. Do you need a camera inside to keep an eye on pets, kids who get home before you do, or an elderly parent prove to falling? Outside, do you have an attractive nuisance like a pool to monitor? Also think about people approaching your home. You don’t want a view of someone only once they are at the front door, but while they are approaching it too.
Use the right cameras for different locations Interior cameras differ from those meant for exterior use. For one thing, exterior home security cameras are built to be weather-resistant. Put the right camera in the right place.
Install home security cameras for maximum visibility To maximize the area your cameras can see, install them approximately seven feet high and pointed at a slight downward angle. This also helps with motion detection because the camera has the wider view and will be triggered sooner.
Install in high-traffic areas Put cameras where people are most likely to go, but also think about where burglars are most likely to enter and install cameras to monitor those locations. Research shows burglars are a lot less subtle than you might expect:
34% of the time they enter through the front door
23% of the time through a ground-floor window
22% of the time through the back door
Use a video doorbell You’re probably planning to place a camera near the front door because it’s the most common place of entry—even for burglars, as we noted above. Consider making it a video doorbell. That way you can know if UPS delivered your package, or see who is at your front door when the doorbell rings and you’re at work.
Install cameras out of reach You want your cameras to be located higher up so you get a better view, but the higher the better so they are out of reach of burglars too. After all, your camera won’t do much good if a burglar can simply reach up and pull it down or cover it up!
Keep cameras out of the elements Your exterior video camera will be built to resist the weather, but that doesn’t mean you should install it where all the weather will hit. You could very well be obstructing your own view if pouring down rain obscures the camera lens.
Be mindful of the light Don’t install any cameras to point at light like toward a bright porch light or a window because you’ll get a poor quality image if you do. Keep shadows and shade in mind too when deciding where to install your home security cameras.
Choose wireless WiFi and wireless video cameras are easy to install and to move around if you realize you need a better location.
Connect to your smartphone Connectivity is one of the biggest benefits of today’s wireless home security cameras because you can see what’s happening from your smartphone. A security camera can send you alerts on your smartphone when motion is detected or a door is opened. This makes it easy to know when the kids get home from school too.
Also consider installing cameras at your garage or any outbuildings if they are outside the range of the cameras you’ve installed for your home security. Because the cameras are there to help you keep an eye on things, and the more you can see, the better!
Although Memorial Day was originally intended to honor fallen soldiers, it has become the unofficial kickoff to summer in the U.S. and tens of millions of Americans hit the road to get away.
If you’ll be one of those millions, make sure your car is ready for the road (and not for a wreck) with this quick checklist of seven tips:
One: Check the traffic report Knowing millions of other Americans are hitting the road for the three-day weekend, plan accordingly. The Thursday before the weekend is typically congested because people leave work early to extend their time off to four days. And the Friday before brings a mix of travelers and those workers trying to get home to start their time off. If you’re traveling by car, just know you’re not alone and plan accordingly so you don’t spend precious hours stuck in traffic.
Two: Get an oil change Get an oil change and tell them you’re going on a road trip and want them to check all of the fluids, etc., that should be checked prior to a trip. Although they might suggest maintenance you don’t think you really need yet, carefully consider suggestions they make in case something does require immediate attention before a long drive.
Three: Check your tires Check all tire pressure, including your spare and the tires on your trailers or anything else you are hauling. Whether you’re pulling a camp trailer or boats or horses, you don’t want a flat tire with your vehicle or your trailer, especially on such a busy travel weekend.
Four: Check all the lights all over Do a thorough light check, including brake lights, blinkers, reverse lights, and headlights along with the lights inside the vehicle and all your trailer lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs and buy spares to take with you. Also clean your headlights for the best brightness.
Five: Clean your windshield Clean your windshield, replace old wipers and check the washer fluid. As winter ends, windshields need a good scrubbing and wiper blades need replacing, because you want excellent visibility when you’re driving somewhere new.
Six: Fill the tank and keep an eye on it It’s easy to say you’ll get gas on the way, but you don’t always know where to find a gas station in unfamiliar territory. So fill up before you go, and try not to let the gas tank get more than half empty during the trip. Trust me on this one. I speak from experience.
Seven: Pack provisions Lastly, pack an emergency safety kit. Try to include all of the items listed here, but at the bare minimum, make sure your car is stocked with extra food and water, a change of clothes, a stash of cash, phone numbers on paper, and a map.
Enjoy your time away if you’re getting away—but do take a few minutes to remember the men and women who are the reason for the weekend. Because they gave everything.
The weather is warming up, the days are getting longer, and it’s time to get out there and get in shape for summer! If you’re one of the millions of Americans who run, either competitively or for fitness, make sure you’re staying safe while getting fit with these five tips:
1. Run with a buddy If you can avoid it, try not to run alone, because being alone makes you an easy target. If you don’t have a neighbor or friend to run with, see if you can join a local running group and run with them.
2. Run out in the open If you are running alone, avoid trail running or any other kind of running that’s not in the open. Running on a busy road sucks, but at least you have a lot of people around who provide a deterrent to anyone with bad intentions! Also, running in a neighborhood or business district means you have homes or businesses to turn to should something bad happen.
3. Run in the daylight Many people have to run after dark because of their work schedules, but avoid that if you can. The more daylight, the more safety! If you do run after dark, try to partner with a running buddy to prevent being attacked. Also wear reflective clothing and some kind of light or lamp to help cars see you.
4. Run with your ears wide open Music makes running better! But when your ears are plugged up with your playlist, you can’t hear cars—or a potential attacker. Now, if you’re running with a buddy, you’ll probably be talking and you have the safety of numbers. But if you’re running alone, keep at least one ear bud-free so you can hear what’s going on around you.
5. Run with your eyes wide open Also pay attention with your eyes. Don’t assume the passing cars see you. Try to make eye contact with drivers if you’re not sure, and still assume the worst. Only cross the street in designated areas. Be careful driving past parked cars when a door might suddenly swing open. Watch the sidewalk for cracks and the height of the curbs to prevent falls. Yes, you want to go into a zone, but you still must stay aware of what’s going on around you and under your feet.
You want to be fit, but you also want to be safe. These five tips should help. Happy running!
Is your grass growing? Our grass is growing! I mean, really growing. As in, I swear if I stood still long enough, I’d see it grow!
Welcome to spring, when the earth comes out of its dormant state and everything is green again! At this time of year, I sometimes think mowing should be a daily activity! And since I’m not the only one getting on the riding mower to keep the growing grass in check, it’s a good time to review some mowing safety tips.
To keep you and yours safe during the heavy-duty mowing season, follow these 10 tips:
Do a walk through. Yes, you’re anxious to get started, but it’s better to find the dog’s ball, the kids’ jump rope, the hose, the branches, the rocks, the you-name-it before you start mowing. That way, you’re less likely to run over something and either damage the mower or send something flying or both.
Wear safe footwear. Do not mow in flip flops or sandals! Even sneakers are risky. Protect your toes with leather shoes or work boots.
Wear long pants. Sure, it’s tempting to wear shorts when the sun is shining, but your lawn mower can make a missile out of a stray rock or stick and send that missile hurtling at your bare skin. And honestly, it’s easier to put green-stained jeans into the washer than it is to scrub the green stain off of your skin!
Wear long sleeves. See above…
Wear protective eyewear. Just as your skin is vulnerable to “attack” from flying objects, so too are your eyes. Even a tiny speck can do damage. Keep your eyes covered.
Wear earplugs. No, we’re not suggesting a mower-launched projectile will get into your ears, but the noise can be damaging.
Keep the little ones inside while mowing. Kids will be kids. And with the noise of the mower, you won’t hear them coming. So play it safe and keep the kids inside playing while you’re outside mowing.
Gas up wisely. Make sure the gas tank is full before you start to decrease the chance that you’ll run dry while mowing. If you do run out of gas, let the mower cool down before you refuel.
Stay on the level. I know, I know! That little bit of incline doesn’t seem that steep, right? I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? The riding mower could tip, that’s what! So don’t go there. Use the push mower or weed whacker for any inclines.
Just be careful and expect the unexpected. I once bought a used riding mower. It caught on fire while mowing. It turned out a mouse had built a nest in it while it was sitting idle in the previous owner’s garage. You just never know…
But there’s more to lawn care than just mowing, so find other lawn care safety tipshere. And then take some time to enjoy the weather while admiring you’re lovely lawn!
According to Statista, less than one-third of Americans have a home security system. Is that because they think they can’t afford it, or that it’s a luxury item or only needed by the very rich? If so, that thinking is misguided. It’s all a matter of perspective. Once you understand the true value of protection and peace of mind, it doesn’t seem expensive at all. And if a family is dishing out a couple hundred dollars a month for cell phones, the cost of a home security system pales in comparison.
Besides, a home security can pay for itself. Here’s how:
1) It can minimize fire or water damage
Your home security system can include monitoring for fire, smoke, carbon monoxide and even flooding. In situations where minutes count, like a fire, your home security system can get help to your house faster to minimize damage to your home, property and possessions.
2) It can keep a burglar at bay
A home security system can’t guarantee your home won’t be burgled, but it can decrease the chances. A burglar strikes every 13 seconds in the U.S. and homes with an obvious home security system are less likely to be targeted. How does that pay for itself? By preventing the costs of a theft. Studies say thefts costs about $2,000 to replace stolen items, but your time has value too. A home burglary will mean a lot of time on the phone and dealing with paperwork, plus the psychological damage done to you and your kids sense of safety. And that’s expensive!
3) It can lower your homeowner’s insurance premium
This is not a guaranteed cost savings, but worth looking into because many insurance companies will discount your homeowner’s insurance if you have a home security system.
It’s not all that much money
Maybe none of these cost-saving arguments really matters, however, if you consider how little a home security system costs compared to other common household expenses. A home security system costs an average of $35 per month depending on your vendor and features. That’s a little over a dollar per day. In comparison, most people spend far more than that on gas for the car, restaurant meals, and even fancy coffees: 10 coffees at $3.50 a pop adds up to $35. What’s worth more, 10 lattes or a safe and secure home?
When you look at it that way, is a home security system really that expensive?
It’s usually good news when a world record is broken, whether it’s during the Olympics or something on a smaller scale like the most pieces of gum chewed at once (in case you’re curious, it was 98 pieces!). Unfortunately, not all world records are cause for celebration.
Email marketing service Verifications.io recently, with an estimated 2 billion records exposed. While no passwords or social security numbers were involved, the platform had collected data including full names, phone numbers, dates of birth, physical addresses, IP addresses, and even estimates of credit scores.
According to Verifications.io, the databases were only exposed for a short window of time, but who knows what data was compromised for sure? And what about the next big data breach? Here’s a refresher on how to protect yourself and your data before the next news breaks of another big breach:
Change your password: Although this latest breach didn’t expose any passwords, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Update your passwords every 6 to 12 months, and ensure that they aren’t easily guessed. It might seem more convenient to use the same password for every site, but you risk exposing all of your info if a hacker gets a hold of that one password.
Watch your bank statements: Not all fraudulent charges will be hundreds or thousands of dollars. An unfamiliar $2.50 purchase on your card could be someone testing your information before making any large purchases.
Take proper care of your mail: Although it’s tempting to just toss old junk mail into the recycling bin and not think about it again, you could be putting personal information such as your full name and home address at risk. Shred any paper with your name on it, or use a sharpie to cover any important information.
Keep personal information at home: Do not carry your social security card in your wallet! Unless you need to provide proof of your identity at a government office or when starting a new job, keep your card or copy of your card in a safe place at home. The same should be said for post-it notes with your PIN, or any bank information that has your routing and account numbers on them.
One last step to take is to change your privacy settings. You may not even be aware of how much information companies like Google and Facebook are collecting on you. We need to take our privacy into our own hands, because large corporations aren’t going to do it for us. Sure, we take steps to protect our homes and property, but are we doing the same with our data?
Gone are the days of leaving doors unlocked and not having to worry about securing all electronic belongings. Every year cyber predators get more sophisticated, but one rule still holds true: Most criminals like an easy target. Unfortunately, when it comes to cyber safety, senior citizens are that easy target. Handwritten checks, passwords written on a note taped to your computer, and trusting other online users are all red flags to criminals that they have found their mark. Whether you’re of the older generation or you’re worried about the cyber safety of an older parent, here are some tips to stay ahead of the bad guys and feel more safe and secure…
Guard Your Passwords Creating a secure password is the first step to keeping your information private. A secure password is a unique, long (at least 8 characters), and personal code that you create. By personal, this does not mean your birthday or any other easily guessed and attained information, but rather something you will remember. A password that includes your favorite high school teacher and the year you graduated is a lot harder for a stranger to figure out than your anniversary. Once you’ve created this unique password, do not write it down to store near the device you are securing. This practice might be easy for your own access, but it could also lead to a breach in your security. Nor should you use the same password over and over again at different websites. If it’s compromised once, then it gives a thief access to everything.
Don’t Trust Every Phone Call Many scam artists have begun to target senior citizens with phone calls pretending to be someone they are not. The IRS will not call and threaten to throw you in jail for delinquent taxes. Microsoft does not call you because there was a security breach. Companies and governments do not have the time to call individuals to resolve the issues over the phone. Mortgage companies and banks do make you confirm your identity before discussing your account, however, you should only trust that these companies if you called them. Do your research on the company calling before giving away personal information.
New Home, New Gadgets Many senior citizens downsize or move to retirement homes as their children grow up and move out. In a previous home, you may have known your neighbors and felt safe and secure. There are no guarantees that your new neighbors will be as trustworthy. The best way to avoid problems is to equip your home with preventative security. Lights set on a timer are a great example! If certain lights turn on even when you’re not home, then a burglar or nosy neighbor will never be able to learn your schedule. Setting up a new WiFi? Make sure to connect one with a secure network. Most phones and devices will remember the password, so only visiting grandchildren will be inconvenienced. And not allowing strangers to access your WiFi will make everything you do online safer!
Sure, they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but personal security is no trick. Changing our habits comes with the changing times, and online or home privacy is no exception. Even if you yourself aren’t a senior citizen, helping a friend, relative or neighbor ensure their security is a great way to practice the habits for yourself. Here’s to longer, happier, and more secure lives for us all!
Every time I watch someone pay for their coffee with their watch, I stop for a moment to think “Wow, this is really the future!” Even though I use my phone to make payments all the time, like sending money from Paypal or using Uber, mobile wallets are still new to me. From Venmo to Zelle, Apple Pay to Google Wallet, mobile wallets and payment apps are on the rise. While convenient, is this new financial technology harming our money management skills?
A new study suggests that Millennials who use mobile payment transactions are more likely to be at risk for money mismanagement. They are “more likely to hold nearly all forms of debt, including auto loans (34 versus 29%), be charged credit card fees (58 versus 45%), overdraw their checking accounts (33 versus 19%) and turn to pawnshops or payday loans (50 versus 23%).” Fret not, for it is possible to embrace the convenience of mobile wallets without breaking the bank.
Conscientious of Your Cards If you tend to carry around multiple credit, debit, or even gift cards in your physical wallet, it may be tempting to just add all of them into your mobile wallet. This can be great for getting reward offers for different purchases, but can also be confusing if you’re storing too many. While you may be able to keep track of two or three balances in your accounts, the more cards you add the easier it will be to forget. You also add the risk of using the wrong card for the wrong app. Maybe you link your business card to Uber, but that doesn’t mean you should link it to your personal Venmo as well. Only add necessary cards into your mobile wallet, and be sure to check an app’s settings for adding and removing payment options as needed.
Avoid Carrying a Balance Cash can be a controversial form of payment. Some people find cash harder to spend than using a card since they have to physically hand it over and watch it leave their wallet. Others see cash as disposable, that it’s too easy to spend since it’s right there in front of you. The same could be said for keeping a balance in a mobile payment app. If you have $20 sitting in Paypal, maybe that Amazon impulse item is easier to buy since the money won’t leave your account. To avoid keeping balances, make sure to transfer your money into a bank account as soon as you receive it. This can also help you keep track of your spending if it’s confined to one place.
Don’t Forget Your Budget Perhaps most importantly, stick to your budget. No matter how you pay for your transactions, keeping a budget will help you manage your money and actually save what you have extra. Taking a $10 Uber may sound a lot more appealing than taking the bus, but not if you only budget $20 for ride-sharing for the whole month. Consider linking your mobile wallet to a budgeting app, so you can easily learn your spending habits and keep them in line. Mobile payment transactions aren’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean we have to leave healthy financial habits in the dust behind them.
With spring fast approaching, the urge to clean follows close behind. Sure, you throw out clutter and unwanted clothes, but what do you do with the stuff you’re planning on keeping? This is where a complete inventory of your home comes in handy. In the event of an emergency, an up-to-date household inventory may save you thousands of dollars in insurance claims.
For new homeowners, itemizing all your possessions may only take up a single afternoon. Yet for those of us that have been living at the same residence for many years, a home inventory can be intimidating and easy to keep putting off. Don’t get overwhelmed! We’re here to help: Check out these 3 tips to overcome your inventory insecurities.
One: Starting With The Basics Narrowing your focus to one room of the house at a time is essential. Giving your attention to only one contained area, such as a bedroom closet or a bathroom, can break up what seems to be one large task into several smaller tasks. Once you’ve begun organizing items room by room, it’s important to make sure to include relevant information like estimated value or the make and model of the item. If you know where you purchased the item, be sure to include that as well. Start with closet or room, and don’t move on to the next one until that first one is done. Soon, you’ll have worked your way through your whole house!
Proving With Pictures In the digital age, our phones can do a whole lot for a homeowner’s day-to-day peace of mind. Creating and saving a photo library of your items could help immensely with replacement in the event of a fire, theft or other disaster. Make sure to include these images with the notes you took while itemizing everything.
Habits for Your House Now that we have a more complete and compiled list, there’s no reason to let it go to waste. Get into the habit of recording any new purchases and your household inventory will stay up-to-date. Storing receipts and recording serial numbers will also do you a world of good in keeping proof of value. If you happen to purchase a new item that is particularly valuable, it might be a good idea to have the item appraised so you have proof of the estimated value. Practicing these habits now may even help your family members to do the same later, and soon it could become second nature to update your inventory.
Although no one wants to think about a potential theft or disaster and the insurance claims that will follow, it’s best to be prepared. If you’re not sure where to start even after these tips, check out this list of different home inventory apps you can use right from your phone. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged. An entire home inventory may seem daunting, so don’t be afraid to piecemeal the list and leave it incomplete if you need to step away from the clutter. Let’s welcome spring more organized than ever before!
Believe it or not, spring break season has started. Yes, snow is falling in certain parts of the country, but colleges are already releasing their students for the week-long break. Some students may be headed to warmer weather and vacation destinations, while others are just coming home for a much-needed rest. Whatever the case, before your college-age child wraps up their studies and heads out on a trip, you may want to give them a few travel safety tips to study as well.
When traveling as a family when I was a kid, I used to ask my mother to make a packing list for me so that I wouldn’t forget anything. Since then, if I do not make a packing list beforehand I will most likely forget one of the most basic items. (I have forgotten to pack socks. Socks.) Tell your child to write down or type up everything they need to remember to bring with them, and then have someone else look over the list for something they might have missed. This is especially important for common-sense items that you may not even think you have to write down, such as phone chargers or passports. Before they head out the door for the week, have your child go item by item through the list to make sure there won’t be any emergency pit-stops on the way home from the airport.
Keep an Eye Out
While keeping track of your belongings while traveling may seem like an unnecessary reminder, college kids can be scatterbrained and may be distracted by something particularly engaging on their phone or in a book. Suggest they hook a backpack or purse strap around one of their legs while sitting and waiting to board a flight or bus. That way, if anyone grabs their bag, they will know, plus they won’t forget it. Keeping a purse strap on their arm, and not leaving their phone sitting on a table can also prevent losing anything they worked so hard to pack up. Another area to keep an eye on is public Wi-Fi. While many airports, bus terminals and train stations provide customers with Wi-Fi, that can make devices vulnerable to hackers. Suggest to your child that they use a VPN whenever possible if they need to connect to free Internet access.
Know and Share the Route
Be it the trip to the airport, the bus connections, or the driving route home, make sure your child knows their travel plans before they actually head out—and that they share those plans with you. Remind them that they can’t always rely on their phone’s GPS! Service gets lost and sometimes a phone gets a location wrong. In addition to your child knowing how they’re getting home, encourage them to tell a friend about their route too, so if anything were to go awry, someone closer to your student may be able to help sooner than you. If possible, ask your child to share their phone’s location with you and a friend so either of you can keep track of their progress during the journey.
Speaking of Phones…
Most importantly, make sure they keep their phone charger on them and keep in contact with you! I once forgot to bring my phone charger with me to the airport, and thankfully had my laptop with me to message with the family member picking me up. Imagine if I hadn’t had any other devices, or if my laptop had also died!? Payphones are not as prevalent as they used to be, and not everyone carries change with them. Your child should, at the very least, let you know when they arrive at a new destination, such as the bus station or a rest stop on their drive.
Here’s hoping their spring break actually looks like spring, and the weather warms up for a well-needed rest from classes and cold. As for you as the parent, brace yourself. It doesn’t matter where the final destination is, college kids are still kids and may need a little extra assistance from you with their travel plans. Once they arrive, be prepared for their ridiculous appetites and sleep schedules, and appreciate that they got wherever they were going safely.