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Smoke is Your Biggest Enemy in a House Fire

smoke

Believe it or not, most deaths and injuries in structure fires aren’t caused as a result of exposure to flames. Where there’s fire there’s smoke, and most casualties are a result of smoke inhalation or chemical exposure than burns. That makes smoke your No. 1 enemy in the event of a fire in your home.

That’s why Monitronics offers 24-hour fire monitoring. Even in a minor house fire, there is usually enough smoke to trigger an alarm that will warn occupants to get out of the house. Statistics have shown that when used together, smoke alarms and 24-hour monitoring are most effective at saving lives.

Here is a quick look at why smoke is so dangerous during a house fire, and why monitoring from Monitronics is a valuable way to help avoid tragedy.

Less Oxygen, More Poisonous Gas

Fire needs oxygen to burn. In a house fire, flames immediately begin consuming valuable oxygen as soon as combustion starts. The hotter and faster the fire burns, the more oxygen it consumes. What takes its place is a toxic cloud of smoke, gases, chemicals and particulates could be inhaled by anyone in the structure. This presents a number of dangers:

  • Loss of Consciousness – A lack of oxygen can quickly cause a victim to become unconscious. People can be quickly overcome by smoke before they ever know where the fire is taking place.
  • Particulates – Many of the particulates in smoke are small enough that they can penetrate the human respiratory system and lodge in the lungs. These same particulates can severely irritate the eyes and digestive tract.
  • Toxicity – Many house fires release toxic chemicals into the air as furniture and other flammable materials burn. Occupants in the building are at risk of poisoning from common toxins like carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and phosgene.

Much of the damage caused by smoke is the direct result of inhalation. But unfortunately, the danger does not stop there. There is also the matter of absorption to consider.

Absorbing Chemicals through the Skin

The skin is a lot more porous than people realize. In a house fire, chemical droplets too fine to be noticed by the naked eye can quickly be absorbed through the skin. Like toxins that are inhaled through the lungs, any toxins absorbed through the skin can do a tremendous amount of damage. Some of the damage is short-term and temporary, while other damage can be permanent or even fatal.

The amount of damage done depends on what is known as diffusion. Human skin is part of the immune system, which has built-in suppression against foreign bodies. One of the ways the skin deals with contaminants is to diffuse them across a large portion of skin much the same way steam from a kettle disperses into the air. In the event of fire, however, there can be a significantly larger volume of contaminants than the skin can deal with. This is why firefighters are covered from head to toe in protective gear; they want no skin exposure.

Fire can be deadly, but smoke is incredibly dangerous. Installation of smoke detectors can go a long way toward keeping your property and loved ones safe. You can go one step further by considering a basic security system from Monitronics that includes fire monitoring. Our system can detect smoke and alert you to get out quickly, before it becomes life-threatening.

Spring Cleaning Time Is Also Home Security Time

spring-cleaning

The snow is melting, the flowers are beginning to bloom, and it’s time for the annual ritual of spring cleaning. But it’s also a good time to take a look at your home security, and examine any adverse effects that might have occurred during the winter. To give you a better idea of what we mean, here are five things you can do during your spring cleaning to improve home security:

1. Check Your First-Floor Windows

First-floor windows are typically a favorite way of entry for burglars and other intruders. But since it’s typically so cold during the winter, there’s really no reason to open your windows. That means they might not have been closely checked for several months. This spring, take a moment to walk around both the interior and exterior of your home to check all of your windows and make sure they are still intact. Cracked panes should be immediately replaced; loose or cracked caulking should be repaired. And while you’re at it, buy some heavy-duty window locks so you will be prepared for summer.

2. Check Your First-Floor Doors

The typical American home has one main door that gets most of the traffic. Like the windows, other doors on the first floor tend not to be used at all during the winter, and they’re also a popular means of entry for burglars. That means spring is a great time to check them as well. You are looking for cracks, damaged framing, and other signs of wear and tear. You should also check the locks. Salt, dirt and other debris can get into door locks during the winter months and cause problems.

3. Trim Back the Shrubs

You probably haven’t touched your shrubs since last fall. Given the amount of time they’ve been left unattended, combined with normal spring growth spurts, your shrubs will need some immediate attention. Trim them back so that they do not obstruct the view of your first-floor windows and doors from the street. The better the street view, the less likely your house will be victimized by a burglar.

4. Clean Out the Garage

Believe it or not, a cluttered garage can act as an open invitation to burglars. If they’re casing a neighborhood, they could drive by and notice an open garage door with lots of potential goodies inside. The obvious conclusion is that the house is probably full as well. That house instantly makes it to the top of the burglar’s list.

5. Check Your Smoke Alarms and Fire Extinguishers

Spring is the right time to check your smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Smoke alarms should be tested and, if necessary, batteries should be replaced. Fire extinguishers should be checked to see when they were last charged. If the attached tags have expired, call a professional to have them recharged.

Monitronics urges you to take advantage of spring cleaning to attend to basic security issues. The more proactive you are about security, the safer you will be. Contact us to learn more about adding wireless home security for an even more secure environment.

Home Security IQ: The More You Know, the More Prepared You Are

Knowledge is power, so the more you know about home security, the more prepared you’ll be to deal with any potential threats. That’s why ignorance is one of the biggest weaknesses of personal security. Not knowing how criminals think and act is like an open door inviting victimization. On the other hand, being completely knowledgeable affords the opportunity to take appropriate preventative measures.

For example, did you know that about 60 percent of all successful home burglaries are the result of forced entry at the front door? Seasoned burglars know that most front doors without heavy-duty deadbolt locks can be forced open with one appropriately placed kick. A burglar can get in so quickly – and close the door – that neighbors would never know what happened even if they had heard the kick. This should motivate every homeowner to install at least one heavy-duty deadbolt that cannot be breached with a single kick.

A home burglary occurs in the United States every 15 to 18 seconds, according to the FBI’s 2014 Uniform Crime Statistics report. The vast majority of home burglaries occur during daylight hours from Monday through Friday. This is when homes are most likely to be unoccupied due to work and school schedules.

Educate yourself about the realities of home burglary and other property crimes. We also invite you to investigate monitored home security from Monitronics. Monitored home security is a great deterrent to crime because it makes the lives of burglars more difficult. By their own admission, most burglars check for security systems before they attempt a break-in. More than half will move on to an unprotected home rather than try to thwart a security system.

The more you know about home security and property crimes, the safer you’ll be. Don’t wait until you become a victim to start your education.

Monitronics-IQ-Test

Three Major Advantages of Controlled Lighting

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The combination of wireless and home automation technologies gives us more control over our homes than ever. For example, a home lighting system can now be connected to a home automation system to be controlled either preprogrammed or controlled remotely. It’s easy to see the potential benefits for any homeowner, particularly if they have a busy lifestyle.

Here’s how “controlled lighting” works: Lighting systems are connected to a home automation system either through wireless sockets plugged into the wall or wireless fixtures themselves. Lights can be programmed to turn on or off at a particular time, and can also be controlled remotely using a computer or mobile device.

The technology provides three major advantages for homeowners.

Increased Security

It’s not uncommon to return to a dark home after work during winter months. Programming your porch and entryway lights to turn on prior to your return means you will never arrive home to a dark house. You can utilize the same strategy whenever going out at night.

Being able to program lighting also makes it possible to present the illusion that you are home when you might be away on vacation. A benefit of controlling your lighting via home automation is being able to turn lights on and off throughout the house at various times. You could simulate someone traveling through your house from room to room simply by setting up the right kind of program.

Greater Lighting Efficiency

It is great to have the opportunity to automatically turn lights on and off according to a programmed schedule, but some of the lights in your home are less efficient than others. Older fixtures using multiple incandescent light bulbs will use more energy – and more bulbs for that matter – than modern fixtures using fluorescent or LED lighting. Replace older bulbs and make the most of your energy friendly bulbs, and you’ll greatly increase the efficiency of your home lighting.

This approach can be extremely helpful when programming your lighting for vacation. Activate the older fixtures in some rooms for shorter amounts of time; utilize the more efficient new fixtures in other rooms the rest of the time.

Lighting Control for Guests

Just as you can program lights to come on before you return from work, you can also control lights remotely when you know guests will be arriving. For example, assume your relatives will be arriving in the evening while you are at a school event. Program your lights so that they go on at the appropriate time, or have your guests send a text message when they arrive. You can turn the lights on remotely with your phone. (If you have remote door locks, you can even unlock them so that your guests do not need a separate key.)

You might even consider setting light levels for guests who might be unfamiliar with your home. This would give them sufficient lighting to get around until you return, without needing to have every light on at full power.

Controlled lighting increases security, efficiency and your hospitality when guests arrive, but those are just a few advantages of controlled lighting systems with home automation. You may find other benefits that apply to your specific situation, such as being able to save juice by turning off any lights left on by kids who head out for the evening when you’re not home.

Having the ability to control lighting through remote access or programming makes perfect sense in a world where we’re constantly on-the-go.

Las Vegas Metro Police Show Strong Response to Violent Crime

The violent crime numbers in Las Vegas are not the kinds of numbers we like to read. Unfortunately, the city known for glitzy entertainment and pleasure is in the midst of a 25 percent increase in violent crimes this year, particularly homicide. This has led the Metro Police Department to present an even stronger presence on the street to curb the troubling violence.

It’s anyone’s guess why Las Vegas is suddenly seeing a spike in violence, but there are a few things the police are looking at in particular:

  • Increased drug use among city residents.
  • Stagnant unemployment.
  • An influx of gang members from the West Coast.

The police response to the increased violence has been to rotate detectives in and out of street patrol in order to beef up police presence. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, some 1,500 plainclothes detectives are receiving a brief amount of training to refresh their street patrol skills before joining 1,300 patrol officers for two-week stints on the streets. Officials with the Metro police believe the strategy is already paying off.

Residents Should Keep Themselves Safe

There is a sliver of positive news: Increases in homicides, rapes, and assaults are not translating to home burglaries and property crimes. Also, if the police continue to address the wave of violence in the city with a stronger presence, it will be good for the average neighborhood that wants to protect itself against burglary and property crime. Still, Las Vegas residents should be taking whatever steps they can to protect themselves, their families and their properties.

A good place to start is with monitored home security, complete with video surveillance cameras. Annual statistics routinely show that homes with monitored security systems are less likely to be victimized than those without. Video surveillance cameras add an extra measure of deterrence by providing evidence investigators can use to catch and convict criminals.

Staying Safe on the Streets

Protecting your home with monitored security is one thing; protecting yourself on the streets is another. Residents of any city should always pay attention to what is going on around them in order to avoid becoming victims of crime. For example, here are a few basic tips:

  • Put away the phone – As helpful as the smartphone might be, it also tends to be a distraction. Put away the phone when you are walking down the street, walking to your car at night, or even sitting on a park bench waiting to meet a friend. Criminals who see you distracted by your phone see you as an easy target.
  • Travel in groups – When you are out on the streets, be sure to travel in groups of three or more. The more of you there are together, the less likely criminals will victimize you and your group.
  • Park your car strategically – You can avoid becoming a victim of crime – especially at night – by parking in a well-lit area away from places criminals could potentially hide, like bushes and shrubs.

We are sure the Las Vegas police join us in hoping that the spike in violent crime is just temporary. In the meantime, do what you can to keep yourself safe.

Sources:

  1. Las Vegas Review-Journal – http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/radio-show-metro-undersheriff-defends-violent-crime-initiative