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5 Reasons to Take Care of Your Smoke Alarm

smoke alarm

Here’s an eye-opening statistic: There were more than 500,000 structural fires in 2015, a rate of about one per minute. Keeping your property and loved ones safe from fire and smoke is always a priority at MONI, but October is an especially good time to focus on the topic. It’s National Fire Prevention Month, which is highlighted by National Fire Prevention Week from Oct. 9-15.

This year the National Fire Protection Association is highlighting the importance of smoke alarms, with the theme “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.” The choice of theme isn’t surprising; the NFPA has made home smoke alarms the centerpiece of Fire Prevention Week for the past three years. Fire protection is always important, but next week is a good time to remember that smoke alarms are the first line of defense against fire-related tragedies.

They Actually Do Wear Out

Even though smoke detectors don’t have any moving parts, they still have a limited life-span. They’re based on sensors that can eventually lose their sensitivity. The test button tells you that the alarm itself is working, but it doesn’t indicate whether the smoke sensor is still functioning properly. By replacing your smoke alarms every 10 years – or even sooner if you can’t remember how old they are – you know that you’ve got equipment that will be ready when you need it.

Think of it this way: Nobody ever regretted changing a smoke alarm too soon.

They’re Only Effective When They Work

Smoke alarms alert you to danger, letting you get family and pets to safety. It’s important not just to install new smoke alarms every 10 years, but also to replace the battery at least once a year. Test your alarms at least once a month; you don’t want to find out about a faulty alarm when it fails during an emergency.

Where There’s Fire, There’s Smoke

That’s a twist on the traditional saying, because fire isn’t the only thing that threatens lives. A home can quickly fill with smoke, even from a small fire. It can incapacitate anyone in the home, making it difficult to get out safely. It isn’t just the potential for smoke inhalation; a fire needs oxygen to burn, and it will quickly consume breathable air.

The source of the fire is another complicating factor. For example, plastic is everywhere you look inside the home, and if it burns it can create toxic gases. Even small quantities of these gases can be deadly or cause severe damage to lungs or eyes.

Danger Isn’t Always Because of an Accident

Cold weather is on its way, and there’s nothing better than burning some logs (or lighting a gas fireplace) on a chilly fall or winter evening. But remember that fireplaces and chimneys are involved in 42 percent of all home heating fires. They’re also one of the leading sources of carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s a deadly gas that is odorless and colorless, and can quickly overcome anyone who breathes it.

That’s why an effective fire protection strategy should include carbon monoxide detectors, particularly near potential sources like fireplaces, space heaters, gas furnaces and gas water heaters. An authorized MONI dealer will stress a strategy that includes carbon monoxide alarms.

Every Minute Matters

You’re not always going to be home when fire starts. Your family might thankfully be out of harm’s way, but your property is still at risk. Early detection and fast response can make the difference between minor damage and catastrophic loss. MONI is dedicated to providing fast response when you need it with 24-hour monitoring for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Even if you’re not home, we can still summon the help you need.

“MONI” is the new Monitronics

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A new name, cool logo and aggressive attitude have put our old brand in the rear-view mirror

We’ve been protecting customers with outstanding home security for more than 20 years. That kind of track record is a good thing, but the time has come to shake things up. Especially in today’s disruptive security industry – with its increasing emphasis on home automation and the “Internet of Things” – no company can afford to stand still.

That’s why we have introduced MONI as our new brand, along with a new logo. We went through hundreds of options, and came up with a catchy, easy-to-remember name and an attractive, updated look. The fact that “Moni” has always been a sort of shorthand version of our name made the choice that much easier. It also helps to reassure everyone that our ownership is the same: We’re still the same company that more than 1 million customers trust with their security.

Look behind the name and logo, though, and you’ll see profound change.

Months of planning

MONI resulted from extensive collaboration with marketing, digital, and public relations partners to understand how our company was positioned in the market, and perceived by our customers. Among other things, we discovered that consumers want more than just “good.” They want “great.” That led us to create MONI’s three “Brand Pillars” as a commitment to our customers:

  • Customer intimacy. We will connect with our customers, giving them a personalized experience that will make it even easier to do business with us. We will be committed to faster call answering (less than 30 seconds) and first-call resolution. Over time, we will also be adding customer-centric tools like a redesigned website and live online assistance.
  • Faster response. We understand that in an emergency, every moment matters. Later this year, we’ll be rolling out patented technology that we believe will give us the fastest response times in the industry. It’s called ASAPer, and you’ll be hearing more about it in the coming months.
  • Comprehensive security. Not all consumers know that our security and smart-home technology solutions integrate with Amazon Echo, Amazon FireTV, Apple TV, and Apple Watch. We’re adding new technology all the time. That’s exactly what consumers want, and we will be their provider of choice.

A journey, not a destination

Even though many of the changes have been in place for months, MONI marks a new chapter of our company’s story. We’re proud of what we have achieved in the past 20 years, and now we’re excited about the potential.

We protect the well-being of our customers, and it’s not a responsibility we take lightly. But they will be able to depend on MONI for more than just security. We will be their source for technology solutions that can secure and enhance their lives. We will deliver customer satisfaction that they will tell their friends about. And we will dedicate ourselves to setting an industry standard for alarm response.

It’s an ambitious journey, but we won’t be satisfied until we get there.

Monitronics Supports Local Women’s Shelter and Assistance Program on North Texas Giving Day

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At Monitronics, we make it our business to help make people safer, whether it’s in their homes or in crisis situations. We’re proud to call the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex our home, and that’s why we partner with Agape Resource and Assistance Center, based in Plano, Texas. The program’s mission is to provide critical housing and life skills that empower single women and their children to transform from homelessness, crisis and poverty to self-sustaining, fulfilling lives.

As a corporate sponsor, Monitronics has dedicated time, money and resources to the program’s shelter, helping women in dire need of safety and security to get the peace of mind they deserve. Our commitment continues on Thursday, Sept. 22 in conjunction with this year’s North Texas Giving Day.

North Texas Giving Day is the nation’s largest online donation day, organized by the Communities Foundation, a Dallas-based philanthropic organization.  In seven years, North Texas Giving Day has raised $119 million for the North Texas community.

For those interested in learning more or contributing to Agape, other businesses and residents can donate online at hope4agape.com/online-donation/.

“Security is a vital part of these women’s recovery and their abilities to overcome their violent experiences of the past,” said Stacy Young, Monitronics Director of Human Resources, who is leading the effort on Monitronics’ behalf. “Many of the affected women are victims of abuse and human trafficking, and we are determined to help them move forward. It is a shame these crimes happen in our own backyard, and I am proud of our community for coming together to help our fellow residents in need.”

Recently, Young spearheaded a donation by Monitronics, Alarm.com and Nortek of $20,000 in security hardware and monitoring to the Agape Resource and Assistance Center, including new professionally-installed, monitored security systems throughout the shelter and its three residences.

The upcoming campaign is focused on the importance of security in keeping out the “Big Bad Wolf” and fostering the recovery of the women while rebuilding their lives and the lives of their children.

“We are humbled to help the women of Agape, and to make a difference in the lives of our fellow Dallas-area residents,” said Bruce Mungiguerra, Monitronics Senior Vice President of Operations. “These women often face unimaginable struggles on a daily basis. We are grateful for the opportunity to bring safety and security back to their lives.”

Common Sense and Smart-Home Technology Help Protect Latchkey Kids

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It’s not easy being the parent of a “latchkey kid,” a child who’s left at home alone during the period after school but before Mom or Dad get home from work. It’s a time when they’re vulnerable not just to intruders, but also to the temptations that go along with having an extra little bit of freedom – even if it’s only for a couple of hours.

School’s back in session, so it’s a good time to talk about what parents can do to make sure their children remain safe – and out of trouble – while they’re home alone. Safety and security is what Monitronics does best, so (naturally) we have some ideas that will help ease everyone’s mind.

Start with the basics

It’d be nice if kids would sit quietly and waited for their parents to get home, but it just doesn’t work that way. That’s why it’s important to set ground rules. Much of it is common sense, like making sure that homework is complete before video games begin, or letting them know that certain parts of the house are off-limits when they’re alone.

But don’t be afraid to dig deeper. For example, it seems drastic to limit the number of friends who are allowed in the house after school, or even to specifically call out which “friends” aren’t welcome. But it doesn’t take long for peer pressure to build, and for mild temptations to become serious situations.

Have an honest, candid dialogue to discuss everyone’s expectations. There may be some room for compromise; don’t hesitate to meet your kids halfway, but stick to your guns.

Trust, but verify

Once the ground rules have been established, how do you know that everything is going according to plan? One easy way is through video security cameras at strategic locations throughout the house.

Everyone knows that video surveillance is a proven deterrent to burglars when no one is home. But it’s also a valuable way of keeping tabs on what’s happening when the kids are on their own. You not only make sure that the rules are being followed, but you also can be alerted to any trouble at a moment’s notice through text and email. Plus, there’s always recorded video that can help settle any disputes about what “really happened.”

Accessing live video through your smartphone doesn’t make you a spy. It doesn’t make you a distrustful parent. It makes you feel secure knowing that everything is OK.

Security starts at the door

Video also extends to the front door, with video doorbells like SkyBell HD. You can see who’s at the front door any time of day, which is especially important when your kids are home alone. You can get an alert on your smartphone, check out the video, and even speak to the person remotely. It’s a simple but powerful security tool.

Ultimately, though, the most important thing is knowing they arrived home safely. SkyBell (which can track visitors even when they don’t ring the doorbell) can play an important role, but you can also get real-time alerts through smart-home door locks. Plus, if they accidentally get locked out, you can let them in with a swipe of your finger.

Those are just a few of the ways that you can help make your kids safer when you can’t be home. Call Monitronics today and we’ll give you some more ideas.

Top 5 Causes of Avoidable False Alarms

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False alarms are more than just an inconvenience for homeowners. They have a huge ripple effect: Not only do they take up valuable resources for security monitoring stations such as Monitronics’ Alarm Response Center, but they often unnecessarily engage first responders, and may even result in substantial fines that are often dictated by local ordinances. They often de-sensitize first responders, who often take a more relaxed attitude toward homes that have had repeated false alarms.

The most important thing to know about false alarms is that most are easily avoidable. All it takes is a little common sense to virtually eliminate many conditions that tend to trigger false alarms.

Let’s take a look at the top five causes of avoidable false alarms:

1. User Error and Improper Training

A home security system is only as effective as the person who controls it. User error and improper training create two negative effects: Not only is the system not properly armed, it can also result in false alarms. The best way to avoid these kinds of false alarms is to insist that the technician who installs your system takes the time to train you how to use it. For Monitronics’ network of authorized dealers, training and documentation are the bedrock of outstanding customer service.

Ask plenty of questions when your system is being installed. Remember that there is no question that doesn’t deserve a good answer. If there’s something you do not understand in the weeks and months following installation, call your provider and ask for help. Monitronics customer service extends to friendly, knowledgeable professionals in our call center. They can help make sure you understand how your system works and how to avoid false alarms.

Finally, make sure everyone in your household understands how to operate the home security system, and also is aware of any passcodes or other information that can stop the false alarm before it gets started.

2. Improper Installation and Poor Equipment

It’s particularly frustrating when a false alarm occurs through no fault of your own. It’s often a result of shoddy installation or cheap equipment. One advantage of a professionally installed system is that your technician knows the right way to set your system up, and can also make suggestions about ways to position video cameras, motion sensors and other devices to help avoid false alarms.

Reputable alarm companies also offer top brands such as Alarm.com, Honeywell, 2Gig and others. It’s true that you get what you pay for, although you don’t always have to pay a small fortune. If you’re not comfortable ask about your options.

3. Pets in the Home

When pets are in the home, it’s good to consider effective placement of motion sensors. Many motion sensors also are pet-sensitive, with technology that doesn’t register pets under a certain size (usually 50 or 60 lbs.). Insist on pet-sensitive motion detectors.

4. Loose Fitting Doors and Windows

Doors and windows are designed to fit snugly in their frames to minimize drafts. A loose door or wobbly window can create unintentional vibration, triggering an alarm by breaking the connection between the two halves of the associated sensor. You can avoid false alarms of this nature by routinely checking your windows and doors.

5. Outdated Equipment

No piece of home security equipment will last forever. If your system is outdated, it may become less effective. Think about updating your system to the latest, most reliable equipment. It doesn’t cost as much as you think, and it not only can help avoid false alarms, but also give you the latest home security and home automation functionality. An upgrade may be just what you need.

Here’s a bonus idea: Municipalities frequently enact ordinances with fines designed to encourage alarm system owners to make sure they address the false alarm issue. Learn more about the local ordinances in your area, and then make sure your home alarm system keeps the chance of false alarms to a minimum. The last thing you need is for first responders to ignore a genuine alarm because of past false alarms.