For the past eight years, we as a nation have been told to “be afraid.” Now, while Americans have started to reject this message and have begun to re-claim their national heritage as living in the “Home of the Free and Land of the Brave,” the fact remains that domestic crime is going to remain with us for a long time. Therefore, it behooves us to take certain precautions in order to protect our personal property as well as the physical safety of our families and ourselves.
A home security system not only provides this protection, it can be a money-saver as well, as many home insurers offer a discount for homeowners who install such a system. However, not all home security systems are created equal.
It is not the purpose here to promote one brand of home security system over another. However, there are certain features that you must have in order for such a system to do an adequate job protecting you and your family.
1. A Master Control Panel: This is the heart of your system, and should be easily accessible and user friendly. If it can be armed and disarmed remotely, so much the better.
2. Home Alarm Monitoring: Your home security system does not work alone; typically, a signal is sent to dispatchers whose job it is to monitor the system. Make sure this service is a good one. It’s also a good idea to have buttons, which can be pressed to notify police and fire fighters directly.
3. Window, Door Sensors & Motion Detectors: The best home security systems are proactive; motion detectors should activate lights when a person is moving in the vicinity (this by itself is often enough to discourage would-be burglars).
4. Extra keypad: You need to be able to access and program your system from all locations. A portable long-range keypad, which you can carry with you, is also a good idea.
5. Wireless Capability: This is a tremendous convenience, and allows you to operate the system from your car.
6. Heat Sensors: The first sign of a fire is not smoke, but heat, which collects near the ceilings. A good heat detector will notify you of a fire well in advance – often in time to prevent irreparable damage.
7. Back-up Power: In case of a windstorm or natural catastrophe that results in a power outage, it is vital that your system stay on. Redundant systems will defeat burglars who attempt to cut electrical connections. A system that uses rechargeable batteries is best.
8. Yard and Window Signs: A warning that your home and property are protected is often a great deterrent to burglars all by itself.
9. Wireless Remote Controls: A small remote that you can carry on your key ring is the best, and should include some kind of “panic” button for informing the police or fire department immediately.
10. 2-Way Voice: A synthesized voice can literally “talk” you through your system’s features.