Much more goes into getting an alarm system for your home than you might think. Here are a few helpful tips to guide you through the process:
■ Picking the right system: Don’t go to all the trouble to protect yourself against one thing only to leave yourself vulnerable to something else—get a system that will protect your home from both fires and burglars.
■ Burglar alarm checklist: In buying a new system, keep in mind all the components you’ll want to keep your home fully secure. There’s a lot more to it than motion detectors. Other key components include:
• Magnetic contacts on doors and windows: these create an electric current which is
broken when the door or window is opened, setting off the alarm
• Wires for windows or door screens: these will trip the system if the screen is taken off
• Breakage and stress sensors: these will detect when glass is broken or when someone steps on a rug or floor joint
■ Take control: Make sure your home alarm system has components that maximize your ability to monitor and take control of the situation. These include panic buttons near beds and doorways and, for when you are out of your home, closed circuit TVs to keep an eye on what is happening at your place.
■ There are two types of smoke detectors: They are ionization and photo-electronic detectors. Get both of them. The ionization detectors pick up on the presence of smoke in the ambient air. That is useful for fast-burning fires. But, in order to provide early warning for deadly, slow-burning fires, make sure you purchase a photo-electronic detector as well.
■ Get heat detectors too: As with smoke detectors, there are two types. One kind activates when the temperature rises above a certain level. The other detects sudden jumps in temperature. Both are necessary to make sure you are fully protected.
■ Check out your security company: Don’t go to all this trouble to get a robust home security system without doing your own background check on the company itself. Check in with local police and the Better Business Bureau for records of any complaints. Make sure the company is licensed. Find out if it is listed with UL, the Underwriters Laboratories. And, after all this, ask for a list of references.
■ Quality of monitoring: You might have done all of the above, but if you did not pick a company that will provide quality monitoring service, it might have all been for naught. Make sure the company has a cell or radio backup for monitoring your system—remember, telephone lines can be cut by burglars or out of service because of a storm. Also, choose a company that will regularly test your system and offers maintenance.
A robust home security system is a good step towards protecting your property. It also qualifies you for discounts on your homeowners insurance!