How to Tell if Your Security System is Outdated

Posted by Omega Security on April 17, 2014

A good home security system gives a household peace of mind. After they have had it for some years, they come to trust it and feel that if it has protected them for this long, it will keep doing so.

The flaw in this thinking is that the technology of home security is advancing steadily, and a system that’s several years old is now out of date. Older security systems have inherent flaws limiting the amount of protection they can give.

One of the most obvious flaws in older surveillance camera systems was their poor resolution. Images were blurry and had poor contrast, making it difficult to recognize faces. In the event of a break-in, those poor images were the only evidence of the culprit’s identity. The video recording would have to be presented as evidence in court. If the face was unrecognizable, the guilty party might go free to do further damage somewhere else.

This problem got worse with the age of the equipment. As the camera and recorder got older, images went from bad to worse. Some of these systems are still in use, but their bad resolution and washed-out contrast makes them nearly useless.

The technology has come a long way, and homeowners can expect much better performance today. Now home security cameras have more pixels, better contrast and more frames per second. Faces are clear enough for easy recognition, and if the recording must be used in court, positive identification will be possible.

Facial identification is the standard here. Homeowners wondering if it is time to get a new camera system should take a critical look at the image quality of their present one. If it is impossible to positively identify faces, replacement of the security cameras is imperative.

Old-style burglar alarms simply rang loudly enough to be heard by the neighbors or a passing police car. If that didn’t work, the security system offered no further help. The next advancement was a home security system that would notify the police of a break-in. Now the process has reached its logical conclusion with security systems allowing remote access and viewing.

This means the owner can operate the system from any computer, smartphone or tablet. It includes operating all the home system controls and even seeing the view through any of the security cameras.

This has already created a situation that would have been science fiction just a few years ago. A news story recently reported that a vacationing homeowner used his smartphone to access the view through his home security cameras and saw a pair of burglars breaking in. The homeowner was able to call the police and watch them arrive and apprehend the burglars a few minutes later. Afterward, the homeowner was even able to pull the blinds and check all the door and window locks.

Home security systems without this capability should be replaced. With remote access, it’s as if the owner is never really gone.

How you can improve your home security through home improvement projects

Posted by Omega Security on April 16, 2014

Security features are among the most important home improvements a homeowner can make. For those planning to stay in the home, nothing can compare with the peace of mind provided by up-to-date security. For those hoping to sell, home security improvement features can clinch the deal, or the lack of them can kill it.

Many effective security features are just small, common-sense additions costing very little in comparison to the degree of security they bring.

Today, full security means more than just stopping intruders. Identity theft is a rapidly growing crime, and it is often accomplished by the theft of a single piece of mail bearing credit or banking information. Old-style mailboxes in front of a house offer no protection from this, but a mail slot in the door does. With a slot, the mail goes directly from the mail deliverer’s hand into the house, and no one has a chance to tamper with it.

Homeowners should make sure their home is clearly visible from the street and from other houses nearby. Full shrubbery may look nice, but it provides cover for approaching intruders. The same goes for walls, fences, arbors and other tall features. The remedy is to make sure there are spaces in these barriers through which the house can be seen. Space the shrubs apart and use picket or wrought iron fences instead of solid ones. The possibility of being seen is enough discourage many intruders.

The homeowner can make the most of this protection by installing adequate lighting around the house. Bright security lights on all sides are like spotlights shining on an intruder. Rather than risk such blatant exposure, most would-be burglars will simply avoid the house. A motion sensor turns on the lights when someone comes close to the house, giving the illusion that the home is occupied and the residents are aware of the intruder. The intruder knows this may not be true, but from his viewpoint, it is an unnecessary chance to take.

Fire is one of the most destructive intruders, and a good fire alarm system provides the remedy. A sprinkler system can be installed for a relatively low price, and it may save a fortune in valuable possessions in the event of a fire. These include smoke detectors and heat alarms set up in an organized system to monitor the whole house. Anyone can buy a smoke detector and hang it up themselves, but the most effective home security improvement is provided by a professionally installed full-house system.

For the most valuable objects in the home, a safe is the ideal storage place. The movies are full of “safe-crackers” who can get into a safe in minutes, but in truth, it is nearly impossible to open a modern safe without the combination. Any force strong enough to open the safe would probably also destroy the contents. The thief knows this and probably won’t even try, so a good wall safe is best for jewelry and other small valuables.

What CCTV can do for Your Business

Posted by Omega Security on April 2, 2014

There has been a lot of discussion on the use of closed circuit television (CCTV) in the workplace. The question over the privacy issue and whether watching employees at work is an invasive violation, and if having CCTV is actually a cost-effective method of crime deterrence. These topics all have merit and are worth contemplating, but there seems to be little doubt that using CCTV responsibly and with planned purpose can provide significant advantages to your business.

Not every business needs CCTV and to add a system would just be throwing away good money. But those that do should use a professional to ensure that the proper equipment is used per your business’ needs and that placement of the cameras is done in such a manner that you get maximum effectiveness without stepping over the bounds of discretion. DIY can save money, but you definitely risk losing optimum efficiency and money by not choosing the right equipment, not covering all of the area you need to monitor, or avoiding any legal pitfalls.

Getting past all that, it all boils down to electronic eyes and memory. Human eyes and memory are limited and fallible. When we see something, it becomes increasingly more difficult to recall what it was that we saw; colors become vague, sequence of events start to unravel and details fade. Our eyes get tired, we lose focus and can get easily distracted, and our decisions are mostly based on some sort of subjectivity. When you get down to it, we just can’t beat the machine for preciseness, focus and longevity of memory. And, while digital electronics do have some weaknesses, like a dependence upon a power supply, by far you can’t beat the reliability of digital technology.

A CCTV system, if installed correctly, can provide some pretty substantial benefits for your business. Say your business is located downtown and uses a parking garage for the employees. CCTV is a great way to monitor your employees to increase their safety. You can also monitor who is at the door, who has pulled up in the back to drop off goods, what’s going on at the cashier’s window and so much more.

As a deterrent to theft, vandalism and other unsavory crimes, CCTV can provide some protection. Thieves do not want to get caught, of course, and closed circuit TV can be the perfect witness, providing the detail needed to find and prosecute the perpetrators, if resolution is high enough (a professional installer can help you with this). Many criminals have gone to jail after having been identified in a video recorded on a CCTV system. If the camera system is in operation and is located in a conspicuous place, thieves and vandals should think twice before risking their chances of getting spotted and recorded.

Another benefit is the ability to remotely manage the operations of your business. From the monitor you can track arriving and departing trucks, visitors, staff and whatever else you can devise. And “remote” takes on a whole new dimension with today’s wireless technology advances. You can monitor your video through your smartphone or tablet; from anywhere you have access to wifi. This is a big advantage to those who travel or are away from the office quite a bit.

The cost of a good CCTV system can be relatively expensive, but if you are a business who could definitely make use of such a system, the money is well worth it.

Home Security Tips from Your Neighborhood Burglar

Posted by Omega Security on March 5, 2014

According to the FBI, a home burglary occurs every 14.6 seconds in the United States. Even if you live in the safest city in the world, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to happen to your family. In an effort to help you protect your home, we went straight to the source to find out how burglars operate.

How Burglars Choose Their Target

Criminals always start from the road when they target a home. The first thing they look for is a home that appears empty. An empty driveway, a dark house even a trash can sitting on the curb can all be indications that nobody’s home. Once they spot a home they believe is empty, they will more than likely head straight to the front or back door.

Insider Tip: According to some professional burglars, a “Beware of Dog” sign could be a sure sign you don’t have an alarm system.

How Burglars Gain Entry

Most criminals knock on the door and wait for a response. If there’s no response, this is an indication that no one is home. If someone were to answer, most criminals will ask random questions or even act like a phony solicitor.

Before they knock on the door, however, most burglars look for easy locks to pick and for signs of a home alarm. Most home security companies will place signs in the front yard to let people know the home is monitored, but security cameras are also a good indication the house has burglary security services.

Once inside, the criminals are instantly scoping out the home for items such as jewelry, keys, credit cards and other valuable that are easy to carry without being noticed. While the bigger stuff may be left after a heist, there’s a good chance they will come back. In fact, if you’ve been robbed before, your chances of being robbed a second time are even greater.

Tips for Deterring Burglars:

Invest in an Alarm System

One of the greatest ways to deter a criminal is by installing an alarm system. Today, home security companies can load your home with amazing features, such as remote home monitoring from your smartphone, 24/7 security cameras and signs to prevent criminals from considering your home in the first place.

Appear Present

When you’re away for work or even vacation, always make sure it looks like someone is home. Park a car in the driveway, put your home lights on a timer and consider leaving the television on. If a criminal notices these things, they will more than likely move to the next house.

Install Solid Locks and Doors

Always make sure that your front door is equipped with a deadbolt lock. It also doesn’t hurt to invest in a door made of a solid hardwood or metal too. Since the front door is the first place a criminal will hit, they won’t waste their time picking two locks and trying to kick down a metal door.

Sadly, most homeowners wait until something bad happens before they even consider prevention methods. If you value your belongings, want to feel safe and don’t want to be the target of the neighborhood, Omega Security is ready to help.

D.I.Y. Home Security May Save Money, But Will it Save Your Life?

Posted by Omega Security on February 21, 2014

“It can’t happen here.”

It’s a common mantra repeated all across the country, but the false sense of security it produces can be dangerous. The statistics are shocking. On average, a home burglary occurs every 13 seconds in the U.S., which translates to well over two million burglaries every year.

Residences that are monitored by a home security service are less likely to experience a break-in. Statistics say 300 percent less likely. There’s no doubt an effective security system is an essential tool for keeping your family safe, but it can be a costly investment.

DIY enthusiasts may be tempted to save a few dollars by adding “install an alarm system” to the weekend’s honey-do list, but there are a number of challenges and potential safety issues to bear in mind.

Installation Requires Special Skills

One big advantage a DIY security system can offer is the lack of installation fees. However, there’s a reason professional installers are recommended. Installing a security system is a complex task, and it must be done correctly in order to serve its intended function. Something as simple as an incorrectly connected wire could render the whole system useless, putting your family’s safety at risk.

Professional Monitoring Provides Peace of Mind

Another perceived advantage of a DIY system is the absence of a monitoring fee. Unfortunately, that also means that you’ll be missing out on a critical alarm system service offered by most security companies. Even if you decide later that you’d like professional monitoring, most reputable Miami security services do not offer monitoring for a home-installed system. You’ll be responsible for monitoring your own security system. This may not seem like an issue until you realize how often your home will go unmonitored while you’re at work, in the shower or otherwise unavailable.

DIY Installation Means DIY Maintenance

Even if you successfully install a home security system, your work is far from done. A security system requires routine maintenance to remain in proper working condition. This includes testing alarms, checking connections and other regular maintenance. If hardware needs to be replaced, you’ll need to purchase it yourself. Additionally, because most do-it-yourself systems only include the bare minimum, you may need to buy extra motion sensors, window sensors, cameras and other hardware.

DIY Home Security Comes With No Added Benefits 

A reputable home security service offers a number of features beyond just alarm monitoring. Most services offer a battery backup system and other redundancies, panic buttons, fire monitoring services and sometimes carbon monoxide monitoring. A professional service can contact the appropriate authorities immediately, ensuring you get the fastest possible response time in the event of an emergency.

Though you may be the kind of person who hates to pay others to do something you can do yourself, a professionally installed and monitored security system may be well worth the investment. Unfortunately, burglaries occur everywhere. Even here.

6 Tips for a Safe and Happy Valentine’s Day

Posted by Omega Security on February 10, 2014

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of our love for the people in our lives. Whether your idea of the perfect V Day is a bouquet of red roses dipped in chocolate or a romantic dinner with your significant other, here a few safety tips to help you enjoy this special holiday without turning a romantic gesture into a major annoyance.
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1)Shop Online Safely

Many busy people turn to the Internet when shopping for decadent chocolates or expressive flowers for their significant other. In fact, Valentine’s Day is right up there with Black Friday and Cyber Monday for retail sales. Unfortunately, scammers and identity thieves know this. To avoid these types of incidents online, shop on reputable websites only and only use secure websites for credit card transactions. Secure websites will have https:// before their Web address.

2)Inspect E-Cards Carefully

The most common form of identity theft involves inadvertently clicking on a malicious link, and the easiest way to target you with such links is to place them in an email. When Valentine’s Day rolls around, it’s not uncommon to receive e-cards from friends and relatives. But, before you click on that V-Day greeting, make sure the card was sent from a legitimate source. Also, never purchase anything from an email-based advertisement.

3)Use Caution with QR Codes

Tech-savvy criminals are always coming up with new ways to target us, and some of those email-style threats are being embedded in QR codes. QR codes are not nearly as easy to challenge as email links are, so the safest option is simply to avoid them. If you choose to use them, only use QR codes from sources that you trust implicitly.

4)Be Suspicious of Anyone Who Asks for Your Credit Card Information

Whether by telephone, email or some other means, criminals target people on and near Valentine’s Day by using subject matter that has a high probability of being relevant. For instance, one scam calls people and mentions a problem with their hotel reservations without ever mentioning the name of the hotel. The caller promises a free upgrade or some other perk but requires credit card information to dispense the goodies. If you receive such a call, hang up and call the place where you made the reservations directly to verify.

5)Avoid Online Dating Scams

Lonely hearts looking for a Valentine frequently become unfortunate victims of online dating scams, which are very prevalent during the month of February. Since legitimate online dating services experience a significant spike from actual clients during the season of romance, prey on the opportunity. Online dating scammers try to get to know their victims quickly and then request money for some concocted tragedy or as blackmail to keep personal information or photos from being made public. According to the FBI, the best way to avoid these scammers is to stick to dating websites with nationally known reputations.

6)Secure the Home Before Your Romantic Getaway

Many couples plan romantic getaways around Valentine’s Day. You can take certain measures to protect your home while you’re away, but the best way to protect your home on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year is by hiring a Miami security firm that specializes in home and fire safety systems. In addition, it’s always a good idea to have a neighbor bring in your mail and newspapers while you’re gone. He or she can also notify you of any suspicious activity.

A Caretaker’s Guide to Fire Safety for Older Adults

Posted by Omega Security on January 29, 2014

When aging parents can live independently, it’s a great source of pride for them and a great source of happiness for their adult children. Sometimes, it’s also a great source of anxiety. Worrying about mom boiling water on the stove or the electric blanket that sits permanently on her lap can cause a great deal of stress for caregivers who can’t be with their loved ones 24/7.

fire safety systems

The best way to avoid that anxiety is to be proactive about the safety of elderly friends and family who are living out their golden years autonomously.

Monitored Security

The first order of business is ensuring the seniors in your life have a state-of-the-art home security monitoring system. There should be modern, tested smoke detectors on every level of the home, including in all bedrooms and cooking areas. In addition to working alarm mechanisms to alert your loved ones about potential dangers, around-the-clock monitoring service ensures that help is on the way in the event of an emergency.

Remote Access

Choosing a home security monitoring system with remote access can provide great peace of mind. If an alarm triggers, you can be notified on your devices, such as smartphones and desktop computers. With home automation functionality, you can also check in on your loved one. Imagine being able to identify that an appliance was left on and even have the control to turn it off if need be.

Kitchen Safety

When it comes to fire safety systems, protecting against kitchen fires is the most challenging because the vast majority of residential fires start in the kitchen.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends reminding aging friends and relatives of the following basic kitchen safety guidelines:

• Don’t leave food unattended on the stove or in the oven.

• Avoid wearing loose clothing that can catch fire from the stove burners.

• Double-check appliances before leaving the kitchen to ensure they are turned off.

• Never use the oven or stove to heat the home.

You can also help by modernizing and organizing the kitchen in a way that makes it as safe for senior use as possible.

Current Mattresses

After kitchen accidents, the leading cause of house fires is smoking in bed. You can help make such fires less likely by ensuring your loved one’s mattress is current. Immediately replace any mattress made prior to 2007, which was when the new Federal Mattress Flammability Standard went into effect.

Heater Safety

Many seniors enjoy space heaters and electric blankets in addition to the home’s main heating source because they provide greater local heat. Space heaters should be kept at least three feet away from any inflammable materials. It’s also a good idea to replace older heaters and blankets with modern units that offer advanced safety features.

Practiced Escape Plan

In the event of a fire, it’s imperative that elderly relatives know how to react. Pick up a Florida fire and safety kit, and use that information to create a response plan and set up an emergency kit. Keep in mind that a plan is only as effective as your familiarity with it, so be sure to practice the drill with your loved one.

Though it’s impossible to prepare for every imaginable mishap elderly relatives living alone can encounter, taking proactive safety and security measures will ensure mom stays cozy with her electric blanket and you get a good night’s sleep.

Workplace Safety Tips

Posted by Omega Security on January 23, 2014

business security companiesCompanies today must contend with hundreds of laws and rules regarding proper workplace safety and security. It’s important for employees tasked with providing a safe and secure environment know about the rules created by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). These rules keep employees from harm when they’re on company property and are engaged in company work.

Developing a Plan

Creating a safe environment for workers starts with a comprehensive plan that takes several facets of security into consideration including fire hazards, crime, cleanliness and general safety. Each company needs a different plan since the responsibilities of employees and the working environment may vary depending on location and industry.

A full safety plan isn’t something that can be designed in a day. Consulting with professionals, looking at common safety procedures and being aware of common sources of danger are topics to be discussed during the planning phase.

Reducing the Likelihood of Falls

A simple fall might not seem significant, but falls can cause spinal cord injuries, fractures and even concussions. Slippery floors and crowded offices are prime spots for falls to occur.

Company owners may want to use non-slip flooring or require employees to wear shoes designed to preventa fall on slippery terrain. A company may either give shoes to employees as part of its overhead budget or employees may be given a list of appropriate shoes to buy and wear at work.

Confronting Fire Hazards

All workplaces must be protected from fire with a Miami security system that features smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to alert authorities if a fire breaks out that requires professional assistance.

Additionally, every employee must be well-versed on how to exit the premises in case of an emergency. Creating and practicing an evacuation plan should be a yearly project. In addition to practicing the evacuation plan, smoke alarms, fire exits and the security system should be tested regularly.

Preventing Crime

Crime prevention is a dynamic area of workplace safety, and the first step in preventing crime is having a working security system. Business security companies can assess your current alarm system and make recommendations for updated systems if necessary.

In addition to state-of-the-art security monitoring, creating standard procedures for dealing with crime should be high on the priority list.

For example, a company might create a standard policy that requires all employees working in a retail environment to hand over money if they are being robbed. Active, updated security cameras are essential for safe environments where perpetrators may be recorded and eventually caught by law enforcement.

Keeping the Workplace Clean

A messy workplace leads to accidents, and a dirty work environment breeds disease and sickness. All businesses need to take care of employees by providing a clean working environment. Schedule regular visits from a janitorial company and advise employees to keep the workplace clean.

Some companies may want to go further and create rules for basic employee behavior. For example, employees might be prohibited from eating at their desks in an office or bringing food to the assembly line in a manufacturing environment.

All companies must keep an eye on employees and safety procedures. Update procedures, safety protocols and equipment on a yearly basis to reduce the chance of employee injury.

PASS the Fire Extinguisher

Posted by Omega Security on January 16, 2014

A home fire can be a devastating and potentially life-threatening event. Fire is the third most common cause of death among accidental fatalities in the home, and it’s also responsible for millions of dollars in property damage each year. Fortunately, the humble fire extinguisher, if used correctly, can mean the difference between a minor incident and a roaring inferno. Follow this simple guide, and you’ll know just what to do in the event of a fire emergency.

Types of Fire Extinguishers
fire safety systems
Generally speaking, there are five different types of fire, and each of them requires specific extinguishing agents. Using the wrong class of extinguisher on a fire can be ineffective at best, and possibly even dangerous. The five classes are as follows.

Class A: The most common class, these fire extinguishers are intended for ordinary household combustibles such as paper, rubber, wood, plastic and cloth.

Class B: These extinguishers are suited for use on flammable liquids, which includes gasoline, grease, oil and other oil-based fluids.

Class C: These extinguishers are intended for use on fires involving electrically powered devices. This may include appliances, power tools and other devices that are plugged in to an electrical outlet.

Class D: Intended to combat fires involving specific types of metal, these extinguishers are rarely seen outside of factories and other industrial areas.

Class K: A fire extinguisher marked as Class K is suited for fires involving various forms of cooking oils, fats and greases. These are most often seen in commercial kitchens, but can also be useful for home kitchens.

Using a Fire Extinguisher

The easiest way to learn how to use a fire extinguisher is by using the acronym “PASS”.

Pull: Begin by pulling the pin located near the top of the extinguisher. This unlocks the extinguisher, which will allow you to discharge the contents.

Aim: Move to within a safe distance of the fire, and aim the nozzle directly at the base of the fire. Although the flames may look scary, the way to extinguish a fire is to cut off the fuel. Aim directly for the material that the fire is burning.

Squeeze: Once you’re aimed correctly, apply a slow, steady pressure to the lever. An average fire extinguisher will have approximately ten seconds of spray, so continue squeezing firmly until the extinguisher stops.

Sweep: While spraying, sweep the nozzle from side to side across the base of the fire. Try to cover the entire base of the fire in order to prevent temporarily extinguished flames from re-igniting.

When Not to Use a Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher is only effective if the fire is in a small, contained space, such as a wastebasket or a single flammable object. It’s also only effective if you have the correct class of extinguisher for the fire at hand. Do not attempt to use an extinguisher on larger fires or when you may be at risk of toxic smoke. In such an event, call the local fire department immediately and vacate the premises. An even safer option for keeping your family safe is a plan that offers full-service security in Miami, which includes fire safety systems that can detect a fire and alert the proper authorities immediately.

Digital Security Companies Offer Tips for Shopping Safely Online

Posted by Omega Security on December 27, 2013

Shopping online can be extremely convenient, but don’t become complacent about online security. Digital security systems companies recommend these tips to keep you safe this holiday shopping season. Security companies in Miami are not only concerned about your physical welfare; they are concerned about your online safety too.
security companies in Miami
Clickable Advertisements
Be wary when clicking links and ads on websites. Some browsers have add-ons that will tell you if the link is a risky one or the site has potential malware or viruses. If at all possible, type the address of the store’s website into the address bar on your own. You’ll know there are no problems with the link if you type it yourself.

Shortened Links
On social media sites like Twitter, the links recommended by others are shortened to fit within the character limits. This doesn’t let you see or judge the actual link. Be wary of those links since they can take you someplace full of viruses.

Pop-ups
If you are brought to a website with numerous pop-ups, shut down the browser completely. Many legitimate sites have advertisements and one pop-up that opens after you’ve been on the site for a few minutes. If you’re bombarded with pop-ups, however, it could be a serious problem.

Secure Websites
Any website that has shopping cart software should have a secure interface for customers. Check the http address. It should be “https://” instead. That means it’s secure for customers to shop there.

Retailer Identity
While many sites like Walmart or Target have brick-and-mortar stores and name recognition, other sites may not. It’s important to know whom you’re buying from when you make an online purchase. Before shopping, check the contact details. Make sure there is a corporate address, customer service phone number and email address for problems. It’s a way to establish the location of a lesser-known store.

Reputation
Establishing their online identity shouldn’t be the last step. Digital security systems companies want online consumers to check the reputation of the store before making a purchase. The Better Business Bureau is a great place to find out if the online retailer has had complaints. Check online forums for talk about scams or negative experiences before you place your order.

Delivery and Payment
Familiarize yourself with the delivery and payment methods of the retailer. It’s important to know what your recourse is if you’re unhappy with a purchase, and that depends on their policies. The packaging and delivery costs should be clear. The return and cancellation policy should be read before making any purchases.

Credit Card Protection
Instead of using credit cards, many people take advantage of debit cards. When shopping online, it’s harder to refute charges when you use a debit card. Use credit cards with policies on helping customers with fraud protection. Security companies in Miami recommend the use of credit cards, and recommend that customers understand their rights and protections when using those credit cards.

After performing all these checks and finding the store satisfactory, ensure that you print out purchase details. Often, you’ll receive an order confirmation number and a receipt when ordering online. If you can’t print them out, take a screen shot or note the details in writing someplace for reference.

The holidays are a great time for shopping online and taking advantage of coupon deals and online sales. Take precautions and you can safely shop online with no problems.