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Welcome to the GetSafe Home Security blog. Here, you’ll find helpful articles, tips, and fun facts about how to better protect your home and your family. We hope you enjoy your stay.

The Pros and Cons of a Connected Home

Technology is advancing faster than most of us can imagine. For those hoping to keep their senior loved ones at home longer, the new products on the market offer welcome solutions. In fact, connected devices – also known as the “Internet of Things,” or “IoT” – are expected to make up more than a billion dollars in annual U.S. sales by 2020. Seniors’ homes will certainly represent a significant portion of that revenue!

While these innovative tech ideas are certainly to be credited for the number of older loved ones experiencing more enriching lives through the practice of “aging in place,” they are not all that’s needed to keep mom or grandma in her home. For many, these solutions aren’t even solutions at all – as they assume certain amenities that may not be available in the senior home.

Let’s look at the benefits and drawback of the much-touted “connected home” – especially as it relates to senior care. An honest review of what’s working, and what’s not, should be explored before deciding on any of these products for your own situation.

Pros

1. Connected homes can improve communication.

Hardly anyone writes letters these days. While grandma may feel left out when she doesn’t receive that regular postal mail treat, connected homes give her a new – and often more consistent way – to send and receive communications to friends and loved ones. With everyone else using Facebook, text apps, and the latest photo sharing programs, your senior can stay part of the community she loves the most. Many connected homes have ways to keep in touch in every room, from the security camera by the front door to the Wi-Fi connected fridge in the kitchen!

2. Health and safety are number one.

Younger generations use the majority of their connected devices for research, social activities, and entertainment. While they are moving to incorporate more security and health services (in the form of security cameras, for example), it’s a ratio that still favors fun over functionality. For older consumers who don’t desire the amusement that connected homes provide, safety holds an amazing allure.

Knowing that they are protected from break-ins, can get help in a fall, or won’t mix up their meds in the middle of the night are all advantageous ways to utilize connected tech in the home. It is true that a segment of forward-thinking seniors only have to be introduced to the allure or Netflix and the ability to watch any home and garden show on demand to love the idea of Wi-fi, for example. For those who are resistant to embrace smart home tech for the fun of it, however, health and safety has been making converts of our oldest and wisest generation for a while now.

3. Institutional advantages are finally here.

Some of the perks of living in a retirement living facility include community, 24/7 support, and security. While living alone in the home can’t be made to be identical to living in an aging home, many institutional advances are now available to the everyday consumer through connected homes. Some of the same security systems, temperature controls, emergency service alerts, and medication management tools are now here for the average person to own and use on their own. These tools (coupled with skilled services in the form of nurse visits, meal prep services, and house cleaning) can offer a very similar atmosphere to the more innovative retirement communities. If it’s built on tech, it’s likely available to you — right now — for your home enjoyment.

4. It’s cheaper than you think.

The newest consumer tech to the market is priced at 400 – 800% above what ends up being the average price just two years later. That’s the nature of tech, and home automation is no different. The same security camera systems that cost thousands of dollars are now available for well under $400. Since many of our senior loved one’s homes are smaller (especially if you chose to “downsize” in the past few years), the need for more than a few cameras isn’t likely. More manageable homes mean you can get by with some of the smaller packages for products offered in home automation. That is good news for seniors on a budget who want the security and convenience of today’s tech but are making it on a pension or Social Security budget.

Cons

1. Customer Support is limited.

Currently, many of the medical alert devices on the market give you the option to connect to a 24/7 dedicated call center, where trained professionals can help answer questions or gauge the level of assistance needed. This can prevent costly and unnecessary calls to 911. For most of the connected home devices marketed to seniors, however, they are connected by wi-fi and directly send the caller to 911.

Not only will this likely result in accidental or unwarranted calls to already-stressed emergency call services, such as the police and paramedics, but the sheer thought that 911 will be activated is also enough for worried seniors to avoid using their devices for any help at all. A proud senior who may be unsure if they are experiencing a “true” emergency may forgo reaching out for help through their devices if they think their situation isn’t threatening enough.

2. Wi-Fi is required.

Most older Americans still read the newspaper, watch the local news on broadcast or cable TV, and listen to the radio. Their lives have been functioning quite well without wireless or broadband services, and they likely won’t switch over just for the opportunity to have a connected home. Since Wi-Fi is viewed by many seniors as an unnecessary, extra expense, it makes many a truly connected home impractical at the moment. When attitudes toward Wi-Fi change, and those who grew up using internet start to age, we’ll see this tide turn. For now, however, some seniors are a hard sell for installing Wi-Fi in the home – especially if they don’t use it for their own interests.

3. Voice activation is not reliable.

Talking to your home may seem strange to many of us, and while we are starting to embrace asking Siri for sports stats or Alexa for our next toilet paper order, the oldest generation isn’t yet a good match of this technology. Not only is the mere act of talking to a home ridiculous for some seniors, but it may also be difficult for frailer adults to speak loudly and clearly enough for some tech to pick up what they are saying. In the case of a senior who has fallen ill or is in real trouble, there’s nothing more reliable or dependable than the push of a button from a traditional medical alert pendant or assistive telephone device.

4. Setup isn’t always so simple.

While younger generations may be used to the concept of “plug and play,” for a senior who isn’t already using a smartphone, Roku stick, VOIP, wireless printer, and Wi-Fi thermostat, there can be quite a few challenges to becoming an efficient “smart home” aficionado. Starting from ground zero can be daunting as a concept, but even the execution of piecing together all the components – and teaching the senior how to use them – can take time.

Many of the electronics stores and manufacturers have a limited amount of customer support but may not be trained in dealing with users with mobility, hearing, or speech limitations. Securing the system, developing easy-to-remember passwords, and training seniors how to reset the system or troubleshoot in the even of wi-fi connection issues may take a more highly-trained professional to implement. Older consumers who are used to using connected devices may embrace them, but as upgraded models will require continual change, it may be an overall concept that is harder to sell to someone who likes things the way they are.

Is a connected home for you or your senior loved one?

The answer is always “depends.” While the best intentions can be declared and made by purchasing the more reliable tech on the market, if your family member won’t use it or do the bare minimum to maintain or ensure it’s functionality, it can be difficult to justify. In the case where the right home tech can keep your senior in the home longer, the answer may lie in being very honest about the situation. By explaining that these products are “different” but “necessary” the idea of home automation can be sold quite easily. Most of us have come to be very attached to the homes we have lived in over the years. It only makes sense that they continue to serve us well until our very last, wonderful days.

8 Features to Consider for Your Next Home Security Camera

Between package pirates waiting to steal your Amazon deliveries right off your porch and peeping neighbors who can’t seem to mind their own business, it’s just not enough to assume that your home – and its contents – will always be safe. That’s why a 2016 survey showed an impressive 20% of polled homeowners using home security cameras – and the number is rising! The lower price points of today’s cameras, paired with ease of use for consumer set up, is making it hard to resist taking security matters into your own hands. Higher video definition and almost unlimited options are also helping buyers feel like it’s an investment they can’t afford not to make.

So, how does a buyer decide what camera is right for them? For starters, it helps to know what’s available. With the average consumer tech store offering a dozen or more options for home security cameras, it can be difficult – if not impossible – to understand what all they offer. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the best features available on today’s consumer-positioned home security camera. Which of these perks is right for you?

1. Action Detection

BurglarCasing

If everything goes as planned, nothing at all will happen when you’re away from home. That’s why, for 99% of the time you own your security camera, you’ll never need to access recordings. If that’s the case, why even record and store these dull moments, at all?

The most intuitive cameras are set to detect motion – or even sound – to only capture the moments in which the action is happening. This way, you’re not forced to sit through hours of boring tape to get to the moment that matters. Pet owners can take comfort in knowing that many cameras offer “pet mode” and won’t record when your cat or dog is detected on video, either.

2. Mobile Headquarters

Plans change, and if you’ve decided to let Aunt Jennifer crash at your place while you’re out of town, your security camera should be able to comply. Mobile apps make it easy to switch security on and off and access the most important features from afar and at any time during the day or night. Don’t settle for a camera that doesn’t let you be in control of your system at all times (and from all locations.)

3. Custom Alerts

No security system owner should find out about a burglary only after coming home to one. Today’s cameras offer the ability to be notified by email or text when the motion detection has been triggered. Watch what’s happening in real time, and call the authorities while the crime is in progress! Then, access the recorded video when you need to file your police report. While most cameras offer some type of alert, the ability to choose between text, email, call, or push isn’t standard on all models and can be very valuable.

4. Battery Backup

Hard-wired cameras only work when there is power, so what happens when a crime happens during a power outage? Natural disasters are prime time for thieves and looters, so you’ll want to be sure that your camera is still rolling when the lights go out. Choose a camera that switches from live power to battery when needed, and consider one that uses rechargeable batteries that don’t require you to switch them when they run dry.

5. Tilt and Pan

Not many cameras can move on command, but it’s a feature that will soon become commonplace. Imagine you get an alert that someone is in your home, but you can’t see their whole body (or their face) within the view of the camera. Having the ability to access 360 degrees of view from a remote location can be the difference between capturing the crime – or not.

6. Cloud-Based Storage

Older security cameras used to hold so much video before you received that “memory full” notification. Today’s cameras are much more equipped to handled days, weeks, and even month’s of data with integrated cloud storage accounts that can be used to store all of your videos – even before you know that you need them! Optimally, the right camera can keep some videos on the device, or your phone, for easy access and sharing, but the majority of your data should have a secondary location for if something bad happens to your camera’s storage ability.

7. 2-way Sound

“Can you hear me now?”

Audio is non-negotiable for today’s security footage, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could also communicate through the camera to those in the same room as your security device? Whether you use it to calm a pet, chat with the kids about chores, or announce to a would-be robber that they are being filmed, it’s ideal to have a 2-way chat function on your security device.

8. Weather Resistance

While many consumers pick a camera based on how stylish it is in their living room, others want to know that it can withstand rain, shine, and everything in-between! Since security outside the home is just as important as inside, choosing a security product that can handle the elements just makes sense. You’ll spend a bit more for a heavy-duty camera like this, but since most people only need one outdoor unit, it’s an investment that should pay you back in added peace of mind.

Is it possible to find a camera that has all of the features you are looking for? Fortunately, it has become more and more a reality each day. As home security tech becomes more integrated into our daily lives (often working with home automation systems such as Nest), the must-haves will grow while the price continues to drop. New versions of standard security systems are launching all the time, as well, meaning that that perfect camera might soon be unveiled in a matter of months. Whether you desire form, function, crystal-clear video, or amazingly intuitive audio, there may no longer be the need to choose between all of your favorite features. The future of home security is already here!

 

5 Home Security Tips for Your Senior Loved One

When someone we care about ages, it can be overwhelming. There are so many decisions that need to be made regarding health care, financial responsibilities, and independence, and this means some important matters – such as home security – can be overlooked. When it comes to making sure your senior loved one is safe, however, it helps to have an action plan that covers the basics. Here are some of the most effective ways to ensure that their residence is a secure and healthy environment for them to live out their best years.

  1. Ensure Outside Security

With so many scary news stories warning us of burglars and package pirates, it may not seem like anyone can be safe these days. The good news is that criminals tend to look for “soft” targets, and having a home that looks protected is more than half the battle of keeping bad guys away. Even if your loved one can’t afford the most up-to-date security system, any visible deterrent will help. Adequate lighting near all of the entrances, as well as sturdy and modern-looking locks on all doors and windows, may be all that is needed to tell crooks to “keep walking.”

You’ll also want to put yourself in the situation of your loved one and see what it’s like for them to greet guests. Do they have to open the door to see who is outside? Is it difficult to make out visitors from a safe distance? Will they need to choose between privacy and security? Ensure that their doors and windows allow for them to see what’s going on without putting them at risk. If a doorbell is installed, make sure it works and that it can be heard from all areas of the home.

  1. Foster Communication

If something does go wrong, does your loved one know who to call? If so, is there an easy way to get ahold of help 24/7? With so many medical alert systems on the market today (and at reasonable prices), there is no reason for them to ever be alone in an emergency.

In addition, their traditional phone should be portable, or older corded devices should be placed where they can get to them quickly in all levels of the home. Family members’ numbers can be placed into the speed dial setting for help with a button push. All devices should be checked regularly to ensure they function well and don’t need batteries or components replaced.

  1. Protect Against Smoke, Fire, and Poison

We are usually very good at making sure our own homes are protected, but when is the last time you asked about the fire alarm installed in your loved one’s residence? Annual smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector checks are essential for any home, and many local agencies will be happy to perform these at no charge. Ask about radon tests, which are sometimes given out for free from city offices and county extension agencies. A small kitchen fire extinguisher should be placed in the home, as well. (“Push-button” models are quick to activate for even those with even limited mobility or strength.)

While rare, food poisoning can be even more harmful to an older person, as they often have a weaker immune system. Regularly check for expired foods or recalled items, and keep a temperature monitor in the fridge and freezer to ensure they are keeping the temps required to combat bacteria and spoilage.

  1. Prevent Falls

Falls are currently the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in our oldest populations, with one in four people over 65 falling each year. According to the National Council on Aging, the fear of falling can make it hard for our older loved ones to live happy and fulfilling lives – often leading to depression and further physical decline. Fortunately, falling doesn’t have to be a normal part of aging, and many falls are completely preventable (with little cost and effort!)

Taking steps to prevent falls can be as simple as going through the home with your loved one and watching how they move. Do they avoid areas, tip-toe, scoot, or maneuver in odd ways? They may have already formed habits to avoid falling, instead of taking action to fix the problem. This is your time to ask them about the “danger areas” they already know about while committing to making them safer.

Some common fall hazards in a home include:

  • Stairways in both the home and outside
  • Loose carpeting or misplaced rugs
  • Electrical and extension cords
  • Bath and shower surfaces
  • Toilet that is too high, not seated properly, loose, or broken
  • Wet floors from leaky fixtures or humidity
  • Clutter on floors, stairs, and furniture

Fall hazards can change. Keep an eye on new developments in the home, and look into devices that can alleviate some of the stress of near-falls, such as safety railings, anti-slip mats, and shower chairs.

  1. Keep Finances Secure

Older loved ones are more vulnerable to financial schemes and scams, which often center around technology that they may not be familiar with or resemble legitimate communications from their bank, health insurer, or the IRS. Take time to learn about new scams regularly, and discuss the red flags for each. Foster open communication so that your loved ones feels safe telling about near scams or even ones that they have fallen victim of. Reinforce the following rules regarding sensitive personal info: 

  • Never give out your Social Security Number
  • Keep your Medicare card safe, including the new cards (which will be mailed out without SS numbers in the future)
  • Don’t share bank account or credit card information over the phone
  • Never assume you’ve won a prize or lottery that you don’t remember entering
  • Never pay a fee to accept an award, prize, inheritance, or settlement
  • Keep tax and financial records secure, in a locked and fire-proof safe, and away from visitors and hired help

Above all, stress that nothing is so urgent that it can’t wait for your loved one to take a message and consult a relative or professional for guidance. If someone insists action must be taken immediately on a financial matter, it is more than likely a scam.

It can take some time to make the home as safe as possible, and that’s OK. Big changes are made up of many, many small changes, and just doing a few things here and there will have positive effects for your loved one. If you have a family care plan, consider placing a to-to list of all of these items in the back, along with an action plan for who is responsible for each. With some help, the safest place to live can be the same long-time home that your loved one already knows and cherishes.

Taking it to the Grave

Taking it to the Grave

Do you ever feel a tingly sensation when you think someone may be lying to you? Well, your body might be trying to tell you something. At least one study found 3 in 5 people lie during a 10-minute conversation. Worse still, most people don’t just lie once – they lie two to three times over the same period.

If most people lie, whom can you really trust with your secrets?

We surveyed over 1,000 Americans about the secrets they are most and least likely to keep and whether it’s OK to lie in certain situations. We then took this information and examined it by gender, political affiliation, and education level. Continue reading to see which secrets Americans are willing to reveal – and which ones they’d rather take to the grave.

Familiar Admissions

Under the veil of anonymity, we asked Americans to share some of their deepest secrets. Of their responses, we identified the top 10 occurring words.

The most frequently used word to describe America’s most kept secrets? “Cheat.” For some people that may mean cheating on a diet or even on an important test – but for others, it may indicate infidelity. Some experts suggest that as many as 1 in 4 men cheat over the course of their lifetime, while more than 1 in 10 women do the same.

Other commonly used words to describe the most confidential truths of Americans included “lied,” “stole,” and “friend.” Whatever their confessions alluded to, research shows that when people lie, the brain can become desensitized to dishonesty, making lying feel more and more natural over time.  

Dishonest Tendencies

George Washington may be famously thought to have said he couldn’t tell a lie – but there aren’t too many people who can get away with a quote like that. Lying may simply be a part of human nature, which means, like it or not, we’ve all lied once or twice.

Our survey found more than 4 in 5 people felt it was OK to tell a lie under certain circumstances. Whether it’s lying about how old you are or how good your partner looks in a new outfit, sometimes it’s easier to blur the truth when we think it doesn’t hurt to lie or when we want to spare someone’s feelings.

While nearly 3 in 4 people believed white lies were sometimes appropriate, roughly 88 percent said it was never OK to lie under oath – and for a good reason. Lying under oath in a court of law is considered a criminal act.

Secrets From Someone

Men and women fell into different categories when it came to keeping a secret from someone. While men tend to withhold the whole truth more often (and when it’s in their best interest), women were found to keep quiet on the whole truth most often when it benefited other people.

When we asked them about secrets they’re keeping from just one person, nearly 40 percent of women and over 44 percent of men admitted to holding a certain truth close to the chest.

But just whom are most Americans lying to? More than 2 in 5 women and nearly half of men are keeping a secret from their significant other, while roughly 1 in 4 people are holding out on a parent. There are some key warning signs to look for if you think your partner may be lying, but repairing that trust is significantly more complicated.

Varying Degrees of Secrecy

It isn’t always easy to keep a secret. Trying to hold in the truth can be exhausting, and it may seem as if all you can think about is coming clean. Still, some of our deepest (and occasionally darkest) secrets are potentially better left untold. These are the secrets Americans would rather keep to themselves than share.

A majority of the secrets people wanted to take to the grave involved illegal activity. While fantasizing about some of these actions can occasionally be an indicator of emotional distress – putting them into action is an entirely different story. Among the most heinous secrets? Bestiality, incest, and murder.

Not all closely kept secrets directly involved respondents, though; some secrets involved other people they knew. On average, Americans ranked keeping the secret of a friend who had an abortion a 5.1 on a scale of 1 to 7. In fact, in some instances, people were more likely to keep the same secret for other people than for themselves. Friends or family members diagnosed with an STD were also ranked a five on the scale, compared to a 4.2 for participants diagnosed with an STD.

Gendered Secrets

Men and women didn’t always agree on the secrets most worth keeping.

There’s no question Americans with mental disorders face stigmas every day – but experts suggest men may be more sensitive to the misconceptions surrounding mental health. According to our poll, men were more likely to conceal that they take medication for a mental disorder when compared to women. Men were also more likely to hide the being diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or another mental disorder.

Women, on the other hand, were more likely than men to keep a secret about a friend having an abortion. They’d also stay tight-lipped if someone they knew was diagnosed with an STD. Research indicates that women are more likely to compromise the truth (or even their moral integrity) in specific scenarios when defending someone else.

While a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found members of the LGBTQ community believed Americans were more accepting of homosexuality today, they still felt somewhat discriminated against by society and their communities. According to our poll, men were more likely than women to never to tell anyone they were homosexual or bisexual.

The Degree of Discretion

Our survey also found Americans with various levels of education had different opinions on the secrets they should and shouldn’t share. Research has found that keeping secrets can manifest as a physical burden in some cases, and even the thought of holding in the truth can cause emotional distress for some people. According to our survey, people without a four-year college degree were more comfortable sharing the truth of being convicted of a crime or using hard drugs compared to those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Americans with a bachelor’s degree or higher were also more likely to keep the secrets of the people around them. When asked about a friend who had an abortion or a sexual encounter with a friend’s sibling, participants without these degrees were less inclined to keep the secret compared to those with higher levels of completed education.

They’ll Never Tell

Whether it’s true or not – even the former director of the CIA thinks millennials struggle to keep secrets compared to older generations (at least when it comes to classified information). Our survey found varying degrees in which millennials, Gen Xers, and baby boomers spilled the beans.

When it came to infidelity, millennials were the least likely generation to keep it a secret – whether they knew a friend who was cheated on, had done the cheating, or they themselves committed adultery.

Secrets millennials believed they could keep better than anyone else? Hitting a parked car and causing major damage, or even accidentally killing someone.

Partisan Privacy

Democrats were more likely to keep a secret when the subject was someone else, whereas those who were Republicans more heavily indicated they’d never tell when the secret was about themselves.

One of the biggest discrepancies between Democrats and Republicans was about sexual orientation. While Democrats ranked the likelihood of not divulging being homosexual or bisexual a 2.3 on our scale, Republicans ranked it a full point higher, on average. Republicans also were more likely to hide if their sexual desires were unusual, if they were diagnosed with an STD, or if they used marijuana.

When asked about an acquaintance diagnosed with an STD or having an abortion, Democrats were less likely to share that secret with other people compared to Republicans.

Easy Options

Regardless of the circumstances or intentions, everyone lies – some people even lie a lot. Studies have shown that the more you distort the truth, the harder it can become to break the habit of telling little white lies regularly. Our survey found most Americans even believed it was OK to lie sometimes, and many admitted to hiding the truth from their significant other.

While we may not be able to protect you from the secrets people keep, we do know a thing or two about home security. At GetSafe, it should be easy to feel safe in your own home. By combining our 24/7 monitoring services with the convenience of the devices you use regularly, we’ve merged the best of both worlds. With flexible pricing and an easy-to-use app, you won’t have to think twice about protecting what matters most to you. Visit us online at GetSafe.com to learn more.

Methodology

We surveyed over 1,000 Americans about the hypothetical secrets they would be most and least likely to keep to themselves.

Fair Use Statement

You don’t have to keep our content a secret; feel free to share it for noncommercial purposes! All we ask is that you link your readers back to this page, so they can learn more about our study.

What Burglars Steal And Where They Look

What Burglars Steal And Where They Look

If you’re going to protect your home and your stuff, you need to know what burglars steal, where they look, and how to thwart them. The average burglar prefers items that are easy carry and sell quickly. A single diamond ring can be worth a dozen used TVs, and the ring is much easier to transport. Learn how to protect your home and your stuff from lazy thieves.

Read more

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