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San Clemente Journal

Keeping Your Family Safe

Aug 30, 2006 09:49PM ● By Don Kindred
by Shannon Shimizu

Your home is supposed be to your castle, your sanctuary. The one place you feel the safest and most secure. For victims of violence a home can become a place of fear rather than one of refuge. A comprehensive home alarm system is a great way to keep strangers out and keep you and your family safe.
Burglar alarms have become standard equipment in stores and other businesses, and they’re becoming increasingly common in private homes as well. If you have ever shopped for a home security system, then you are aware that there are a large variety of options available. These alarm systems range from impressive whole house security networks requiring installation by professionals, to small do-it-yourself kits available at a reasonable price and easy to install. 
Statistics show that homes without home-security alarm systems have a significantly higher break-in rate. Alarm systems are installed to detect and deter intruders, and a basic security system will consist of both perimeter and space protection to secure your premise. The first stage secures vulnerable perimeter access points such as windows and doors. The second stage consists of space detection such as motion detectors, which monitor movement inside the premises. The level of security you choose is determined by the number of protective devises and the sophistication of the system you have installed.
When shopping for a burglary alarm system it is imperative that you check out the system you are considering as well as the dealer. Some important facts to check are:
- Is the company local?
- Do they have a state license?
- Do they offer 24-hour service?
- Will the company work with your insurance company for reduced rates?
- Is there a warranty?
- Is there a service contract?
- Is the system monitored by a central station? Is there a live person or a tape recording on the other end?
A qualified company should perform an on-site inspection and discuss in detail with you your individual requirements. Each person and home or business is unique and the system you purchase should be individually tailored to fit your needs and price range. The company should provide you with an evaluation of your property and actions you can take to improve your security over and above the purchase of an alarm system. For example, some suggestions might be, installing proper locks, adding additional lighting or clearing shrubbery. 
Alarm monitoring is an essential part of purchasing an alarm system. Alarm systems are installed to send off a local alarm using either a bell or siren. The bell or siren may be connected - via a common network carrier like a telephone or Internet line - to a monitoring station that then dispatches the response authority such as the police, fire or a private guard. If you choose to connect your alarm system to a monitoring station, make sure that you have a back-up cellular phone in case your phone service is interrupted. A local-only system does not dispatch the police itself. With the local-only system, in order to receive a response you must rely on either a neighbor calling the police or you must have the system monitored 24-hours a day by a monitoring station. Usually this kind of service charges a small monthly fee.
Although there are many types of products available for the consumer, the actual system you purchase can be either hard-wired or wireless. In the case of hard- wired systems there is a wire connecting each specific device to the central control panel. A wireless system operates on batteries and has no wires. It also transmits its signal by radio frequency. When making the choice between a hard-wired or wireless system you should consult with a few different alarm companies. 
Some less expensive security options include motion sensors and sound detectors, which can be set up to turn on lights when triggered. If you live in a reclusive area motion sensors on outdoor lights are an easy and inexpensive way to deter possible intruders upon your property. 
Another option would be individual window alarms. These alarms are activated by vibration and are another excellent way to deter unwanted visitors. 
Whatever system you choose, make sure your alarm system’s central panel is located in a secure spot since wildlife can disrupt outside wiring. It is also important that you keep up the maintenance of your alarm system by having it tested annually. b
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