Home Security Tips: Your home is your sanctuary, a place where you and your loved ones should feel safe and secure. Protecting your home from potential intruders and ensuring the safety of your family should be a top priority. With the increasing concerns about security, it’s crucial to take proactive measures to fortify your home against unauthorized access. In this blog, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on home security tips that cover various areas of your residence, from exterior doors to windows and outdoor spaces. By implementing these strategies, you can significantly enhance the security of your home and enjoy peace of mind.

Let’s start by focusing on one of the primary entry points for potential intruders—your exterior doors.

Exterior Doors:
Exterior doors should have quality deadbolt locks with no less than a 1″ throw
All latch-strike plates on your doors should be secured with at least 3″ screws
All exterior doors should be solid hardwood or metal-clad
Exterior doors should have wide-angled peepholes at heights everyone can use or a voice intercom system
Your doorframe should be strong enough and tight enough to prevent forcing or spreading
Door hinges should be protected from removal from the outside
Locks should not be able to be reached through a mail slot, delivery port, or pet entrance
Install storm and screen doors with adequate locks if you like to leave your front door open during the day
Change the locks whenever you move into a new home
Do not place spare keys under a doormat, in a planter, on a ledge, or in the mailbox. Give them to a trusted neighbor.
Be sure to trim your landscaping so that it does not block the view of entry ways into your home from the street or public areas
Exterior entrances should be lighted properly
Be sure to always lock your doors when you are home and every time you leave your residence

Sliding Glass Doors:
Make sure your sliding panel is secured from being removed from the track
Your sliding glass door should have at least one of the following:
Track lock
Insertion pin lock
Hinged door bar
Metal or wooden dowel in track

Garage Doors:
The door from your garage to your living quarters should have locks that are sufficient for an exterior door, because this door is also an entry/exit door for your security system
The door from the garage to your living quarters should be made of metal or solid wood
If your overhead garage door is equipped with an automatic opener make sure it uses a “rolling code” to deter “code grabbers”
Overhead garage doors should be kept closed and locked at all times
To avoid leaving your overhead garage door open, a remote door position indicator can be installed in the interior of your home to show you that your garage door is either open or closed

Windows should be secured with auxiliary keyed window locks
Have your auxiliary window locks installed to allow ventilation while remaining locked
Keep the keys readily available for emergencies
If you don’t have auxiliary locks make sure your windows are secured by pins, nails, or dowels
Windows should have screens or storm windows that lock from the inside
Sliding windows should have a dowel in the track to avoid being pried open
Basement windows should have a second lock or be covered with a grate or grille
Always leave one opening as fire exit
Place security bars around windows with portable air condition units
Trees and shrubbery should be kept trimmed back from upper floor windows
Ladders should be stored where an intruder cannot access them
Replace or repair any broken window as soon as possible
Always make sure all windows are securely closed and locked, even if you are just leaving for a few minutes

Outdoor Security:
Keep areas around your house, garage,or yard lit at night
Outside entrances should have a bright, working light to illuminate visitors
Motion sensors are a great way to control your exterior lighting
Your house number should be clearly displayed and at least 4″ tall with a contrasting background on post near your street and/or on your home
Use big, bold numbers on your mailbox
Never put your name on your mailbox
All outdoor storage sheds, pool houses, or other exterior buildings should be kept locked
Bicycles, grills, and other valuables should be locked away or locked to a stationary point
Fence and gate latches should be kept locked by a weatherproof padlock
All vehicles should be kept locked and windows shut
Plant prickly or thorny shrubbery near windows to discourage loitering or hiding
If you travel often or spend a lot of time in your backyard, consider having a surveillance camera system installed to monitor the exterior of your home
Displaying alarm company signs, neighborhood watch signs, or dog decals on windows or in your yard can be a deterrent for burglars

Interior Security:
Use automatic timers for lights
Always arm your security system
Keep window shades and blinds closed when you are not at home
When answering your door make sure you know who it is before opening the door
When recording your answering machine message make sure not give out your name, any times you may not be home, or any unnecessary information
Keep an up-to-date inventory of the valuables inside your home. Your records should include makes, models, serial numbers, photographs, and videos (Do not keep these records in your home – secure them in a safety deposit box)
Engrave your driver’s license number (not your social security number) on valuable items that could be stolen
Use a fire rated safe or safety deposit box for valuable items and paperwork

While on Vacation:
Do yard work before you leave
Discontinue mail and newspaper service when away for an extended period of time
Arrange for a friend or neighbor to come by and check on your home
Do not leave a message on your answering machine letting callers know you are away
Leave a radio on and tuned to a talk-radio station
Set at least two timers to turn the lights on and off in a logical sequence
Set a timer for your television or radio to allude that someone is home
Leave a vehicle in your driveway or ask a neighbor to park at your house

Your Alarm System:
Always use your security system
Be cautious about who you give your alarm codes and keyfobs to
Since many people are desensitized to sirens and alarms, make sure your alarm is connected to a central station where authorities can be dispatched if needed
In case your telephone service is disrupted, a back-up cellular connection is an important added security measure for alarms connected to central stations
Be sure to test your system weekly and have your alarm company service your system on an annual basis
Exterior Doors:


smoke alarms save lives 1

Smoke Alarms Save Lives

3 out of 5 home fire deaths occur in homes with no or non-working fire alarms. The risk of dying in a home structure fire is cut in half by having properly installed and maintained smoke alarms.

Smoke Alarms Save Lives: In the news recently, there have been many tragic stories regarding the loss of life due to fire. In a majority of the incidents, the cause of death has been due to the residence having no or non-working fire alarms. A fire can become life-threatening within two minutes of starting. It is imperative to be alerted immediately. Having a professionally installed, monitored fire system is the best way to keep your family and valuables from becoming a preventable statistic.

Where Do I Put Smoke Detectors in my Home? A smoke detector should be placed on every level of your home, including the basement. You want to install one inside each bedroom, as well as place one outside any sleeping area. You want to have your smoke detector either on the ceiling or 6-8 inches below the ceiling on a sidewall. Smoke rises; the higher the location of your detector, the quicker you will be alerted to smoke or fire.

Are There Different Types of Smoke Detectors? There are currently two different types of technologies used to detect smoke and fire. Photoelectric smoke detectors rely on an electric current, which produces a beam of light. When the beam is disrupted, an alarm will sound. It is most effective to warn about a smoldering fire. Ionization smoke detectors contain a very small amount of americium-241 within an ionization chamber. They create an electric current between two metal plates, which sound an alarm when disrupted by smoke entering the chamber. It is the most effective to warn about flaming fires. A qualified alarm consultant can help identify which type of alarm type would be most efficient for your residence.

Why Should I Invest In a Monitored System? When you have a professionally installed, monitored fire alarm system in your home, you offer your family and valuables the best overall protection. If a fire is sensed, your alarm will activate all evacuation horns throughout your home. Even if you are on another level of your home, you will be alerted of smoke or fire. A battery-operated, single unit, the smoke alarm system does not offer this type of protection because the units are not connected. If there is a fire on a different level or area of your home, you may not hear the evacuation horn, especially if you are asleep.

If your alarm is triggered a signal will be sent to your central station and they will promptly notify your fire department. Every minute counts in a fire situation, the quicker help arrives, the less damage to your home and valuables. While having a AC powered system (connected, but not monitored) in your home may alert you in all areas of your home, it will not help you if you are not home. A monitored fire system will alert the authorities to a situation whether you are there or not, potentially saving your valuables and even pets.

How Often Should I Change My Smoke Alarms? Whichever type of system you are using, it is recommended that smoke alarms are replaced every 10 years. If you are using a combination of smoke and carbon monoxide detector, you should replace your system every 5 years.

grilling safety

Grilling Safety Tips: The arrival of summer brings with it the delightful grilling season—a time to savor mouthwatering meals outdoors. While grilling offers a fantastic culinary experience, it’s crucial to prioritize safety to avoid accidents or fires. Shockingly, each year, approximately 8,900 home fires are caused by grilling incidents. To ensure your summer cookouts are filled with joy and free from hazards, we’ve compiled essential safety precautions for gas grills. Whether you’re a seasoned griller or just starting out, these tips will help you enjoy a safe and memorable grilling season.

  1. Familiarize Yourself with the Owner’s Manual:

When purchasing a new grill, the first step is to carefully read the owner’s manual. Understanding how to assemble, use, clean, and store your specific grill is paramount for safe operation.

  1. Check for Gas Leaks:

Before using your grill each year, inspect the gas cylinders for potential leaks. Apply a solution of soapy water to the connections and observe for any bubbles that expand, indicating a leak. If you detect a leak, address it immediately before proceeding.

  1. Grill in a Well-Ventilated Area:

Always grill outdoors and ensure your grill is placed in a well-ventilated open area, at least 10 feet away from any structures. This distance minimizes the risk of fire and allows for proper air circulation.

  1. Practice Safe Lighting:

Prioritize safety when lighting your grill. Keep the hood open while igniting the grill, and never lean over the grill during the lighting process. This precaution avoids potential injuries and ensures a safe start to your grilling session.

  1. Never Leave the Grill Unattended:

Grilling requires constant supervision. Never leave your grill unattended, as uncontrolled flames can quickly escalate into dangerous situations. It’s also wise to keep a fire extinguisher within reach in case of emergencies.

  1. Handle Flame Outs with Care:

If the flame on your grill goes out, it’s important to proceed cautiously. Turn off the gas, leave the hood open, and wait at least five minutes before attempting to relight the grill. This waiting period allows any residual gas to dissipate, minimizing the risk of a sudden flare-up.

  1. Properly Shut Off the Gas:

Once you have finished cooking, be sure to close the gas valve on your grill. This essential step ensures the safe shutdown of your grill and prevents the accumulation of gas.

  1. Regularly Clean Your Grill:

Maintaining a clean grill is not only crucial for optimal cooking but also enhances safety. Regularly remove grease and fat residue from the grates and spill trays to prevent flare-ups and potential fire hazards.

With these grilling safety tips in mind, you can confidently embark on a summer filled with delicious barbecue delights while prioritizing the well-being of your loved ones and your home. Remember to always follow manufacturer guidelines, practice vigilance, and prioritize safety at all times. Embrace the grilling season with caution and enjoy a summer of safe and unforgettable culinary experiences.

resideo total connect

Introducing Resideo Total Connect, the ultimate solution that allows you to effortlessly stay connected with your family, home, or business, regardless of your physical presence. With Total Connect, you gain real-time control over your Resideo Honeywell Security System, as well as your Z-wave enabled devices such as lights, locks, and thermostats. Additionally, you can enjoy the convenience of live-streaming or reviewing recorded videos, all at your fingertips through your IOS or Android smart device.

Discover the Powerful Features of Resideo Total Connect:

  1. Effortlessly Arm and Disarm your Resideo Honeywell Security System: Take charge of your home’s security with the ability to arm or disarm your Resideo Honeywell Security System remotely. Stay in control and enjoy peace of mind no matter where you are.
  2. Lighting Control at your Fingertips: Manage the lighting in your home or business effortlessly. Total Connect enables you to control your lights remotely, allowing you to create the perfect ambiance and enhance security by deterring potential intruders.
  3. Optimal Temperature Control: Maintain the ideal temperature in your space by easily managing your thermostat settings. Total Connect gives you the freedom to adjust the temperature remotely, ensuring comfort and energy efficiency.
  4. Secure Access with Remote Locking and Unlocking: Enhance your security measures with the ability to lock or unlock your doors from anywhere. Whether it’s granting access to a family member or ensuring the safety of your business, Total Connect provides the convenience and control you need.
  5. Seamless Integration with Video Doorbells: Connect to your video doorbell and enjoy the ability to see and interact with whoever is at your front door, no matter where you are. Total Connect allows you to monitor your doorstep and communicate with visitors, enhancing security and convenience.
  6. Create and Manage Automated Scenes: Save time, energy, and money by creating customized automated scenes. With Total Connect, you can effortlessly create and control scenes that suit your preferences and needs, making your daily routines more efficient.

For further information on Resideo Total Connect and how it can transform your home or business connectivity, contact us at (856) 728-8228 today! Experience the power of seamless connectivity and stay connected like never before.

surveillance camera

How To Choose The Right Video Surveillance System For Your Needs

As technology continues to progress, video surveillance solutions are becoming more affordable for projects of all sizes. When thinking about installing a video surveillance system (CCTV), it is easy to feel overwhelmed. There are many camera and solution options available and a lot of circumstances to consider before making a decision. Before committing to a specific type of system, here are some important factors to consider:

Environmental Factors:

If you are planning on placing cameras in a “dirty” environment (one with high dust or exposed to outside elements) you want to make sure the cameras you choose have dust and moisture-proof housing.

Obvious or Hidden:

Cameras that are out in the open can possibly deter thief by their presence. A hidden camera is best to use if you want to gather information or evidence without the knowledge of the subject.

Single location or wide area:

Are your cameras needed to focus on a single location or to scan a wide area of space? Many cameras come with adjustable lenses and others come with pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities.

Image quality:

If you are monitoring an area with harsh lighting conditions you will need a higher resolution camera system. If the area is a well-lit area, a small area a basic camera system with a lower resolution should be sufficient.

Data Storage:

A simple security camera set-up can rely on memory cards installed in the cameras themselves. If you are looking for a long-term data storage with a large storage capacity you can opt for a NVR (network video recorder).

Day or Night:

If you are monitoring areas with no or low light, you will want to invest in a camera system that offers infrared LEDs.

Surveillance systems can be fully customized and designed. They can be integrated with most existing security systems; including door sensors, motion detectors, alarms, access control, and more. It is important to work with an experienced security consultant to make sure all your assets are protected and needs are met.

If you would like more information on the benefits of installing a Video Surveillance System, please call the GCSI Security Group at (877) 589-6111.

escape plan

Tips on Developing a Fire Escape Plan

Having a practiced fire escape plan can mean the difference between life and death in a fire situation. Fire spreads quickly and can become life-threatening within 2 minutes of its start. It is essential to move without delay when evacuating. Once your plan is developed, it should be practiced at least twice a year.

Developing Your Plan Your plan should include two ways to exit each room. Your primary exit should be the door leading into the room, with the secondary exit being a window or alternative door. If your primary exit is blocked by smoke or fire, you will need to use your secondary exit.

If your secondary exit is a window, you need to make sure they are not stuck and opens easily. Screens need to be able to come out quickly and if you have security bars, they need to release properly. If your window is located on a second floor or higher, you should purchase a collapsible ladder. When purchasing an escape ladder, only buy one which is evaluated by a nationally recognized lab. (Example: U.L Listed)

Practice Your Plan Make sure everyone in the family understands and practices the escape plan. You want to include how to properly open locked or barred windows and doors. Practice feeling your way out of the house low towards the floor with your eyes closed, in case you have a fire involving heavy smoke. When in a fire situation, smoke is heavier the higher up you are. Staying low to the ground is the best place to be.

Additional Fire Safety Tips If you have children in your household, make sure to teach them not to hide from firefighters. Firefighters are there to help them get to safety. If your child’s school does not offer a fire prevention program, stop down at your local firehouse and have them give your child a quick tour. Fire gear can look scary to a child; asking a firefighter to show your child what they look like in their gear can help ease their fears.

You should sleep with your doors closed at night. If an alarm should sound, you want to check your door immediately to feel for heat. If the door knob is hot to the touch or you see smoke coming in under or around your door, use your secondary escape route.

If you are in a fire situation, exit the building immediately. You do not have time to make a phone call or to grab valuables. Once you are outside, do not re-enter the building. Call for help and explain to the 911 operator the situation, including the location of anyone which may still be trapped inside. If you find it impossible to escape, place clothes or anything else you can find around the open cracks of the doorway to keep the smoke out, try to signal for help at a window with a light or colored cloth.

Having a monitored fire system installed in your home can help save precious time. As soon as an alarm is activated, a signal is sent out to your central station. The central station will immediately alert the proper authorities and help will be on the way.

If you would like to learn more about having a professionally installed fire system for your home or business, please call GCSI Security Group at (877) 589-6111.

life expectancy

Fire Prevention Week: Don’t Wait to Check The Date: Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years

Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors have a life expectancy. Even if you perform regular maintenance and testing, which suggests they are still functioning correctly, you should always replace the unit(s) at the end of their useful life. And here is why…the test button only checks whether the alarm components and batteries are working, it does not check sensor capability. As they age, sensors begin to lose sensitivity. You want any alarm in your house to be at its peak sensing ability, to ensure your safety.

SMOKE DETECTORS: A smoke detector is an essential part of your fire protection plan. According to the NFPA, 3 of every 5 home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarm or a non-working one. A smoke detector has a life expectancy of 10 years unless otherwise suggested by the manufacturer. Any smoke detector in your home which is over 10 years old should be immediately replaced. It is important to note, older modeled smoke alarms have a 30% probability of failure within the first 10 years. Newer smoke alarms do better and should last a full 10 years. Replace any detector which continually beeps, even after a battery change.

When purchasing a new smoke detector it is a good practice to write the date of installation or the manufactured suggestion expiration date on the back of the detector in permanent marker. You should also complete a monthly test of your detector, replace all batteries twice a year (excluding units with a 10 year guaranteed lithium battery) and remove any dust or build up on your detectors regularly.

CO DETECTORS: Most CO detectors are good for 5-7 years, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations. As with a smoke detector, CO detectors should be replaced once they have reached their life expectancy to ensure optimal protection.

Usually, the units have a date stamp on the back, showing the unit’s age and/or expiration date. Many systems are equipped with an alert, which will cause the system to chirp or signal when they’re nearing the end of their useful life (the signal differs from the one which indicates a low battery). Systems that have a digital reader may display an “ERR’, “E09” or “end” error code to alert you. Whichever system you purchase, read the owners’ manual to see what safety measures are specific to your make and model.

As with a smoke detector, it is essential that you check your system monthly and follow proper maintenance procedures. Remember, the test button will only indicate whether the alarm is working, not the sensor. To check the sensor, use a test kit, which you can purchase at a local home store.

If you would like to learn more about having professionally installed smoke and CO detectors in your home or business, please call GCSI Security Group at (877) 589-6111.

winter safety

As winter settles in, it’s crucial to prioritize safety amidst the challenging weather conditions, particularly in the Northeast. Take the necessary steps to ensure a safe and secure environment during the upcoming months by following these Winter Safety Tips:

  1. Regularly Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Make it a monthly routine to inspect your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Ensure that the batteries have been replaced within the last six months and confirm that the devices are within their expected life expectancy. Typically, fire alarms last for about 10 years, while CO detectors are effective for 5-7 years.
  2. Professional Chimney and Vent Inspection: Engage the services of a qualified professional to clean and inspect your chimney and vents if you haven’t done so already. Safely store cooled ash from your fireplace or wood-burning stove in a sealed metal container placed outside, at least 10 feet away from any structure.
  3. Proper Placement of Portable Generators: Keep portable generators outside your home and away from windows. It’s crucial to position the generator as far away from your house as possible to prevent any potential risks.
  4. Accessible Fire Extinguisher: Ensure you have a fire extinguisher readily accessible in case of emergencies. Educate every family member on how to use it correctly and efficiently.
  5. Maintain Safe Distance from Heat Sources: Keep anything flammable at least 3 feet away from heat sources such as fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and space heaters. Avoid plugging multiple heat sources into a single electrical outlet simultaneously.
  6. Trim Tree Branches and Clear Power Lines: Trim tree branches that are close to your house and ensure they don’t interfere with power lines. By doing so, you minimize the risk of falling branches causing damage or disrupting power supply.
  7. Prepare an Emergency Kit: Assemble an emergency kit that includes essential supplies in case of power outages or when you’re unable to leave your home due to severe weather conditions. Be prepared to sustain yourself and your family for several days if necessary.

If you require assistance with evaluating, maintaining, or replacing your smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, reach out to GCSI at (877) 589-6111 to schedule an appointment. Prioritize safety and stay prepared throughout the winter season.


Security Industry Scam: Nothing Is Ever 100% Free

The other day, while sifting through my mail, I came upon a mailer from an alarm company offering me a “free” home security system. This isn’t the first time I have received such an offer (I get at least one a week), but it got me thinking…. When is free really free?

We all know for a business to be successful, it needs to make money. So, how are these security company’s making their money on these seemingly, too good to be true offers? I decided to look further into it and here is what I found:

It’s not exactly “free”!
Some of those “free” packages come with a hidden “installation fee”.

It is all in the packaging!
Most companies offering these deals have prepackaged alarm systems. If you delve deeper into what these packages consist of, you quickly realize the equipment offered will not fully secure your home. In addition to your free package, you then must purchase the additional items needed to make your system complete.

My contract says what?
Always remember to read the fine print. A lot of companies are luring consumers in with a low monthly monitoring rate. They sometimes fail to mention that this rate is only an introductory rate and will expire before the contract ends. Once the introductory rate expires your monthly rate can go up significantly.

Other companies have secretly built the equipment cost into your monthly “monitoring” payment. If they don’t offer you a full breakout of exactly what you are paying for monthly, this should raise a red flag. Another issue I found with some contracts is it is a long term agreement with major penalties and fees if you want to cancel.

Do they even make that anymore?
These types of deals are a great ways for companies to get rid of old inventory. While some older equipment is fine to use, you need to make sure it offers the latest in security technologies.

If you decide going with an older model will work for you at the moment, with plans to eventually upgrade, make sure there isn’t any hidden upgrade fees. I also found that an upgrade could extend the time of your contract with some companies.

What if I want to break up with you?
Many companies use exclusive or proprietary equipment. If this is the case, you are “stuck” with company for as long as you own the equipment. No other company can maintain or monitor the equipment. If you want to switch companies due to poor service or for any other reason, you will need to install all new equipment.

In conclusion, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. If you are interested in a fully customized, no hidden gimmicks, security system quote, call GCSI Security Group at (877) 589-6111. We make sure to treat all our clients like part of our family.