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.