Installing Alarm Systems, CCTVs, Smoke Detectors, and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Keeping Your Building Safe
You want to take every precaution when it comes to keeping your family and your business safe. Whether at home or at your place of business, that often means protecting against burglary, fire, and carbon monoxide. Alarm systems, security cameras (CCTVs), and smoke and CO detectors all play a role in those safety measures. Here is our review of some considerations in installing them.
Alarm systems can provide vital alerts that will let you know if anyone unauthorized tries to get into your home or building. Your alarm system can warn of break-ins and even, in the case of many smart systems, notify and dispatch the police so they can come out to deal with any problems. Depending upon your needs, you may install an alarm system on all potential points of access to the house or building, including its doors, windows, and even skylights. If someone breaches those entrances after you set the alarm, it will sound and, hopefully, prevent a disaster.
Before choosing an alarm system, consider:
- Do you need your alarm system to connect to an existing smart home or smart building system? If you have Echo or Nest, for example, you may want a security system that you can connect directly to that system to obtain the full benefit of the features of both.
- What type of technology will you need for the long term? Carefully consider whether you will need to connect your system to a specific app, device, or computer system, and how support for or updates to either the system or the tech connected to it will impact cost and functionality. No one wants the unwelcome surprise of learning that their security system has run into expensive compatibility/interoperability problems a year-or-two down the road.
- Do you want a central monitoring service? A central monitoring service keeps an eye on your home or business facility and takes care of notifying and dispatching first responders, if needed. Without a central monitoring service, your alarm system will mostly make noise, or perhaps notify you personally of an attempted entry, but may not summon the authorities. Central monitoring can give you peace-of-mind, but at a price (usually a monthly fee) that you will need to incorporate into your cost projections.
- Do you want wired or wireless options? A “wired” system incorporates hardware typically connected directly to the electrical and utility wiring in your home. A “wireless” system operates without that infrastructure, relying instead on a wireless internet connection for its connectivity. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and many systems today incorporate elements of both. Do your research—including assessment of the cost of installing “wired” systems—before deciding which works for you.
- What features do you want for your alarm or security system? Some modern systems, for example, may allow you to see who comes in and out of your property and when. You can assign specific access codes, both for specific members of your family and for guests on your property. Later, you can go back and see who visited the property and when they arrived—or monitor children and teens to ensure that they do not leave the property unexpectedly.
A CCTV surveillance system records footage of your property, and can supply vital video evidence to authorities if someone attempts to break into your property or steals items from your front porch. CCTV solutions can even help you monitor teens in your family, keeping up with when they arrive and when they leave. Before purchasing a CCTV system, consider:
What areas of your property do you want to cover with a video surveillance system? You may want your system to record all entrances to and from the house or building, for example. Some people, including those who have professional caregivers for children or elderly family members, may want CCTV coverage inside the house, too. Carefully evaluate where you want coverage and how many cameras it will take to provide adequate security for your home based on your current needs. The location of your camera will also determine what type of camera you need, since you will need a hardier camera to survive outdoor conditions.
Business owners may also want to consider what areas they want to cover with their CCTV system. Many thieves can quickly spot potential holes in your security system and will take advantage of them. You may also benefit from installing security cameras around expensive, easy-to-steal items. Work with a loss prevention professional to explore where you should install cameras throughout your business for maximum protection.
What features do you consider important as you choose a security camera? To evaluate the wide selection of cameras available on the market, do your research and make sure you understand the various technologies and options before making a purchase, lest you end up with cameras that fail to fit your needs.
You may want to consider:
- Resolution. For both exterior and internal security cameras, you may want to choose a camera with high enough resolution to show the facial features of any individuals in your home or business. High resolution can facilitate providing evidence against someone who breaks into your home, who tries to steal from your business, or who abuses a child or elderly family member in their care. The better the resolution, the clearer the footage—and the more benefit it may have to you, the police, and your attorney later.
- Night vision. For outdoor cameras and, in some cases, even indoor ones, you might want to use night vision options on your camera to make the footage on the camera clear even in dim lighting. On the other hand, if you have great security lights that come on with any hint of motion, you may find that they offer visibility enough even in the middle of the night.
- Motion sensors. Your camera does not necessarily have to run 24/7—and if it does, it can quickly use up your available storage. If you keep the camera in a remote area around your home, such as a shed or storage building, constant monitoring may not make sense. Instead, you might benefit from installing motion sensors that trigger recording only when they sense movement. This simple feature can substantially save on available storage space.
- Data storage. Consider how long you want to keep footage and how often you plan to erase it. Your security camera does little good if you do not have a recording of the footage. Keep in mind where you plan to use the camera as well as how long, on average, you think you might need that footage. You may want to keep security footage for at least several weeks, especially if you suspect a caregiver of abuse or discover a theft or vandalism long after the event itself. Businesses, in particular, may want to easily access security footage for weeks or months after an event. These days, most CCTV systems offer cloud-based storage options, for a fee.
Smoke detectors have been a mainstay in homes and businesses for decades. In fact, you might think that you have few decisions to make when it comes to smoke detectors. Modern advances, however, offer new technology that can offer additional protection to your home and business hopefully catching a fire before substantial damage and potentially a burn injury.
Consider whether you want a smoke detector that can:
- Send an alert to an outside monitoring company. Many smoke detectors connect directly to your home security system or your smart home system, and they can alert the fire company immediately if they sense smoke inside the home.
- Send an alert to you. If a fire happens after you leave the house, you may want a notification sent straight to your phone, notifying you that you need to get home and handle the problem.
- Wire directly into your home’s electrical system, rather than relying on batteries. Wired smoke detectors do not need replacement batteries, which can alleviate that annoying search for a smoke detector whose batteries start dying in the middle of the night. Wired smoke detectors will not, however, work if the power goes out (without a battery backup), which could pose a danger in homes with wood burning stoves, fireplaces, or other heating methods that do not rely on electricity.
- Interconnect other smoke detectors in the house. In some houses, especially large properties, residents might not hear a smoke detector going off in another part of the house. Interconnected smoke detectors can notify each other when they sound, so that other alarms will also go off and ensure that someone hears the warning.
When you install your smoke detectors, make sure you install them in the proper locations to keep your family members and employees safe. Excess smoke detectors cannot hurt, but a lack of them can pose a substantial danger.
Make sure you install smoke detectors:
- In garages and storage areas;
- Inside each bedroom;
- Outside sleeping areas;
- On every floor of your home or business;
- In the kitchen; and
- In the laundry room.
Install smoke detectors up high, since smoke rises. Make sure you have adequate coverage. Also, check your smoke detectors regularly to make sure they still work. You should change the batteries in your smoke detectors twice a year. Many people use the daylight savings time changes as reminders to replace batteries in smoke detectors in their homes and businesses.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide detectors sense the colorless, odorless gas given off by combustion that can replace oxygen in your lungs and bloodstream. Many victims of carbon monoxide poisoning suffocate in their sleep, without ever realizing the danger. Installing carbon monoxide detectors carefully throughout your home and business can help keep you, your family members, and your employees safe from tragedy.
Install carbon monoxide detectors, like smoke detectors:
- On every floor of your home or business, including the basement and storage spaces;
- In the garage, if you have a garage attached to the rest of your home;
- Outside each sleeping area in your home; and
- Near any equipment in your business that has the potential to generate carbon monoxide.
Like smoke detectors, technology for carbon monoxide detectors has improved immensely in recent years. Today’s carbon monoxide detectors can integrate with other smart devices in your home or business.
Once linked with the other smart devices in your home or business, your carbon monoxide detector can:
- Notify you about dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in the house or business immediately, even if you leave the home or have closed down your business for the night.
- Integrate with other alarms throughout the house to notify all family members to get out of the house, if needed.
- Notify local first responders, like the fire department, if someone needs to come out and evaluate the levels of CO at your property.
Advances in technology have made keeping your home and business safe easier than ever. The range of solutions available, however, can seem daunting to the average consumer or small-businessperson. We hope the advice above can help you begin to tackle your options and to figure out the safety protections most appropriate for your needs.
Even the best alarm and safety systems, however, cannot prevent all building disasters. Fires, thieves, and invisible gases can sometimes cause serious harm faster than you and first responders can react.
The Levin Firm
1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd,
Two Penn Center, Suite 620
Philadelphia, PA 19102