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Vancouver Washington 98663

How to Reduce Your Chance of False Alarms

If you’ve been slapped with a fine lately you may have noticed that they’re getting really expensive. You can be fined for not having a permit, even if you’re not monitored, or having the police dispatched to your location, even if the call is canceled before they get there. We’ve had clients fined by their respective cities/counties even if there was evidence of an attempted break-in but our system scared the perpetrator off. Some places won’t even dispatch if you don’t have a permit, have video verification, or the location has been called twice in an attempt to reach someone.
I understand that a large amount of alarm dispatch calls are false alarm, hence the fines. I am of the opinion some places have gone overboard with fines and make it difficult on the owners. For this reason some people are hiring private patrol companies to respond first and “verify” there’s been a break-in or proof of an attempted break-in.
In an effort to help our customers save themselves from fines here are a few things you can do.
 Make sure all the users of the system know how to use it properly.

  •  Check all doors and windows before activing your alarm
  •  Have your monitoring stations number handy and know how to cancel an alarm activation
  • Make sure your password is something you can remember under stress, like a loud siren going off in the back ground.
  •  Keep your call list up to date. Check it with your smoke detector batteries; once every 6 months.
  • If you are on the call list, be sure to answer your phone if the monitoring station calls you. If you miss the call don’t just brush it off; call them back.
  • Know your password(s)
  •  Some say have your security company check your system once a year. However most systems these days are self-monitoring and let you know when there is a problem. So read your keypad display

If you’re having problems with your alarm we are happy to help you troubleshoot over the phone. If a service call is needed then we can schedule one with you. If we can resolve a problem over the phone this saves our customers time and money, which most are very glad for both.
I hope this has helped and if you would like assistance feel free to call us with any questions.


The Communication Evolution

This is an informative video on how your system communicates and your communication options

What is a contact?


Burglar Alarm technology has been around for over 100 years.  While technology has advanced, some of the terminology still in use by dealers has not, and the use of door and window “contacts” is common to our industry.

A contact is a device that is typically attached to a door, window, or other entry point that would be opened or moved if someone tries to gain access during a burglary or “intrusion.”  It is a very effective means for determining if a door is open, closed, or has moved.

The terminology refers to an early means of this detection.  Most alarm technology involves establishing an electronic “circuit” by means of establishing a closed “loop,” and interrupting that loop.  Back in the day a metal (usually brass) bar was placed on a door to complete the circuit by pressing against the similar parts connected to the wiring, thus completing the circuit.  If the bar no longer made “contact” to complete the circuit then the zone was “open” and would cause an alarm or trouble condition so the alarm could not be “set.” 

With the invention of the reed switch a magnet could be placed adjacent the switch to cause the reed to “close” and complete the circuit.  If the door opened then the magnet moves away and can no longer keep the switch closed.  This was a critical advancement because the brass bar could be damaged or corrode over time and cause troubles or false alarms.

There are now literally thousands of switches or contacts available to alarm industry professionals.  One of the older companies, GRI (http://www.grisk.com/) located in Kimball, Nebraska supplies these Made in USA products world-wide.

Wireless technology uses this method for door and window protection without the use of physical wiring from the control panel to the door switch.  These small devices have embedded serial numbers that help identify them to the control equipment, and are programmed into the control panel so they don’t get confused with other devices within range.  They are also supervised so if one goes missing or is altered (damaged or the device is opened for battery replacement) the control panel notifies the alarm company.

Advancements in alarm technology help reduce false alarms and make alarm systems user friendly, and Security Professionals is part of that effort.


How to use your Honeywell security system

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Recently we had a call, from a panicked and understandably upset customer, about a very pushy technician claiming to be with our company.  If we didn’t call you in advance or you didn’t call us for service then DO NOT let them in.  You are always welcome to call us and ask if we have sent a technician to your location.  More likely than not it isn’t one of our technicians.  

This “technician” claimed to have appointments, and when our customer didn’t open the door to let him in he walked around the house, presumably looking for another way in.  Kudos to her for not letting him in and locking herself in the house.  You can call the police and report this behavior.  It could be someone trying to get into your house to see if you really have a security system and what’s worth stealing.  Or worse, someone attempting a home invasion. He will probably move on to another home, so your call could prevent this, or help police catch him that much faster.

Please call the police or hit your panic button on your security system or key-fob if you are approached while outside.  Try to get a good description of the person to give to police so they know who they’re looking for.  Follow your instincts; even if you don’t know why your “spidy senses are tingling” or you feel silly don’t second guess yourself.  Analyze what happened later and I’d bet you’ll find something said or done that triggered your instincts.

I have talked to the detective investigating the case of the man trying to enter one of our customer’s homes pretending to be one of our technicians.  This is not the only rues he is using.  He carries a clip board and could claim to be just about anyone to get you to open the door.  So please be wary of strangers approaching you or knocking at your door trying to get your confidence so you’ll let them in.  Ask for their card (through the mail slot) or the phone number to the company they work for so you can call and verify their identity.  If they are legitimist this should be no big deal.  Follow through with the call though; they could be calling your bluff.

Parents, be aware if your children are home alone our technicians won’t even enter the home and neither should any other company.  Remind them not to open the door to strangers.  Teach them about the panic buttons on the keypad and how they work, you can always put the system into test and have them and you practice. I recommend this because it’s loud and scary sounding and you don’t want to freeze up.  Teach them how to dial 911 and why.

If while you’re at work and someone comes in claiming they have permission to install a security system and you have no knowledge of it, call your supervisor or the owner.  Last year a security company came into a business, belonging to a friend of mine, installed a security system while the owner was out tried to charge him for the work and monitoring and claimed he now had a 3 year contract with them.  He called the company and gave them a piece of his mind.  They removed the system, but he was left with a big hole in his wall where they had installed the keypad in his customers waiting area.

Yes, these are true stories.  This is a scary subject and it would be nice if we didn’t have to worry about these things, but since we do let’s be prepared.  We are sending this out in hopes to save our customers and whoever they share this with from becoming a victim of criminals, as well as unethical, and unscrupulous companies.

Security Professionals

Video Verification – Use your existing camera system?

Did you know that you can use your existing video surveillance system to verify alarms and reduce unnecessary police response?

Many of our customers have Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) video surveillance systems for their business, and more people are adding exterior cameras to their home security systems all the time.

Honeywell now offers wireless cameras for interior or exterior use that can be viewed over the Internet, on a smart phone or even some of the new tablets.

Many of our existing security systems can be programmed to send a text message or e-mail to notify you of an alarm or other activity, such as your school-aged children arriving home when you’re away or at work.  With your camera system connected to the Internet, as with most DVR’s, you are just a few clicks away from checking live or recorded video so you can confirm those events.

And sometimes you just want to check things out.  This can be especially comforting with elderly parents, pets and of course children.

But that unexpected alarm on the weekend or at night might be the real thing.  You have just been notified of that alarm, and from your cell phone you can see your cameras within seconds, and cancel police response or hurry them along.

Security Professionals has been providing services like this to our customers for years, and we can talk to you about several different options that balance cost and effectiveness.  It’s all about peace of mind for you and family.

As always, our consulting for your home and business security needs is no cost or obligation.  Just our way of saying thanks to our many satisfied customers.  Almost all of our new business comes from your referrals, and we appreciate it.

Thom Livengood

Sales Manager

Landscaping With Home Security in Mind

Everyone likes a nice yard.   When you’re planning your yard’s layout, give some thought to your home’s security.   There are some things you can do to help deter would-be intruders from choosing your house as their next target.   Keep existing bushes around the house trimmed so someone can’t use them for cover to enter your house.  Under windows that are easily accessible from the ground, plant bushes that have thorns or needles.  Rose bushes and barberry bushes are not only pretty; they are painful to get through.  Decorative rocks can be used around the house as well.  Small rocks often make a crunching noise when stepped on, while larger rocks can create an uneven surface that is difficult to traverse, especially for someone that isn’t familiar with your yard.  Talk to your local nursery professional on what will work best for your areas climate and your yard.

Outdoor motion detection lights are also an important part of home security, and can be decorative as well.  The newer solar lights stay on all night and are an economical way to light your yard.  A well-lit yard is less inviting then a dark yard.  This combination of a security system, well displayed security signs, motion lights, solar lights, and landscaping tips let intruders know you take protecting your home and family seriously.  Make safety a priority.



Tips: Be Secure In The Summer

Well, it’s officially summer now, and Security Professionals has a few tips for the summer we have learned over the years:

Often there is an increase in residential burglary and theft in the warm weather months. At times, we leave our windows open for ventilation when we are not home. In a vast number of summertime burglaries, the burglar gains entry through an opened or unlocked door or window. We also see an increase in theft of personal property, because there is a tendency to leave items, such as bicycles, unattended at parks.

Most of these thefts can be prevented just by giving things a second thought, rather than just “leaving them for a second.”

Home Security:

When you are away from home, close and lock your doors and windows. If you want to leave windows open enough for ventilation, but not wide enough for someone to gain entry, use a dowel for sliding glass windows cut to allow the window to open no more than 4î. For double hung windows, consider sash pins. Some windows have stops installed on the inside track, which will also prevent the window from being opened to far.

Yard maintenance:

Don’t make it easy for the burglar! Make sure even if you are just running for a quick trip or working outside that you don’t leave your doors unlocked or visibly opened. When working in the yard in the back of the home, do not leave the front door open and/or unlocked. If you have a garage or storage unit that is out of your line of sight while you are working in the yard, be mindful of what are you showing in plain view to anyone who may be walking or driving by.

Gardening tools, lawnmowers, other yard tools, ladders all tend to be stolen more in warm weather months. Make sure you lock them up in the garage, shed, etc.

Heat In Cars:

Remember to NEVER leave pets or children unattended in a hot vehicle with the windows rolled up. If you leave your car, roll the windows down enough for ventilation and provide a dish of water.

Summer security sales blitzes:

Many out-of-state security alarm dealers use the summer months to hire college students to “blitz” neighborhoods and offer home security installations.  Usually the truck and crew are just down the street waiting for the OK.  Or even worse, they “train” these cold-callers to install the system themselves!

Most areas require a low-voltage electrical contractor, such as Security Professionals, to have a contractors license and obtain a permit for the installation.  We monitor out accounts locally, and provide 24-hour service.  And our existing customers can earn free monitoring credits for referring us.  In fact, most of our business comes from referrals.  If your friends, neighbors or relatives are considering having a security system installed, please ask them to call us for a no-cost, no obligation pressure free consultation at their convenience, and then decide what’s best.  We” be here when they needs us.

Our Oregon and Washington license numbers are on our website, and please call us with any questions or concerns.

Thom Livengood

Security Tip of the Week

Security Tip of the Week is from the Department of Homeland Security

“If you are ever trapped in a fire, be prepared to crawl. Smoke and heat rise. The air is clearer and cooler near the floor. Try to escape through a door. If it’s not hot, open slowly and ensure fire and/or smoke is not blocking your escape route. If your escape route is blocked, shut the door immediately and use an alternate escape route, such as a window. If you cannot escape through a window, hang a white or light-colored sheet outside the window, alerting fire fighters of your presence.”

Extinguishing Kitchen Fires

Fires have a greater chance of starting in your kitchen than anywhere else in your home. There are four kinds of fires:

Class A:  Fires with trash, wood, paper or other combustible materials as the fuel source.

Class B:  Fires with flammable or combustible liquids as the fuel source.

Class C:  Fires involving electrical equipment.

Class D:  Fires with certain ignitable metals as a fuel source.

Handling each one the right way will help keep the flames from spreading. For the best overall protection, purchase a multipurpose, dry-chemical extinguisher rated for Class A, B and C fires. Hang it in your kitchen, in an easily accessible place away from the stove.

In recent years I have had a couple kitchen fires I was responsible for.  Once I turned on the wrong burner. It had a pot holder touching it, and before long it was on fire.  That one was easy to handle.  I removed the potholder from the heat and it went out, then I put it in the sink and soaked it.  The other started because there was grease of some kind under my burner and drip pan.  It started smoking and before long it was in flames.  This one was more difficult; I turned off the heat, but because of where it was it was not easy to get to.  I tried a lid and that helped, but it didn’t cover the edges.  The lid eventually put it out because it cooled and didn’t get enough oxygen to survive.  In other words I got lucky.

Things to think about:

  • Make sure your stove top drip pans and the under area are clean before cooking.  Make sure the kids know the importance of this as well
  • Don’t walk away from the stove when you’re using it.  Fires start quick and burn hot and fast.  Things can get out of control quickly.
  • Train your kids how to cook.  Instruct them in putting out a small fire and that they are more important than possessions.  Decide ahead of time where to go to call 911, one less decision they will need to make in an emergency.
  • Even if you don’t think you’ll need the lid to whatever you are cooking with, have it handy.  If it’s fitted all the better to smother a fire
  • Keep potholders and towels away form the stove top.
  • Consider getting monitored smoke detectors.  When they go off the fire department is dispatched immediately, weather your home or not.  Then you’re notified.

Things you’ll want handy when cooking:

  • Baking Soda (lots of it)
  • Pan Lid
  • ABC-rated Fire Extinguisher

Need to know info:

  • Do Not be afraid to leave, you and your family are more important then property.  If you are not comfortable putting out a fire or feel threatened leave; go to a neighbors house or use your mobile phone if you have one (remember when using a mobile they can not get your address, you will have to give it to them.  Include your state if you are in a border town, your call may be going to a cell tower in the other state) and call 911 and report the fire immediately, be sure to have everyone evacuate the house with you.
  • Know that if you do have to use your extinguisher it’s a one-time-deal, so use the whole thing.  You will need to get a new one when you’re done.
  • If the fire is large or spreading fast, evacuate the residence immediately, and then call 911 to report the fire.
  • For fires on wood, paper and cloth, use water or a Class A or ABC fire extinguisher to douse the flames. Place small objects in the sink to help contain the fire.
  • If fat or grease in a pan starts burning, quickly slide a lid over the pan to cover it completely and cut off the oxygen supply. Turn off the heat.
  • For small grease fires, throw baking soda over the flames or use a Class B or ABC fire extinguisher.
  • For electrical fires, throw baking soda over the flames or use a Class C fire extinguisher.
  • If you have a fire in your oven, close the oven door and turn off the heat to smother the flames.
  • In general, try to put out a fire if it’s small. But if the flames begin spreading, do not remain in the kitchen.
  • To prevent future fires, always keep your stove, oven and hood clean, and avoid overloading outlets or circuits with too many appliances.
  • If your clothing is on fire, stop drop & roll.
    When you have an appliance that is on fire unplug it.
  • When grilling make sure you have the grill a safe distance from the house and the extinguisher handy.

Security Professionals LLC, Security Control Equipment & System Monitors, Vancouver, WA