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How smart is your security systems?

MAIN IMAGE: Charnel Hattingh, Head of Marketing and Communications for Fidelity ADT.

If for whatever reason you leave a key under the pot plant for your neighbour while you’re on holiday, be sure your high-tech cameras have eyes on that pot plant, says Charnel Hattingh, Head of Marketing and Communications for Fidelity ADT.

Home security products have advanced in line with technology at a rapid rate, she says, allowing homeowners much more control over their security – in real time.

So, when the neighbour arrives to pick up the key under the pot plant, you can watch them on your phone from the beach in Italy and even open the door for them or switch on the patio light.

In fact, home security is so smart today the neighbour won’t need a key. You can open for them at the touch of button on your smart device.

“The cornerstone of security starts at home. So, when looking for a security provider you must ask what technology they have which will allow you to automate your home and alarm system, giving you ultimate control of your security,” Hattingh says.

“What is most important is that their services extend beyond just alarm monitoring and armed response.”

Security companies make use of the latest technologies right from their control room through to their response vehicles and into customers’ homes.

“All these technologies help our customers because they help us – to respond faster to incidents, identify trends more quickly, better support the police, train more efficiently and fight crime more effectively,” Hattingh explains.

Smart home security system

It is the ability to keep an eye on your home and family from anywhere, at any time.

Whether at work or away on holiday, homeowners can get notifications if an alarm has been activated, set automation rules and access real-time videos of visitors (and criminals) caught on camera.

Intercom systems at the gate or door allow you to talk to the person and you can assign unexpected guests entry codes or unlock the door for them.

Advanced security cameras produce high quality footage, especially at night, and can send a snapshot of what is happening on your property to your smartphone.

Smart locks open and close using a keypad and/or Bluetooth or Wi-Fi instead of a traditional key (the one hidden under a pot plant).

“We all want our homes to be a haven we can enjoy. Smart security allows you to easily and conveniently interact with your home and be assured it is secure because you know what is happening at any given time,” says Hattingh.

“What could be more convenient than your security system keeping you safe and allowing you to view cameras, dim or switch your lights on and off, lock and unlock doors and even turn your geyser on or off?”

The crime statistics released in February for the third quarter of the 2020/21 period showed residential robberies increased and that one of the biggest points of concern is the increase in murders. One of the top four contributors to the increase in murders is robberies at a household or business.

“In light of this and the many other continuing crime patterns in suburbs, people should take their home security very seriously and leverage technology to do so,” Hattingh concludes.

Winter security

Many people rearrange their wardrobes and gardens in preparation for winter, so why not also reshuffle your thinking on home security to mitigate the risks colder weather brings?

“For South Africans one of the most daunting is load shedding, which can have a severe impact on home security systems and your protection,” says Hattingh.

In addition to power cuts, it gets darker earlier in the afternoon and light later in the morning in winter and the risk of fires is also greater.

Hattingh suggests giving your security systems a good once-over as soon as possible. Contact your security provider and put the alarm and panic buttons on test and book a technical service call if necessary.

“This test is of the utmost importance. If the system is not functioning properly the signal may not reach your security company and they will then not know there is an emergency at your property and won’t respond,” she says.

She also recommends getting a professional in to check the tensioning of electric fencing as it shrinks in colder weather and this can cause false alarms. Link smoke detectors to your alarm system too. Fires during winter can be caused by heaters, electrical appliances or the fireplace left burning when you go to bed.

“The best is to start at the perimeter of your property and work your way in. Think like a criminal and evaluate whether your fencing or wall, garden, windows, doors, shed, garage, etc. have weaknesses a criminal can exploit.

“As we tend to gather everyone indoors earlier and perhaps change the times we go to gym or walk the dog, security systems like garden beams and sensor lights must also be working properly.

“Most people still need to leave for work and school at the same time, regardless of whether the sun is up or not. To stay safe, be more vigilant in the early morning and at dusk, when you come home.”

6 tips for staying safe in winter:

  • Check your curb-side house number is still visible in case of an emergency. This can save critical minutes for the response team in the event of an emergency.
  • If you bring your dogs inside, ask your security company to partition your alarm system in such a way that it still offers an early warning system with pets in the house.
  • Ensure back-up power supplies are in place to keep lighting, non-functional gate motors and security systems in working condition always.
  • Set external beams in the early evening once everyone is home.
  • Be vigilant when leaving and arriving home. Criminals take advantage of the longer hours of darkness in winter and are not afraid of the cold.
  • Ensure your security service provider has the most up-to-date key-holder contact details.

“Security needs change with the seasons. As we prepare to spend more time indoors, have peace of mind your security routines are as prepared for winter as you are,” Hattingh concludes.

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