Security Cameras – Are they safe?

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When it first hit the market, the Ring doorbell system seemed like a great way to keep your home safe. Not only do the cameras on the doorbell let you see who’s at the door, they also let you check to see who has come to visit when you aren’t at home. You can even use the video recorded by Ring to see if a missing package got delivered or to try and figure out who put that pink flamingo in your yard.

In the past few years, however, there have been some concerns about the safety of these video doorbells. Some reports suggest that the doorbells can be hacked, and certain groups have raised privacy concerns centered around how the doorbells operate. If you’re wondering how legitimate these issues are and whether Ring is safe for you to use in your house, here are some things to consider.

How Ring Works

Ring doorbells are smart devices that provide you with a video camera unit by your front door. A motion detector on the unit alerts you that there is someone approaching the door, giving you the option to see them as well as hear what they say and even talk back to them. Unlike old-school doorbell intercoms, Ring connects to your home network and to the cloud so that you can access video and audio regardless of where you are or what you’re doing. Video clips are even shareable if you desire. Given its popularity, in recent years Ring has expanded to offer full-home security options and even smart lighting as well.

Ring Hacking Concerns

One of the big safety concerns that people have regarding Ring is that there have been cases reported where a hacker or other unwanted third party has gained access to the Ring units in someone’s home or to their cloud-based video vault. An exploit in the Ring software was also discovered wherein, in certain cases, details about your home network (including the access password) could be broadcast by the Ring unit in unencrypted plain text; if a hacker were able to get access to this broadcast, they would be able to log on to your network, and potentially access the computers and other devices that were also connected.

Ring and Privacy Issues

On top of the hacking concerns, the fact that Ring begins recording video in front of your house when motion is detected raised some concerns that it might violate people’s privacy. The fear was that even people who weren’t approaching your home could be captured on film if they were walking by when the camera was activated or if the motion sensor was able to detect movement beyond the boundaries of your property. For those who worry about surveillance or are afraid that videos of them might be shared without their knowledge or consent, this makes Ring-related privacy issues a very real concern.

Is Ring Safe?

The concerns that people have about Ring units being hacked or invading their privacy when out in public are legitimate, though for the most part they remain a very small problem. The issue with Ring broadcasting information in plain text was caught before it could be exploited and has been patched, and the company has instituted additional login security measures to help prevent unauthorized access to accounts. And while there is the potential for Ring cameras to pick up motion outside of a user’s property, its sensors have a fairly limited range and should only be able to detect motion relatively close to your front door.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t any concerns to using Ring, of course. Hacking concerns can be reduced by making sure that both your home network and any devices that connect to it are secured with strong passwords. You should also take care to position cameras and motion detectors so that they don’t face your neighbor’s house, and use caution when setting up devices like these if you have a very small yard. With a little care, however, these devices should be safe to use.

Keeping Your Home Secure

Home security is a serious concern, and it’s important that you can trust the devices you use to secure your home. If you’re in need of a more professional security solution, check out HomeKeepr. Sign up for a free account today and we can help you find the security pros that you need to select and install devices that are both safe to use, and trustworthy and reliable when you need them.

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Save Your Home From Dryer Fires

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Every year, more than 2900 home fires are started by clothes dryers. The leading cause of these fires are from a build of up lint from lack of maintenance. The removable lint filter unfortunately doesn’t catch all of the cloth and fabric particles, so maintenance requires a little more than just emptying the filter after each load. Whether you live in your own home or plan to purchase in the near future, it’s important to have safeguards in place for the utilities that you use that could put your home at risk. You want to make sure that the lint that gets trapped in crevices and in the hose on it’s way outside are thoroughly cleaned.

Here are a few warning signs to look for that may indicate your dryer is getting clogged up by lint:

  • Clothes are taking a lot longer to dry, and sometimes not even drying all the way.
  • Clothes may be hotter by the end of the cycle.
  • The outside of the dryer starts to get really hot.
  • The outside exhaust vent flapper isn’t opening much.
  • The laundry room begins to feel really humid.
  • There is a burnt smell in the laundry room.

If this seems to be the case, then you’ll want to evaluate your dryer. The tools you need to clean it are as follows:

  • A vacuum with a long hose attachment.
  • Dryer vent brush kit.
  • Screwdriver
  • UL listed metal foil duct tape

Here are 4 steps to cleaning your dryer:

1. Remove the lint trap filter and make sure it’s completely cleaned off. You want to make sure you’re cleaning the filter after every load to help prevent lint build up.

2. Vacuum the space that houses the lint trap filter. The filter doesn’t capture all of the particles, and this is the second place the lint will begin to accumulate.

3. Disconnect the dryer duct and clean out the duct with a long hose from a vacuum. You can also use a duct brush to help you complete a more thorough job.

4. Make sure the duct is connected properly. You don’t want it cinched in any part of the duct, to prevent crevices where the lint can get stuck.

No one knows the value your home has as much as this real estate pro, keep it protected by taking some simple cautionary steps to keeping everything in running order. And if you’re in need of a brand new laundry room altogether, don’t forget to give us a call. Great Lakes Home Team is here to help. Have a question…ask. Interested to learning more about selling your home or buying a home…we would love the opportunity to sit down and discuss your wants and needs.  http://www.greatlakeshometeam.com

 

Making your home safe for a newborn

One of the biggest concerns you will have as a homeowner and new parent is childproofing your home. Each year, more than four million children are injured in the home. Parents can prevent many common serious childhood injuries by knowing where the dangers are and how to protect children from them.

Here are some tips to help make your home safe for your newborn.

1. Take the guesswork out of bath time

You may like to take a hot shower, but a baby doesn’t. Turn down the water heater so the temperature doesn’t go above 110.

2. Install a toilet lock

Babies are fascinated by water. Watching them playing in bathwater is one thing; hearing them splashing in toilet water is another.

3. Glass doors

Put decals on your glass doors so they are clearly visible and that no one will run into them.

4. Door knob covers

To prevent children from going into rooms they shouldn’t, you should install door-knob covers so your little one can’t open them.

5. Windows

Install window guards so that windows can’t open more than six inches

6. Near the Window

Don’t place cribs, playpens, high chairs or climbable furniture anywhere near the windows.

7. Cords

Tie up the cords to blinds so that a child doesn’t get tangled up in them.

8. Shatter proof

Install safety glass in low windows and French doors so they won’t shatter if a child falls into them.

9. Eliminate shock

Be sure to fill any unused outlets with safety plugs, including outlets behind and beneath furniture that may be overlooked.

10. Set the fireplace off-limits

Be sure to surround your hearth with some kind of cushiony barrier — think couch cushions, pillows or even a store-bought barricade.

11. Baby gates

As soon as babies start crawling, the stairways in your home become an accident waiting to happen. Install a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs to prevent them from heading up, as opposed to placing it at the top, because eventually they will climb up a gate, meaning they would from an even greater height.

12. Clear stairways

Keep the stairs clear of toys and other objects that you might trip over while carrying the baby.

13. Secure furniture

Eliminate any unstable furniture that your baby can pull over. Fasten bookcases to the wall so they can’t be pulled down when they start to climb.

14. Drawers

Keeping drawers shut is important for two reasons. They offer an easy thing to climb and they can be shut on fingers.

15. Poisons

The culprits here are medications and cleaning products. Use childproof locks for your low cabinets, like underneath the sink. Move medications to the highest shelves.

16. Kitchen safety

The kitchen presents the most danger to a toddler. It is imperative that you don’t let your baby play at your feet while you are cooking, but they may still wander in when you are busy. Here are some kitchen safety tips.

  • Turn the handles of pots and pans toward the back of the stove or counter.
  • Use the back burners for cooking whenever possible.
  • Never leave a boiling pot or sizzling skillet unattended on the stove.
  • Teach your child that the oven is “hot” and not to touch it.
  • Keep plug-in appliances, such as toasters and can openers, put away where your child can’t reach them.

17. Cover your pool

If you have a pool or a hot tub, invest in a good, sturdy cover.

Remember that baby-proofing changes as your child develops new capabilities and curiosities. Get down at your baby’s level and check things out at their eye level.

Safety tips for fireplaces

If you’re in the market for a new home, no doubt you made the list of features that you want in your dream home. For many, a fireplace is one of those must haves.

Of course, there are several reasons to want a fireplace. From a practical standpoint, it is a cost-effective way to provide heat during the winter. It becomes a focal point for the gathering of friends and family, lending ambiance to the room it is in. At this time of year, it becomes a place for many homeowners to hang decorations during the holiday season.

There is, of course, a price to be paid for the warmth and memories. Every homeowner has to keep safety issues at top of mind when it comes to having a fireplace. You’ll keep your fireplace safe and operating properly and safely if you keep these safety tips in mind:

Keep it clean

Depending upon how often you use your fireplace, it is recommended that chimneys be swept at least once a year. Find a certified chimney sweep to come out in the late fall or early winter to remove soot and debris.

Check for damage

In addition to cleaning, most chimney sweeps should inspect the chimney structure for cracks, loose bricks or missing mortar when they are on the roof. In addition, chimney liners should be checked for damage.

Cap the chimney

In order to keep debris, birds and small animals from entering the chimney, a cap is placed on the chimney. The cap also needs to be examined for damage when the sweep is there.

What you burn makes a difference

Hardwoods include dense woods such as oak, hickory, ash and some fruit woods. “Seasoned” implies that the wood has been split and stored to dry for at least six months. Green woods and soft woods produce a flammable by-product called creosote, which can build up in the chimney and become flammable.

Building it right

Small fires generate less smoke and less creosote build-up. Additionally, a fire that is too large or too hot can damage the chimney. Logs should be placed at the rear of the fireplace on a metal grate. Don’t use flammable liquids to start the fire.

Use a spark guard

Even seasoned wood can crackle and pop. You can prevent embers from shooting out of the firebox with a mesh metal screen or glass fireplace doors.

Halloween Horrors and Times a Changing

As Halloween creeps around the cobwebbed-corner, many of our thoughts will be on decorating, pumpkin-carving and costume-making. Before the parade of ghosts and witches comes knocking on your door, here is a list of helpful things that you can do to keep your home and yard safe from all the trick-or-treaters.

  • Clear your yard of ladders, hoses, leashes, flower pots, low tree limbs, and anything that could cause someone to trip.
  • Be sure to keep your outdoor steps, porch and walkways well-lit.
  • Use batter-powered jack o’lantern candles instead of a real flame.
  • If you do use candles, keep them away from where trick-or-treaters will be walking or standing.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable.  Make sure paper or cloth decorations in the yard can’t blow into a flaming candle.
  • Consider fire safety when decorating.  Don’t overload electrical outlets with holiday lighting or special effects.
  • Keep any pets secure in the home.

Times a Changing

November 3 it is time to change the clocks back.

This is a good time to check your furnace filter and install fresh batteries in your home smoke alarms.