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Effective January 1, 2018, the “Maryland Smoke Alarm Law”, new House Bill 1413 (law) went into effect.  This Bill was actually approved back in 2013. As I read through the House Bill, it was very clear that the intent of the Bill is designed to save lives. Highlights of the State Law for Residential Smoke Alarms.

To have a smoke detector installed, contact us right away!

First, what is a smoke alarm?

A “Smoke Alarm” as defined by the new law is a single or multiple station device that detects visible or invisible products of combustion and includes a built-in internal alarm signal.
HS Tech group DOES NOT install “Smoke Alarms,” we install “Smoke Detectors,” so what’s the difference?

A “Smoke Detector” is a system connected smoke sensing device tied to a fire alarm control panel or household warning panel.

The difference is simple; the new law pertains to “Smoke Alarms” not “Smoke Detectors.” The devices HST installs (“Smoke Detectors”) connect to our security/fire system and are monitored 24/7. If there is an issue with one of our sensors, the keypad will notify you, and we will receive a trouble signal as well. When the device goes into alarm, it will notify the proper authorities, the Fire Department, regardless of whether your system is armed or disarmed.

A “Smoke Alarm” will typically just make noise and will not contact anyone for help, if you are not home, the noise will go unheard.

The intent of the law is simple; the State is mandating that you comply with the law.  Depending on when your home was built and what type of devices you currently have installed, you have several options. If you would like the specific definitions, please download the Bill and review the section that pertains to the year your home was constructed.

If your “Smoke Alarms” are older than ten years, you need to replace them.

There are several types of replacement devices available at your local hardware store, or we can recommend an electrician depending on what you have in your home. Types of “Smoke Alarms:”

  • Worry-Free 120-Volt Hardwired Inter-Connectable Smoke Alarm with 10-Year Battery Backup
  • Standalone ten years sealed battery-operated smoke detectors
  • Combination Devices – Smoke and carbon monoxide with 10-year sealed batteries
    Photo Electric or Ionization are two different types of Smoke Alarm Technologies

The requirement for a “Smoke Alarm” with sealed, tamper-resistant units incorporating a silence/hush button and using long-life batteries pertains to battery only smoke alarms.

Again, this law does not apply to smoke detectors as defined by the law above. The law gives Fire Prevention Commission responsibility. If you have questions, please contact your current security company or an electrician for more information.  Most powered smoke detectors that are connected to your home’s electrical system should be replaced by a licensed electrician.

I will add, that there is no harm in replacing smoke detectors that are ten years or older, it is a life safety device, but those used by HST are monitored by the main control for trouble, low batteries and alarms.

Nobody ever thinks that their home will ever be a target of a burglary. It is just something that happens on television or to the house down the street, but never ours. However, a burglary happens every 15 seconds somewhere in the United States every day. That means that in the span of a typical commercial two burglaries occurred and the lives of two families violated and put in jeopardy. And it very well could happen to us.

One of the contributing factors to a successful burglary is the occupants of the home works under the false security of believing it could not happen to them. This leads to failing to use any or using less than effective burglar deterrents. To help you avoid this critical mistake, we have assembled a list of deterrents that make even professional thieves think twice as well as a list of what just doesn’t work.

What Works

  • Visible door and window locks. Sturdy locks indicate you likely have other security features in place.
  • Locking your doors. It may seem obvious, but many people forget to lock their doors at least occasionally.
  • Getting a security check. Have a professional, such as your local law enforcement agency, look over your property and provide security insights.
  • Install motion-activated lights outside. No burglar wants to get caught.
  • Get a home security system. Opt into as many security elements as possible such as motion and glass break sensors, as well as security cameras to add layers of security.

Burglar Deterrents that Fall Short

  • Using alarm company signs. Burglars are savvy and can spot a fake one immediately.
  • Leaving the lights on. Anything that remains static, whether it is having the light on or off for an extended time, is a signal that you are not home.
  • Suspending mail or paper delivery. Any changes to your regular activities can signal opportunity to a burglar.
  • Hiding valuables. Burglars know every trick in the book, and hiding valuables may only slow them down for a moment.
  • Getting a dog. Having a dog does provide some deterrence but should not be used and the only or main deterrent. Dogs can be distracted, or worse, harmed in the course of a burglary.

A burglar takes more than possessions when they break into your home. They take your peace of mind. When you are considering your plan to protect your home, choose deterrents that work. HS Tech Group brings peace of mind in ways you never thought possible with advanced, interactive security.

The topic of home security is a serious one by nature and becomes more serious when we talk about real life applications. An example of this is in the area of home security safety planning in cases of domestic violence. Domestic violence isn’t something that receives a lot of attention in the news, and not something people talk about openly or frequently. Maybe it’s time to change that.

It is difficult to know exactly how many people are affected by domestic violence as in many cases it goes undetected and plays out in secret. However, we do know that since the year 2000 over 20,000 women in the United States have been killed by their domestic partners. Many times, those deaths could have been prevented with proper safety planning and support.

Escaping Domestic Violence is Not Easy, but it is Possible

One of the most dangerous times of any relationship involving domestic violence is the process of escaping. Those trying to leave a volatile relationship should do so cautiously and have a plan. To help develop a safety plan and put resources in place, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Even researching domestic violence can increase the risk, so it is important to delete phone and computer histories or call or research from outside the home from public phones and computers.

Statistics Show Increased Risk

Many people believe that once someone leaves a domestic violence situation that the risk has decreased or ceased altogether. Statistics show otherwise. In actuality, the rate of violence, injury and death increases in the time right after a person leaves.

Incorporating Home Security and Home Automation in Your Safety Practices

Experts in domestic violence recommend that those leaving or having recently left a DV relationship implement safety practices and tools into their daily lives. Home security and home automation can play an important role in maintaining your safety. Here are some ways home security technologies can enhance your safety plan strategies.

Create layers of security starting at the edge of your property with motion sensor lighting, fencing, and locking gates.

If you have a garage, be sure to include it in your security system. Use home automation always to be sure the door is closed.

Use motion sensors throughout the home and set up alerts so that you will know if there is unusual activity.

Use motion sensors on your windows.

Before you open the door, check to see who is there from afar, always maintaining a safe distance until the identity of your visitor is confirmed.

Use home automation to simulate your presence at home, concealing your routines.

Check on your home through the video feeds before you enter your neighborhood to rule out any unusual activity.

HS Tech Group is one of the Mid Atlantic’s largest and most respected full-service technology integrators. If you have any questions about technology integration, please give us a call.

We all like to think that Halloween is reserved for nothing but fun for our youngsters (and the young at heart) but crime never takes and night off, even for Halloween. Criminals take advantage of opportunities like Halloween because most people are busy, preoccupied, and least expect to be the target of any crime. While busy events like Halloween leave the door wide open to crime, home automation can help keep the door of opportunity locked tight.

Even if the likelihood of a crime is low, if it happens to you it is 100%. That’s why Halloween is no time to let down your guard when it comes to protecting your family, friends, and property. Here are some easy ways you can use your home automation system to increase safety and deter crime.

Deter Halloween Pranks

One of the less fun aspects of the night is the increase in pranks. While the pranks may start off innocent, it can lead to more dangerous and costly vandalism such as egging homes and cars or smashing mailboxes. Reduce the likelihood of vandalism by increasing the likelihood of getting caught. Use home automation technologies and motion sensor outdoor lighting to keep the property well-lit and anyone near it in full-view.

Check Before You Open the Door

Halloween is one of the few times people open the door without question. It is easy to assume that everyone who comes to the door are just parents to rosy-cheeked children all decked out in their costumes, but that may not always be so. Before you open the door, check out that doorbell camera feed to be sure that all is safe.

Prevent Burglary

Halloween presents many opportunities to criminals, and one of them is being able to get a closer view of your home and property without anyone drawing any attention while you are away taking kids out in the neighborhood. To increase home safety, simulate your presence by using home automation to turn on and off the lighting, music, and television. The possibility of someone being home increases the likelihood of getting caught, which decreases the attractiveness of your home as a target for crime.

Check in on Your Home

Using home automation, even if you are away from home on Halloween, you can still check in and make sure everything is as it should be on the home front. Just tap into your app and the surveillance footage, and you can stay in the know.

Whether you want to enhance the security of your home or business or integrate home automation, HS Tech Group has the knowledge and skill to deliver the most advanced technologies with the utmost dedication to customer service. Call us today with your questions. We are happy to help.