Thursday, July 30, 2015

Five Sounding Things You Need To Know About The Future Of Home Prepping Security

The future trends of home security seem to hint at more integrated systems and ones that are a lot more accessible for normal households.

The general lack of Home security has always been a problem despite the overarching need for them. According to alarm.org, in the USA alone one burglary happens every 15 seconds and one robbery every 1.5 minutes. In a survey, 90% of burglars who were interviewed admitted that they avoided homes that had some form of alarm system and in 2012 74% of uncompleted intrusions are credited to audible alarm systems.

Despite these numbers, most households still don’t install home security systems because of the prohibitive cost.

However with the current developments in technology and the rapid decrease in the cost of security systems, it’s likely that the industry will grow even more in the coming years.

It’s important to keep up with these home security trends because they let us know what’s available in the market. Compatibility is another reason, especially if you’re a DIYer. You’ll always want to make sure your systems are future proof (upgradable).

So for those interested, here are today’s trends in the home security industry.

    ISC West 2007 - 9
    Photo courtesy of Exacq via Flickr, Creative Commons

  1. IP and integration is in

    Traditional home security videos used to be done in analog and a lot of systems existing today still use analog for videos because it’s generally cheaper. But with the direction that technology is headed and with the understandable consumer desire for much more integrated systems, IP (Internet Protocol) videos are being pushed forward. They have better resolution and are more compatible with current and future security systems.

    Access control, intrusion detection, alarm systems, and the like are being integrated into the IP technology trend as well because it’ll allow for much more flexible systems and easier control.


  2. CeBIT-2014-Cyber-Security-7357
    Photo courtesy of CeBIT Australia via Flickr, Creative Commons

  3. Rise in cyber security

    Another expected trend in the industry is a continued rise in systems that will protect individuals and organizations from cyber attacks.

    This becomes relevant to home security because the continued integration of security systems to the internet and its use of networking technology makes these systems vulnerable to unauthorized remote access.

    Analog systems require actual physical presence to access or manipulate so cyber attack is not a problem but IP based security systems are remotely accessible. Integrated systems will have to communicate with each other over the internet or over a network and this is where a potential threat can arise.

    Signals being sent from one device to another can be intercepted and false signals can be broadcasted to fool an alarm system into thinking that nothing is wrong.

    The security community is aware of this though and is actively conducting research and development to ensure that their systems are safe from both physical and cyber attacks.

    Awareness seminars are conducted at events like Blackhat and DefCon where individuals and organizations in the security industry come together to discuss the trends and issues that should be addressed in the field.


  4. exacqVision Android app
    Photo courtesy of Exacq via Flickr, Creative Commons

  5. Better integration with Mobile Technology

    Given the technological capabilities of current mobile devices and the “mobile everything” trend, access and control of home security systems through the use of mobile apps will become even more popular.

    This is possible because of the developments in mobile technology and the continued integration of IP into home security systems.

    Your phone or tablet can become the control center for your system. You’ll be able to activate or disable locks and monitor activity in your home through streamed video. This will allow users to comfortably leave their home and control centers without worrying about a decrease in functionality.


  6. Big cable and telco companies are entering the security industry

    Companies like Comcast and AT&T have started offering security services to their subscribers.

    Their entry into the industry means greater competition for traditional security companies especially since they already have a large base of households subscribed to their other services; and being bigger companies have larger budgets.


  7. Bonecam mockup
    Photo courtesy of Csete via Flickr, Creative Commons

  8. Continued increase in DIY systems

    Not everyone will be able to afford a complete home security system and continued support from companies that install them. This shouldn’t be a problem however for the experienced few who can create DIY home security systems with store bought components. There are a number of online guides available for homeowners who feel they’re up to setting their own systems up themselves.

    There are a lot of companies that offer affordable DIY home security devices that can perform some of the functions of a complete security system. Remote video surveillance systems as well as sensor systems are some examples of these. Their advantage is that they’re low cost and are a one time purchase (no monthly fee required).

    Granted that these may not be as robust as full systems that even include call center support (alarm verification and dispatches), but they are cheap and can perform some of the needed security functions well enough.


Some people will continue to patronize their favorite security companies of course but a segment of the market will appreciate these less costly “alternatives”.

The trends in home security have always been tied to the continued evolution of technology.

Before home security was as simple as connecting an alarm system to the phone. Now consumers want remote monitoring, integration with mobile, and generally more automated systems.

The one thing that has never changed however is that what consumers really want is peace of mind. The means to provide it may change depending on what’s technologically and economically feasible.

At the end of the day, homeowners will always seek peace of mind.


Aby League is a qualitative researcher and a passionate writer. She is an innovator and technology enthusiast. She has been writing about health, psychology, home improvement and technology. You can see more of her articles on Elite Daily. To know her more, follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Four Ideas to Make Your House More Damage Proof

Your home is an investment and the last thing you want is to lose your home to a disaster like a hurricane, flood, or fire. You need to take direct action to prevent these risks as well as taking out insurance. Know the dangers in your area and get to know good prevention and emergency plans. You should consider these four ideas to make your house more damage proof and last longer.

Get Reinforced Exterior and Garage Doors

Typical exterior doors aren’t very good at resisting the impact of flying debris or even high winds. Your first step should be to replace any doors leading outside with impact resistant ones. These doors can resist incredibly intense impacts from the heaviest debris thrown around by a storm. They will barely dent, and will almost never break. If you live in a high wind area it’s a great investment and can save you money on heating and cooling if they are properly sealed as well. You should reinforce your garage door as well with kits or even new doors altogether.

Put a Sump Pump in the Home

Water can do more damage to a home than a fire in certain cases, and if you’re area is a risk for flooding, you’ll want to put a sump pump in your home. The pump goes at the lowest point in the house and will turn on when water starts collecting. It will automatically pump the water back outside. A sump pump can prevent water from ruining your home and get you a head start on clearing out a flood. It is usually best to install a backup sump pump just in case there is a problem with the primary unit.

Install Storm Shield Windows

Your windows are a major vulnerability. It is suggested you install storm shield LLC windows all around your house if you live in an area prone to hurricanes. These hurricane windows from Naples FL are made to withstand being hit with fast-moving and heavy pieces of debris even during powerful hurricanes. They will not shatter and send glass all over the inside of your home. Storm shield windows also prevent damage without affecting the appearance too much.

Keep Your Property Free of Debris

An important step to take in any home is to keep your property free of debris. Items like fallen branches, dead trees, and piles of junk can all potentially damage your home in a disaster like a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or could even ignite a fire. You might even have to contend with destructive pests living in junk you have laying around. Always keep your property clean and free from anything that could potentially damage your home.

Properly prepared homes are able to weather storms, hurricanes, and other disasters with minimal to no damage. The amount of time you put into preparing your house will pay off in the end. You should start taking steps today make your home more damage proof and will last you a lifetime.


Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer, recent graduate from the University of New Mexico, and avid runner. She loves to blog about fitness, health, home and family. Contact her via twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Foraging for Food: Identifying Poisonous Berries

Plenty of wild berries waiting to be plucked - geograph.org.uk - 583340 Even if you’re not prepping for an apocalypse, knowing how to forage for food in the wild is a useful skill to have. Properly identifying plants and berries can mean the difference between survival and death. Knowing identifying properties of common poisonous berries in the U.S. will go a long way toward helping you forage safely.

A Word of Warning

This is by no means an extensive guide on poisonous berries, and if possible you should always carry a field guide to help you identify plants. Never eat something that you can’t identify or are unsure of, unless it’s a complete emergency – better safe than sorry. It would be better to go hungry for a little while than to eat something that makes you sick.

Berry Buddies

All the berries listed below are edible and relatively common in the United States. Even better news: Not only are these berries abundant but also pretty easily identifiable – making them a safe option for berry foraging.

  • Rosehips are oval or circular-shaped reddish-orange berries that grow on rose plants; they’re a great source of vitamin C and could be essential to preventing scurvy if no other sources of this vitamin are available. Rosehips have a slightly acidic taste with a hint of sweetness. If eating the berries raw and whole, it is best to avoid the hairs sprouting from the top and running through the berry, as they have irritating properties.

  • Blackberries grow wild across the states to the point that some people even consider them invasive. Blackberries can be identified by their small, deep purple, circular clusters, which may have little hairs on the berry. Unripe berries are red or green and while they’re not poisonous, they’re far too bitter and sour to enjoy. Take care when picking as the plants are covered in small thorns.

  • Wild strawberries can be found in abundance all over the United States. The berries are delicious but tiny, so filling up on them could take quite a while. They looks like strawberries except much smaller. The leaves and roots of this plant can also be used to treat diarrhea, making them useful medicine if conventional products aren’t available.


Bad Berries

Some poisonous berries look downright delicious, making them especially dangerous to those who are curious or hungry. Knowing what poison berries are native to your area and what they look like is a great first step in learning how to safely forage.

  • The pokeweed has juicy, deep purple berries that migrating birds and deer will happily eat, but humans should stay away from these enticing plants. These berries are identifiable by grape-like clusters of purple-black berries with fuchsia-colored stalks that may grow up to 8 feet tall. A handful can kill a small child. These plants can cause convulsions, seizures, rapid pulse, slow or difficult breathing and vomiting, among other symptoms.

  • Don’t assume a berry is safe because you see birds or other animals eating it. Birds love to eat moonseed, but to humans it is a toxic and potentially lethal plant that could be confused for grapevines. Moonseed can cause vomiting, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing and death if enough are ingested.

    While the moonseed may look like grapes, muscadines are a real grapevine species that thrives in warm and humid climates. Most muscadines will be deep purple or nearly black on the outside when ripe, but there are also large greenish or bronze muscadines known as scuppernongs, which are native to the southern United States. Muscadines are sweet and edible, with a thick skin.

  • Holly is a common plant with small red berries. While the leaves and berries have a low toxicity, it’s still enough to cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can be fatal in a survival situation.


While foraging probably won’t be enough to sustain you, it is a great way to supplement your stock and keep you from running out of food completely. Being able to live off the bounty of nature is a survival skill that we should all know how to utilize in case of emergency. These berries can be a vital source of nutrients in survival situations, but eating the wrong thing can end in disaster. Research the plants in your area and try finding a guide to help you identify the plants around your home to become familiar with what you could eat if necessary.


Alicia grew up in Alaska where she earned her hunter and wilderness safety license at age 13. She now works as a content coordinator for a tech company in Pennsylvania and blogs in her free time at Homey Improvements.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Tips on Handling Extreme Heat

You’re so hot — but not in a good way!

Whether you work outside for a living or you suddenly find yourself stranded on a desert island or you find yourself in Phoenix, Arizona, or Las Vegas, Nevada, you need to maintain your cool — literally!

Extreme heat can be deadly. Hyperthermia, or abnormally high body temperature, is the term applied to the many heat-related illnesses that can cause a firestorm of maladies in your body. Heat stroke, sun stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps can come upon you like a house on fire and consume you almost as quickly.

Extreme heat does not refer to those lazy, hazy days of beach play and picnics beside a lake or when temperatures are merely in to the eighties and the humidity is low. We’re talking temperatures close to 100 degrees or more or the combination of high temps and humidity that can be life-threatening.

Heat conditions that are too extreme for your body will render it unable to cool itself and allow your internal temperature to soar. This kind of heat is similar to having a fever over 104 degrees — it begins to damage your vital organs, your heart and brain, and will eventually kill you.

There are steps you can take to beat the heat. From a poorly ventilated apartment with no air conditioning to the stuffy cab of a bulldozer in the middle of July, you can survive the dog days of summer no matter where you are.

Learn from Your Forefathers

As hard as it is for Generations X, Y or Z to imagine a world without air-conditioning, cellphones or the Internet, there are still many people and places in the world that lack those amenities. There are also those who choose to forego those things for ecological or economic reasons. And as un-imaginable as it may seem to anyone under 30, it can be survived. Just ask a Baby Boomer or your grandparents.

Surviving and Thriving In Spite of the Heat

Here are tips for staying cool:
  • Fight the fire by escaping it:

    Avoid direct sunlight and try to stay in the shade during the hottest part of the day — between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Create shade if none is available by hanging a piece of fabric as a makeshift curtain or wearing a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face and head from the sun. The heat index tells us how hot we really feel when humidity and temperature are combined. Strong wind and full sun exposure can add as much as 15 degrees to the heat our body is experiencing. Stay out of direct sun during those hours if you can.
  • Get naked or as close to it as possible:

    The more skin you expose, the easier it is for your body to dissipate heat through sweating. However, unless you’re a lucky landscaper or construction worker at a nudist colony, going commando is probably illegal and not an actual option for any of us. So if you must wear clothes while in extreme heat conditions, wear just enough to remain within the law. Choose light-weight, loose-fitting, light-colored and breathable fabrics. Clothes that are suited to extreme heat help your body reflect the heat of the sun and wick the moisture off your skin to keep you cool.
  • Water, water and more water:

    Dehydration makes hyperthermia worse. Heavy laborers working outside need to drink a lot of water to keep their body from overheating — perhaps as much as a quart or two every hour. Avoid sugary drinks or those with caffeine or alcohol — they do more harm than good by making your dehydration worse.


Water can also be used to cool your body from the outside. Soak a head-scarf or towel in cold water before wrapping around your head or neck to reduce the heat you feel. Putting a pan of cold water and ice in front of a fan blowing in your direction can also help cool the air around you.

How Much Is Too Much?

When soaring temps cannot be avoided and air-conditioning is not currently installed where you are or where you work — like behind a machine or on top of heavy equipment outdoors — be aware of what your body is telling you. It is vital to your health.

Here’s how to know if the heat is getting to you:

  • Muscle pains and aches are often the first sign your body is not handling the heat. Painful spasms in your legs or abdomen along with unusually heavy sweating are a sign of heat cramps or heat exhaustion and must be dealt with. Immediately get to a cooler location if possible and begin sipping water — 4 ounces every 15 minutes — if you are not already nauseous. Apply cool compresses to your skin and lie down to minimize your exertion. Seek medical attention if vomiting occurs.
  • Watch for breathing problems — shallow or rapid breathing, a weak pulse, and hot, red and dry skin. These are signs of an abnormally high body temperature (105+) and the onset of heat stroke. Heat stroke is your body’s last defense before unconsciousness, coma or death. Get to a hospital or call 911 as soon as possible. A delay could mean death.


Good News for the Working Man

Your body can adapt to the heat if it is regularly exposed to it. If you are used to working outside in warm weather you probably won’t succumb to hyperthermia as quickly as those who are new to extreme heat conditions. Our bodies are able to double their sweat output as well as sweating at a lower temperature once acclimated to the weather. However, acclimation takes at least a week or two so don’t count on it if you’re new to outside work.

The better choice is to monitor your feelings and overall condition closely while exposed to extreme heat. If you feel hotter than usual — hotter on the inside — take note. If you experience a change in your breathing or the onset of pain, stop what you are doing and get out of the heat — your health could depend on it.

Staying cool is not just for Fonzie anymore.


Alicia grew up in Alaska where she earned her hunter and wilderness safety license at age 13. She now works as a content coordinator for a tech company in Pennsylvania and blogs in her free time at Homey Improvements.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Nomadic Survival: Essential Items for On-The-Go Preppers

Suitcase Summer is almost here, which means it's time to get ready to go on vacation. As a prepper, you want to be ready for the worst that could happen, but you don't want to take a lot of luggage that could slow you down or attract a lot of attention. To help you get ready to hit the road, here is a list of some small items that can be a big help in an emergency.

Identification

This includes your passport, driver's license, healthcare insurance and/or Medicare card, and proof of insurance. The passport, if you're traveling to another country, is especially important. Make photocopies of it and have a scanned version of it on your laptop, flashdrive or CD. Always make sure you have a copy of the 24 claims number for your insurance provider.

Have preprinted labels with your address, home phone number, and e-mail address with you at all times. Make sure each piece of luggage has at least two. Attach one label to a handle and put the other label in the luggage in case something happens to the outside label.

Money

Bring two credit cards, so you'll have one in case one gets stolen or lost. Also make sure you have the credit card customer service numbers written down and kept somewhere other than your wallet. If you lose the wallet, you'll want to be able to call the credit card companies about the missing cards before some thief goes on a spending spree with your card. Keep some blank checks on hand. If you're travelling in another country, keep some of the local currency with you, too.

Get a prepaid long distance card. Some places either have no cell phone service at all, or they have really steep roaming charges. Keep a written, preferably coded, list of passwords that will let you access online financial data and your e-mail accounts.

Medical Supplies

If you take prescription medicine, sort it out into daily dosages. Bring an extra three days' worth in case your trip back home is delayed for some reason. Take a First Aid kit that includes antibiotics, antibiotic cream, bandages, instant hot packs, diarrhea medicine, pain medication, and anything else you frequently use or believe you might need. Consider the local conditions when deciding what to add to your kit.

Insect repellent and sunscreen will both protect you from common causes of outdoor injuries. Hand sanitizer and sanitizer wipes can also protect your health.

Trustworthy Transportation

When it comes to survival on the road, a number of factors must be taken into consideration when choosing your vehicle. If you need to carry lots of essential items, a larger car is probably best. Similarly, if you must travel long distances, a fuel-efficient vehicle will not only save you money but will reduce your likelihood of being stranded if you cannot find working sources of fuel at regular intervals. The ideal vehicle, according to an expert at a Hyundai dealership, should be spacious enough to safely transport your group and items and efficient enough to give you over thirty-seven miles per gallon.

Emergency Supplies

A two-way radio will enable you to stay in touch with others. Get one that includes a NOAA weather scan and emergency alert. Have a pocket poncho for yourself and everyone with you. A poncho is lightweight raingear that really can fit in one's pocket. A Mylar emergency blanket will keep 90 percent of your body heat inside—even if you’re not headed to a chilly destination, it’s good to have a few of these blankets around just in case. Again, make sure there's one for everybody.

Keep water purification tablets on hand. If the water supply in your area or at your destination gets contaminated, you can use them to make sure you have safe and potable water. Protein and snack bars make a good, on-the-go food source. They keep a long time, don't require any cooking, and many taste good. A small LED flashlight, and possibly a LED headlamp will make good emergency light sources. LED lights last much longer than other lights, and they use a lot less energy. Other emergency supplies you should pack include an emergency whistle, a paracord or parachute cord, chemical light sticks, a Swiss Army knife or pocket knife, and duct tape with some tie wraps.

Other Items

Have a list of emergency contacts that includes people's e-mail addresses and phone number. Pack your cell phone charger or a USB cable to use as a charging cable, batteries (or rechargeable batteries plus a battery charger) and travel tissues and a travel-sized roll of toilet paper.

A lot of the items listed are, admittedly, things most people would take on a trip. Some are not, but all of them can help you in a sticky situation, which is what being prepared is all about.


Emma is a freelance writer living in Boston. When she manages to tear herself away from the computer, she enjoys baking, rock climbing, and film noir.

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