For many, Halloween is a fun time of year that if filled with people decorating their homes, dressing in costumes, and for children, a magical night of trick or treating. All these, along with the newly crispness of the air have us welcome the fall season. It’s nice to shed the stifling heat of the summer months and enjoy simple things such as a variety of warm pumpkin spiced drinks. As we embrace all of these little enjoyments, it’s crucial to keep in mind that there are plenty of accidents that can occur during this time of year. You can always enjoy all that Halloween has to offer, but you should also be aware of what dangers can lurk and how to address these issues.
Here are two main dangers associated with the Halloween season:
As you’d assume, lit pumpkins do present a fire hazard, since they can be knocked over and catch both decorations and houses on fire. Indoor candles too may be present to create a “spooky” ambience during household parties. Or like how most fires start in the kitchen, monitor what you bake (i.e. Halloween cookies) or other themed treats. Whatever the reason, it’s crucial to be aware of potential fire risks.
To put this into perspective, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) showed various fire statistics from 2011-2013, a three-year average during Halloween (October 30th to November 1st). According to the USFA, there were an estimated 10,300 fires, which resulted in approximately 25 deaths and 125 injuries. These fires caused about $83 million in property damage—a number that is staggering and essential for homeowners to be aware of.
When looking at fires by property type, outside fires accounted for 37.5 percent; residential fires, 33.1 percent; vehicle fires, 14.6 percent; and nonresidential fires, 8.8 percent. All of these numbers in general are higher than normal in non-Halloween timed fires.
Trick or Treating Dangers
On this one night, there are countless children all over the country who are going out, door-to-door, dressed up and seeking candy from their neighbors. This consists of them having cross streets in the dark—sometimes with their costumes even obstructing their vision (wearing masks). Due to this, there are many pedestrian-related injuries. According to one report by the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Injury Facts 2017, in 2015, of pedestrian-related accidents, there were an estimated 6,700 deaths and 160,000 injuries that needed medical attention.
Most of the pedestrian deaths (17 percent) happened when people crossed improperly (such as jaywalking). And lack of visibility (such as difficulty seeing in the dark) accounted to 15 percent of these deaths. As you can see, trick or treating must be done cautiously to avoid these potential risks.
To help ensure the safety of your child while they trick or treat, it’s always a good idea to have them accompanied by an adult—never have them go alone, unless they are at a suitable age that knows the general rules of the road. Another thing you can do is to have older children, such as pre-teens and teens periodically check-in with you and let you know where they are and how they are and where they are going.
Enjoy all that Halloween has to offer while being safe and smart! It’s certainly a fun time of year!
When in the market for a home security system, homeowners are not only comparing the different security providers and their various security packages, but they are also looking at upfront costs. Depending on the security company and their equipment, homeowners can either rent their system or buy it completely. But either way you look at it, monthly charges will occur for monitoring services.
There are obvious benefits in having a home security system (such as 24-hour monitoring from break-ins, fires, floods and carbon monoxide leaks), but what many don’t consider are the financial benefits of having an alarm system. Here are three ways it can help profit you financially:
1. They Lower the Cost of Homeowner’s Insurance
Most homeowners know how crucial it is to have homeowner’s insurance (though some opt out of having this option, despite the potential consequences). Homeowner’s insurance offers protection against possible home events such as fires, floods, property & structural damage, etc. It means having a peace of mind against devastating threats to both the home and property. For instance, According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the average household will lose approximately $4,000 in property damage in the event of a fire. Those unexpected loses can be financially devastating without homeowner’s insurance.
For those who currently have homeowners insurance or are looking to add it, an alarm system can directly affect monthly insurance rates. How much can it save? Rates can be reduced by up to 20 percent. These savings are an additional, effortless way of having money in your pocket that you otherwise wouldn’t have.
2. They are Potentially Tax Deductible
Dealing with taxes and the IRS is no joking matter. To see whether a security system can be tax deductible, an accountant will have to first verify that this not only pertains to you, but that it’s also worth claiming. The only way a security system can be considered as tax deductible is if a homeowner works from home and has a designated space for a home office. The portion of the home that’s a home office is technically also protected by the security system, which can be viewed as a business expense. Anything that’s tax deductible can generate a tax return or lower the amount of tax owed.
3. They May Increase Home Value
Owning or buying a home is a financial investment. And over the years, with home improvements done here and there, homeowners hope to have their homes increase in value. Whether it’s doing appliance upgrades (such as adding stainless steel kitchen appliances), adding hardwood floors (to previously carpeted areas), adding crown molding, etc., installing a home monitoring system is equally considered to be a home improvement.
These all add intrinsic value to any home. Regardless of whether a homeowner is planning on staying at their property for many years, or they are placing their home on the market, projects big and small are beneficial in increasing
Transforming your home into an eco-friendly home doesn’t have to be difficult, especially with some tips on how to go green. Though it might take some adjustments, the benefits of green living are substantial, and you’ll notice them over time. The payoff is great, even when it comes to saving money on utilities.
Here are a few tips on how to transform your home into an eco-friendly home:
1. Add Additional Landscaping
Depending on where you live, you may or may not have a lot of landscaping. Newer residences in particular tend to be scare when it comes to having trees and bushes. If that’s the case, get prepared to roll up your sleeves and do a little planting. Landscaping not only adds some curb appeal, but it also provides several additional things: 1) air purification 2) natural cooling and 3) extra protection.
Plants help absorb carbon monoxide and in turn, they produce oxygen. With all the pollutants that we put in the air, we need all the air purification that we can get! When it comes to natural cooling, having trees in particular provide shade. In summer months especially, any extra cooling is certainly welcome. You wont have to withstand the blaring heat with some planted trees that will grow and mature with time. And lastly, trees and shrubs also add extra protection in the event of things like a car crash or even an outdoor fire. With a little strategic planning on your part, landscaping can truly go a long ways.
2. Use Solar Power and Eco-Friendly Products
Today, many homes are deciding being equipped with solar panels to cut back on the use of fossil fuels. We’ve depended on fossil fuels for over a century and we continue to use it at an alarming rate. Unfortunately as popular as fossil fuels are, they are polluting the planet and emit greenhouse gases (which causes global warming). Homes with solar panels save around 20 percent on monthly utility costs. Overtime, that amount is staggering! Also, when you invest in solar, there are government tax incentives, which is great to claim when you file your taxes.
If you don’t want to go so far as getting solar for your home, you can still make some minor everyday energy-saving modifications, which will help make your home more eco-friendly. First, look for Energy Star products. These range from appliances (dishwashers, washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc.), electronics (TVs, stereos, tablets, etc.) building products (windows, doors, insulation, etc.), and more.
How far can an Energy Star product actually help? Well, one Energy Star light bulb alone uses 75 percent less energy and lasts much longer than a standard light bulb. Looking for that Energy Star seal of approval will greatly impact how much energy is being used by your home—saving you countless dollars in the process.
3. Invest in Smart Technology
Smart technology isn’t just for those who are tech-savvy. Believe it or not, many smart products are made for virtually anyone to use and are accessible by easy-to-use interfaces, such as an app. Smart technology doesn’t have to mean complicated…but it CAN help your home become more energy efficient.
Can you believe that 7 percent of people’s salaries go towards paying energy costs? Think of all the heating and cooling, and lighting required for daily living. Utilities are expensive and prices will only go up—unless you can curb how much is being consumed. Smart technology allows you to have a range of products such as smart thermostats smart appliances and smart lighting.
The central part of these amenities is that it allows you to remotely management whichever—whether it’s the thermostat, appliances or lights from any location (even if you are away from home). This is particularly great if you’ve forgotten to do things like decrease the thermostat on your way out, or if you’ve forgotten to turn off a light. You can save nearly 20 percent on energy consumption with a smart thermostat alone.
Again, going eco-friendly has its numerous advantages. Taking these steps will get you well on your way to better, cleaner living.
There’s no better way to prepare some delicious food than outside on a grill. Food just tastes…better. Whether you are grilling out to simply take advantage of great weather, or you are hosting an event for some friends, neighbors or family, be sure to exercise caution. Some people prefer gas grills; others are diehard charcoal fans—but one thing to keep in mind is that without plenty could go wrong with an open flame.
Each year, there are nearly 9,000 grilling-related fires throughout the U.S. Of these, 82 percent are caused using gas grills. It’s reported that there is an average of 140 injures per year and nearly $100 million lost in property damages throughout the country.
Want to get the most from your grilling experience? Try these on for size:
Grilling with charcoal can be a lot of fun. The smoke from the charcoal seems to be it’s own pleasurable reward when taking the first few bites of your grilled meal. But the very thing that gives off such a great flavor can literally make anything it touches go up in flames. Embers fly and are easy to catch on nearby trees, pine straw, the deck, or even your house.
Looking for more home safety tips? Here are other ways to protect your home and family.
If you are a new homeowner, you probably have spent countless years renting and relying on your landlord for all your home maintenance needs. Whether facing a minor or major issue, your residence was never truly your home. Now that you’ve closed on your home and have finally settled in, be prepared for a whole new living experience.
Here are several ways to take charge and make your home as comfortable and safe as possible.
When the previous owner hands over the keys, there is one huge thing to consider. How many key copies were made and handed out to a variety of people (strangers to you) over the years that the previous owners lived there? Numerous keys— keys into your house could be floating around. With that in mind, it’s a great idea to change all of your locks. You can now have complete control and personally decide who can enter your home.
You can even look at ADT Pulse for home automation components— including a remote lock that you can access and monitor via an Internet-enabled smartphone, tablet or computer.
You never can predict when an emergency can strike. Everyday, you may double…or triple check that the oven is turned off or that the toaster oven is safely unplugged; but there are many potentially devastating circumstances that you can’t foresee or control. Between the threat of a house fire or carbon monoxide leak (a silent killer), you must have a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Having these could quite literally save your life and keep your home safe.
If you currently do have a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector, make sure that there batteries aren’t low. You can do this by pressing the “test” button on the face of the detector—you’ll likely hear a loud beep or see some sort of visible sign that it’s working properly. Try to have these detectors set up in every room—or at least strategically in several key rooms throughout your property.
Your neighbors don’t have to become your best friends, but it’s a great idea to at least introduce yourself. Familiarize yourself with your new neighborhood; it’s a unique little community that you are now part of. Everyone goes out of town for business, vacation or other instances. It’s great to know that you can rely on a trusted neighbor to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity while you are gone. A great neighbor could be a potential life or property saver.
Sometimes when a house has been on the market for a while, there could be an issue with landscaping overgrowth. Regardless of the state of your lawn be sure to scale back any bushes or trees that block views to your doors or windows. Having these areas clear will help detract potential burglars. Having a well-maintained yard will also indicate that someone is typically at the residence (rather than out of town).
Tax season is here…actually it’s been here for the last couple of months. If you still haven’t filed, there is plenty of good news yet! Regardless of whether you expect to owe money or get a return, there are many different items that you can write-off for tax deductions. Some items you already know about, but there are others that are relevant to almost everyone, yet somehow lost in the cracks.
If you are a homeowner and have added energy-efficient upgrades, these items can be written off:
Homeowners can potentially write-off interest paid on the following mortgage-related items:
Refer to the IRS Interest Item deduction page for more information.
These days, many people work remotely. If you are a remote worker who uses your home for business use, these may be of substantial benefit to you:
Any time you paid for home office items (such as pens, notepads, paper clips, etc.) you can write these items off— if you’ve saved the receipt.
The government encourages people to pursue additional education—and it doesn’t have to be for college classes. The Lifetime Learning credit provides deductions on career-based educational pursuits that will improve your job skills. This includes online classes (ever signed up for a Groupon class? Something of that nature fits this category perfectly). IRS Pub 970 covers all the details.
If you use your personal vehicle for work-related purposes and don’t get compensated for these expenses– you can write these off if they comply with the IRS’s Publication 463 on Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses.
Healthcare is expensive. Fortunately, you can potentially write off these items:
Review the IRS’s Topic 502 on Medical and Dental Expenses.
This falls under the personal interest section and only applies if you use your vehicle for business.
If you relocated for your job and moved at least 50 miles away, you could write off your moving expenses. IRS Pub 521 has all of the qualification details.
It’s expensive to be unemployed while looking for employment opportunities. If you’ve spent over 2% of your gross income looking for employment, you could potentially write this off as a miscellaneous deduction. You must be looking for a position within your same field and it cannot be your first job. View all specifics under this category under the IRS Pub 529.
Know what type of deductions you could potentially write off may save you hundreds of dollars this year on your taxes. At any rate, it’s better than just crossing your fingers! Who knows, maybe you can upgrade to the ADT Pulse Package with your return check!
It’s essential to protect your home and your family from potential threats. Just as you’d lock your doors and windows to keep out home invaders, you need to have safeguards to protect your digital identity and security. After all, thieves don’t just target physical items. Digital theft is on a wide-scale rise and anyone can become a victim.
What are you currently doing to protect your digital identity? Chances are that your tablet or smart doesn’t have any sort of security. You are not alone; 75 percent of people lack digital protection on their devices. Think of all the places that you access your online information—it could be while you are at the coffee shop, the doctor’s office or many other unsecure online locations. Don’t set yourself up for a potentially horrible situation.
ADT has teamed up with McAfee to provide McAfee LiveSafe™ ADT® Security Edition. It provides digital security with cross-device flexibility, which is good across laptops, smartphones and laptops. Keep all your sensitive information secure and out of reach from people who could compromise your financial accounts, personal information and more. Nowadays, virtually everything important is accessible online— you need to make sure no one else can access sensitive information.
• Every day, there are over 1.5 million cyber crime victims. That number translates to an estimated 556 million victims per year.
• Over 232.4 million online identities are exposed and compromised (this includes social media accounts).
• Each day, over 600,00 Facebook accounts are compromised by phishing or other online hacking techniques.
• Cybercrime is a pandemic that cost more than $445 billion worldwide. It is estimated that the U.S. lost $100 billion alone.
McAfee states the following regarding cybercrime incentives:
“Cybercrime produces high returns at low risk and (relatively) low cost for the hackers. The two most common exploitation techniques—social engineering,
where a cybercriminal tricks a user into granting access, and vulnerability exploitation, where a cybercriminal takes advantage of a programming or implementation failure to gain access—are both surprisingly cheap.”
These days, digital security protection is just as important as having physical home security alarm. Keep what’s important safe—your future depends on it. The time is now to act before anyone targets you. Explore what type of protection ADT provides; call a customer service representative today.
It’s important to prepare your home for winter weather. Winter storms can bring a mix of snow, sleet and ice that can cause pipes to burst, the power to go out and the inside temperatures to drop. Being prepared makes all the difference; be sure to follow these essential tips to ride out any snowstorm with minimal risk.
Is your home ready for the next winter storm? Here’s what you can do.
If bad weather is headed your way, it could potentially be days before it’s safe to drive. Make sure you have enough non-perishable foods and water in case the worst were to happen—you can never be too safe. Keep in mind that perishable (items like milk and eggs) will go bad if the power goes out.
When the temperature drops, it can mean disaster for your pipes. You can either open the cabinets under the sink (circulates the home heating) or allow your sink to slightly drip (prevents the water from freezing in the pipes).
Proper home insulation is vital to keeping out cold air and moisture. Make sure your doors and windows have intact weather strips. Many doors (especially the front door) loose their weather strips due to frequent use. You might not notice a big difference day-to-day, but these strips help keep out cold air and moisture from rain or snow.
You never know when the power will go out. Ice on the power lines can cause widespread power outages—don’t find yourself in the dark. Have several flashlights and candles at hand with backup batteries available.
Before a storm, scatter either cat litter, sand or salt on your sidewalk and driveway. These will help minimize the amount of icy patches that can cause you and others to slip and fall.
Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer. It has no odor and can cause headaches, nausea or even death. If you use your fireplace and it isn’t properly cleaned, you run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. The same can occur if you use alternative heating sources like outside-only grills or stoves. Having a carbon monoxide detector can literally save your life.
Everyday, we have errands to run and places that we are obligated to go to, like work or school. If you think about it, most of us leave our homes unattended for the better part of the day. The thing about this, is that the majority of all home invasions happen when no one is home. Only about 7% of all burglaries happen when someone is in the residence— which means that the middle part of the day is the prime time for burglaries.
If you are looking for something with a bit more “umph” than a traditional home security system, ADT Pulse is just the ticket. Sometimes it’s not enough to know that your alarm system is armed— you still don’t know what’s happening back at home.
Regardless of where you are (it could be across the country or just down the road), you can access the ins and outs of your home using the ADT Pulse app. All you need is an Internet-enabled mobile device.
This means that you could be relaxing on the beach this summer and quickly want to make sure everything is okay back at home. All you have to do is just pull out your smartphone or tablet, and view your home’s status or video feed in real-time. Or perhaps you forget to turn off an appliance and it’s nagging your mind…
In a way, ADT Pulse is more than an advanced form of home security protection; it’s a lifestyle enhancer. With less worrying to do, you allow yourself up to enjoy the things that really matter. Focus on your activities at hand without looking back with apprehension. And while you are at it, ADT Pulse can also save you money on your monthly home energy bill. Peace of mind, life-changer and money-saver: it’s ADT Pulse for your home. You wouldn’t want it any other way.
There’s no way to predict where or when a home invasion will occur. They can happen anywhere and aren’t limited by neighborhood. Heavy high traffic areas, like apartments and condos have a higher probability of being targeted—the steady flux of people coming in and out make it harder to spot potential security threats. Regardless of where you live, you should know the real truth about home invasions.
The facts prove how devastating home invasions are; but ADT can help minimize these risks. Homes with home monitoring systems are less likely to be broken into. Find the home monitoring package that is right for your home and city (for example, Chicago). Protect your loved ones, yourself and your home today with ADT.
Many home insurance companies will offer discounts to homeowners who have a home monitoring system. With an ADT home monitoring security system, you could potentially save up to 20% on your homeowner’s insurance. Check with your home insurance agent or broker to see if you are eligible!
Have a peace of mind with ADT; never battle the odds alone ever again.