There’s something Alabama wants you to know: It is not like its neighbors. It’s unfortunate for Alabama that it sits wedged between so many other states that enjoy stealing the limelight. But Alabama has a rich culture and history all its own. Sure, Alabama may not be famous for any specific type of BBQ. And no, it isn’t home to major Metropolis-like cities drawing Northerners in droves. But you’ve surely never lived if you haven’t tried southern caramel cake or fried green tomatoes, prepared only as Alabama natives can. Many Southerners still see Alabama as the heart of the South, beating the song of freedom as vibrantly as ever. Although Alabama has a smaller population than its neighbor to the east (Georgia), it’s no less active and no less rich with history. Still, Alabama must deal with the unfavorable reality of crime, just like any state. Despite having fewer crimes per mile than most other places in the U.S., home security in Alabama is still something to be concerned about.
Home Security Provider Requirements for Alabama
Alabama, we need to have a talk. Here you are, regulating the home security industry in common sense ways. It’s almost as if you’re a state that cares about its citizens. You may have convinced us that you want to protect your fellow Alabamians from the possible abuses of security providers gone wrong. And if that’s the case, bravo to you. The laws in Alabama are written so precisely in regards to regulating home security providers, it’s almost as if you Alabamians knew trouble might be brewing if you didn’t do something.
It’s the language we see in the laws that are most interesting for Alabama. Take the Code of Alabama 1975 Section 34-1A. Not only did Alabama install a licensing board specifically targeting alarm systems and their employees, it even gave that board the right to make judgements on hiring practices. This is big. Texas big, since Texas has a similar policy in place, no less. Among the gems of this code, one might find wording such as “ensure competency” or “revoke, suspend, or fail to renew a license”, or even “promulgate canons of ethics”. Alabama has taken regulation of the industry very seriously, as the wording in the Code of Alabama would certainly indicate.
Home security providers can expect to have to pass several tests laid out by the licensing board, and prove that they have hired individuals who meet the board’s rather high standards. Entrance into the business is not cheap either. Businesses who want to begin working in the state need to pony up, big time. The board will ask for over $1,000, or several hundred if it’s an individual starting their own, tiny alarm company. This does not mean there aren’t a few loopholes, however. For example, any business that sells alarm systems, but does not actually enter a person’s home or installs them can do so without a license. That said, operating as a security provider in the state without having a license carries a Class A misdemeanor offense, so home security providers are well advised to just swallow their pride and get the license. Licensed home security providers in the state must all carry state-certified identification as well. The state has a fund for businesses that have trouble paying the upfront costs, so there is a shining light on the horizon.
Overall, the regulations on home security providers in Alabama mean good news for customers. If you’re ever suspicious of a provider, you can always ask to see their identification, or call the state governing board to verify that the company is on the up and up. If they aren’t, that’s a good sign that you don’t want to do any business with them.
Residents do face some requirements of their own. Alabama’s close neighbors (Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi) all have localized ordinances against false alarms. So, too, does Alabama. The biggest city in the state, Montgomery, requires all residents to pay a registration fee when they get home security systems installed (it’s only $10.00, don’t worry), and fines don’t exceed more than $100 for the 7th time and beyond. Montgomery is even nice enough to allow residents to take a class on preventing false alarms instead of paying $25 after the 4th false alarm. So, unlike most other states, even when Alabama is milking you for money, it’s still treating you much more kindly than states like Virginia or California.
Home Security Cameras Laws in Alabama
Alabama residents, you really do have it good when it comes to home security in the state. Not only does the Alabama state government provide thorough checks and balances on providers in the state, it also provides very useful information in the Code of Alabama on what to do with security cameras. The state specifically includes security cameras as a part of a home security system in its legal terminology. This means that home security cameras are covered under the same laws as regular alarm systems. This is good news for those of you eager to put up a few cameras in or around your house. It’s safe to say, the state government has no qualms about you including these as part of your security plan.
That said, there are still some general issues you’ll want to keep a handle on. The first and most obvious is how you are using those cameras. If it’s obvious that you’re using them to monitor and protect your home against burglars, you’re in the clear. No problems at all. However, don’t get any fancy ideas about training those cameras toward your eye-catching neighbor or his/her windows. That’s an invasion of privacy and against Alabama’s privacy laws. We know you would never be so dastardly as to do something like that, but we had to say it. Just in case. And when it comes to audio, our advice for Alabamians is the same as we’d give for pretty much everyone, everywhere: Don’t do it. On this issue, Alabama is fairly strict. Although Alabama is a “one-party consent” state, and only one person privy to the conversation (hey, that could be you) needs to agree to the recording of it, there’s a bit of a caveat. If you’re recording a conversation that you didn’t even know was occurring, you could still be liable under the state’s eavesdropping laws. When might that occur? On a security camera, of course. Your best bet is to avoid audio completely, especially on cameras that are outside of your house. The last thing you need to is catch the latest neighborhood gossip by accident, only to find yourself a part of the neighborhood gossip later on.
Safety During Alabama Natural Disasters
Most residents will tell you, Alabama is a beautiful state. Until the storms start blowing. There may be some beauty to be found even in those scenarios, but there’s little beauty in homes and communities utterly destroyed and under water. As a coastal state, Alabama is more prone to severe weather than many states in other locations. But it’s not just being a coastal state that’s the problem. It’s what coast Alabama straddles that makes the difference. The gulf coast churns up storms like an angry witch with a headache and spews them out all over the South. Whenever hurricanes start blowing, Alabama is often one of the first states getting walloped. While most residents of the state know the drill, new residents from areas where hurricanes are not common may not know what to expect.
Hurricanes in Alabama are nothing to toy with. They bring fierce winds and flooding. Hurricane safety in Alabama starts with knowing when to escape and when to batten down the hatches. If you’ve received advanced warning of a storm, determine if you need to leave or stay. Category 4 or 5 storms may mean you’ll need to pack up and hit the road in a direction out of the storm’s pathway. This could be heading in a westward or eastward direction; it all depends on the storm. If you are in a low-lying area, this is an extra concern as well. Flooding is common in low lying plains areas in the state, and escaping these areas before the storm hits is a good idea.
If you do stay, ensure that you have emergency provisions and preparations in place. Extra food, water, and clothing is a must. Boarding up windows can sometimes be a good idea. Escaping to a low area of the house is a safe bet. The biggest problem with hurricanes is that they can act like tornadoes in terms of wind strength, and bring floods due to the heavy rain. Even basement areas could become unsafe. It’s always good to pay close attention to the conditions inside and outside of your house during a storm, but to stay away from windows whenever possible. Getting behind and under objects that can protect you from blowing glass is essential. In the case of flooding, getting to a higher position in the house is always going to be necessary. Make sure you don’t get lulled into a false sense of security when the eye passes as well. It may look like sunshine, but more danger might soon approach.
Aside from floods and hurricanes, tornadoes are also a major concern in Alabama. It was not long ago that the state saw the worst tornadoes in its history. That Alabama is prone to the three worst natural disasters mankind often faces (floods, hurricanes and tornadoes), is enough nightmare fuel for anyone thinking about moving to the state. But don’t worry. Tornado safety is not too different than hurricane safety, and most people have survived the storms even after they’ve hit. For tornadoes, your best option is to retreat to a cellar, basement or a storm shelter. Always stay away from windows, as tornado force winds will knock out glass and send it flying. Stay under and behind objects that will protect you from the winds and from objects falling down onto you if the house begins to collapse. Keep spare food, water and clothing handy, and ensure that you have access to flashlights and extra batteries.
As scary as Alabama natural disasters might sound, the majority of the time, it’s a peaceful state. Crime rates are only slightly above the national median, although some residents in some locations (particularly Selma) will need to be more concerned about all types of crime, including burglaries. Still, nothing can stand in the way of the strong passion that Alabamians have for food and history. A few fried tomatoes, some pan-fried cornbread, and the Iron Bowl on the big screen should cure all ills that get thrown Alabama’s way.