Have you ever heard the phrase, “With God, all things are possible”? Ohioans not only embody that phrase, they made it their state motto and they have a lot to be proud of. Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus are hot tourist spots. Meanwhile, the state’s unique location makes it a distinct hub for interstate commerce. But as much as we want to continue pulling for Ohio’s success, there is one truth about it that can’t be easily ignored: crime. Although the state as a whole runs just about even with the rest of the country, the biggest cities, such as Cleveland, are far and away a playground for people who would love to have your stuff. Whether you’re living in one of the big cities, or blissfully enjoying the suburbs, investigating, and investing, in home security is utterly important.
Home Security Provider Requirements for Ohio
Much like Michigan, Ohio does not regulate alarm companies at the state level. This should come as no surprise, given that both Ohio and Michigan are fairly similar in a lot of ways beyond just sharing a border. This may leave a wary resident to wonder deep, troubling thoughts, such as “can I trust my alarm company” or “am I allowed to take the law into my own hands?”. Yes, and no (to both).
Many cities within the state do have laws and ordinances regulating both the alarm companies operating in those cities as well as residents who choose to purchase systems. Cities such as Cleveland, Akron, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati all have their own rules and regulations. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find that those rules and regs. are all very similar sounding. We can’t know for sure whether or not the cities coordinated their efforts in writing the rules. However, you can at least rest assured that they checked each other’s work. For inspiration, of course.
Looking into the details, for those cities that do have certain rules on alarm companies, you’ll find the most basic of all rules possible: the requirement to purchase a license. In all cases in Ohio, alarm companies must be fully licensed in order to actually sell you their services. This license is often only good for one year, so companies have to re-up that license after 12 months. Most of these cities keep regularly updated lists of which companies are licensed and which aren’t. If you’re considering a company, or already have one, make sure you check with your local government for that updated list. If “ABC” Alarm Company seems fishy, and you can’t seem to find it on the list, it’s possible they aren’t real (or their license expired).
Thankfully, most cities in Ohio also have specific requirements on who those alarm companies can hire as well. This includes background checks, and in some cases rather strict background checks for those employed at the business. Ohio residents will also find that most cities include experience requirements from those employed in the business as well, with a strong emphasis on knowledge and experience in best practices within the alarm system industry. Furthermore, there’s no rubber stamp or guarantee that an alarm company in many Ohio cities will get a license to operate in that city. Alarm Administrators can deny a license for one of many reasons, including if a company has been denied a license in the past.
Ohio’s cities are fairly good about making sure their alarm companies are keeping on the up and up. However, the current trend with the state is not related to alarm companies, but alarm users. Are you an alarm user? Of course you are, you’re smart and you live in Ohio. But Ohio’s police and government don’t think you know how to use alarms responsibly. So they’re charging you for it. Big time.
Cleveland believes alarm users are costing them a lot of money. The same goes with Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus and pretty much any other Ohio city you can name. Almost without fail, these cities are more concerned about the cost of false alarms than they are about the potential cost of alarm companies that are running afoul of the law. Long story short, effectively owning a security alarm in Ohio means you’re going to have to mind your P’s and Q’s. Most cities have put in place the bare minimum requirements they need to make sure alarm companies are kept in check, but they’re also trying their hardest to wag a disapproving finger at alarm owners as well.
Ohio Home Security Cameras
Security cameras add a level of security and peace of mind that’s hard to match. That sign in front of your home advertising your alarm company is fine and all, but there’s nothing quite like having a security camera to catch all the action as it happens (or to help drive away those who want to make it happen). We’ve got both bad news and good news: Ohio’s home security laws are there, but they’re fairly ambiguous.
Ohio, like most states, fails to have any laws relating directly to residential home security cameras. Yes, this is the 21st century, and yes, one would think wiretapping laws would not apply here. However, wiretapping laws are, unfortunately, the closest relevant law that applies for the state. Positively, Ohio is one of many states that has a “one-party consent” rule. This means that only one party in any recording situation (this could be you) needs to consent to a recording to make it legal. While there are still rules regarding what one can actually do with that recording, it at least affords you the right to even make recordings.
What does that mean for security cameras? That’s where things get tricky. Let’s say you put up a security camera on your home. As long as you’re using it to cover only your home, and you capture a criminal or thief who you’ve engaged in conversation, you’ll probably be fine. But what are the chances that will happen? (Answer: slim to none.) So what’s a homeowner to do? This is where that ambiguity actually works in your favor.
In general, public spaces are considered just that: public. Ohio considers these areas free and clear for those who want to record. The idea is that individuals cannot expect to have privacy in public areas. Therefore, areas around your home that are out in the open are considered “public”. There are few risks involved with having security cameras up in these locations. However, this is not an implicit rubber stamp. There are still decency laws and privacy laws, which are fairly well established nation-wide. Don’t expect that you’ll be able to put your cameras anywhere. To keep yourself free and clear, keep video surveillance cameras on the outside of your house, and only pointed toward your own property.
Ohio Has Natural Disasters Too
Ohio’s specific location makes it one of the safest states in the country. While winters can sometimes be brutal, they’re not the absolute worst. Meanwhile, flooding can occur, but it, too, is not a terribly immobilizing prospect for Ohioans. For most residents in Ohio tornadoes can be a concern. Ohio experiences tornadoes at a higher frequency than the national average. And although the prospect of a tornado is frightening to just about anyone, it’s also something that can be overcome.
There are some simple steps to follow when it comes to preparing for and staying safe during a tornado. First, and most important, is don’t panic. The whirlwind of emotions may flow when you see a tornado or hear the tornado klaxons blaring, but there’s little help in regressing into a childlike state.
If you have a storm shelter, retreating there is your first, best option. Make sure to have extra food, water, blankets and flashlights. There’s no telling if you may get stuck down there. Alternatively, if you have a storm-ready safe room, retreating there is also a good option. If you have neither of these, you go to a room that has the fewest windows. This could be a basement area or, for those without basements, likely a bathroom or a closet. Try to hide under and behind objects that will protect you flying glass and debris, and that will protect your head. If you must, drag something into the room with you that will do the job.
Sometimes, boring is a good thing. When it comes to Ohio, many people may consider the state unimpressive. It doesn’t have the beaches of Florida or the glitz of Nevada. But it does have safety and security and the most beautiful green pastures I’ve ever seen. Home security providers in Ohio are fairly well regulated, and the state finds itself on the receiving end of natural disasters rather infrequently. Maybe it’s time we all moved to Ohio!