Home Security Systems in Pennsylvania
Living in Pennsylvania, or as locals prefer to call it, PA, offers many perks. One, you get to live near the original Hershey’s Chocolate World, right in the heart of Hershey, PA. Two, you’ll never run out of beer and chips on Super Bowl Sundays. There are at least six regional potato chip companies in the state, and there’s the Yuengling brewing company. And last, PA is among the safest states in the U.S.
Let’s focus on that last one for a little bit. According to a recent study, PA is the 15th safest state. This data is further supported by NeighborhoodScout.com, which shows that PA’s violent and property crime rate per capita are both lower than the national median. Does this mean you should slack off and ignore your home’s security? Definitely not. The data from NeighborhoodScout.com shows that at least 3 in every 1,000 residents still fall victim to theft. Better play it safe than to be sorry, right?
Home Security Provider Requirements in PA
With all the security companies scattered around Pennsylvania, how do you choose one that’s right for you? A good place to start is to review your state’s regulations and laws governing the installation, monitoring, and use of home alarm equipment.
First, the state of Pennsylvania requires all businesses that offer home improvement services to have a contractors’ license. But here’s the thing: To qualify as a home improvement, the “improvement” must cost over $500. While some home security systems cost over $500, not all do.
Second, you should know that homeowners are required to get written approval from a public safety office before installing auto-dialing devices, such as alarm systems that send alerts to the police or third-party monitoring centers. For example, if your preferred alarm company’s monitoring center has access to police dispatch, you should first get written approval from your local police department or from the state police.
Finally, the state only allows up to three false alarms within the span of 12 months. If you get more than three false alarms within a year, you can be fined up to $300 and your written approval can be revoked. When choosing a professionally monitored alarm company, you should look into their “Cancelling False Alarms” clause. Be sure that they offer a convenient way to cancel alarms. Also, read customer reviews about the matter.
Using a Home Security Cameras in Pennsylvania
Besides getting an alarm system, putting up a security camera is another way of enhancing your home’s security. However, as with the installation and use of alarm systems, there are laws that govern the use of security cameras. In fact, PA enforces pretty harsh penalties for violating security camera laws, so beware.
PA is a two-party consent state, which means when recording audio-video clips, you should inform everyone that they are being recorded. Otherwise, you could end up in a messy legal situation. Failure to comply with the wiretap law in Pennsylvania is classified as a third-degree felony and could land you in prison.
Another thing to consider is whether you’re recording a public or a private area. Pointing your camera towards the road is okay as it is a public area where people should not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. In fact, several police departments in the country are encouraging citizens to point their security cameras towards public roads to aid police should an incident occur.
Surveilling private areas is a different concern. In private areas, such as bedrooms or restrooms, people expect to have privacy. Setting up cameras in these places violates the federal Anti-Voyeurism Law, which may result in legal consequences.
Safety During Natural Disasters
If you’re from PA, you’re not new to natural disasters, especially thunderstorms, tornadoes, and earthquakes. Along with these disasters come massive destruction of property and possible loss of lives. So how can you and your family stay safe during these calamities?
Whatever natural disaster you’re facing, it’s helpful to have an emergency kit in place and an emergency action plan. The emergency kit should include necessities, such as food, water, clothes, batteries, flashlights, medicine, and backup phones if possible. As for the emergency action plan, you should discuss where to go in case of evacuation, who takes care of who, and what to do in case one family member goes missing.
During a thunderstorm, it’s important to stay indoors. One of the leading thunderstorm-related causes of death is being hit by lightning, and you can avoid that simply by taking shelter inside your home. What if you’re outside? If you’re in an open area, go to a low place immediately, such as valley. Lightning is most likely to hit the tallest object in an area, so be sure the tallest object isn’t you. If you’re on open water, get to land immediately and take shelter. If you’re in a forest, hide under thick growths of low-lying trees.
During a tornado, staying inside is also key to safety, but be sure to stay inside a sturdy building. Basements are one of the most effective hiding places during a tornado. If you don’t have a basement, go to a central room, preferably one with no windows or doors. Crouch on the floor and cover your head. If you’re outdoors, seek shelter immediately. Single-floor concrete buildings with very few windows and doors are preferable. Never drive during a tornado.
During an earthquake, the best thing to do is to follow the good ol’ rule, “duck, cover, and hold”. Duck under sturdy objects (e.g. tables), cover your head, and hold onto something solid. Stay away from furniture that may fall over, such as bookshelves and cabinets, and move away from windows. If you’re outside, steer clear of trees, lampposts, and tall buildings. I
Staying safe, both from natural disasters and crimes, is not an easy thing to do. But it’s also not impossible. With the help of preparation, proper equipment, and common sense, you’ll be able to make your stay in PA safer and more rewarding.