Dear misinformed tourists, Wisconsin is not, in fact, just a state for great cheese. Granted, residents will often happily don the moniker “Cheeseheads”, and yes, the cheese hats may flow like wine, but Wisconsin has more going on than just cultured milk products. The Forward State does just that: Looks forward. Wisconsin invests heavily in technology and it has some of the most technologically updated cities in the U.S. – Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Oshkosh; all of these cities are ripe centers for economic progress in the modern age. But Wisconsin never forgets its roots, and the preservation of its rich history is without a doubt something everyone can both appreciate and respect. Still, so many great cities and so much history attracts all kinds of people — including those that desire to make private property their property, not yours. Home security can go a long way in souring any criminal’s attempts at trying to milk Wisconsinites out of their treasured possessions.
Home Security Provider Requirements for Wisconsin
Although it never gets particularly hot in Wisconsin, the thought of someone coming into your home and rifling through your personal items could cause anyone (even someone in Wisconsin) to break out into a sweat. Thankfully, if you live in Wisconsin you can comfortably wipe away some of that perspiration. Much like Illinois, Wisconsin is a no-go state for those that want to be both a) unpardoned criminals, and b) home security installers. We know, that’s a combination that really shouldn’t go together, but some states (see: Kentucky) really have no laws governing just who can and cannot get a license to install home security. It should be common sense that someone with a known past for burglary shouldn’t be able to easily walk into someone’s home and provide a service meant to protect against people such as themselves. But hey, this is America. We believe in second chances. Just as long as that second chance is within reason. The powers-that-be in Wisconsin felt the same way when they enacted the law that prohibits hiring anyone with a felony from being hired to install such systems and being allowed access to installation records. So while you may end up having a former (reformed) felon install your system, the chances are slim, and only if he—or she, since crime is an equal opportunity employer—has been officially pardoned.
With the knowledge that the person installing your home security system is not likely to also be the person breaking into your house, it’s easy to think that the state of Wisconsin has the most important aspects of home security regulation in place. Nevertheless, those same powers-that-be went even further to scratch the regulatory itch on the industry. Wisconsin has followed the example of states like Texas and implemented some basic licensure requirements for those seeking to do electrical work in people’s houses. As installing a security system does indeed require this basic knowledge, it’s good to know that the people coming to install your security system will also know their way around the wires in your home.
Outside of preventing felons from stepping into your home to install security systems, the state of Wisconsin (emphasis here is on the state government, not local governments) does not provide much in the way of home security provider regulations. However, the biggest city in the state, Milwaukee, does have its own set of rules governing home security providers. One could easily sift for days through the thick soup of legalese contained within the city legal code. Alternatively, the Milwaukee city government was kind enough to summarize that information nicely in one easy-to-read document targeted specifically at home security providers. Much like Fairfax County in Virginia, Milwaukee’s primary goal with their own set of regulations is to minimize the amount of false alarms eating up county resources.
The regulations in Milwaukee are pretty far reaching and very specific, so they’re definitely something you’ll want to pay attention to and read through in detail. Interesting to note is that any and all systems that alert the police directly are prohibited. Now, we know what you’re thinking. “Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?”Good question. The more convoluted answer is both yes and no. What it does do is prevent the police from getting notifications directly whenever a security alarm is tripped. They will still get information indirectly from the security system company, who must hire individuals to monitor their security alarm systems and notify local police in the cases where they determine it’s not a false alarm. So yes, this may indeed increase response times, but for the city, it’s deemed worth it. Thankfully, Milwaukee experiences some of the lowest burglary rates in the state.
There is one kind of home security alarm trigger that will connect to emergency services, however: The humble fire alarm. Yes, you may not get police immediately to your home in the case of a burglary, but the firefighters will be there in no time in the case of a fire. Fines for false alarms of any kind can be pretty hefty, reaching up to $100 for the third false alarm and up to $250 for each consecutive false alarm after that. And those fines are applied to the security alarm provider as well, so unfortunately, it’s in their better interest to not call the police in the case of a tripped alarm. Since burglaries occur when you are not at home, that may mean that you can’t always verify with your security company as to the truthfulness of that tripped alarm. It’s certainly a risk, but probably a risk worth taking. Who knows? Maybe the burglar will start a fire in the kitchen? At least then you know somebody will show up quickly.
Erecting Home Security Cameras in Wisconsin
Security cameras in Wisconsin are likely to capture more than just Green Bay fans celebrating madly. Crime happens throughout the state, and oddly enough,more often in the least-populated counties. If you’re in Douglas, Ashland, Vilas, Langlade or Adams county, you may want to go one step further than a home security system. You might want to invest in a few good security cameras that can either ward off any would-be burglars or capture them in their insidious acts to curdle your hopes and dreams of a secure home. But as with most home security issues, there are some things you’ll want to consider before just tossing up some security cameras around the house.
For one reason or another, Wisconsin is very adamant about cracking down on unwanted pornography. By that, we mean pornography created or disseminated against the wishes of the person or people who are the subject matter of said pornography. Wisconsin is one of 26 states, for example, that have laws specifically against “revenge porn”. In Wisconsin, it’s a felony. So if you’re thinking of putting up cameras in the hopes of catching your ex-spouse or neighbor in the act, you might want to reconsider the cameras. However, if your intention is pure, honest, and morally decent, you’re in a good position. Almost every state, including Wisconsin, allows video recording in public spots and places where the individual has no expectation of privacy. In Wisconsin, this could mean that you can keep the cameras on the outside of your home pointed toward your own yard or the sidewalk in front of your house. It can also mean that cameras inside your house and in more public locations (living room, dining room, foyer) are perfectly acceptable, even if a guest in your home doesn’t know that those cameras are there.
Audio recording can be a tricky situation. Wisconsin is one of several “one-party consent” states. This means that you can only record someone’s conversation if one person in the conversation agrees to being recorded. Now, this could be you and someone else. Or it could be two people who are not you, but one of them agrees to the recording. However, if two people break into your home and start engaging in a discussion that includes how many items to steal from your house and whether the Packers are or are not a good football team, if you are not part of the conversation, you could find yourself in legal trouble for having their conversation on record. The safest situation for security cameras is simply to have cameras that don’t have audio pickup or to turn the audio record feature off.
Safety During Wisconsin Natural Disasters
Here’s a surprise, Wisconsin: You’re prone to cold weather. A lot of it. Especially during the winter. Now that we’ve effectively expanded your horizons, we’ll push just a little bit further and guess that if you’re a Wisconsin native, you likely already knew that. But cold weather is not the only extreme weather event that Wisconsinites have to deal with. The area is no stranger to floods, tornadoes and fairly severe thunderstorms. Preparation in these areas is key to walking away unscathed, cheese hat in hand, ready to live and fight another day.
Cold weather patterns in particular can effectively shut the entire state down for days. Cold weather is no friend to anyone, especially when it means the potential for ice storms, heavy snow and power outages. If you do find yourself stuck in cold weather for whatever reason, make sure you have your emergency gear in place. Always have extra blankets and warm clothes ready. If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace, keep an abundant amount of wood handy in the situations where the power goes out and central heating suddenly disappears. Cold weather can freeze pipes, so make sure to keep water running at a trickle from all faucets to keep the flow up. Open cabinets below sinks, as those areas are typically not heated or insulated, and pipes can freeze during the extremely cold temperature events Wisconsin is known for. Food will stay good in cold weather, but do make sure you have food that can be consumed without the need for heating. It is also best to avoid alcohol consumption when the weather plummets. Alcohol can give a false sense of warmth to the body, and the majority of hypothermia victims in Wisconsin have a tendency to be both male and intoxicated. You might just want to avoid being male when the weather drops as well…
Because Wisconsin is prone to a higher-than-average amount of tornadoes, it’s a good idea to have a firm understanding of tornado safety. Tornadoes can utterly destroy a home, but there are ways to ride out the storm and make it out safely, even if your home is hit directly. Retreating to an underground area is always best. This could be a cellar or a basement. Try to get to an area without windows, or with as few windows as possible. Stick to the middle of the room when you can, and try to hide behind and under heavy objects. Glass can go flying into the room as high speed, and if the ceiling comes down, you’ll want to be under something that can offer a good amount of protection. Having emergency food, water, clothing, blankets, flashlights and a charged cell phone will help in the situations where things do go south. Thankfully, this is one natural disaster that doesn’t target beer-loving males. Wisconsin provides a helpful resource for all kinds of natural disasters, even ones that Wisconsin is not particularly known for, including heatwaves (which, quite frankly, may be welcome every now and then in Wisconsin).
Wisconsin is one of the precious jewels of the Midwestern states. The great weather (in the summer, at least) and beautiful garden landscape provide endless escapes from the harsh realities of the world. But, like a fine bacterium on Swiss cheese, those harsh realities tend to settle in and create a few holes in our life. Home security can help ward off some of those unwanted realities, leaving more time for the things we do enjoy and the peace of mind we so often seek. Of course, if home security doesn’t provide all of that peace of mind you’re looking for, filling your home with the smell of rotten cheese may work. After all Wisconsin, you may be the butt end of more than your fair share of cheesy jokes, but being the #1 state in cheese production kind of sets you up for it.