One of the great things about today’s home security systems is their ability to detect more than just break-ins. Depending on the equipment you connect with your security control panel, you can monitor environmental threats, including flooding, fire, carbon monoxide, and smoke.
Even though a security system can only alert you to an issue—and not prevent or solve it—detecting such problems early on can help you fix the problem before it causes extensive damage.
Keeping your home safe and secure requires more than break-in protection, and home security systems have evolved to meet those demands. While they will still cover your house and identify security breaches, they also offer various functionalities.
Systems will detect environmental issues like leaks, flooding, smoke, carbon monoxide and fire. They will alert you to any threats, allowing you to respond quickly to prevent further damage.
Leak And Flood Detection
Leaks and floods within your home can cause expensive damages, and the faster you are alerted to these issues, the quicker you can fix the problem. If your radiators spring a leak or your sump pump fails, you need to act fast.
You could be away on holiday or at work for the day, and by the time you get home, there might already be a huge mess to clean up. You can set up your security system to send an alert directly to your phone as soon as a leak is detected.
They do so through a set of sensors, which you can place in areas prone to leaks or with potential flood risks. If your radiator was the cause of the problem, you want to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Alongside a sensor, invest in quality radiators to ensure that you are fully protecting your house.
Fire can devastate your home very fast. If there is a fire in your home while you are away, not only will the alarm sound, notifying any neighbours, but you’ll also receive a notification on your phone. If you live in relatively isolated country property, you may not even have neighbours nearby who would notice the fire immediately.
Many home security systems now integrate smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to provide a full-service home monitoring package. The system will also automatically notify the monitoring station when it detects a fire, contacting the authorities. So, even if you don’t receive the alert, the fire department will still be on its way.
Water And Food Security
Floods are the number-one natural disaster. Water damage and flooding can devastate your home and your bank account. Whether you have flood insurance or not, adding water sensors to your home can help you prevent a small leak from turning into an expensive flood.
ADT and other home security companies offer customers the ability to add water detectors to their security systems. These sensors are usually placed near the floor in basements and drain areas. When the sensors detect water, they alert the central monitoring station, which then notifies the homeowner. If you self-monitor your home using a smart security system like Scout, you can purchase flood sensors that integrate with your DIY security system. Some sound an alarm when water is detected, while others send you a notification through an app.
The first step to protecting lives and property from the consequences of fires is setting up a high-quality fire alarm system. After installing it, you must keep the system well-maintained to make sure it’s always working at its best.
Fire Alarm System Overview
A fire alarm is a unit made of several devices, which uses visual and audio signalization to warn people about a possible fire, smoke, or carbon monoxide occurrence in the area of coverage. Fire alarms are usually set in fire alarm systems to provide zonal coverage for residences and commercial buildings. The warning signal is either a loud siren/bell or a flashing light, including both. Some fire alarm systems use additional warnings, such as sending a voice message or making a phone call.
Depending on the functionality and the integrated components, there are several classifications of fire alarm systems.
- Automatic fire alarm systems are activated through fire detectors, such as smoke or heat sensors. Manual fire alarms are activated with manual call points or pull stations. There is no reason for a fire alarm system to exclude one or the other. Both can be included in the same system.
- Conventional fire alarms work as one unit and cannot pinpoint the exact area of activation unless inspected. Addressable fire alarms have a specially dedicated address for each fire alarm detector connected to the control panel for easier identification of the source of the danger.
- One-stage fire alarm systems warn everyone in the building that a sensor has been activated. Two-stage fire alarm systems warn only certain people authorized to take appropriate action before the second stage. This system is designed to serve large.
To determine the most suitable fire alarm system, start by identifying your specific needs. Think about how many detectors need to be installed in your building. Go for a fire alarm system that is compatible with your current security system. Shop around for equipment that fits within your budget without sacrificing quality. Work closely with the vendor of the fire alarm system to correctly install the fire alarm system and properly integrate it with your existing monitoring and security system.
Give preference to systems that include additional features—such as a hush button, voice alarm and backup battery—to improve usability. If you’re unsure about whether a specific component of a fire alarm system serves your particular purpose, contact the support of one or more vendors.
It’s also a good idea to contact the fire department and familiarize yourself with relevant fire codes and regulations. Make sure you compare the fire alarm systems offered by various vendors before you decide which one to buy.
Read online reviews from current and previous customers to get a sense of the quality and reliability of the fire alarm systems you are considering. You can also add to your shortlist of vendors by bringing recommendations from friends, family and colleagues who have a well-functioning fire alarm system.
Critical Components of a Fire Alarm System
A conventional fire alarm system consists of the following devices:
- Fire alarm panel
- Detectors and bases
- Call points
- Sounders and flashers
- Power supply accessories (fire alarm batteries)
Wireless fire alarm systems do not use any wiring between the fire control panel and the other devices. Most fire alarms used today are wireless. The most advanced use innovative technology and can be integrated into a smart home with various software applications.
The fire alarm panel (or the fire alarm control panel - FACP) is the base or the control hub of the system. It controls the settings of the other components and communicates the information through the system.
Fire detectors can be heat, smoke or carbon monoxide sensors. They are placed around the building to trace the presence of such emergencies. Some advanced sensors can even detect radiation. Call points or pulls belong to manually-controlled fire alarm systems. Most residential
A fire alarm system can use the main electrical power supply as a primary source. In case of power failure, the system switches to the secondary power supply, consisting of a fire alarm battery. Conventional fire alarms need frequent battery replacements. Some require basic technical skills, such as using a screwdriver to mount their parts on a wall or ceiling.
How Fire Alarms Work with Access Control
Most building and office operators would agree that fire alarms are necessary. It would be highly reckless to install an access control system that doesn’t meet all fire safety measures. It's recommended to implement an access control system that fully integrates with fire alarms and any other safety sensors on the property.
For example, the Kisi Pro Controller does not have a built-in fire alarm relay for a couple of reasons:
- It keeps down the cost of manufacturing the board and therefore lowers the hardware cost for their clients.
- To be compliant with building codes, the installer generally installs a backup power controller like this. The building’s fire alarm system and the Kisi Pro Controller are connected to the backup power controller. And the electric locks are also wired into the backup power controller.
So to paint a better picture, imagine this: A fire breaks out in the building, which triggers the fire alarm. The fire alarm will then begin the backup power controller to unlock the doors for people to exit safely. And that’s it!
Ways To Protect Your Home From Flooding
Did you know that homeowner’s insurance does not cover flooding? Flooding is a leading cause of damage to homes, and it is not covered by traditional homeowner’s insurance.
If you want or need flood coverage, you need to pay for it separately. If your home is in a flood plain, you probably already know this because most mortgage lenders require flood insurance to be purchased on homes that lie within floodplains.
Besides carrying homeowner’s insurance to protect your wallet from flood damages, there are several things that you can do to help protect your home from flooding.
As we mentioned above, if your home is located in a floodplain, you should already know that and have purchased flood insurance coverage as mandated by your lender. If you are not in a floodplain, you are not required to carry this additional coverage.
Regardless of whether you have flood insurance or not, there are several things that you can do to help minimize the risk of flooding and the ensuing damage.
One of the first things that you should consider doing, especially if you live in a high-risk flood area, is to put together an emergency kit that is ready to grab and go in the event of a flood.
Additionally, you will want to have an evacuation plan for yourself and your family.
Your emergency kit should include:
- Extra clothing for you and your family
- Insurance policy numbers as well as contact information for your adjuster
- Enough cash to get you through a few days
You will also want to have an evacuation plan mapped out in the case of an emergency. Plan on where you will go, who you will stay with, etc.
Flood Proofing Your Home
Besides being prepared for an evacuation, there are several things you can do to protect your home from flooding physically.
- Seal up any cracks in your foundation. You can purchase some very affordable mortar or masonry caulk which can be used to fill in any gaps in the foundation altogether. However, if water seeping into your home is a persistent problem, you may want to look for a more permanent fix.
- Apply coatings and sealants. You can apply glue to your walls, windows, doorways and foundation that will help keep water from penetrating your home. These sealants can be purchased at most home retailers or hardware stores.
- Buy a battery-powered sump pump. Sump pumps are a great way to prevent flooding in your home. They work by pumping the water out to the outside, and most run on electricity. This is an excellent solution until there is a power outage; therefore, it is best to buy one that runs on battery power (and be sure to keep it charged up!)
- Relocate your expensive or sentimental items to higher ground. If you have a multiple story home and floodwaters are coming, moving your valuables to the second or third floor will help protect them if damaging flood waters can breach your first floor.
- Install a flood sensor. Most home security systems offer flood sensors as add-on equipment. These devices detect small leaks before they can cause significant damage, saving you potentially thousands of dollars.
- Have sewer or septic line check valves installed? These allow waste to flow only one way, which protects against sewage flooding your home. You can have a professional install these or go the DIY route.
- Keep your electrical outlets and switches raised. All electrical equipment should be at least one foot above flood level to help reduce the risk of electrical damage.
- Has your lawn graded away from your home? If your yard is tilted towards your house, this allows rainwater to pool there and have a better chance of seeping in. If you are unsure of how to grade your lawn, hire a professional.
In addition to these tips, you should also make sure that appliances in your home are raised above the flood level as well. Water heaters, washing machines, air conditioners, etc., should all be raised above flood level, especially if they are in your basement. This can be as simple as putting your appliances up on cinder blocks to keep them off ground level.
How to Minimize Damage from Flooding
- Sometimes, no matter how ready your home is, flooding is imminent. Luckily, there are some things that you can do to help minimize the damage.
- Be sure that your gutters and drains are clear to allow water to run freely through them.
- Utilize sandbags to block any gaps that could lead to flooding
- If flood water rises enough where it is close to reaching your electric panel, shut it off to prevent electrical damage.
- Open up windows and doors (if it is not raining) to allow air to circulate through your home and dry things out.
- Make sure your sump pump is turned on and in good running condition.
- Take photos and videos of any flooding in your home to show to your insurance adjuster, assuming you have flood insurance coverage.
There are additional environmental factors that could lead to problems within your home if they go undetected.
A temperature sensor, as part of your home security system, will flag you when the temperature drops below a certain level. If you are away during the winter, and it gets cold, you could end up with frozen pipes if they aren’t in use.
Your system will notify you of the dropping temperature, allowing you to contact someone who can go and either turn on the heating for a few days or run the water periodically to prevent them from freezing.
Doing this is much more cost-effective than dealing with frozen pipes, which could expand and burst, causing more expensive damages.
When choosing a home security system, it’s helpful to know about all the functionalities that are available to you. Protecting your home from both break-ins and environmental threats will give you peace of mind that when you’re away, all your belongings are safe.
On top of that, these new technologies will help you minimize any damages as a result of floods or fires by allowing you to react quickly.