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Home Security Tips & Advice

The Lang's Locks Blog

Are Smart Homes Really the Smartest Way to Keep Your Home Safe?

cyber security locksWith technology on the rise, it is easy to keep updating every aspect of your life once the newest model of it is released. And with everything from smart vacuums to smart lights, to smart locks, some people are starting to wonder if investing so much into smart objects for your day-to-day is not only worth it, but safe.

What is a Smart Home?

A smart home is defined, by Google, as “a home equipped with lighting, heating, and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by phone or computer”. So that could be anything from owning “smart” outlets that connect to the Bluetooth on your phone to turn lights on and off, all the way to having every outlet, appliance, and more linked up to an app on your smart-phone.

Items You Can Buy to Make Your Home “Smarter”

1. Smart TVs - This is usually the most commonly owned smart device on the market, but it’s good not to forget that it still qualifies you as a smart-home owner if it can be controlled via your phone, tablet, or any mobile personal device.
2. Lighting - If you want to be able to control your lighting at the press on a touch-screen button, there are a few different ways that you can go about doing so. The first that most commonly is used, is switching out your switches by using smart-plugs.
3. Thermostats - This is where the future meets the present. These smart thermostats not only make your life easier, but make your home more green and eco-friendly. These smart devices are perfect for anyone who may have forgotten to turn the A/C off after they leave home, or want to turn the heat on before they get home during a cold winter evening. You can customize some smart thermostats to even allow different temperatures for different rooms and/or family members. Again, these devices are outstanding for not only your wallet, but also in making your home more energy efficient.
4. Vacuums - Have you ever seen videos of frisbee shaped robots roaming around someone’s house, or maybe you’ve seen one in person? That is most likely a smart vacuum. Popular brands of these vacuums are the iRobot Roomba, the Shark ION Robot 750, ILIFE, and NEATO. You can purchase different models of robot vacuums that suite your lifestyle. Some are best for pets, others are best for hardwood, but most have different settings for every type of indoor terrain you can think of. With its smart sensors, these robot maids will not fall down the stairs, run over your cat, or knock the china cabinet over.
5. Window Blinds - Need more privacy? Do you have more than one window in your house? Do you sleep past when the sun comes up? If you answered yes to any of those questions, smart blinds will make your home much more “user-friendly”. With motorized shades, you can control the amount of light and heat you have in each room without running around the house and pulling down the shades for every window.
6. Voice Assistants - You may have seen all of the commercials involving a chipper-voiced woman named “Alexa”. Alexa is just one of the many versions of a voice assistant. You can use most voice assistants to connect to all of your other smart devices so that you could say a custom command such as “Alexa, I’m leaving!” and she will start the vacuum, turn off the lights, put your smart TV in sleep mode, shut your blinds, turn off the thermostat, and more. She can even feed your pets if you have a smart pet-feeder. Almost all of the giant companies have a popular voice assistant that can help you with anything from finding out if you need an umbrella today, or if the Warriors beat the Cavs. Some of the most popular voice assistants are Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Home Kit, and the Google Home. All having similar but different features with various pros and cons.

So Let’s Get Into the Nitty-Gritty. What Smart Devices are Available to Make Your Home Smarter and Safer?

1. Home Security Systems - This might seem like the most obvious, but it needs to be mentioned. Having something that allows you to monitor your home when you are not there is also step number one when updating the safety mechanics in your house.
2. Door Locks - Smart locks allow you to lock, and unlock your door remotely. So, if the kids forget their house key you can let them in from the office, and also make sure they are safe when you’re away. Making sure that you and your loved ones are safe is only a click of a button now!
3. Fire Detection Devices - Sometimes we do the silliest things when rushing out the door. Imagine this: You made pancakes and coffee for breakfast, and look down and you forgot that the clock jumped an hour forward last night (pesky daylight savings time, right?). You scarf down breakfast, put your shoes on, and you’re out the door. Well, someone forgot to turn the stove-top off. One thing leads to another, and bam - a fire strikes. Instead of getting home to the fire department watering your home like the hydrangeas, get an alert anywhere you are that the smoke detector is going off. This way action can be handled immediately, and not wait until the neighbors call the fire department.

Other devices like water detection devices, doorbell cameras, motion sensors, and other smart devices are available to make your home the smartest and safest it can be.

So are Smart Homes Safer Than “Not-Smart” Homes?

The answer is: A home is only as safe as it is secure.
This means that just like someone picking a lock, or breaking a window, thieves have found ways to trick a smart home. Hackers are the biggest threat you have when it comes to a smart-home. Specifically, if you have smart-locks and cameras that are all connected.

But Don’t Worry Yet You Jetson Family Wannabe!

There are ways to make your home, harder to “crack” or hack into than others. Here are some safety tips to apply to your smart-home and all of your interactions with technology to keep you safe:

1. Always use two-factor authentication
2. Your security system being connected to cameras is a MUST
3. Smart Locks, or smart keys that only you and a few loved ones have or know about
4. Doorbell cameras/cameras in general, always check before you answer your door or cell-phone
5. Always have protective software uploaded into your devices (this isn’t an option for all smart-hubs)
6. Back up your devices and cameras on a regular basis
7. Use emails and internet (wifi) safely. Never open spam, or click on links that you don’t know of.
8. Choose strong and encrypted passwords for all of your devices, and don’t share them
9. Make commands with your voice assistant that make you answer a question when you come in the door, to verify your identity.
10. Most importantly, stay informed and up-to-date. Keep all of your smart-devices updated, and be aware if there are any big waves of hackers messing with smart-home devices.

If you have any questions, we would be more than happy to discuss how to set-up your home in the safest and smartest way for your lifestyle.

Lately, the Cincinnati Real Estate Market is Growing Like Crazy

replacement door locksHomes are selling left and right, which means there are a lot of new homebuyers in the market. Homeownership can be an exciting experience, especially for first-time buyers. There are so many things to consider when buying a home. It can be easy to get preoccupied with the challenges of moving homes. From budgeting to painting and decorating, there are hundreds of items on your to-do list. But, when it comes to what’s truly important, securing your home and protecting your new house usually get forgotten. It’s important to stop and think about changing or rekeying the locks of your new home as soon as you’re handed your new set of keys. With all of the running around, this step is easy to delay or put off. Thankfully, Lang’s Locks has been helping people keep their homes safe and secure since 1976.

When you move into a new home, you never know who has access inside. If previous owners made copies of their keys, there’s a strong probability that there’s a spare key floating around. It’s good practice to change or rekey your locks. This is especially true if a family member loses a key, a key goes unreturned by a service person, or if your locks are old.

Here are a few situations where you should consider contacting a locksmith: 

  • Your keys are stolen
  • You lose your keys
  • Your key often gets stuck inside of the lock or the lock is difficult to unlatch
  • You want to consolidate your keys and have only one master key for the whole home

If you’ve experienced one of these situations, you might consider your choices:

  • Rekeying your home’s locks: Rekeying your locks means changing the notches within the lock and the corresponding key. This uses the same locks, but manipulates them so your existing keys won’t unlatch the lock. Moving into a new home comes with a lot of expenses. If you’re looking for the most affordable option, rekeying is a practical choice.
  • Replacing your home’s locks: While rekeying is a secure choice, there are some scenarios in which changing the locks completely would be a better option. Although it might feel like a big investment, what price are you willing to put on your family’s safety? We recommend changing locks if the existing locks are old. It’s wise to invest in newer, more secure locks. This requires the removal of your existing locks and replacing them with a new version that ensures you’ve secured your home.

Whatever your need might be, Lang’s Locks has the experience and commitment you’d want in a locksmith. With more than three decades of experience, Lang’s Locks has access to a large variety of inventory at especially affordable prices. Whether you need standard door or patio locks, or high-security control, we’re committed to helping you keep your home safe.

Our emergency service sets us apart from the rest, but don’t wait until it’s too late to feel secure.

Avoiding Locksmith Fraud

It's Good To Know a Locksmith Before You Need a Locksmith

Each day, up to 250,000 Americans make emergency calls to locksmiths. Despite reasonable quotes over the phone, so-called locksmiths are playing the bait and switch game and charging unreasonably high fees after a blank business agreement is signed.  

Lang's Locks is a Member of The Associated Locksmiths Of America (ALOA)

ALOA's certification program (PRP) provides a standard of knowledge and technical proficiency by which locksmiths can be recognized. All members go through a thorough background check and extensive training. Credentials and credibility lead to knowledge and integrity. 

Lang's Locks has been a locksmith company since 1976. When you call Lang's Locks, we ensure your security needs are met and your expectations are exceeded.

Checklist for Detecting a Locksmith Scam

ALOL Certified LocksmithALOA has also created a 10-point locksmith scam check-list for detecting a locksmith company that may be engaging in this scheme. Many of the items in this checklist are legal by themselves, however, if several are used together, you may be dealing with a con-artist:

• Not familiar with your area - To ensure that the company is local, make sure that they are familiar with your area of town.

• "Locksmith Service" - Unscrupulous individuals often operate under many business names/aliases. Thus, they must answer the phone with a generic phrase like, "locksmith service." If the call is answered this way, ask, "What is the legal name of your business?"

• ALOA Logo - Does the Yellow Pages ad contain a logo that makes them appear to belong to ALOA? While many locksmiths do belong to the Association, some unscrupulous individuals trick the consumer by falsely using the ALOA logo. You can always check to see if in fact these businesses are members by contacting the ALOA at 800-532-2562 or www.findalocksmith.com.

• Unclear Business Name - Look closely at the ad(s). Is the specific name of the business clearly identified? Does it appear that the dealer actually operates under several names? If a web address is listed, does the name on the website match the name on the ad?

• "Under Same Ownership" - This confusing statement, often found in small print at the bottom of a full-page ad in phone directories, give consumers a sense that the firm has been in business for a while. The statement itself may be a warning sign that the company operates under several aliases. Also, the ad sometimes lists association memberships for organizations that do not exist, (i.e. American Locksmith Association).

• Service Vehicle - Some legitimate locksmiths will work out of a car or unmarked van for quick jobs, but most will arrive in a service vehicle; a van or truck that is clearly marked.

• Identity - A legitimate locksmith should ask for identity and some form of proof that you have the authority to allow the unlocking to be done. You have the right to ask for the locksmith's identification as well. Does he have a business card? Does he have an invoice or bill with the company name printed on it? Does it match the name on the service vehicle?

• Estimate - Find out what the work will cost before you authorize it. Never sign a blank form authorizing work.

• Invoice - Insist on an itemized invoice. You can't dispute a charge without proof of how much you paid and what the payment was for.

• Refuse - If you are not comfortable with the service provider, you can, and should, refuse to work with the locksmith.

Call the Lang's Locks, your local locksmith professionals today! We're here for your security needs at home or work, day and night.

Spring Cleaning To-Do List: Reduce the Risk of Home Burglary

west chester oh locksmith servicesAs the waters recede and rain turns into sunshine, Cincinnati homeowners will start to prepare for their spring cleaning and landscaping routines. The promise of longer days and sunny weather motivates a lot of home improvements, and home security should be at the top of the list.

Plant Barriers

Professional landscapers can guide important decisions about how to reduce the risk of home burglary. One important element of a home’s landscaping plans should be home security. Keeping shrubbery, bushes, and dense trees away from windowsills eliminates hiding places. Burglars no longer have an easy access point to windows or doors. Greenery near windows or home entrance points is important for exterior aesthetic.

Landscaping and exterior home improvement projects often focus on adding color and visual interest through flowers, shrubbery, and greenery. Landscapers can select thorny variations that add a new layer of security and protection. Thorny variation changes cannot prevent a home from being robbed. The home improvement changes often dissuade a potential burglar from identifying a home as an easy target.

Increase Lighting

Adding several types of outdoor lighting or motion-sensor lighting can also be a deterrent to a burglar looking for an easy target. Have your home’s entire lawn or landscape visible at night. Unfamiliar people or objects are going to be far easier to identify and see from inside the home or by passersby. Keeping a home well-lit is also a great security measure. Interior lighting provides the sense that people are inside and at home. The increased lighting makes the house a less practical target than a vacant home.

Check Windows and Doors

Every home should have a fundamental window and door security measures in place. During the popular spring-cleaning season be sure to have a locksmith you trust check padlocks, door handle locks, and windows. Lang's Locks can help you to ensure the locks are secure. Spring is also a great time to review house keys and garage openers. Are your keys all accounted for and working?

Cincinnati Home Security and Locksmith Solutions

If a lock is broken or a key is missing, we can help! Lang’s Locks offers several ways to increase the security of a home. Rekeying a home with an entirely new set of keys and locks will give you ultimate security and peace of mind. New locks ensure that any previous lost or compromised keys are ineffective. Previous homeowners, cleaners, or other people with access to a home are no longer able to enter without making arrangements for access. Emergency day or night locksmith services can assist in the event of a break-in or if a homeowner is locked out of his or her home with no other form of entry.

Lang’s Locks offers service to Butler, Warren, and Northern Hamilton counties. Our expert locksmiths with more than 40 years of experience are always available! Contact 513-860-0222 for more information or to get day or night locksmith services today.

Door SafetyAs your first point of contact with the outside world, your front door deserves extra security. To make break-ins as difficult as possible for a would-be intruder, professional locksmiths recommend taking certain steps. Preventing crime on your property can be as easy as following these five tips.

1. Invest in Bright Outdoor Lighting

A criminal’s illicit activities are especially likely to be witnessed in well-lit areas, so thieves are more likely to bypass your home if you have a bright porch light, which would highlight their illegal activities.

2. Buy a Surveillance System

Proper lighting illuminates your door area, but if you want to keep tabs on everyone who approaches your front door, install a security camera. Many systems easily integrate with mobile devices, allowing you to monitor your home no matter where you are.

3. Upgrade Your Front Locks

Not all locks are made equal. If you recently moved in and haven’t changed the locks yet, you might not be the only person with access to your front door. For improved security, have a locksmith replace (or better yet, upgrade) your locks.

4. Install a Stronger Door

Locks are important, but they mean little if your door could be broken down. Look for exterior doors with solid iron or steel cores, which are difficult to drill into or break.

5. Protect Your Windows

Maybe your front door itself is secure, but what about the windows next to it? If you’re concerned about someone breaking through the glass, consider installing metal bars over them for heavy-duty protection. If you find that idea unsightly, though, you could also use clear security film, which makes windows harder to shatter.

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