The Best Smart Home Products for DIYers: 50 Smart Home Technology Systems and Devices to Automate Your Home the DIY Way

Thanks to advances in technology, software, and automation, smart home technology products make everyone’s life easier. Practically everything in your home nowadays can be automated or connected to your tablet or mobile device. This allows you to still feel connected and have complete control over your home, even when you’re miles away.

In no particular order, here are 50 of the best smart home systems, devices and technology gadgets for do-it-your-selfers.

1. Rachio IRO Smart Wifi Enabled Irrigation Controller

You’ll no longer have to worry about watering the lawn with this nifty gadget. It takes the guesswork out of keeping your grass at its greenest thanks to a number of intelligent design features.

Key features:

  • Personalizes your lawn water regimen using data specific to your location, season and weather
  • Control your sprinkler system with your iOS or Android device via WiFi
  • Reduce water bill and waste by only watering when your lawn needs it

Cost: *Est. $299

2. SkyBell Wi-Fi Doorbell with Motion Sensor

Take your ding-dong up a notch with this motion-activated smart doorbell. Now you can see who’s at your door even when you aren’t home.

Key features:

  • See, hear, and speak with who’s at your door no matter where you are
  • Silent mode lets you turn off the door bell – perfect for new parents and shift workers
  • WiFi connectivity easily integrates into your home network

Cost: *Est. $199

3. Eyedro EHWEM1 Wireless Home Electricity Monitor

Help save on your home’s energy bill by keeping tabs on usage with this electricity monitor. Keep tabs on which appliance is using the most power and adjust if necessary.

Key Features:

  • Get real-time stats on your home’s energy usage with free online monitoring
  • Compatible for both residential and commercial installation
  • Easily compare usage and billing stats to save the environment and money

Cost: *Est. $199

4. Philips 431643 Hue Personal Wireless Lighting, Starter Pack

This smart lighting pack is seriously cool – you can create and save custom light modes that replicate your favourite images or even a sunset.

Key features:

  • Control your home’s lighting right from your iOS or Android device
  • Change light levels and colors to suit your needs
  • Controls up to 50 bulbs with just one bridge device

Cost: *Est. $199

5. Bose SoundTouch 20 Wi-Fi Music System

This music system allows you to listen to great-sounding tunes from anywhere in your home and comes with a host of one-button presets you can configure to get your favorite music in no time at all.

Key features:

  • Stream music with just the touch of a button or via the SoundTouch app
  • Connects via WiFi to provide a home audio solution
  • Incredible sound experience Bose products are known for

Cost: *Est. $399

6. Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control

Now you can control your home heating with a simple voice command. Set schedules to maximize your home’s energy efficiency and get alerts if the temperature gets too high.

Key features:

  • Voice-activated commands allow you to control your home’s temperature
  • Customizable color touchscreen seamlessly blends in with your home’s décor
  • Compatible with Android and iOS devices

Cost: *Est. $299

7. Chamberlain Whisper Drive Garage Door Opener

Featuring a lifetime warranty on the motor, this garage door opener won’t let you down. Lights turn on automatically when motion is detected and it will close itself in case you forget.

Key features:

  • Opens and closes even during power outages
  • Timer feature will automatically close door if you forget
  • Anti-burglary feature changes access code after every remote control use

Cost: *Est. $259

8. Kohler Touchless Toilet Flush Kit

All it takes to flush your toilet is a swipe of your hand thanks to this easy-to-install kit. Retrofits to most toilets, and features a streamlined design.

Key features:

  • Fits most standard toilets to allow touchless flushing
  • Easily installs in about 20 minutes, batteries last up to 12 months of use
  • Helps protect your family from the spread of germs

Cost: *Est. $48.98

9. Belkin WeMo Light Switch

You don’t have to come home to a dark house anymore. Manage your home’s lights from anywhere in the world via your Internet-connected mobile device. Save energy by setting timers or turning on just before you get home.

Key features:

  • Turn lights on and off, and easily set timers from anywhere via WiFi connection and WeMo app
  • Modular system lets you quickly and easily add multiple units
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices

Cost: *Est. $44

10. OriGlam® LED Energy-efficient Person Motion Sensor Toilet Light

No more fumbling in the dark to go to the washroom at night with this motion-activated toilet light. You’ll also avoid any wet surprises thanks to its innovative color-coding that lets you know the position of the seat.

Key features:

  • Motion sensor turns light on and off automatically
  • Easily tell whether seat is up or down with color-coded lights
  • Energy-efficient LED lights lets you see where you are going without waking others

Cost: *Est. $12.75

11. Belkin WeMo Switch and Motion Detector

Automate and control your home’s electronics right from your mobile device with this switch and motion detector set. Set electronics on a schedule or program your lights to turn on and off when you enter or exit a room.

Key features:

  • Motion control sensor means you’ll never walk into a dark room
  • Android and iOS compatible
  • Add on as many switches as your home needs

Cost: *Est. $73.99

12. D-Link Wireless Compact Wi-Fi Range Extender

Never worry about losing connectivity in the farthest reaches of your home again with a WiFi range extender. Securely boost your home network’s range so you’re never without a reliable connection, no matter where you are in (or outside) your home.

Key features:

  • Quickly and easily extends the range of your home’s wireless network
  • Compact, portable design requires no additional cables
  • Backwards compatible with a range of modems

Cost: *Est. $59.99

13. D-Link AC1750 Wireless Gigabit Router

Connect at lightning fast speeds and with minimal interference with this state-of-the-art wireless router. Up to 3 times faster than a Wireless N router, a reliable connection is up for any of your home’s connectivity needs.

Key features:

  • Dual-band speeds of 450Mbps (2.4GHz) and 1300Mbps (5GHz)
  • Setup in minutes, manage your home network from anywhere
  • Stream HD videos, play games, and connect multiple devices

Cost: *Est. $139.99

14. Nest Learning Thermostat

Stop fiddling with your home’s thermostat and save on your energy bills by installing a smart thermostat. The longer you use it the smarter it gets, adjusting your home’s heating and air conditioning automatically.

Key features:

  • Works with both forced air and radiant heating systems
  • Senses who’s home and adjusts temperature accordingly
  • Easily control online or from your smart phone via a WiFi connection

Cost: *Est. $249

15. Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

Quickly and easily connect any appliance or electronic in your home to your wireless network. Multiple users can then control devices, program custom notifications, and change device status from anywhere.

Key features:

  • Monitors and reports on device usage, helping you cut your energy costs
  • Compatible with Android and iOS devices
  • Add on as many units as you like to control your whole home

Cost: *Est. $59.03

16. Insteon 6-Button Dimmer Keypad

Control and monitor the status of up to 8 devices at once with this budget-friendly dimmer keypad. Wirelessly control your home’s devices and electronics all without having to rewire.

Key features:

  • Installs easily in place of a standard wall switch
  • Use as in-wall controller, 20-amp on/off switch, and access point of other Insteon products
  • LED backlight for ‘on’ devices

Cost: *Est. $10.78

17. Parrot Flower Power Wireless Plant Monitor

Keep your home’s plants looking green and bright with this automated plant monitoring system. Four sensors gather data every 15 minutes to take the guesswork out of plant maintenance and give you real time stats on the health of your home’s plants.

Key features:

  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Ability to monitor over 6000 different types of plants
  • Alerts and ‘to-do’ lists help you hone your green thumb

Cost: *Est. $52.99

18. INSTEON Dimmer Switch

This switch gives you the ultimate control over your home’s lights, and installs in your current outlet hole. Customize brightness levels, timers, and fade speeds effortlessly.

Key features:

  • Control remotely via your computer or mobile device
  • 3-way switch compatible
  • Seamlessly integrate with other Insteon home automation products

Cost: *Est. $49.99

19. First Alert PIR725 Motion Sensing Light Socket

Never enter a dark room again. Lights turn on and off automatically when you enter and exit a room, in both day and nighttime settings.

Key features:

  • Compatible with both CFL and incandescent bulbs
  • Senses motion up to 12-foot range, 360-degrees
  • Installs in your current light socket in under a minute

Cost: *Est. $19.75

20. Epson 5030UB 2D/3D 1080p 3LCD Projector

Enjoy a movie-quality home viewing experience with this THX-certified LCD projector. Features like 2400 lumens of both color and white brightness, plus rich blacks, means images practically jump off the screen.

Key features:                                                                                           

  • HDMI connectivity
  • Rechargeable 3D glasses
  • Quick and east setup

Cost: *Est. $2447

21. LAYKOR Automatic Touch-Free Lavatory Bathroom Sink Sensor Faucet

This automatic touchless faucet turns on and off automatically, helping you save water and prevent the spread of germs.

Key features:

  • Easy to install (under 10 minutes in most cases)
  • Wired or battery-operated power
  • Sleek, modern design

Cost: *Est. $56.99

22. Netatmo Weather Station

Not sure whether or not you need that sweater when heading out in the morning? Forget about stepping outside; get all the weather data you need from your home’s weather station.

Key features:

  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Weatherproof design monitors temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and air quality levels
  • Easily connects multiple stations and wirelessly sends real time data to your device

Cost: *Est. $176.23

23. Egg Minder Wink App-Enabled Smart Egg Tray

You’ll never have to worry about forgetting to pick up eggs again thanks to automatic reminders and notifications that let you know when you’re running low. It even tells you which eggs are bad or about to spoil.

Key features:

  • Unit shows you which egg is oldest and should be eaten first
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Space for 14 eggs

Cost: *Est. $24

24. Ankuoo NEO Wi-Fi Smart Switch

Take control your home’s electronics no matter where you are as long as you have a wireless or cellular signal. You can control multiple switches from the same app, no subscription necessary.

Key features:

  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Available in three colors to match your personal style
  • Set up timers to save energy and keep your home secure

Cost: *Est. $44.99

25. Holî, The Smart Connected LED Mood Lamp

Infinite color combinations allow you to set whatever mood you desire with this smart connected LED lamp. A built-in dawn simulator slowly increases light intensity, allowing you to wake up gently and peacefully.

Key features:

  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Bluetooth connectivity allow you to control up to 3 lamps simultaneously
  • Long-life LED bulbs will last up to 27 years under normal use

Cost: *Est. $249.95

26. Wimoto CLI001 Climate Control Sensor

Keep up to date with your home’s temperature, humidity and light levels right from your mobile device, even without an Internet connection.

Key features:

  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Battery lasts up to 3 years
  • Range of up to 100 feet

Cost: *Est. $49

27. Beddit Sleep Tracker and Wellness Coach

This device helps you get the most from your sleep by monitoring your heart rate, snoring and movements while you sleep. Who doesn’t want information to help get a better night’s rest?

Key features:

  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • No annoying sensors to wear while you sleep
  • Daily tips help you get the best rest possible

Cost: *Est. $149

28. Nexia BR100NX Home Intelligence Bridge

Control your home’s automated systems with this smart hub module. Custom alerts let you know who’s coming and going from your home.

Key features:

  • Secure encryption
  • Range of 60-100 feet
  • Secure your home and monitor energy usage wherever you are

Cost: *Est. $59.99

29. GE Z-Wave Wireless Lighting Control Outdoor Module

This module allows you to effortlessly control your home’s outdoor lights from your cell phone or computer, and blends seamlessly with your home’s exterior décor.

Key Features

  • Can withstand damp or wet weather
  • Compatible with multiple lights
  • Z-wave technology makes it compatible with many home automation systems

Cost: *Est. $40.08

30. SmartThings Hub

Quickly and easily connect multiple smart devices and sensors so you can control them all with one tool. Notifications let you know the status of your smart devices, and can even tell you if there’s an open door or window.

Key features:

  • Compatible with devices from multiple manufacturers
  • Compatible with Android and iOS devices
  • Works with Z-wave technology

Cost: *Est. $99

31. Wink Connected Home Hub

Control multiple devices from different manufacturers quickly and easily with this smart home control system. Shortcuts and schedules allow you to simplify your life at the touch of a button.

Key features:

  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Compatible with Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Lutron ClearConnect technologies
  • Data is encrypted, so you can feel secure

Cost: *Est. $40

32. Belkin Conserve Power Switch

Stop worrying about the cost of ‘ghost power’ with this smart little switch. At the flick of a switch, it’s as if you unplugged your device – so power is no longer being drawn, which means you aren’t paying!

Key features:

  • Frustration-free packaging
  • Light lets you know when switch is on
  • Use side by side or alone – won’t block the second outlet

Cost: *Est. $9.75

33. Insteon 2457D2 LampLinc INSTEON Plug-In Lamp Dimmer Module

Set the mood in one room or your whole home with a smart dimmer switch. It allows you to control your home’s lights no matter where you are in the house.

Key features:

  • Control via remote, wall keypad, computer, or smart phone
  • Dual-band technology
  • Installs using your home’s existing electrical

Cost: *Est. $45.35

34. Revolv Smart Home Automation Solution

Control all your home’s smart devices with one single unit. Create custom rules like “shut down house” and “movie night” to effortlessly manage all of your devices.

Key features:

  • 60 second setup auto-discovers your home’s devices
  • No monthly costs
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices

Cost: *Est. $299

35. Belkin Conserve Energy Saving Outlet

You can cut down on your home’s energy costs by installing a timer on devices that draw the most energy, but that you don’t need to run if you aren’t home. It won’t draw power until turned on, and a green light lets you know it’s working.

Key features:

  • 30 minute, 3 hour or 6 hour function
  • 3 wire grounded
  • Use side by side or alone – won’t block the second outlet

Cost: *Est. $19.35

36. KOHLER K-9245-CP 2.5 GPM Moxie Showerhead and Wireless Speaker

Take your tunes with you into the shower with this wireless speaker and showerhead combo. It connects via Bluetooth to stream your music, news, or playlists right into the shower.

Key features:

  • 32 foot range
  • Water resistant, rechargeable speaker
  • Speaker can be used independently

Cost: *Est. $110.43


Cut down on your home’s water bill while and take the guesswork out of watering your lawn, all while keeping your grass in tip top condition. If the Internet goes down, this unit will use your home’s statistics to ensure the plants are taken care of.

Key features:

  • Multiple programs can be run in parallel, sequentially or one-at-a-time
  • Create unlimited programs
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices

Cost: *Est. $249

38. Doorbot Wi-Fi Enabled Smart Doorbell

See and speak to whoever is at your door on your smart phone no matter where you are in the world – talk about peace of mind. Adjustable camera angles and a night-vision mode mean no one will escape your sight.

Key features:

  • Free replacement if stolen
  • Hard-wire or battery powered
  • Mount and sync in minutes

Cost: *Est. $199

39. iRobot Scooba 450 Floor Scrubbing Robot

Stop getting down on your hands and knees to scrub your floors and let the Scooba do the hard work for you. It cleans up to 99.3% of bacteria with almost no effort on your part.

Key features:

  • Sweeps, pre-soaks, scrubs and squeegees floors
  • Compatible with most hard floor surfaces
  • Two cycle options (20 and 40 minutes)

Cost: *Est. $599.95

40. Aeon Labs Z-Wave In-Wall Micro Controller

Link up your whole with by turning any switch in your home into a Z-wave switch with this device. Fits in most electrical boxes – worldwide!

Key features:

  • Remembers your programs in case of power failure
  • Compatible with 3-way switches
  • Turn lights on/off via Z-wave, switch or button

Cost: *Est. $32.95

41. Smarthome 1626-10 FilterLinc 10-Amp Plug-In Noise Filter

Even though we might not be able to hear it, with all the devices around your home talking to one another, technology can get loud. Tune out some of the noise with a filter.

Key features:

  • Eliminates interference and filters noise from powerline
  • Can still plug in another device
  • Works in seconds

Cost: *Est. $29.99


A smart home needs a smart hub to control it all, and this system lets you do just that. Soon to be released intercom functionality means you can stay connected through multiple units.

Key features:

  • Fits most standard switch boxes
  • Touch screen with 4.3” display
  • Built-in proximity, humidity and temperature sensors

Cost: $299

43. Saicoo® Wireless digital doorbell

Say goodbye to the classic doorbell and hello to a smart new way to know who’s at your door. Stick with the classic ‘ding-dong’ or choose from one of 52 additional chimes available online.

Key features:

  • 1000-foot range
  • 52 door chime combinations
  • Plug-and-play installation

Cost: *Est. $18.99           

44. Acer H6510BD 3D Home Theater Projector

What smart home would be complete without the ultimate viewing experience? An HD projector can complete any home entertainment system. This unit lets you watch Blu-ray 3D, DLP 3D, and NVIDIA 3DTV Play 3-D technologies.

Key features:                                                         

  • Full 1080p widescreen resolution
  • Multiple connectivity options including PC, D-Sub and HDMI
  • eColor Boost technology means you can watch stunning pictures even on your wall

Cost: *Est. $649.99

45. Electric Remote Controlled Drapery System

Open and close your blinds with at the touch of a button with this system that can seamlessly integrate into any number of home automation systems.

Key features:

  • Supports up to 90lbs of curtain weight
  • Powered via standard outlet
  • Timer control available

Cost: *Est. $319

46. WINBOT W730, the Window Cleaning Robot

Forget about the hassle of gathering window cleaning supplies and climbing ladders when your windows need a wash – let your window cleaning robot do the hard work for you.

Key features:                                                  

  • Compatible with framed or frameless windows
  • Comes with 2 cleaning pads and a squeegee
  • Cleans even tall windows at the touch of a button

Cost: *Est. $359.99

47. Nest Protect Smoke Plus Carbon Monoxide Detector

Your family’s safety is top of mind, and a reliable smoke and carbon monoxide detector can give you the security you need. Alerts to your phone let you know when there’s a problem or if batteries are running low.

Key features:

  • Choose from wired or battery-powered models
  • Human voice warnings and traditional alarm signal
  • Installs in minutes

Cost: *Est. $99

48. Shower Tunes

Take your tunes, and your tablet, with you in the shower – all white keeping your device safe from water. Never miss an important call or email again.

Key features:

  • Made of thick gauge vinyl
  • Built-in waterproof speakers
  • Battery operated

Cost: *Est. $39.95

49. iTouchless Deodorizer Touch-Free Sensor 13-Gallon Automatic Stainless-Steel Trash Can

Make throwing and taking out the trash easier with a garbage can that opens and closes for you. It senses when you approach so you can toss things out, even when your hands are full.

Key features:

  • Carbon filter to tackle the toughest odors
  • Large opening
  • Battery or AC adaptor powered (not included)

Cost: *Est. $69.99

50. Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale

Gone are the days of old-school rotating scales, high tech models like this one are now incredibly accurate, measuring body fat percentage, BMI and weight. Data syncs to your FitBit account so you can track your progress all in one app.

Key features:

  • Stats upload automatically via WiFi
  • Can set up to 8 users
  • 350lb weight limit

Cost: *Est. $105


Fire Safety for Kids: 21 Fire Prevention Experts Share Their Top Tips to Keep Kids and Families Safe from Home Fires

There are many things in the world today that parents work hard to protect our children from. Fortunately for many of us, our home is a place that provides a safe haven, shielding our children from many dangers. But as many parents and homeowners know, there can be real dangers within the home as well: one of the most dangerous of them all is a home fire.

According to a recent report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 366,600 home structure fires each year between 2007-2011. Tragically, these fires caused an estimated average of 2,570 deaths and 13,210 injuries to civilians of all ages.

Since we here at Safe Sound Family pride ourselves on providing valuable home safety information for families, we wanted to learn more about the important topic of home fire safety. We specifically wanted to find some expert tips from parents and fire safety experts on what to do to ensure your child is safe in the case of a home fire. To do this, we asked 21 parents and fire safety experts to answer this question:

What’s the #1 most important tip you can share to keep kids safe from home fires?”

We’ve collected and compiled their expert advice into this comprehensive guide on home fire safety. See what our experts said below:

Meet Our Panel of Home Fire Safety Experts:

Brent FaulknerBrent Faulkner

Fire Captain Brent Faulkner has 17 years experience in the fire service. During this time he has responded to numerous emergency situations including structure fires, wildland fires, hazardous materials responses, emergency medical situations, and numerous types of rescues. He has served on a Type 1 Hazardous Materials Response Team for over 10 years and is an expert in Critical Infrastructure Protection as it relates to terrorism, general security, and natural disasters. He also specializes in Emergency Preparedness for Homeowners and Businesses. He has a Masters Degree in Management, a Bachelors Degree in Occupational Studies and an Associates Degree in Hazardous Materials Response and another in Fire Science and is a Managing Partner in MBIntel, LLC, a website dedicated to providing high quality, customized information regarding home safety, security, and emergency preparedness.

The #1 most important tip I can share to keep children safe from home fires is…

Do not rely on the fire training they receive at school for your home.

Children receive excellent training at school regarding fire safety. However, this training does not necessarily mean children are able to evacuate their own homes during a fire. Most school settings are very different from the home. There are no lines painted on the ground or maps posted on the walls telling them where to go. A fire at school would be during the day, and the children are usually in groups, but at home it could be dark and the child might need to evacuate alone. It is therefore very important that families have their own fire training sessions, focused on their home.

A gradual approach to training your children is best. The first step is to plan two ways out of every room in the house. Physically walk the house as a family identifying these two exits. Then practice using these escape routes in a fun, non-threatening environment.

Once everyone knows how to get outside, a family meeting place should be identified. A tree, neighbor’s house or a mailbox are good choices. Identify a single spot where you will all meet. This is important to quickly account for all members of your home.

The smoke detectors in your home sound very different to the fire alarms at school. Let your children hear it a few times, and then practice going to the family meeting place. Once they have done this a few times, tell them you might sound it any time and they are to evacuate just like they would in a real fire. Depending on their ages, you may need to practice quite frequently. Having a practiced home fire plan is the most important thing you can do for your children regarding fire safety.

Keli WilsonKeli Wilson

Keli Wilson is the Founder and Director of Communications for AlertID, a social network that makes public safety information universally accessible via smartphone and email. She founded the company after being separated from her three children at an amusement park in 2009 for nearly an hour, at which point she realized there had to be a better resource for parents to keep their children safe. She has a dual bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine and biology from the University of Nevada, and has received numerous awards from law enforcement, including the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, an international education program that helps children stay off drugs.

I can think of lots of tips to help keep kids safe from home fires, but my most important tip is to…

Take all measures to eliminate the risk of a fire starting in your home.

The first step is to install and test smoke alarms on each level of your residence. This simple step can reduce your chance of dying from a fire by half. The next step is to review and practice escape routes with your family – you might not be able to get to your child in the event of a home fire, and it’s imperative that they know how to escape on their own.

Next, make sure matches and lighters are stored up high and away from children, preferably in a locked cabinet.

Finally, make sure your electrical wiring is checked by an electrician to ensure your home is at the lowest risk possible for a fire.

George BakerGeorge Baker

George Baker has recently retired from 32 years of service as a firefighter, paramedic and officer for the town of Mashpee Massachusetts, his last twenty years he served as Fire Chief. Chief Baker is passionate about fire prevention and has represented the Fire Chiefs of Massachusetts and the International Association of Fire Chiefs on numerous fire safety codes and standards committees. Passionate about the welfare of children, Chief Baker was a founding Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Cape Cod and active with local Scout Troops. Chief Baker now serves as a coach, mentor and consultant on leadership and disaster Management. Learn more about Chief Baker’s work at

If I was a genie and could grant one wish for a fire safety practice or device to protect kids it would be…

Living in a home (single or multi family) protected with a fire sprinkler system.

The NFPA (national fire prevention association) has done significant research and the majority of persons whom perish in a residential fire are very young or very old.

Smoke detectors are the first line of defense for most people but the very young (infants and toddlers) do not have the motor skills or the intelligence levels to escape on their own. Depending on the location and the intensity of the fire a quick rescue by the parents or caregivers may not be possible.

A residential fire sprinkler would extinguish the fire prior to lethal levels of heat and or deadly gasses from the smoke. Most fire deaths occur in the first three minutes of a fire. The best fire departments response times are three plus minutes after the fire has been discovered.

Parents should consider fire sprinklers when constructing or purchasing a new home.

Suzanne GarberSuzanne Garber

Suzanne Garber Chief Networking Officer at International SOS and a Board Member of the American Red Cross. She is also part of a Disaster Action Team for the American Red Cross, whereby every Friday night, she accompanies Philadelphia fire fighters to counsel and console victims of house fires who have been displaced with no where to go. In cases where a fatality has occurred, she along with a team of volunteers scours the surrounding neighborhood with new fire alarms and batteries.

It is estimated that while over 80% of homes in Philadelphia, where I am based, have fire alarms in them, in looking at the demographics of the zip code areas where the most fires (and fatal fires) occur, over 70% of those homes either do not have a fire alarm or the batteries have expired thus making the alarm non-functioning. So, my advice to parents is to…

Test their fire alarms and instruct their children to, in the case of a fire, get out of the house immediately whereby they can go to a neighbor’s home to call 911. Many times I have met children who have saved the lives of their siblings and elderly grandparents because they did exactly that.

Bill DriscollBill Driscoll

Bill Driscoll is a leader in the fire protection industry. He is an accomplished speaker in a group setting and has been a guest speaker for over 1000 groups, including fire departments, civic groups, churches, schools and businesses. Bill has written numerous articles and created several videos on the subject of fire safety and continues to provide home fire safety training for countless numbers of people and organizations. In addition, Bill is a U.S. Department for Homeland Security National Fire Academy Certified “Community Safety Educator”, an Administrator of fire safety and fire code certification, and has been a member of the Educational Section of the National Fire Protection Association since 1986. He is currently the VP of Dealer Development at DeTech Firesense Technologies.

The most important tip for children surviving fire is…

Planned and practiced fire drills.

Operation E.D.I.T.H – Exit Drills In The Home:

  • Draw an outline of your home.
  • Now add the rooms and label them. Show important details: stairs, hallways, roofs that can be used as fire escapes.
  • Choose a family meeting place and show it on the map.
  • Check each room for the best way to escape.
  • Test windows and doors.
  • Be sure that everyone has at least two ways out.
  • Escape ladders may be necessary.
  • Any security devices should open easily.
  • Always sleep with bedroom doors closed.
  • Find a way for everyone to sound a family fire alarm. Yelling, pounding walls, whistles, etc..
  • In a fire it is seconds, not minutes, that count.
  • Roll out of bed but don’t stand straight up because one breath of smoke or heated gases may be enough to kill you. And don’t drop straight to the floor because some deadly gasses are heavier than air and drift down to the floor.
  • Feel all doors before opening them, there may be fire on the other side. Never open a hot door! Ever!
  • Once outside, go immediately to the family meeting place and stay there! Never re-enter a burning structure for any reason.
  • Call the fire department from a neighbor’s house. Tell the dispatcher if everyone is out or not.
  • Begin with everyone in his or her bed.
  • Sound the alarm. Press the smoke detector test button. Yell FIRE! Or use some other signal that your family members will recognize.
  • Everyone should roll out of bed and follow their primary exit path while keeping their heads at doorknob level.

Jody LambJody Lamb

Jody Lamb is Public Relations Manager for, a company that makes fixing things easy for millions of people. Founded in 1999, it is North America’s trusted online store with replacement parts for major home appliances, outdoor power equipment and heating and cooling equipment. Free online troubleshooting and repair resources including more than 1,900+ award-winning how-to videos empower people to fix stuff on their own. To date, more than three and a half million people have saved $260 million in repair costs by using RepairClinic’s free, online repair help. Daily, RepairClinic’s how-to videos are viewed more than 60,000 times.

The most important tip to keep kids safe from home fires is…

Properly maintain your clothes dryer.

Dryers, heat and lint buildup in the venting system cause thousands of residential fires across the U.S. and Canada every year. A dryer’s entire venting system should be cleaned out from the inside of the dryer to the outside vent cap at least once per year. Professionals can be hired for this job but it’s usually a simple do-it-yourself job. A long, 20-foot cleaning brush enables homeowners to easily remove lint buildup from within the entire tube from the back of the dryer to the outside of a home.

David BarckhoffDavid Barckhoff

David Barckhoff is an Expert in Emergency & Disaster Management, a 25-year veteran of the Fire Service and a Military & Public Safety Advisor. Learn more about David and his work on LinkedIn.

My most important tips to keep kids safe from home fires come down to…

1. The parents’ supervision of their children.

2. The keeping of matches, lighters and other fire starting items out of sight and out of the reach of children.

3. The possession and proper installation of home fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors.

4. Having a safety fence around a home fireplace or wood burner stove.

Tamara HabibTamara Habib

Tamara Habib is dedicated to helping people prepare for and recover from disasters, whether it be a house fire or a hurricane. She recently co-founded Firelily, a website designed to provide the information and funding people need to recover from disaster, where she spends her days being inspired by stories of survival.

The best thing parents can do to protect children from fires is to…

Talk to them about what to do if their smoke detectors start sounding.

Every family should have a plan that includes two different ways each person can leave the house in an emergency and where they will meet once they are outside.

Practicing this plan is so important because as the old adage says, practice makes perfect. Having a well-practiced plan dramatically increases the odds of a successful evacuation and reunification with family members.

Another great tip for parents regarding fire safety is the purchase of a voice recording smoke detector. Many people practice their plans but in the midst of the night, when woken to the sound of a beep while sleepy and disoriented, children may have trouble remembering what exactly they’re supposed to do. Instead of running outside, as they may have practiced, they may run to their parent’s bedroom instead, losing costly time to escape the house quickly.

These detectors allow parents to record their own message, providing specific directions about where to go and what to do in a familiar voice. The child hears it and not only remembers what they practiced, but also feels comforted and reassured by their parent’s voice.

Combining both a voice recording smoke detector with a well-practiced plan gives parents and children the best chance for a safe escape.

Lance LukeLance Luke

Lance Luke is a former member of the National Fire Protection Association and is an expert on home and fire safety. Mr. Luke currently works as a construction engineer and is involved in life safety issues in homes and commercial buildings as the Principal Consultant at Construction Management Inspection LLC.

The #1 tip to keep kids safe from home fires is…


Teach children fire safety and prevention. Discuss the downside to playing with matches and lighters. Then discuss what to do when there is a fire such as calling 911, knowing how to escape, stop drop and roll if on fire, get out and stay out.

Teach children about candles and a hot stove. Have home fire drills and designate a meeting place somewhere away from the home. Teach children the location of smoke alarms and what they sound like when alarmed and what to do if they hear the alarm going off.

Juanita Allen KingsleyJuanita Allen Kingsley

Juanita Allen Kingsley is Director of Business Development at Century Health Systems. A health educator, she trains more than 2,000 people in Boston’s MetroWest region annually through her First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, CPR and AED classes in addition to the variety of health and safety programs she teaches. A certified EMT since 2001, Juanita managed the Wellness Center at Hale Reservation (the nation’s largest day camp); served as health care supervisor at Horizons for Youth, Sharon, Mass.; and has served as instructor trainer and instructor with the Red Cross, American Heart Association, Medic First Aid and National Safety Council.

My number one tip for keeping kids safe from home fires is this:

Don’t play with any source of fire: matches, lighters, stoves, grills, candles… EVER.

Larry WilderLarry Wilder

Larry Wilder is a Fire and Life Safety Specialist and a Kentucky native who works at Rural Metro of East Tennessee, the largest emergency service provider in East Tennessee. He is both an EMT and Public Information Officer, and since 2003 he has worked with the Rural Metro Fire Department, where he performs public education and training, develops programming, writes grants and conducts public affairs duties.

Children under 5 are at higher risk for death in fires, which is why it is crucial to talk to them about fire safety in the home. My top tips are to…

  • Have a working smoke detector on each floor of the home. The National Fire Protection Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs recommend changing the battery each time that the time changes (which is coming up.) Even detectors that are connected to the home’s wiring have battery back-ups that have to be replaced occasionally.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years old and older. Even if you think it still works, it may give a delayed sound.
  • Have an escape plan and rehearse it. Children fall back on the familiar when confronted by danger. Those in homes that have rehearsed escape plans tend to use the escape plan. Those without a plan may attempt to hide from the danger instead of escape.
  • In devising an escape plan, try to plan for two ways out of every room that are easy to use. This includes making sure windows are not painted shut and having an escape ladder for upper-story rooms.
  • Make “fall and crawl” a part of the escape routine so children understand that temperatures and air quality are more survivable lower to the ground.
  • Decide on a safe meeting place after escaping the home. This might be a neighbor’s house where you can call 9-1-1.

Graciela Tiscareño-SatoGraciela Tiscareño-Sato

Graciela Tiscareño-Sato is an experienced parent nursery school mom of 3, including a child who is blind, and was honored by The White House as a Woman Military Veteran Leader Champion of Change in March 2014. She served as an officer in the United States Air Force and crew member on the KC 135 refueling jet and is now the award-winning author of “Good Night Captain Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá” the first bilingual (English and Spanish) children’s picture book about mothers in the military. She speaks on the topics of leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation at conferences and reads to children in classrooms too. Learn more about Graciela and her work at

My three children all attended a parent participation nursery school where we learned critical information from our local firefighters….

Parents MUST practice having the smoke alarm go off in the middle of the night when all of the children are sleeping to see who, if anyone wakes up. Parents assume that their children will wake up and are completely horrified to watch video of children of all ages sleeping right through the alarm!

My tip: PRACTICE by setting off your smoke alarm at 1 o’clock in the morning when all your kids are sleeping and see what happens. Have you adequately trained them to leave the room together, stay low, touch the door to see if it’s hot, get out of the house together and assemble somewhere safely? If your kids wake up on their own, great! If they don’t wake up at all with the alarm going off, then you will know and you’ll have to formulate some kind of plan so you can ALL safely escape the house.

I will add that I also have a child who is blind and does not hear well. We have therefore trained her siblings to make sure they all get out together – a good tip for any families with multiple children. We’ve practiced the drill in the middle of the night twice already and they rocked it completely the second time.

Jess HandJess Hand

Jess Hand volunteer is a franchise owner and President at ServiceMaster To The Rescue, the leader in fire rescue and recovery. He also serves as Assistant Chief Firefighter at the Dorothy Volunteer Fire Company in Atlantic County, NJ.

In my experience as a volunteer firefighter for over 30 years and 11 years as the owner of ServiceMaster in Vineland, New Jersey, the most important fire safety tip for kids is…

To regularly practice fire drills at home.

Most fires occur at home in the middle of the night, and most families never talk about an escape plan or route. Parents also fail to discuss or designate a meeting place outside the home, if a fire does occur. Children practice fire drills every month at school and most fire departments visit schools to present a fire prevention program, but we rarely, if ever have fires in school buildings. House fires are most common and having a plan in place is imperative.

Marshall Marinace

Marshall Marinace is the President of the Electronic Security Association. Established in 1948, the Electronic Security Association (ESA), a non-profit 501(c) 6 trade association, has evolved into the largest professional trade association in the United States with the purpose of representing, promoting and enhancing the growth and professional development of the electronic life safety, security, and integrated systems industry. In cooperation with a federation of state associations, ESA provides government advocacy and delivers timely information, professional development tools, products and services that members use to grow and prosper their businesses.

My #1 tip to keep children safe from home fires is…

First and foremost, parents should invest in central station monitored smoke detectors that will summon the fire department if fire occurs within a home, and regularly test the detectors to ensure they are in working order.

Families should also talk about and practice fire escape routes. Map out and draw a plan that includes at least two exits from each room of your house. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the designated exits are and practice, practice, practice. Decide on a family meeting place for everyone to go to after escaping from a fire. An ideal location is one that is away from danger such as a trusted neighbor’s house across the street.

Samantha BolesSamantha Boles

Samantha Boles is the President and COO of Automated Security IS, a full service commercial & residential security company based in Houston, TX, offering many ways to improve security efficiencies and reduce costs.

The #1 tip I have for keeping kids safe from home fires is…

“Plan for the best but prepare for the worst”.

Regardless of all the steps you take to prevent a fire, such as no matches, unplugging appliances, etc.; the reality is an accidental fire is still always a possibility as there is no way to 100% prevent it.

Children are just that, children. They usually do not have the reasoning skills or maturity to think fast in an emergency situation. They usually look to the adult for what to do and will be in panic mode.

So the best thing to do is have an emergency plan that they understand and become familiar with so they are prepared to handle an emergency fire situation in the event one happens.

Depending on the child’s age, different planning skills will be appropriate. For example, a 5 year old may need to be walked through the plan on a monthly basis and may need a children’s book or cartoon to help explain what smoke is, or what signs to look for. Whereas a high school student may just need I be told the plan once.

Your local fire department usually has free helpful tips & brochures on fire preparedness and prevention.

Justina PageJustina Page

Justina Page is the Founder of Amos House of Faith, an organization aimed at educating families about fire safety, how to ease back into society, as well as counseling services to children injured or disfigured by fire. At 32, Justina found herself burying one of her 22-month-old twin sons from a brutal house fire. Each person of the eight-member family
sustained burns, but it was the preplanned escape plan that saved their lives. Learn more about Justina at

The #1 tip I have for keeping kids safe from home fires is…

When children are old enough to follow directions, implement a fire safety plan.

Teach them how to get of the house quickly and safely and designate a meeting point. Encourage them to help younger siblings or other children and to be as calm as they can if a fire happens.

Mike PintoMike Pinto

Mike Pinto is President of High’s Chimney, a full-service fireplace and chimney service company in the Washington DC area. Mike holds certifications from the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fireplace Institute. He has been managing High’s for 22 years, and has been helping prevent fires for over 30 years.

When it comes to keeping children safe from home fires, there are several important things to do. You must have a fire extinguisher and enough smoke and carbon monoxide detectors ― and you need to make sure they work. You need to make sure your electrical, fireplace, and heating appliances work. You need to use common sense ― especially in the kitchen, with cigarettes, and with combustibles. But the number 1 thing you can do to keep kids safe from home fires is to…

Teach them.

Teach them to respect fire and drill them in matters concerning safety. Don’t assume that because you don’t do unsafe things, your kids will know not to do them.

Teach them how fire starts and what is flammable. Teach them what not to do ― like playing with fire, putting foil in the microwave, trying to cook, or leaving flammables near the fireplace, etc.

Prepare them to handle a dangerous situation. Make sure they know when to alert you of something. Make sure they will call 911 if they need to.

And make sure they really understand. When you take a fire precaution; show them. They need the connection between a safe practice and understanding that it is a safe practice.

And keep at it. Drill them until you know they know what to do, what not-to-do, and why.

Maria VizziMaria Vizzi

Maria Vizzi is the President of Indoor Environmental Solutions (IES), a company that helps clients maintain cleaner, safer environments by providing indoor air quality services and products to individual consumers, property and facility managers, and retail businesses. IES has serviced residential, co-op and condominium buildings, assisted living and medical properties, restaurants, office buildings, churches, synagogues, and private homes, and offers solutions to address the growing concerns about fire safety, proper ventilation, and indoor air quality.

When it comes to keeping kids safe from home fires, one tip is…

To teach your children not play with the dryer or to keep the dryer on unattended.

Some young people do the laundry and set it to dryer, then leave the house. This is extremely dangerous considering there are statistics regarding dryer fires which are staggering.

Preet AnandPreet Anand

Preet Anand is the CEO of BlueLight, a technology company focused on improving personal safety and 911.

Simply put, I think the most important tip for keeping children safe from home fires is…

Educating kids about the smoke alarm and how to respond to it.

They should know what a smoke alarm sounds like, how they should best exit the room / building, and where to go. Each of these steps are critically important.

Another great thing that could benefit parents is to actually show the kids how to change the battery of the smoke alarm. It will give them appreciation of how it works and make them more familiar of its purpose.

Judie Protesto FreelsJulie Protesto Freels

Judie Protesto Freels is the Co-Owner and President of 911 C.A.S.P.E.R. Systems, which is an acronym for Community Awareness and Stimulus Plan for Emergency Readiness. 911 C.A.S.P.E.R. Systems’ business was created for the Patent Pending System called. C.A.S.P.E.R., which is a unique program that was put together due to all of the needs that the founders personally had been seeing within the 911 Community, and with the struggling small businesses of America.

My #1 most important tip you can share to keep kids safe from home fires is…

Don’t think it can’t happen to you – practice your emergency escape plan and know your emergency location outside your home with your family. And check your smoke detectors at least twice a year.

Our Home burnt down to the ground in 1999, and at the time our 5 children were very young – 5th Grade, 4th Grade, 3rd Grade, Kindergarten and 18 months. We had just moved from Pennsylvania to Virginia. Needless to say we were not prepared at all for a fire and thankfully no one was home at the time.

So as you can imagine, fire safety became extremely important to us from that point on to help keep our children safe. My husband joined the local fire department and rescue squad – our two sons joined when they were old enough.

We lost everything – but nothing of importance since everyone was safe.

To keep this short, we ended up turning lemons into lemonade. After our experience of being involved with the fire department and rescue squad, we saw the constant stress and struggle for them to keep donations and funding come into them to stay equipped, trained properly, and have the necessary resources to get to the scene of the emergency at hand.

Due to that we started a new aspect of our business called: 911 C.A.S.P.E.R. Systems. If you go to our Home Page and click on King Kong you can watch a video that explains our Mission with helping these Non-Profit Organizations AND it helps Communities stay safer as well with alerts and warning through FEMA’s IPAWS and our CASPER Alerts Feature.

Candice ScheetsCandice Scheets

Candice Scheets is a former pre-school teacher who currently works as a Community Outreach Manager for Foremost Promotions, a company that specializes in providing educational tools and resources for Firefighters, Law Enforcement, and Public Service agencies to help educate children and the public about important safety practices. She also contributes to the Foremost Promotions blog, where she offers readers valuable tips, free printables, and additional information on current events related to public safety.

I feel that the most important tip to keep kids safe from a home fire is…

For children to NEVER hide from a firefighter if they see one coming to get them.

Often, children are frightened of firefighters dressed in full gear with a breathing apparatus, and they will hide because they only see a large, scary figure making scary loud noises.

This is dangerous, because it makes it even more difficult for the firefighter to locate the child in a dark smoky house, which means the child is exposed to harmful smoke for a longer period of time. The best way to prevent children from wanting to hide is to introduce them to a firefighter while they are fully dressed in their gear, and explain to them that they are there to help them, not harm them.

Make sure that children are familiar with the sounds that the breathing apparatus makes, and explain to them how the parts of the gear keep the firefighter safe, such as their helmet, oxygen tank, and face shield. Children should also be told that when a firefighter calls out to them, they should respond loudly to let them know where they can be easily found.

More Safety Solutions for Kids and Families:

The 50 Best Smart Home Security Systems: The Top Home Automation Products for Monitoring and Securing Your Home

Your home is your castle, and it’s one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. Keeping it safe and secure is a top priority of many homeowners.

Thanks to advances in smart home technology and home automation security products, you can now monitor your home’s cameras, security solutions and more, no matter where you are in the world.

Alarms, camera, motion sensors and more – the options are endless when it comes to keeping tabs on what’s happening in your home. You can now have peace of mind all at the touch of a button. Best part is, you can install most of this automated home security technology yourself, so you don’t need to shell out thousands to a security installation company or contractor.

In no particular order, here are 50 of the Best Smart Home Security Products.

1. Danalock Bluetooth Z-Wave Smart Lock

You’ll never have to worry about forgetting your key again after installing a smart lock. Quickly and easily installs, allowing you to open your door via smartphone and grant others access no matter where you are in the world.

Key features:

  • Easily installs into current deadbolt hole in just 5-10 minutes
  • Works with both Android, iOS and other major devices
  • Sleek design blends with any home décor style

Cost: *Est. $179

2. Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit

Keep your home and family secure with this complete smart home monitoring kit. Automate your home’s electronics, lights and keep track of who’s coming and going with setup that takes as little as 15 minutes.

Key features:

  • Secure your home without the monthly monitoring costs of a traditional home security system
  • Notifications let you know who’s coming and going
  • Monitors smoke and carbon monoxide levels to help keep your family safe
  • Use your iOS or Android device to control lights, appliance and electronics while on the go

Cost: *Est $299

3. Mother and 4 Motion Cookies Versatile Sensors

No one knows the importance of staying connected with your family more than moms, and this kit lets you do just that – and more. Keep track of the comings and goings in your home, motivate your family to do healthier activities and any other task you can think of.

Key features:

Sensors can alert you to break-ins, serve as medication or activity reminders, and let you know when the kids come home

  • Keep track of who’s in your home with Cookies
  • Batteries last up to one year
  • Compatible with Windows, iOS and Android devices

Cost: *Est. $299

4. Dropcam Pro WiFi Wireless Video Monitoring Camera

Who hasn’t wondered what the family pet is up to all day when they’re not home? Sneak a peek with this WiFi-enabled device and never wonder again!

Key features:

  • Complete setup in under a minute
  • Night vision, zoom and 130 degree diagonal field of view ensure nothing escapes your sight
  • Secure offsite recording (additional cost) allows you to review and edit footage up to a month old

Cost: *Est. $199

5. Oplink Connected CMPOPG2204OPL01 Alarm Shield

Get peace of mind your home and belongings are secure with this affordable home security system. Get real-time alerts and notifications for multiple locations no matter where life takes you.

Key features:

  • Includes door and window sensors, motion sensor, remote controls and siren
  • Arm or disarm the system via your smart phone
  • Enjoy free self-monitoring or upgrade to premium monitoring (monthly fee)

Cost: *Est. $149.99

6. Belkin NetCam HD Wireless IP Camera

Get peace of mind your home is safe and secure no matter where you are in the world. See and hear what’s happening in your home even when you’re not around thanks to a live video monitoring feed.

Key features:

  • HD-quality video and crisp digital audio
  • Easy setup, connects to your home’s WiFi network
  • Email notifications are sent when movement is detected

Cost: *Est. $87.99


Secure your home or business for a fraction of the cost of a traditional security system with this iOS- and Android-compatible camera.

Key features:

  • Zoom, tilt, pan and infrared technology lets you see who’s there any time of day
  • Two-way audio
  • Suitable for outdoor use

Cost: *Est. $217.24

8. D-Link DCS-930L mydlink-Enabled Wireless-N Network Camera

Perfect for your home or business, this wireless surveillance camera is the complete package. Stay up-to-date on what’s happening via the Internet or smart phone app.

Key features:

  • Easy, secure setup in minutes
  • Fits almost anywhere thanks to its compact design
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices

Cost: *Est. $32.49

9. D-Link Wireless Day/Night HD Outdoor Network Surveillance Camera

This outdoor-ready security camera is designed to handle all types of weather. From dust and rain to wind and snow, you can trust your home surveillance needs will be met. View your feed from anywhere thanks to the free app.

Key features:

  • Wireless or wired setup
  • Sensitive enough to see in utter darkness
  • Wide angle lens allows you to keep an eye on your home

Cost: *Est. $179.99

10. Chamberlain MyQ Garage Door Controller

You’ll never have to worry about whether or not you closed the garage door again thanks to this device. Simply connect to your home’s wireless network to receive alerts when you forget to close the garage door and open and close it right from the mobile app.

Key features:

  • Installs in minutes and works with most door openers installed after 1993
  • Compatible with Android and iOS devices
  • Alerts sent automatically let you know when door is opened

Cost: *Est. $129

11. D-Link WiFi Day/Night HD Baby Camera

Making sure your little ones are safe is top of mind for parents, and this baby camera lets you check in on your wee one whether you’re in the next room or on the other side of the globe. Interchangeable pink and blue accent rings allow you to customize for your child.

Key features:

  • Compatible with Android and iOS devices
  • Motion and sound alerts let you keep track of your most precious family member
  • Remote lullabies and two-way communication let you comfort your baby anywhere you are

Cost: *Est. $179.99

12. Mr Beams MB360 Wireless LED Spotlight

No intruder will escape your watch in the beam of this wireless LED spotlight. Bright, powerful motion-activated LED turns on and off automatically – helping you secure your home without using a lot of energy.

Key features:

  • Durable weatherproof design
  • Coverage of up to 350 square feet
  • Easy to install, battery operated

Cost: *Est. $16.66

13. WallyHome Water Leak Detection System

Prevent small water leaks from becoming a big, expensive problem by getting alerts to problems as soon as they begin. Help protect your family’s health by preventing the growth of mould by monitoring humidity and temperature levels.

Key features:

  • Sensor battery can last 10 years or longer
  • Easily installs in less than an hour
  • No-cost monitoring alerts through push notifications email, and text message

Cost: *Est. $299

14. Schlage Home Door and Window Sensor

Secure and monitor your home remotely with this door and window sensor. Easily add additional sensors for peace of mind around your whole home. Check your home’s status online or through your mobile device.

Key features:

  • Notifications let you know when your home’s entryways have been opened
  • Up to 3 years of battery life
  • Quick and easy installation

Cost: *Est. $38.54

15. Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt with Z-Wave Technology and Built-In Alarm

Having a high quality lock can help give you peace of mind when it comes to securing your home. Schlage products are known for the quality and dependability, and this deadbolt is no exception.

Key features:

  • Fingerprint-resistant touch screen allows for keyless locking and unlocking
  • Includes a back-up key in case of power failure to the device
  • Z-Wave wireless technology allows homeowners to control access from online or via their smart phone

Cost: *Est. $178.85

16. OKIDOKEYS Classic ACCESS-PACK Bluetooth 4.0 Smart-Lock System

Lock and unlock your door with ease via a mobile phone or one of the included smart tags. You can even manage multiple properties at a time, controlling who has access to the keys from wherever you are in the world. Unlike many smart door locks, this one doesn’t need WiFi to operate.

Key features:

  • Compatible with ANSI Grade 1 or Grade 2 deadbolts
  • Create up to 6 custom rules for opening your lock
  • Easy installation requires no drilling or wiring
  • Includes a wireless doorbell and built-in alarm feature

Cost: *Est. $259

17. Kwikset 925 Kevo Single Cylinder Bluetooth Enabled Deadbolt

This smart lock turns your iPhone into your key, and is also compatible with the range of Weiser SmartKey locks and keys, so you can easily integrate it into your home’s current lock system. The mobile app lets you manage your keys and lock from almost anywhere.

Key features:

  • Unlimited guest keys at no extra cost
  • Compatible with iPhone 4S, 5, 5C and 5S
  • Fits most standard doors with no addition holes required
  • Does not need power or Internet connection

Cost: *Est. $216.49

18. Ecolink Z-Wave Door/Window Sensor

This sensor will let you remotely monitor anything you want that opens and closes, and, thanks to Z-wave technology, is compatible with a host of smart home networking hubs.

Key features:

  • Installs quickly and easily with mounting hardware (included) or double-sided tape
  • Interchangeable brown or white casing to match your home’s décor
  • Range of up to 100 feet can detect openings up to 5/8-inch

Cost: *Est. $33.99

19. iSmartAlarm iSA3 Preferred Package Home Security System

These wireless sensors make for a convenient, real-time monitoring system. With nearly unlimited expandability, you’ll never have to worry about being able to monitor your whole home, no matter what size it is.

Key features:

  • Compatible with iOS devices
  • No monthly monitoring costs to worry about
  • Free alerts via text, email and on your phone

Cost: *Est. $194.49

20. Everspring Z-Wave Door/Window Sensor

Get peace of mind by knowing who’s coming and going from your home with sensors on your home’s doors and windows. This Z-wave powered unit will send you an alert to let you know when the sensor has been broken.

Key features:

  • Get alerts on up to 4 devices
  • Battery powered
  • Compatible with any contact switch device

Cost: *Est. $29.95

21. Touchless BM003R Bio-Matic Fingerprint Door Lock

Add up to 150 trusted fingerprint users and up to 78 trusted pass code users for this smart home lock. And if the battery dies (up to 15,000 uses), it even comes with 2 backup keys so you can still get in.

Key features:

  • Low battery alert
  • Water resistant
  • Fits in any standard door lock

Cost: *Est. $269.90

22. Samsung Digital Door Lock SHS-P718 Fingerprint Push Pull Two Way Latch Mortise

This is the world’s first biometric push-pull lock. Open and close with a scan of your fingerprint or by entering the 4-12 digit entry combination.

Key features:

  • Digital keypad
  • Motion detector sensor welcome feature
  • Alert system lets you know of potential intruders

Cost: *Est. $499.99

23. Simplisafe2 Wireless Home Security System 8-piece Plus Package

With advances in technology, now you can install your very own home monitoring system for much less than the price of traditional security systems. This model has everything you need to get up and running quickly.

Key features:

  • Sensors come pre-programmed
  • Independent cellular connection can’t be cut by intruders
  • Mobile monitoring compatible with iOS and Android devices

Cost: *Est. $249

24. GE Personal Security Alarm Kit

This home monitoring system is a truly economical solution for basic home security. The 120-decibel alarm alerts you to any potential intruders.

Key features:

  • Includes 3 window alarms and one deluxe door alarm
  • Battery powered (up to 1 year use)
  • No wiring necessary

Cost: *Est. $19.97

25. Aeon Labs Aeotec Z-Wave Multi-Sensor

Compatible with several popular home automation systems, this sensor detects motion, temperature, lighting, and humidity in its immediate area.

Key features:

  • Z-wave technology
  • Suitable for indoor/outdoor use
  • Up to 2 years battery life

Cost: *Est. $48.95

26. TENVIS Wireless IP Pan/Tilt/ Night Vision Internet Surveillance Camera Built-in Microphone

Two-way audio and remote monitoring via your smart phone mean nothing will escape your sight. Night vision mode lets you view up to 12 meters away.

Key features:

  • 270-degree vertical tilt
  • 90-degree horizontal tilt
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices

Cost: *Est. $45.25

27. Chamberlain Voice-Activated Wireless Portable Intercom

Stay connected up to 1000 feet away with a portable intercom system that lets you connect up to 12 units for whole home coverage.

Key features:

  • Secured single or multi-channel connection
  • No wires necessary
  • Battery powered

Cost: *Est. $93

28. Professional Wireless Home Security Alarm System Kit with Auto Dial

A whole home security monitoring system can help you keep track of who’s coming and going, even when you aren’t nearby. Supports landline or VoIP connections and has a landline cut alert feature.

Key features:

  • No monthly monitoring fee
  • Silent alarm mode
  • Scheduling lets you set auto-arm and auto-disarm times

Cost: *Est. $199

29. Wireless iCamera 1000 Outdoor/indoor Night Vision

Compatible with the ADT Pulse system, this camera provides a clear picture of the goings-on around your home. Night vision and motion tracking features give you peace of mind no matter what time of day.

Key features:

  • Water and dust resistant
  • Hard wire or use wirelessly
  • 60-degree diagonal view angle

Cost: *Est. $50

30. SmartThings Smart Home Starter Kit

This smart home security system is a box has everything you need to quickly and affordably protect your home. The mobile app is intuitive to use and lets you setup notifications that alert you to the events that matter most to you.

Key features:

  • No monthly fees
  • No wiring necessary
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices

Cost: *Est: $199

31. NETGEAR VueZone Wire-free Video Monitoring System

Your time is valuable, so get your home’s video monitoring up and running in minutes. Easily change the camera’s location thanks to peel and stick magnetic mounting.

Key features:

  • Wire-free installation
  • Motion-driven alerts sent to your smart phone
  • Nominal monthly monitoring fee

Cost: *Est. $99

32. SAMSUNG SHS-H705 Fingerprint Digital Door Lock

Forget about carrying your keychain – your fingerprint is now your key. You can also program a PIN entry, or even dual verification to up your home’s security ante.

Key features:

  • Digital touch keypad
  • Anti-picking technology
  • Stores up to 100 fingerprints

Cost: *Est. $399

33. Lorex LW2732 Live LCD SD Recording Monitor with Two Wireless Cameras

This kit offers a plug-and-play home monitoring solution that’s ideal for commercial and residential uses and can be viewed directly on the included tablet or remotely via your smart phone or computer.

Key features:

  • Two-way audio functionality
  • Picture-in-picture
  • Heat and motion sensor-activated

Cost: *Est. $279

34. Fortrezz Siren Strobe Alarm Wireless Z-wave Red Lense

Get a visual and audio alert to a potential home intrusion with this alarm featuring > 110dB@1m alert sound.

Key features:

  • Z-wave technology
  • Compatible with several home security systems
  • Helps extend range of other Z-wave connected devices in your network

Cost: *Est. $43.75


This is one serious system for homeowners looking to protect their property. Multiple cameras mean you have multiple views to keep your home safe and secure. Two-step setup and instant alerts keep you up to date no matter where you are.

Key features:

  • Free e-cloud surveillance for life
  • Recording mode
  • Remote viewing on your smart phone

Cost: *Est. $139

36. Honeywell 5853 Wireless Glass Break Detector

Be alerted to a potential break-in through your windows with a sensor that can tell if your tampered, wired, laminate, or ordinary plate glass has been broken.

Key features:

  • Range of up to 25 feet
  • Battery lasts up to 10 years
  • Minimal false alarms

Cost: *Est. $59.99

37. SmartSense Presence Sensor

Get alerted when someone approaches or leaves a specific area via text message or push notification. You won’t have to ask the kids to call when they get home, you’ll already know.

Key features:

  • Range of up to 50 feet
  • Compatible with SmartThings hub
  • Use as a key finder

Cost: *Est. $31

38. Foscam Wireless/Wired Pan And Tilt IP Camera 2 Pack

This camera set is easy to install and can be installed hard wired or wirelessly. Night vision mode and high-quality images let you see who’s coming and going no matter what time of day.

Key features:

  • 300 degree pan, 200 degree tilt
  • Two-way audio enabled
  • Clear image up to 8 meters away in complete darkness

Cost: *Est. $128.98

39. Piper HD Security Camera, Video Monitoring Wireless Surveillance System and Home Automation Hub

This unit offers the features of multiple products in one – it’s a home automation hub, HD security camera and WiFi alarm system all in one.

Key features:

  • No monthly monitoring costs
  • Can sync multiple units for complete home monitoring
  • Real time alerts to your mobile device let you know what’s going on

Cost: *Est. $199

40. SAMSUNG digital door lock keyless touchpad security

This lock features a double locking function and mischief-prevention technology to keep intruders out. Fire alarm and emergency door unlock features mean you can escape in case of emergency.

Key features:

  • Up to 10 months battery life
  • Combination entry of 4-12 digits
  • Automatically locks out

Cost: *Est. $184.99

41. Everspring Z-Wave Indoor Siren

This siren alerts you to a number of different sensors, including humidity, motion and temperature, depending on your setup. Z-wave technology means this unit can easily integrate to a number of home hub systems.

Key features:

  • Up to 100 foot range
  • Adjustable alarm volume
  • Battery operated

Cost: *Est. $39.95

42. Zmodo KDB8-CARZBZ4N 8CH Home Video Security System

This advanced home security system comes complete with 4 hi-resolution cameras that can mount almost anywhere and can be controlled via your PC, tablet or smart phone.

Key features:

  • Night vision cameras
  • Motion-activated notifications sent right to your phone
  • Single power supply

Cost: *Est. $151.61

43. Honeywell Intellisense Dual-Tec Motion Sensor

This motion sensor won’t be fooled by the family pet, but provides reliable motion monitoring. Microwave-based technology provides superior monitoring with minimal false alarms.

Key features:

  • Easily integrates into many home monitoring systems
  • Easily adjustable range
  • Detects minor variances in temperatures

Cost: *Est. $16.99

44. Wolf-Guard Wireless Autodial Smart Home House Security Burglar Alarm System

This complete tamper-proof home security system lets you set up to 99 wireless monitoring zones so you know what’s going on anywhere in your home.

Key features:

  • No phone line necessary
  • Arm remotely via SMS or phone
  • Easily add more accessories

Cost: *Est. $199.99


See and speak with guests at your door on this 7” color, hi-definition video intercom kit. Infrared technology and night vision mean you’ll always know who’s at the door.

Key features:

  • 16 door chimes
  • Adjustable volume, brightness and contrast
  • Hands-free intercom system with mute functionality

Cost: *Est. $177.23

46. Mustcam 720P HD Indoor WiFi IP Camera

This wireless IP camera features infrared technology so you can keep tabs on what’s happening at home any time of day, no matter where you are in the world. Features a Micro-SD slot, pan and tilt functionality and two-way audio.

Key features:

  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Can be used as a baby monitor
  • Quick and easy plug-and-play setup

Cost: *Est. $65.50

47. Brinno PHV132512 Digital PeepHole Viewer

See who’s at the door on the 3.5” or 5” LCD panel without letting people know you’re home. Installs quickly and easily and operates at the push of a button.

Key features:

  • Regular view or zoom
  • Works in low light conditions
  • Low battery indicator light

Cost: *Est. $93.38

48. Samsung SmartCam HD Pro 1080p Full-HD WiFi Camera

This camera offers easy plug-and-play installation and seamlessly connects into your home network so you can sneak a peek at what’s happening from wherever you are.

Key features:

  • Stream up to 10 cameras at once
  • 1080p full HD video quality
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices

Cost: *Est. $189

49. OKIDOKEYS Trend SMART-LOCK Bluetooth 4.0 Enabled Smart Lock

Quickly and easily install this Bluetooth-enabled smart lock, with no wiring or drilling necessary. You can then use your smart phone to open and close your door, and give e-keys at the touch of a button.

Key features:

  • Built-in alarm alerts you to potential intruders
  • Battery operated, no WiFi necessary
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices

Cost: *Est. $189

50. Andoer DIY Full Complete RFID Door Access Control Kit Set for Single Door

Control your home’s door entry with this set. It comes with multiple access fobs and cards so every member of your family has easy access. Ideal for those renting out part of their home as well.

Key features:

  • RFID technology
  • Comes with all mounting accessories
  • PIN entry compatible

Cost: *Est. $69.49

More Safety Solutions for Kids and Families:

Car Seat Safety: 22 Safety Experts Share Their Top Tips to Keep Your Child or Baby Safe in a Car Seat

While specific car seat criteria will vary from state to state, every state in the U.S. requires child safety seats for infants and children in some capacity. And aside from being a great safety precaution intuitively, the benefits of effectively utilizing a car seat for your child’s safety is statistically significant as well.

In fact, according to the CDC’s Fact Sheet on Child Passenger Safety, the use of a car seat reduces the risk for death to infants (aged 1 year and under) by 71%; and to toddlers (aged 1–4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles.

Since the use of a car seat is by far one of the most crucial safety precautions a family with small children can make, we here at Safe Sound Family wanted to learn even more about car seat safety, from car seat selection, installation and proper usage. To do this, we asked 22 parents and car safety experts to answer this question:

“What’s your #1 car seat safety tip for new parents to keep kids and infants safe?”

We’ve collected and compiled their expert advice into this comprehensive guide on car seat safety for parents. See what our experts said below:

Meet Our Panel of Car Seat Safety Experts:

Grainne-KellyGrainne Kelly

Grainne Kelly is a Family Travel Expert and Founder of the BubbleBum inflatable car booster seat. Grainne is a former travel agent who revolutionized the child travel industry by inventing BubbleBum: the world’s FIRST inflatable booster seat. Safety is a prime element of a child’s health, and the BubbleBum ensures that kids stay safe and comfortable throughout all car trips.

When it comes to car seat safety tips for new parents, my #1 piece of advice is…

Moving to the next car seat stage should not be viewed like a crawling milestone– be sure not to progress too early or you would be compromising your child’s safety.

A child should be kept in the 5-point harness seat until he reaches the upper weight limit of that seat. Both the age and weight requirements should be considered before moving on to a booster seat, which should be over 40 lbs and over 4 years old.

Jeff BoyerJeff Boyer

Jeff Boyer is the Vice President of Global Vehicle Safety for General Motors.

My number #1 tip for parents when it comes to child passenger safety is to…

Make sure your children are secured in car seats or booster seats that are appropriate for their age and size, on every ride.

For example, booster seats are designed to protect children who are too big for a car seat but too small for a seat belt alone. Without a booster seat, seat belts don’t fit children properly until they are at least 57” (4’9”) tall and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds.For all infants and children to be seated in car or booster seats.

The GM Foundation recently partnered with Safe Kids Worldwide to release a study for 2014 Child Passenger Safety Week. The survey of 1,000 parents of children ages 4 to 10 found that seven in ten parents don’t know the proper height and weight for a child to ride in a vehicle without a booster seat. In fact, in practice, nine out of ten parents move a child from a booster seat to a seat belt too soon! This was surprising of course, but also telling. Most parents just don’t know the safety facts, and we at the GM Foundation, along with Safe Kids, hope to change that.

Haynes M. StudstillHaynes M. Studstill

Haynes M. Studstill is a nationally recognized child injury attorney and mother of three children. Her law firm, Studstill Firm, LLP is located in Valdosta, GA, where she also serves as a Board Member on the Lowndes County Chapter of Safe Kids Worldwide.

When it comes to car seat safety for new parents, the most important thing to know is…

That your baby is safest in a rear-facing infant seat in the back seat of your vehicle for as
long as possible.

Most parents cannot wait until the baby reaches its first birthday to turn the car seat around and see that smiling face in the rearview mirror. But safety experts recommend that parents wait as long as possible before turning the child around to face forward – usually until closer to the child’s second birthday.

This is because the child’s muscles and bones are not quite strong enough to withstand the forces of a rear-end collision (one of the most common types of collisions) when they are forward facing until they are closer to that 2nd birthday. A rear-facing seat will provide the most protection for a baby’s head, neck and spine.

Also, while different states have different laws regarding what age children can ride in a vehicle without the aid of a child’s safety seat or a booster seat, it is important to note that these laws are usually the minimum standard. It is always best to continue using a booster seat or a safety seat until the child reaches the maximum height or weight for that seat – even if this goes beyond the age limit set by your state’s laws. Children ages 2 to 5 who use safety belts prematurely are four times more likely to suffer a serious head injury in a crash than those in child safety seats or booster seats.

Finally, the rear seat is always the safest place for kids. Children should always ride in the rear seat until they are at least 13 years old. And remember – always buckle up yourself and set a good example for your little ones.

©Rebecca Emily DrobisCherlyn Jenkins

Cherlyn Jenkins is the mom of 4 and 2 year old sons, a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, and the designer and manufacturer of the Cozywoggle, a car seat safe coat.

My number one car seat safety tip for new parents is to…

Remove bulky coats and clothing from your child before placing them in the car seat.

Bulky coats affects how tightly the harness fits on the child. During an accident the coat will compress to nothing leaving space between the child and the harness. This puts the child at greater risk of injury and even possibly ejection from their car seat.

A parent may use blankets, ponchos, thin fleece jacket, or a specially designed car seat safe coat, the Cozywoggle to keep their children warm and safe while traveling in cold weather.

Greg DurocherGreg Durocher

Greg Durocher is a father of three (ages 8, 7 and 2.5) and has been a Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor for 12 years. He spent 13 years as a career firefighter/paramedic and is now the CEO of Safe Ride 4 Kids.

The number one car seat safety tip I would give parents is to…

Keep their children in a rear-facing child restraint for as long as possible.

Studies show it is five times safer. Although many state’s law still say rear-facing until 1 year old, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping children rear-facing until they are at least 2 years old. We as child passenger safety technicians recommend as long as possible which means –depending on the child and the restraint– it could be until about 4 years old.

Dawn YanekDawn Yanek

Dawn Yanek is the Founder and Blogger at Momsanity and the proud mother of a very adorable, very bouncy toddler who keeps her on her toes. In a former life, she was an on-air spokesperson for Life & Style Weekly, a columnist and senior editor for Stuff Magazine, and a contributor for and ESPN2’s Cold Pizza. She has also logged countless hours in the entertainment industry, appearing in more than 2,500 TV and radio segments, discussing lifestyle, relationships, celebrity news, fashion and pop culture.

My top safety tip for new parents to keep their kids safe in the car?

Make sure that the car-seat buckle is snug, secure and in the right spot.

My biggest surprise when researching car-seat safety for my son was that you needed to take off baby’s winter coat before buckling him in. In the dead of winter, the last thing you want to do is take off your squirmy, cranky, possibly flailing child’s warm coat to strap him into his seat…so you might just let it go. But you can’t. Because if you get into an accident, he won’t be properly secured or properly protected. Yes, you’re freezing. Yes, it’s a pain to get your kid out of a coat before a car ride and then back in one after it, but you have to do it.

Doing this also lets you really see where the chest strap should go: Right across the middle of the chest, in line with your baby’s armpits. If you have it too high or too low, an impact could cause serious damage to your child’s internal organs. Keeping the straps loose doesn’t make your child more comfortable; it just makes him less safe.

As I see it, what’s the point of having a car seat if you’re not using it properly? Just like you can’t be “a little pregnant,” you can’t be “a little safe.” Either you’re safe or you’re not. And when it comes to our kids, safe is the only way to go.

Bryn MacKinnonBryn MacKinnon

Bryn MacKinnon is the Senior Editor of car-shopping site,, and a mother of two. She has been in publishing since 1996, at Edmunds since 2008. She loves knowing her work helps folks get the right car for their needs at the right price.

My number one car seat safety tip for new parents is to…

Double-check your work by getting your child’s car seat inspected by a certified car seat safety technician. Check NHTSA’s child car seat inspection station locator ( to find a car seat inspection station in your area.

Julie McCaffreyJulie McCaffrey

Julie McCaffrey is the new Chief Brand Officer of, the high-quality store that supplies the facts and advice, along with the right choice, to parents who are completely lost in the whirlwind of baby gear. Julie has the task of leading the brand image and customer experience while ensuring and overseeing marketing, advertising, design, public relations, and customer service teams all follow along.

Here is my car seat safety advice for new parents…

If you want to determine whether your child doesn’t need a car booster seat anymore, do the 5-step test:

  • Can he sit with his back against the vehicle seat?
  • Do his knees bend at the edge of the seat?
  • Is the lap belt low on the top of the thighs?
  • Does the shoulder belt sit between the neck and shoulder?
  • Does the child not slouch or lean out of the seat belt?

If the answer is a solid ‘yes’ for each of these questions, then he doesn’t need a car booster seat anymore.

James BregenzerJames Bregenzer

James Bregenzer is a Serial Entrepreneur and a new parent. James and his wife celebrated the birth of their son on September 4, 2014. Learn more about James and is his work at his personal website,

In regard to car seats, my best advice for expecting parents is…

After you’ve read all the reviews and selected the car seat that works best for you and your family, make sure you take it out of the box and get it assembled a couple weeks before your due date.

They all seem pretty easy to use–but they’re not as obvious or straightforward as I was originally expecting. Especially given all the other things going on after a child is born, it was a huge help being familiar with how the car seat works and how to get it in and out of the backseat.

Barbara BirkenshawBarbara Birkenshaw

Barbara Birkenshaw is the Child Passenger Safety Advocate for Volkswagen Group of America and is an active member of the SAE Child Restraints Subcommittee, the ISO Working Group as well as the Alliance LATCH Working Group. She formerly served on the National Child Passenger Safety Board as the vehicle manufacturers’ representative. In addition, Barbara serves as a company representative on the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS) Industry Advisory Board. At Volkswagen Group of America, she ensures that vehicle development and design direction is provided through interpretation of regulations pertaining to the KT Safety Act, child passenger safety, and any additional Federal/Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, as deemed necessary.

My #1 car seat safety tip for new parents to keep kids and infants safe is…


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a great website dedicated to child passenger safety. A new easy-to-use tool, “Car Seat Finder,” has just recently been added to help the caregiver select the recommended car seat type that fits a child according to NHTSA’s best practice recommendations. [Source:]

In order to ensure that the caregiver truly understands the workings of the correct car seat with his/her vehicle, it is of the utmost importance that both car seat and vehicle owner’s manual installation instructions are read and adhered to, and that all applicable warnings are heeded because, frankly, not one owner’s manual is the same.

Differing car seat installation instructions may be found in child height/weight limits, carry handle position, aftermarket products use, lock-off use, exact installation angles, installation restrictions with inflatable seat belt, etc., to name a few.

The manufacturer should be contacted if further information and/or clarification is needed. Another option would be to have the car seat checked by one of the 35,000+ certified child passenger safety technicians in the United States [Source:]

Kristie Reeves-CavalieroKristie Reeves-Cavaliero

Kristie Reeves-Cavaliero, Pharm.D. is the President of Ray Ray’s Pledge.

My #1 child passenger seat safety tip for new parents isn’t necessarily a car seat tip, but I feel it is extremely important for parents who regularly bring their small children into a car, and it is to…

Always lock your car door and create an absence verification plan with your childcare provider.

Here is a little background on why me and my family volunteer our time to prevent an often unrecognized/ commonly misunderstood danger to child passenger safety known as vehicular heatstroke.

First, note that vehicular heatstroke is the #1 non-crash related cause of fatalities for kids under 14. Also, forgotten childcare drop off is the #1 source of child vehicular heatstroke.

We lost our child, Ray Ray, in this manner 3 years ago and subsequently developed a prevention program in her honor, Ray Ray’s Pledge. Our program is a dual commitment to safety and arrival confirmation by BOTH parents and childcare providers during this high-risk time of day for heatstroke tragedies.

Meagan RossMeagan Ross

Meagan Ross is mom to two boys who make sure her life is never dull. She is the Owner of STOLA, where she designs breastfeeding apparel to help women feel confident and comfortable in their choice to breastfeed. She lives in Toronto, Canada. Learn more at STOLA.

My #1 car seat safety tip for new parents to keep kids and infants safe is something that I make sure to do myself, which is…

I always make sure the chest clip is level with my sons’ armpits: any higher and you risk choking, any lower and they can get their arms out, as my older son was quick to show me when I was driving solo and couldn’t stop to fix it. I learned my lesson and always make sure the clips are at the right level before starting the car.

Don MarksDon Marks

Don Marks is the CEO of the #1 franchise in car locksmithing, Pop-A-Lock, and has more than 35 years experience originating and expanding franchise business systems to drive explosive franchisee growth and profit, while greatly improving customer service. Pop-A-Lock is also a proud sponsor of PALSavesKids™, a FREE community service program offered by Pop-A-Lock saving children locked in cars.

My #1 car seat safety tip for new parents to keep kids and infants safe is to…

Practice Pop-A-Lock’s public service program, PAL Saves Kids, which reminds busy caregivers to be hyper-vigilant of their children’s presence during the hot summer months and approaching winter months through a new call-to-action: PALSaves 1-Stop, 2-Look, 3-Lock.

They also encourage caregivers to practice the PAL exchange by leaving a valuable item in the backseat, such as your purse or wallet, drawing attention to the backseat prior to exiting the vehicle and ensuring children aren’t mistakenly left in the vehicle. If you do lock your child in your car, first call 911, then your local Pop-A-Lock for their public service program which will unlock your car for free.

Coleen ChristianColeen Christian

Coleen Christian is a mom and writer of the mom blog by Coleen.

In my group of friends I’m known as “the car seat whisperer.” Here is my advice to new parents…

My trick to getting a car seat snugger than anyone else, is to actually push down with my own body weight.

No matter how tight myself or my husband pulled, and no matter how tight the seat seemed, when I actually climbed into the car to sit next to the car seat, put my weight on it and pressed it down, I was surprised by how much looser the belt became and how much further I was able to secure it.

Lara KretlerLara Kretler

Lara Kretler working mom of a wonderful 4-1/2 year old and mom blogger at

My #1 car seat safety tip for new parents to keep kids and infants safe is to…

Make sure there are NO hanging/dangling or loose straps that can accidentally slip out of the car door unnoticed.

I blogged about my experience here and it was absolutely terrifying:

Thank God my daughter wasn’t in her carseat at the time! As you can read from the comments, this has happened to others so it is a definite concern worth thinking about.

Sarah SkirpanSarah Skirpan

Sarah Skirpan is a Media Strategist at Dick Jones Communications and a mom of two kids under three-years-old.

My #1 car seat safety tip that I constantly repeat to my friends and family is to…

Find a certified car seat expert at your local police station.

In my case, our expert is a police officer who we met through our baby care class. Every time we switch car seats (as our kids grow out of them), we schedule an appointment to have the officer do it for us. Also, when we’ve gone on long car trips for vacation, we schedule a check up to make sure the car seats are safe for our drive. It’s completely free and takes only a few minutes.

Secondly, I always take the time to fix the straps if they’re twisted. The car seat expert/police officer who spoke to our baby care class told us that if a car seat strap is twisted, the strap loses 30% of its hold. That’s a large percentage!

And lastly, I never put my children in heavy, puffy coats in the car seat. The police officer/car seat expert also told us that when a child wears a heavy or puffy coat, the seat straps aren’t as close to the child’s chest, and leaves room for the child to physically slip out of the car seat if ever in an accident. We wear our “car coats,” which are warm but thin coats, going to and from the car.

Michael T. IrvinMichael T. Irvin

Michael T. Irvin is a Registered Nurse and Healthcare Consultant, LinkedIn Publisher, Author, and CEO and President of MLTC Consulting, a nationwide healthcare consulting company. He has been featured in The New York Times, WSJ, ABC News, and, and has written over 45 books available at Amazon Books under Michael T. Irvin.

Being an nurse who has worked in ER and seen a lot of injuries due to car accidents and a father of 5 daughters, I can say that I know a lot about car safety for kids and infants. My number one tip is for parents to…

Actually pull on the child’s seat belt to make sure that it is properly buckled.

Many times parents assume that just because the child or infant is in a car child seat that this is sufficient. By getting into the habit of “pulling after snapping” parents will better insure the safety of their children when traveling in a car.

Janet GroeneJanet Groene

Janet Groene is the Author of Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition and Editor at

My #1 car seat safety tip for new parents to keep kids and infants safe is to…

Know your vehicle, not just the car seat.

Most of us use the same car seat in a variety of vehicles: yours, your spouse’s, Grandma’s, the baby sitter’s, and so on. The more unusual the vehicle, such as a camper or the day care’s transporter, the more important it is to know how to anchor the seat safely. Call the local police or fire station and ask if their trained personnel have a program for checking out parents on safe car seat use.

Brenda D. PriddyBrenda D. Priddy

Brenda D. Priddy is a freelance writer and blogger, mother to 2 girls, and an advocate of children’s safety. She blogs about children’s education and green living at Schooling a Monkey.

Aside from making sure the seat is installed properly (so many parents have improperly installed seats!), the next most important tip for car seat safety is to…

Make sure the belt itself fits properly.

Also, children should sit rear-facing until at least their second birthday. For rear-facing children, we never allow ours to eat while the car is moving to prevent choking hazards.

Jordan PerchJordan Perch

Jordan Perch is an Analyst at who specializes in automotive safety. He is a regular contributor to the’s collaborative community for US drivers, and many other consumer sites.

When it comes to car seat safety, the key thing for ensuring your kid’s safety is…

Making sure the seat is installed and positioned correctly.

Before you start installing a child safety seat, you have to read the instruction manual first. The most important thing to remember is that the seat has to be in a rear-facing position, in the middle of the back seat, which is considered to be the safest position, because this way, the child gets better protection during a side-impact crash, and the risk of sustaining serious injury to a child’s neck, head or spine, is significantly reduced.

Children should be kept in a rear-facing car seat until they turn 2, and then they can be seated in a forward-facing seat.

Caroline TanakaCaroline Tanaka

Caroline Tanaka is a Publicist and Co-Founder of Tidy Tote.

My #1 car seat safety tip for new parents to keep kids and infants safe is to…

Remember to never sacrifice safety for your child’s superficial comfort.

I think as parents we want our children to be comfortable in whatever situation, so when he/she doesn’t want to wear pants, we change them into shorts, or when the they don’t want to wear sneakers, we let them wear sandals but I feel like when it comes to their safety, we, as parents should not budge.

I remember when my daughter would complain about the 5-point harness on her car seat being too “tight.” I didn’t do anything and day after day she would complain but then one day the complaining stopped.

I checked her seat and the harness was so loose! My husband loosened it for her! I told him how unsafe it was for her to be in a loose harness and how we as parents need to do what’s best for them even if they don’t like it! So anyway that’s my advice.

Ross TraversRoss Travers

Ross Travers is the Director of C&A Mackie, a firm who has been providing solutions to the general motor insurance market since 1990, using their expertise to develop products which deliver complete insurance solutions.

As a parent, one of the most important jobs you have is protecting your child, especially when riding in a moving vehicle. Every year, hundreds of children are involved in accidents due to use of improper car seats, all of which could be easily avoided by…

Buying the correct model.

The type of car seat you need depends on the age and size of your child and the type of car you drive, so it’s often easy to get it wrong. Consider asking a professional for advice, it is also always worth double-checking with your insurance provider as well. Be aware that you may also have to buy more than one car seat as the child grows, or if you change the type of car you drive.

Parents should be warned that foreign car seats, which are imported from China, can often fail safety requirements and should not be used. Crash testing studies report that the seats rip apart on impact at 30mph, catapulting a dummy the size of a three-year-old through the front window of the car.

How to spot a fake

The illegal foreign car seats have no manufacturer’s label and are usually sold online via retailers such as eBay and Amazon. To avoid counterfeits, make sure to buy from a well- established manufacturer and look out for a safety guarantee. For extra peace of mind, most good retailers will offer an extra service where you can get an expert to fit the seat for you post purchase. This ensures that it is perfectly suited to your child’s size, allowing for comfort, while at the same time meeting the safety requirements.

More Safety Solutions for Kids and Families:

The Best Family Games: 50 of the Top Board Games, Video Games and Card Games that are Tons of Fun for Kids and the Whole Family

the best games for family fun

Source: Tim, Flickr Creative Commons

The family that plays together says together – or at least until someone wins that game of Monopoly, Parchesi, Life or Sorry! Traditional board games as well as new, electronic games provide hours of family fun time. Best of all, everyone in the family can play some games. Grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, parents and children can all gather around the table to enjoy fun times together. The next time you and your family gets together or after your next big holiday meal, pull out one of the 50 best family games, and let the good times roll!

The 50 Best Family Games

The list of the the 50 best family games is divided into several parts. The first section includes traditional board games, grouped by age ranges. The second part includes classic board games enjoyed by all ages. The last section lists electronic games for family entertainment. If a specific game system is needed, this information is included with the specifics of the game.

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Why Play Family Games?

With so many kids clamoring for every type of digital game under the sun, why include traditional board games? Board games actually teach children many valuable lessons. Parenting Science states that traditional board games provide good opportunities for children to model behaviors from adults. Think about it; if you’re playing a game as a family, the older adults around the table are modeling how to follow rules, how to be a good sport, how to take turns, and how to share. Depending on your family situation and lifestyle, that may be a valuable and unique opportunity indeed, especially if the older family members live far away and don’t interact frequently with the youngsters.

Traditional board games do not rely on electricity, and they’re inexpensive. Grandparents who may be intimidated by digital games can immediately immerse themselves in traditional games such as checkers, chess, Monopoly, Life, and many others.

Keep this in mind as you’re shopping for games for your family. With so many things moving to digital platforms, traditional board games may still have a place in your family’s life.

The 25 Best Family Games



1. The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game (Educational Insights)

Children ages 3 and up love playing


  • Box acts as part of the game board.
  • Adults seem to enjoy the game too, so it’s fun for the whole family.
  • Helps kids develop social skills, fine motor skills, and matching skills.


  • Older children who play the game may find it boring.
  • Cardboard pieces can rip over time.

Hoot Owl Hoot board game

2. Hoot, Owl, Hoot! (Peaceable Kingdom)


  • Game teaches cooperation and builds on social skills.
  • Parents love how the game teaches counting, cooperation and teamwork.
  • Bright, colorful and well-constructed game.


  • Some parents felt that without the competition among players, the game wasn’t as much fun.
  • Some parents felt the game was hard to understand.

Jax Sequence

3. Jax Jumbo Sequence Tube Game (Jax)

This challenging game for older children and adults was a huge favorite among reviewers. Players use a board game printed with cards and poker-like chips to create five-card sequences. The winner is the one who creates the most five card sequences in one game session. The sturdy vinyl mat rolls up into a portable tube, making this a great game both for family nights and vacation trips.


  • Adults, teens and older children loved the game and said it provided many hours of fun.
  • Sturdy mat and game pieces that last a long time.
  • The jumbo version offers a large enough board space for six to 10 players to compete at once.


  • Some families may not like the card game aspect of the game.
  • Younger children may find the game rules too challenging.

Ticket to Ride Game

4. Ticket to Ride (Original Version) (Days of Wonder)

All aboard! Grab your ticket to ride and hop aboard this fun take off on “Around the World in 80 Days.”


  • There are so many possible combinations in this game that kids can play it many times without growing bored with it.
  • Scores can be close, which makes the game exciting.


  • Later versions set in different countries offer more challenges.
  • Some parents felt it was too expensive.


5. Telestrations (Usapoly)

From the makers of Yahtzee! and many other popular games comes


  • Combines the best of Pictionary and Telephone.
  • Leads to some unpredictable, very funny outcomes.
  • Up to 8 people can play at once.


  • Works best for 6 or more players. The fewer players, the fewer surprises, and the less funny the game is.
  • Some people felt it was overpriced.


6. Carcassonne (Z-Man Games)

Carcassonne is a game that seems simple at first, but the more you play it, the more it will grow on you. Players ages 8 and up draw tiles, and use the tiles to build out the Medieval city of Carssonne. Part luck and part strategy, the game appeals to both children and adults. This is the original game, which many recommend over newer editions.


  • Rules were easy to learn but the game was challenging to play.
  • Game pieces well constructed.
  • Good for the whole family.


  • Scoring can be challenging to learn.


7. Ravensburger Labyrinth (Ravensburger)


  • Games rules are simple and can be learned quickly, yet playing is challenging.
  • Because the game changes a lot each time you play it, it’s fun to play it again and again.


  • Some parents found the game tiles hard to slide.
  • Some adults found the game boring and thought it was more interesting for children than for entire families to play.
  • Cannot accommodate more than four players at a time.


8. Set: The Family Game of Visual Perceptions (Set Enterprises)

Unlike many family games were players take turns, Set players all play simultaneously. The dealer arranges 12 cards, each with various symbols and colors on them, in front of the players. Players must quickly create sets, each competing with each other to grab cards from the 12 to create a set. Players ages 10 and up will find this game fast-paced and challenging.


  • Easy game to learn.
  • Challenging enough for adults to play alongside kids.
  • Game isn’t dependent on age or reading ability, so if younger children aren’t frustrated by the pace or skills, they can play alongside the adults.


  • Colorblind people may not be able to play the game because of the red and green colors – hard to distinguish between the cards for those with colorblindness.
  • Newer versions of the game were produced with thinner playing cards, leading to some complaints of premature wear and tear on them.

Settlers of Catan

9. The Settlers of Catan (MayFair Games)

In this


  • Game board comes with special places to store pieces.
  • Both luck and skill are needed to win the game.
  • Expansions and add-ons (additional purchases) can be used to enhance the original game.


  • Many complaints about games shipped missing pieces.
  • Board tends to warp if not put away carefully.

7 Wonders

10. Seven Wonders (Asmodee)

Build your civilization, and build the seven wonders of the ancient world in this fast-paced card and board game. Players ages 8 and up will enjoy the quick action and strategy that goes into this game. Players choose cards that let them build onto a civilization, passing the cards to the next player as the game advances. Players ages 10 and up may enjoy Seven Wonders.


  • Colorful board game.
  • Expansion packets enable players to build upon the base game.
  • Good for 3 to 7 players.


  • Younger players found it too complicated to learn.
  • Some players thought that luck, more than skill, helped people win.

Blokus game box

11. Blokus (Mattel)


  • Helps develop thinking skills.
  • Children as well as adults enjoyed the game.
  • Very challenging yet fun.


  • Contains small game pieces, so not for very young children.
  • Small pieces can get lost.
  • No more than four people can play at a time, which limits it for parties or large families.


12. Qwirkle (MindWare)

Qwirkle brings the best of Scrabble, Othello and many other classic games to provide hours of family fun. Players draw tiles and try to match colors and shapes on the game board to win points. Qwirkle is fun for both children and adults, and encourages strategy, creativity, and planning skills.


  • Good for younger children who aren’t reading well yet since the game is based on colors and shapes.
  • Quick game when you have limited time.
  • Can be enjoyed by the whole family, ages 6 and up.


  • Very young children may have trouble with the rules or trouble keeping up with the grownups.
  • Some people find that the red and orange colors are so close that it’s hard to tell them apart.
  • Complaints that newer versions have poor quality game pieces.

Rory's Story Cubes

13. Rory’s Story Cubes, The Complete Set (Gamewright)

offer an intriguing game for players of all ages. Each set in this package of three sets includes 9 pictorial cubes for a total of 54 original, 54 action and 54 voyage images. Roll the cubes, and come up with a story that incorporates the images. Kids ages 8 and up enjoy weaving tales as part of the game.


  • Parents and teachers raved about how the game inspires creativity and challenges thinking.
  • Great for people of all ages. Kids and adults enjoyed the game.
  • Easy to learn.


  • Some people had trouble figuring out what the image on the cubes was meant to be.
  • Some people may want to start with the single sets and add onto them as they gain familiarity with the game.


14. Apples to Apples (Mattel)


  • Game is simple and easy to learn.
  • Party edition can accommodate many players.
  • Provides hours of fun.


  • Some of the subject matter may be a little old or risque for children. The game is promoted for ages 12 and up, but some parents thought it more suitable for older teens.
  • Cards can wear out or get lost easily.

Pay Day

15. Payday (Winning Moves Games)

Parents may remember this game from their youth. The classic board game has been updated with new categories and a few changes to the older game. Players pit their entrepreneurial and financial skills against each other to see who makes the most money. Suitable for ages 8 to 12 years, but grownups enjoy it, too.


  • Like Monopoly, Pay Day helps boost children’s entrepreneurial and financial skills.
  • Teaches children about money, budgeting, spending.
  • Sneaks education about money into a game so it is fun.


  • Newer versions of the game did away with the savings option, which many people found upsetting.
  • Younger children may have trouble handling money.

Classic Board and Card Games for the Whole Family

Some things never go out of style, and that’s true for the following classic games. Games for young children include classics such as Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders, while older kids will thrill to the mysteries of Clue, try their hand at creating real estate empires with Monopoly, or out maneuver their opponents in Battleship.


16. Clue, The Classic Edition (Winning Moves Games)

Professor Plum, Miss Scarlett, Mr. White and the others are back in this classic edition of the family favorite mystery game, Clue. Who killed Mr. Boddy? And how? Players figure out the clues to discover the identity of the murderer. Kids ages 8 and older will enjoy figuring out the means, motive and method in this board game.


  • For a game that’s been around for over 50 years, it still feels fresh and fun.
  • Offers many combinations of clues so that no two games are exactly alike.
  • Helps teach reasoning and logic skills.


  • Small game pieces may not be a good idea in households with young children.
  • Some parents object to the murder theme.


17. Monopoly (Winning Moves)

Monopoly spawned many imitators, but none come close to recreating the appeal of this classic board game. Start at go, roll the dice, and see who can build houses and hotels the fastest, collecting rents and earning the most money. The classic version brings back the traditional styling of the game as well as traditional game pieces such as the iron and shoe. Other licensed versions offer different names for the properties and various themed game sets, but the classic version is a family favorite.


  • Great game for the whole family.
  • A classic game of strategy.


  • Younger children may find the rules complicated.
  • Needs several hours to play compared to modern games that can be played in under an hour.


18. Sorry Classic (Winning Moves)

The 1939 classic game of


  • Classic edition recreates the nostalgic look of older boards.
  • Illustrated instructions reprinted from the original 1939 version.
  • Sturdy game board and classic pieces.


  • Playing time goes by quickly; not for families who want long, involved games.
  • Luck, more so than skill, is needed to win the game.

Life Game

19. Life (Hasbro)

The game of Life offers a classic family game that teaches players valuable lessons about managing money and finances. Different challenges ranging from getting married and having children to setbacks such as illnesses and job losses challenge players to make tough decisions in order to win and retire comfortably.


  • The classic version offers endless hours of family fun.
  • Easy instructions that younger players can learn quickly.


  • Some players said they ran out of money quickly; boxes didn’t contain enough play money.
  • A few rules changes from the classic edition which some adults did not like.


20. Parcheesi (Winning Moves)

Kids, parents and grandparents love playing Parcheesi. This classic board game for four or more players is based more on luck than skill, but offers hours of playing fun for the whole family. The classic version is based on older board games and sure to bring up fond memories for the adults at the table.


  • Classic version is made from the same sturdy materials as older games,so sure to last a long time.
  • Older people as well as children ages 8 and up are sure to enjoy it.


  • Children more used to fast-paced games or video games may be bored by this nostalgic game.
  • Some prefer “Sorry” which is similar to Parcheesi.

Candy Land

21. Candy Land (Hasbro)

No mention of family board games is complete without mentioning


  • Easy for young children to learn and play.
  • Games is based on luck rather than skill.


  • Newer games have thin cards, which do not hold up well to rough play.
  • Suitable only for very young children; adults and teens get bored quickly.


Chutes and ladders

22. Chutes and Ladders (Hasbro)

Children spin the wheel and either climb the ladders or slip down the chutes depending on the outcomes. Good deeds are rewarded by climbing to the top; bad deeds punished by slipping down. Chutes and Ladders remains a classic fun game for preschoolers.


  • No reading skills needed.
  • Good first game for very young children.
  • Helps build counting skills.


  • Revised game board smaller than the older ones, making it hard to play.
  • Some parents complained that the newer illustrations are too cramped and make it hard to see what is going on.


23. Battleship (Hasbro)

The classic strategy game for children ages 7 and up offers hours of fun. Pit your ships against your enemy and win naval battles. No batteries are needed for this traditional version, which instead uses game pieces for play.


  • Even kids who don’t like board games often enjoy battleship.
  • Provides hours of fun.


  • Small game pieces can get lost easily.
  • Some parents complained that the newer game pieces feel flimsy and cheap compared to older sets.

backgammon set

24. Backgammon (Mainstreet Classics)

Backgammon is one of the oldest board games in the world, and a favorite worldwide. Children ages 8 and up can learn the rules, and players of all ages can enjoy hours of fun. Although suitable for only two players at a time like chess or checkers, backgammon is a classic family game that can be enjoyed by all. This particular set includes a solidly constructed leather case and accessories that will last for years.


  • Set construction deemed good for the price.
  • A good starter set for a family that enjoys a serious game of backgammon.


  • Some reported that the dividers fell out after only a few plays.
  • Handle broke on some sets.


25. Uno (Mattel)


  • Many family members can play at the same time.
  • Young children can learn the rules quickly and play along with grownups.


  • Some purchasers reported poor printing on their cards.
  • A few rules changes in the new game struck Uno aficionados as unnecessary or even confusing.

The Best 25 Family Electronic and Video Games


1. Super Mario 3D World – Nintendo Wii U (Nintendo)

Up to four players can join in the fun in this updated version of SuperMario. The 3D effects are fun, and the game offers new transformations and unique methods of motion for each player that makes it fun to swap roles with each new game. This version is for the Nintendo Wii console only.


  • Adults and children loved the many options during game play – plenty of secrets to unlock, new levels to explore, and ways to have fun!
  • 3D effects were rated as good to excellent.
  • Adults and kids loved the game.


  • Some people reported problems with the game; game errors after only a few plays.
  • If one player gets too far ahead of another, it can be hard to toggle back and forth between the players without interrupting the play.
  • Some people preferred older versions of the game.


2. Mario Kart DS (Nintendo)

Like the previous game, Mario Kart DS is a Nintendo game for the whole family. Up to four players can race on different tracks, and eight players can play at once with WiFi. New levels, courses and more enhance this updated game.


  • Many people claim this is the best game available for DS.
  • Looks, feels and acts like a classic Mario game.


  • Reports of bad game disks and slow response time from the manufacturer to replace them.
  • Some players used to Mario 64 claim this version is “boring.”

Rune Factory 4

3. Rune Factory 4 – Nintendo 3DS (Xseed Games)

If your family enjoys fantasy and science fiction,


  • Good story line interjected with humor for light-hearted family fun.
  • Players can be male or female, and roles can be changed to suit the people playing.
  • Controls are easy to understand.


  • Not quite a simple fairy tale game nor an adventure game – some people were disappointed that it didn’t quite blend both as seamlessly as they wanted.
  • Competition seemed too easy to many players.

Kingdom Hearts II PlayStation 2

4. Kingdom Hearts II – PlayStation 2 (Square Enix)

Kingdom Hearts brings together many of the Disney franchise worlds into one game. Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, and Pirates of the Caribbean are among the many fantasy worlds in this game. More advanced battle system from previous games enhances the play and makes this a fun game for ages 10 and up.


  • Great music and graphics make it a fun game.
  • Excellent story that was entertaining for all ages.


  • End battles disappointed some players.
  • Some players found the ending frustrating.


5. Lego Marvel Super Heroes PC (Warner Brothers)

Players unlock characters from the Marvel universe of super heroes, with more than 100 to explore as the game progresses. Puzzles and challenges encourage cooperative play rather than cut-throat competition. A fun game for ages 10 and up.


  • Excellent graphics and sound.
  • 100 characters make for many hours of entertaining fun.
  • Good story.


  • Running the game live online used up a lot of computer memory.
  • Only works well with a fast internet connection.



6. Just Dance IV (Ubisoft)


  • Play it as a game or use it for its workouts, you’ll still work up a sweat and have fun.
  • Many different music styles to choose from.
  • Good for kids, teens and adults.


  • Controls may take some getting used to.
  • Interface can be tricky to use and unresponsive.


7. Pokemon: Yellow Version – Special Pikachu Edition (Nintendo)



  • A good new version of the addictive Pokemon-style games.
  • Includes new battle modes for extra excitement.


  • Battles can become repetitive.
  • Experienced players may grow tired of the game.


8. Hasbro Family Game Night Fun Pack – Nintendo Wii (Electronic Arts)



  • Great for the entire family; anyone can play.
  • Can play by yourself, pitting your wits against the computer, or with other players.
  • Recreated many family favorite board games.


  • Not as interactive as some players thought it would be.
  • Some games differ slightly from the classic board games.



9. 1001 Touch Games – Nintendo DS (Maximum Games)

The Nintendo DS 1001 Touch Games features many of your favorite games such as solitaire, Suduko and others in one package. Play alone or with other family members; the system is flexible and lets you choose a game version that fits the number of players available. For Nintendo DS and suitable for all ages.


  • Many fun games that are easy to learn.
  • Flexible enough so that a child can play by him or herself, or include friends, too.


  • Some players reported trouble with the touchscreen technology.
  • Some adults felt the games weren’t challenging enough.



10. Family Game Night 4: The Game Show – Xbox 360 (Electronic Arts)

Family Game Night 4: The Game Show edition offers hours of entertainment with a variety of games in one package. Choose from Connect 4 Basketball, Yahtzee! Bowling, Scrabble Flash, Bop It Boptagon, and Sorry! Sliders. Games include variations that make them slightly different from the traditional board games.


  • Offers many convenient games in one package
  • Available for the Xbox, Nintendo Wii and other game systems.
  • Inexpensive game.


  • Two player option doesn’t allow for more players, so families have to pair up and take turns.


11. Disney Sing It: Family Hits – Nintendo Wii (Disney/Nintendo)

Is your family hooked on classic Disney movies? Then you’ll love Disney Sing It: Family Hits. Players sing along to favorite Disney movie songs in a karaoke-style game. Up to 8 players can join in the fun and pass the microphone to sing along to the music of videos.


  • Offers good family fun for all ages.
  • Includes singing lessons and tips.


  • Strange selection of songs – very few from the better-known recent Disney movies.
  • Easy to grow tired of the songs after a while as the selection is limited.


12. Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do – Xbox 360 (2K)

Pretend you’re at the carnival with this family fun game for all ages! Play ring toss, pop darts and many other games bring a total of 20 fun party games into one package. The entire game package aims to recreate the fun of a boardwalk-style carnival for all ages.


  • Great party game that kids of all ages can play.
  • Menu is easy to navigate.
  • Can be played in smaller spaces.


  • Must be played in groups (one player can’t play it alone)
  • Too few games; people wished there were more games.


13. Cabela’s Big Game Hunter Hunting Party with Gun – Xbox 360 (Activision)

Players recreate the look and feel of big game hunting with this


  • Excellent graphics and natural sound quality.
  • Easy game for younger players.


  • Players must take turns.
  • Animals were in predictable spots.


14. WipeOut: The Game (Activision)

This game is based on the hit ABC television show. Up to four players can play at once, navigating obstacles and pitting their skills against each other. Game includes more than 50 obstacles to keep you on your toes, as well as classics from the television show.


  • Fun game that captures the spirit of the television show.
  • Younger kids loved it.
  • Challenging enough to keep them entertained through multiple competitions.


  • Doesn’t use the motion sensing capabilities of Wii – missed opportunity by the game designers.
  • Bugs in the graphic system leads to delays and glitches.


15. Mario Party 7 (Nintendo)

Mario Party 7 for the Gamecube offers fun even for those who are used to playing the various Mario games. Nine personas are included, with two additional ones to unlock. The game follows Mario on an around the world cruise, with each stop a new games to play. Multiple players can enjoy the game at once, and some sets include a bonus microphone.


  • Fun for the whole family or for big groups and parties.
  • Many mini games included in the package make it hard to get bored or used to the overall game; offers new fun each time you play it.
  • Includes the interactive voice recognition of the last version.


  • Not suitable for solo games; better when several people play at once.
  • Some games are very simple, but this could also be a plus if you have younger children who want to play along.



16. Pikmin 2 (Nintendo)

Join Olimer, Pikmin and friends to find objects hidden on an island in


  • Works very much like the original game, so if you liked that one, you will probably like this one.
  • Strategy/puzzle game that keeps you thinking and guessing.
  • New Wii controls improve the appearance and usability over previous version.


  • Graphics were a bit dated looking.
  • Players complained there were too many dungeons; not as creative as they had hoped.



17. LittleBigPlanet Karting – Playstation 3 (Sony)

Sackboy races through new screens and challenges in this fast-paced game for Sony Playstation 3. You can even create new tracks and share them with the gaming community.There are many options to unlock in this game, making it a truly unique experience.


  • Parents said it was easy enough so that little ones could play along with grownups and not get frustrated.
  • Exciting, fast-paced game.
  • Fun story line and creative add-ons make it a game kids return to over and over again.


  • Some players wanted more racing, less ‘car building’ or creation options.
  • Complaints of too many pop up ads within the game itself prompting you to buy other items.



18. Donkey Kong Country Returns (Nintendo)

Fans of older versions of this game will love the new two-player feature that lets you and another family member play Donkey Kong Country Returns at the same time. The same scrolling screens everyone loved in earlier versions of the game are here, along with hidden items and puzzles to solve. Great for all ages, this version is for the Nintendo Wii.


  • Game is challenging! Adults found some parts very tough, but kids enjoyed the challenges, too.
  • Controls are smooth, giving play a realistic feel.
  • Players wanted to play it again and again.


  • Some of the challenges are more about memorizing the scenario than about skill.
  • Controls were a little more difficult to navigate in two player mode.


19. Chuck E Cheese’s Party Games – Nintendo DS (Tommo)

Now you can bring the family fun of


  • Inexpensive game.
  • Kids love the fact that it features many of the favorite games from the restaurant.
  • Games are simple and easy to learn.


  • Older children may grow bored with the game.


20. Guinness World Records: The Videogame – Nintendo Wii (Warner Brothers)

The entire family can have fun trying to recreate stunts from the


  • Addictive family fun – people who played it said they couldn’t stop playing it!
  • Plenty of details and sound effects to recreate stunts safely.
  • Most challenges are quick and easy to learn.


  • Instructions for each activity weren’t written clearly in the enclosed manual. Some were difficult to understand and learn.
  • Some people felt the challenges were too silly and weren’t fun.


21. Around the World in 50 Games – Nintendo Wii (Zoo Games)

This is a simple collection of family-style games for all ages. The collection includes 50 games with varying levels for hours of play and enjoyment. While the games seem simple at first, they can be difficult to win.


  • Inexpensive game to add to your collection.
  • Plenty of playing options with over 50 games and combinations.


  • Some of the games were very simple.
  • Younger children may be confused or have difficulty following the games.



22. Ultimate Band – Nintendo Wii (Disney Interactive Studios)

Players can follow along with the scripted story lines or jam as they please with this band-style game for Nintendo Wii. Play bass, drums, guitar, keyboards or other instruments. Songs include current favorites as well as classic favorites from The Who and other bands.


  • Family-style game for music lovers allows older kids to adults to play together.
  • Interactive game which can be customized to players’ abilities and tastes.
  • Good alternative to other band games with riskier lyrics.


  • Better for older children and teens – some younger children had trouble keeping up.
  • Many players wished for additional songs or an option to add more songs.



23. MySims Sky Heroes – Nintendo Wii (Electronic Arts)

Save the skies from the tyranny of Morcubus in this family-fun game that accommodates up to 10 players through WiFi. Aerial battles, challenging action, and an interesting adventure story made this a favorite for many children, teens and adults.


  • You can race, fly freely or face different challenges.
  • Can customize your aircraft and play against more people using the online option.


  • Children under age 6 have trouble playing it – may be too hard for very young kids.
  • Split screen multiplayer option confusing and hard to get to work right for some players.


24. Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader: Back to School – Nintendo Wii (THQ)

Families who like the television show will love this game for the Nintendo Wii. Over 6,000 questions offer everyone in the family a challenge. New modes in the game include Pop Quiz, which offer additional questions to stump the grownups in the room.


  • Family fun for all ages.
  • Tests knowledge rather than reflexes or skills.


  • Only one player at a time can play – families can play together, but only one person can work the controls.
  • Some people complained the game marked an answer wrong when it was correct.



25. Birthday Party Bash – Nintendo Wii (Solutions 2Go)

Whether you’re hosting a child’s birthday party or just want a game the whole family can play together,


  • Great game for birthday parties or any time kids get together to play.
  • Familiar games as well as new mini games included.
  • Easy games suitable for younger children are included.

Very inexpensive.


  • Older kids thought it was ‘dumb’ and wanted to play more action-focused games.

More Safety Solutions for Kids and Families:

DIY Home Security: 21 Experts Share Their Top Tips on How to Install a Home Security System Yourself

Aside from food on the table and a roof over your head, one of the absolute most important things to have in one’s home in order to have peace of mind is the feeling of safety in the case of intruders.

While some homeowners are able to spend lots of money for a complex, professionally installed security system in order to address this, the reality is that some homeowners are either unable or unwilling to do the same, especially when there are many do-it-yourself (DIY) home security system options available on the market today.

So, as a company that strives to provide the best home safety information for families and homeowners, we took on the task of finding out more about the do-it-yourself home security installation process, and more specifically, we aimed to gather tips directly from security experts on what to do and what not to do when installing a DIY home security system. To do this, we asked 21 home security experts to answer this question:

“What’s the most important tip you have for homeowners who want to install a DIY home security system?”

We’ve collected and compiled their expert advice into this comprehensive guide to effectively installing a DIY home security system. See what our experts said below:

Meet Our Panel of DIY Home Security Experts:

Steven J CoppolaSteven J. Coppola

Steve Coppola is President of APB Security Systems Inc., and has had over thirty years experience in the security industry. This experience includes actual “hands on” installation of security systems, supervision of residential and large commercial/industrial installations, performing security surveys of both residential and commercial properties, coordinating alarm and security installations with contractors providing other services at both new construction sites and large renovation sites, etc. Mr. Coppola holds a Baccalaureate Degree in Behavioral Science, majoring in Criminal Justice. In addition to his experience in the field of security, he spent several years as a law enforcement officer.

The most important tip I have for homeowners who want to install a DIY home security system is…

Don’t automatically assume that do it yourself systems are less expensive.

In an industry where most licensed professionals routinely offer free or highly discounted installations in return for a central station monitoring commitment, consider the benefits.

You can have the system designed effectively and installed by an experienced technician, whereby helping to insure that it works when needed while also reducing the risk of false

And since 24 hour monitoring, by a licensed and U.L. approved facility, averages only about $1 per day, the choice to leave security to the professionals is that much easier.

David NanceDavid Nance

David Nance is a nationally acclaimed safety expert dedicated to educating law enforcement officers and the public about personal safety. David created the SABRE Personal Safety Academy, overseeing hundreds of instructors nationwide to provide everyone with the ability to invest in their personal safety by learning techniques to identify threats, and tips to escape dangerous situations safely. As CEO of SABRE Security Equipment Corporation, David launched the home series line to provide people the chance to secure their homes in affordable and effective ways. David has been featured on Spike TV, Fox & Friends, and Chicago news outlets. Learn more about David and his work at

The most important tip for homeowners installing a DIY home security system would be…

To invest in securing all main entrance points and all ground floor windows and doors.

More than 50% of home invasions are occurring through first floor entry points. Additionally, if you’re investing in an alarm system, test it to ensure all sensors are working, and you have the proper batteries for each device – and change them as needed.

As we’re approaching cooler temperatures with fall right around the corner – many of us want to turn off the air conditioning and leave our windows open so cool air can flow in. Motion sensing alarms are a great addition to a home security system when windows are left open.

The SABRE home series – which can be found in Target stores nationwide or online at our website, offers several motion sensing alarms that will sound a 120 decibel siren when activated – that can be heard up to 300 feet away! The benefits of using wireless or standalone alarms are many. Homeowners will be able to avoid expensive monthly fees, wiring installation costs, and still receive an excellent level of protection.

When alarms sound at 120 decibels, you and any neighbors or people living in the vicinity of your home are woken up – but most importantly, now the intruder knows that if you’re home you are now awake. We know intruders want the path of least resistance and an alert homeowner with noisy alarms is not an easy target.

Timothy DahlTimothy Dahl

Timothy Dahl is a Maker, Designer and DIY enthusiast who loves finding ways to turn a house into a home. Smart Homes and “The Internet of Things” are his current obsession. He’s the founder of the home improvement site, Charles & Hudson, and the recently launched smart home site, Home Vroom. His previous gigs include This Old House, ELLE DECOR and Woman’s Day and his projects have been highlighted on the DIY Network, Popular Mechanics and The Family Handyman.

Good news! Setting up a home security system doesn’t need to cost thousands, or even hundreds of dollars like it did a few years ago. But when choosing a do-it-yourself home security system, I have a few words of advice…

You not only want to choose a system that fits your budget and has the devices you need most, but you also need to consider costs for upgrading your system and if they have enough products to fit your future needs as most people end up expanding on their current system if they are happy with it.

Because there is no set standard, most home security systems are setup on closed platforms so you are locked into whichever system you choose. It’s always best to go with a larger company that has a significant investment in the home security category and isn’t just rushing to put a product on the shelves that they might discontinue in 6 months.

Also verify all costs including anything for setup, ongoing monthly fees and tech support.

Shep and Nancy BryanShep and Nancy Bryan

Shep and Nancy Bryan are the Co-Founders and Owners of Maximum Security Safes and Casoro Jewelry Safes, two California-based providers of safes and vaults of all types and sizes. Since both of their companies are family owned and operated businesses, Shep and Nancy Bryan have a vested interest in offering the best service and safe products for homeowners to feel confident that their most valuable possession are secure in their home.

The most important tip homeowners should keep in mind for their home security systems is…

Make sure to have a fail-safe in case the worst should happen.

In the event that parts of a security system should fail, the last line of defense for any home security system should be your safe. This means you have already implemented other lines of defense to deter a burglar, such as a dog with a good bark, signs saying you have an alarm system, and of course your actual alarm system.

If you want to take your security system a step further, you can also sync your safe with your alarm system, by adding a Duress Alarm Interface. This way, in case of a home invasion, if the burglar tries to get you to open your safe, you can enter an alternate code, which will open the safe, but notify your security company at the same time!

Most importantly, it’s crucial to invest in a good quality safe to secure your valuables. Not just any old safe will do; we’ve heard many sad stories about cheap safes that failed during robberies; so, contact a safe specialty store to ensure you make your safe purchase right the first time. Also consider fire protection, to ensure security for your valuables against fire as well as burglary. A good quality safe should last you a lifetime.

Robert D. SollarsRobert D. Sollars

Robert D. Sollars is an Author, Consultant, Speaker and a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues including home security. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books, Robert has proven himself as a leader in the security arena for more than 31 years. Robert is the Author of “Preventing Violence in Our Schools” and “One is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace Violence”. Learn more about Robert D. Sollars at his blog,

I believe the one tip that I would pass along to anyone who wants to install their own system is…

Do your research and shop around.

That sounds like a cliché, but let me elaborate on it. A homeowner needs to know the difference between a sensor and an alarm (yes there is a difference). They also need to know several things about range of their alarms/sensors. And they need to know that just because it’s more expensive/cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better for them.

The biggest difference in alarms/sensors is alarms will sound an alarm, silent or audible. Sensors will simply tell you that something happened. For a home security system you need an alarm sensor that sounds an alarm, either silently or audible (preferable). The range of one of these is also important.

You don’t want to think that you can place it at maximum range of efficiency and expect to perform optimally. You may need more than one. And lastly, if you go to a home security store or a place like Radio Shack remember they will try to sell you the most expensive they have. Hardware stores have many of the same items at a much cheaper price and efficiency.

Again, the key is research. What do you want it do and when.

Sadie CorneliusSadie Cornelius

Sadie Cornelius is Director of Marketing for, a website dedicated to providing resources for safety at home, online and on the road. With more than 9 years experience in communications, new and traditional media, public relations, special events and film, her experience ranges from Fortune 500 companies to local non-profits. When it comes to life, Sadie is a secure girl. She takes extra precaution in security not only when it comes to online, but at home and on the road; a big advocate for being proactive and anticipating any possible situation that could arise.

Here are 3 important tips for homeowners considering a DIY system:

1. Decide on a place where you can hide your main keypad – most people think it needs to be visible by the front door but you should put it somewhere like a closet or kitchen counter and use the key fobs (or your smart phone) to arm/disarm.

2. Look for a system that can grow with you as you grown and/or move – one of the many great benefits of DIY systems is that they are wireless and thus, easier to relocate when you move.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask question – and don’t feel stupid if you don’t understand how to set something up. Their technicians are patient, understanding and are there to help guide you, so don’t worry if you are unsure – you want to make sure you get it right so the system works property!

Dr. Steve AlbrechtDr. Steve Albrecht

Dr. Steve Albrecht, PHR, CPP, BCC is a Security Consultant and Threat Assessment Expert who is Board-Certified in HR, Security, Coaching in San Diego, and also former member of the San Diego Police Department and Author on workplace violence and school prevention. Learn more about Dr. Steve Albrecht and his work at

I would say the mistake I see when homeowners install home security systems is that…

They don’t always get cameras that can work in all types of light.

Cameras that give great images during the day don’t always show anything useful at night and vice versa, e.g., cameras that point into direct sunlight show washed-out images. Related to that is the image itself; the need for a high-quality image, that can be captured to a DVR and printed as a screen shot and given to the cops following a burglary or other incident is critical.

Fuzzy, blurry, grainy shots that can’t help the cops identify the face clearly are useless. I’ve seen camera images where it’s hard to identify if it is a mammal!

Spencer CoursenSpencer Coursen

Spencer Coursen is the President of Coursen Security Group, a firm that provides security consulting services to a diverse client list on the prevention, planning and response to the realistic concerns of personal and physical safety. Over the course of his diverse career, Mr. Spencer Coursen has planned, executed and led close protection details for dignitaries, heads of state, boards of directors, CEOs, celebrities, media, and public figures on more than 300 international trips to 163 different countries. After earning a B.A. in both Sociology and Psychology, Mr. Coursen served in the US Army, where he was a graduate of the U.S. Army Airborne School and the U.S. Army Ranger School. By the end of his Army career, Mr. Coursen had helped to plan and lead more than 80 combat missions, often times working closely with the Australian Special Air Service, U.S. Special Forces, and agencies of the U.S. Government throughout Afghanistan.

Regardless of who installs your home security system or however many features your system may offer, it is important to keep these two very significant factors in mind…

1. Your alarm is not designed to prevent something from happening. It is designed to alert you to the fact that something IS happening.

2. Have and rehearse a plan for what you and your family are going to do if/when your alarm goes off.

You very likely just spent a considerable amount of money to buy yourself the precious seconds needed when moments matter most. Most people spend a considerable amount of time researching and investing in the best system to alert them of danger. Very few ask the follow-up question of what they should do when something does.

Do yourself a favor and have your family emergency plan in place BEFORE the alarm first sounds. Have a plan, know where to go, and know how to get there.

Brent GroveBrent Grove

Brent Grove is a Certified Law Enforcement Officer and Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor with years of international security and military operations, and is also the Owner of WARGROVE, LLC. WARGROVE is a company that provides various types of training, with its main focus on Home Defense Assessments, which involve a comprehensive 75-point inspection and develop an Action Plan for homeowners on how to improve overall security of their home.

The most important tip I have for homeowners who want to install a DIY home security system is…

Keep it simple.

Having been a police officer for many years I saw a lot of burglaries in houses that had alarm systems but the alarm systems were not on at the time of the burglary. The number one excuse I would get from the homeowner or family members was the alarm system was too complicated to operate. It came down to usually a few family members not comfortable on how to operate the security systems.

With technology today it has never been easier to install and operate your own custom alarm system. To make the system works, as it should, it is crucial that homeowners just keep it simple. Discuss with all family members the options and figure out what system works best for your entire family. The DIY home security systems available today provide plenty options.

Find one that is simple to install, easy to use for all family members, has a low monthly (no contract) monitoring fee, and is expandable if your needs change. Follow these simple guidelines and you will have a positive experience and meet your main goal, a more secure home for your family.

Elizabeth DodsonElizabeth Dodson

Elizabeth Dodson is the Co-Founder of HomeZada, a cloud-based home improvement and organizational software tool. HomeZada strives to educate and provide resources for homeowners in all areas of home management, including home improvement projects, maintenance, inventory, property information, and property value.

The most important tip homeowners can have when selecting and installing a DIY home security system is to…

Understand what your home’s needs are as well as what will give you peace of mind.

A homeowner can install a simple security system with an alarm to scare off intruders or invest a bit more by having your system connect with an outside call center that will alert the appropriate authorities to the situation.

If you travel a lot and will feel safer about your possessions, then connecting to an outside center to notify the appropriate people might be best system to make sure your home and its possessions are cared for and someone is able to get to you home immediately.

Richard L. SolowayRichard L. Soloway

Richard L. Soloway is Chairman and CEO of NAPCO Security Technology and a global expert and counselor in security trends and issues including domestic and institutional security breaches leading to human injury and loss of life, kidnapping, loss of property, as well as robberies and terrorism and espionage. With 30 years experience pioneering the international security industry, Mr. Soloway received Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” in 2001, has been quoted by the media as a security expert, listed in the “Who’s Who in Finance and Industry”, and with his wife Donna Soloway, was awarded in June 2006, by New York’s Guardian Angels’, the Distinguished Achievement Award as Champions for Safety Through Education.

My advice to a first time homeowners looking to install a DIY security system is…

To get a monitored alarm system for burglary and fire protection.

A DIY product doesn’t necessarily have 24/7 monitoring by a professional alarm company that can dispatch; the fire and police departments as well as medical emergency ambulances with the push of a call for help button in a few spots around the home.

Monitored alarms are very inexpensive compared to the cost of your home and they get you a nice insurance discount. They are offered in basic protection models and the new technology smartphone operated model called iBridge by NAPCO. When doing a basic DIY installation, you may install a few smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector, but please be aware that you’ve got to be home to hear these ring and you must call the fire department and that’s not always possible!

Here are some general home safety tips to always keep in mind:

1. Don’t hide your keys. Many burglaries don’t require forcible entry.
2. Know Your Neighbors. Friendly, caring neighbors are your first line of defense. Watch out for suspicious activity.
3. Trim hedges so no windows or doors are obscured. Make sure all potential entry points are well lit.
4. Lock your doors and windows at all times, including the garage door. Don’t leave keys outside. Store ladders or “stepping stones” inside so there is no availability to a window or roof. Install dead bolts on doors.
5. Give the impression your “in” even when you’re not. Leaving a light, television or radio on will give the impression someone is home. .
6. Set and activate lights, radio or TV on a timer so they switch on and off regularly. If you’re working late or eating out, it will look like someone is home.
7. At your local retailer, buy a combination outdoor motion detector and light unit, so the outside light turns on if someone approaches a front or back door.
8. Leave blinds and shades in their normal positions. Burglars are attracted to homes with windows that remain covered day and night.
9. Change the answering machine message from “Nobody’s home right now” to “We can’t get to the phone right away.”
10. Disable or turn down the ringers so unanswered rings won’t be heard from outside.
11. Post a “Beware of Dog” sign or advertise your security system, regardless of whether you have one.
12. Keep valuables out of sight and refrain from the predictable hiding places such as in dresser drawers, the freezer, under the mattress and in the cookie jar. Engrave your driver’s license on valuables.
13. Know whom you are opening the door for. Use the peephole for security to identify visitors.
14. Apartment dwellers should opt for the best safety measures you can afford, and that includes professional and unobtrusive security such as a bellman, electronic card access, security guards and video surveillance.
15. Be sure there is plenty of exterior light so you can see and things can be seen.

Norman E. WeisingerNorman E. Weisinger

Norman E. Weisinger is the Founder and CEO of Cool Energy Island, a provider of low cost, next generation Energy Monitoring, Energy Management, Advanced Automation & Networking (Wired and Wireless) and Portable Energy Storage Products and Software Applications for renters, homeowners and small/medium businesses. Norm has over 30 years of experience in technology deployment, operations and productivity development, systems development and integration for many small companies and large corporations across multiple industries.

For those individuals who are procuring new DIY security systems, we recommend the following…

1. Make sure you can get your money back if it doesn’t work for you (minimum: 7 day return – 100% money back)

2. The system should be easy to install / setup (hardware and software) and easy to operate.

a. If the instructions are too hard to understand out-of-the-box, send it back immediately!

3. System must have a battery backup capability that can last 3-7 days and an alternative calling / notification capability (i.e. internet notifications, cellular)

4. Newer system should provide you with the option to send you an alarm directly (SMS and/or email) or to a central station monitoring service (or both)

5. System should be capable of sending transactions to third party systems (i.e. door sensors to energy management system).

Joseph KingmaJoseph Kingma

Joseph Kingma is the Vice President of Medeco eCylinders and ASSA ABLOY High Security and Aftermarket Group Special Projects. Joseph began his career at Medeco in 1994 and in 2006, he shifted into a role to create and lead a multifunctional group with the primary purpose of quickly introducing new and highly sophisticated electronic cylinder products in order to keep pace with the rapidly changing landscape of physical security. Under Joseph’s leadership, Medeco developed four different eCylinder platforms, each aimed at solving a specific segment of customer issues. eCylinders are now used to solve many “loss-and-liability” challenges that neither traditional mechanical cylinders nor traditional access control hardware could.

The most important tip I have for homeowners who are looking into installing a DIY home security system is…

Don’t overlook your key system!

Most homeowners don’t understand how easily most keys can be duplicated, and the risk of that duplication without their knowledge. If keys are not based on a patented technology – either mechanical or electronic – anyone with temporary access to the key can make a copy and enter the home without anyone’s knowledge since mechanical keys don’t leave an audit trail.

Ask a security professional about the options available especially the new electronic keys that allow homeowners to monitor when keys are used and limit the time they work.

Sarah LearySarah Leary

Sarah Leary is the Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing at Nextdoor, the free and private social network for neighborhoods. Sarah started her career at Microsoft, and served as the Vice President of Product and Marketing at Epinions and, before the company was sold to eBay. Sarah graduated from Harvard University with a BA and MBA.

At Nextdoor, we have seen that neighbors who know each other, look out for each other and help stop crime before it happens. The most important tip I have for homeowners who want to put together their own home security system is…

Start by building a safer neighborhood by connecting neighbors to one another so they can share timely information and protect themselves.

Once neighbors connect with each other, they can easily share alerts, photos of suspicious activity, and video surveillance snippets from home security systems that can help neighbors stay on the lookout. We designed Nextdoor to make it easy for neighbors to sign-up, verify their address, and create a safe place to share these important safety updates.

Some things you can do with Nextdoor are:

  • Send an urgent alert via email and text message to all neighbors about suspicious activity
  • Share a photo with neighbors of a suspicious vehicle
  • Warn neighbors about natural disasters and connect about recovery efforts
  • Upload surveillance footage of a burglar to keep neighbors on the look-out

Robert SicilianoRobert Siciliano

Robert Siciliano is the CEO of, and a Personal Security and Identity Theft Expert and Speaker. He is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds.

The most important aspect of any DIY that I would stress to homeowners is…

The initial research.

There are numerous products for every budget and sifting through the various options
to determine what you need and don’t will save time and money.

Adam JusticeAdam Justice

Adam Justice is Vice President and General Manager of Grid Connect, a manufacturer and distributor of networking products and wireless sensors. He is responsible for developing the vision for the ConnectSense product line, a family of wireless sensors that monitor the things you care about and notify you when something goes awry. Adam is an expert on the Internet of Things and has spoken on the topic at conferences including Dreamforce. Adam started his career at Accenture where he was a consultant working on systems and IT projects for a number of Fortune 500 companies throughout the country. Adam left Accenture in 2009 to join Grid Connect.

The most important tip I have for homeowners who want to install a DIY home security system is…

First, don’t allow strangers inside your home.

With a DIY security system there is no reason to let a stranger into your home for installation purposes. In less than 30 minutes using only a screwdriver, you can mount a sensor anywhere in your home. They are designed to run off of wall current and some models use batteries as well.

The next step is to set up if/ then notification rules i.e. if the door opens between 11PM and 6 AM, alert me. Alerts can take the form of a text, tweet, email or call depending upon your preference.

It is also important to look at one costs associated with security systems. Monthly recurring fees add up quickly and make some systems cost prohibitive. Look for DIY monitoring systems that leverage your existing Wi-Fi connect to cut out monthly fees.

Kevin RaposoKevin Raposo

Kevin Raposo is a Blogger for SimpliSafe, a wireless DIY home security company, where he primarily writes about home security, technology, and crime. When he’s not blogging for SimpliSafe, he’s writing for his own tech blog, KnowTechie.

One of the most important tips I can offer homeowners who want to install a DIY home security system is…

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and explore the system.

One of the most important aspects of installing your own home security system is the actual installation its self. Make sure all of the sensors are adhered or screwed into a wall or door to prevent any false alarms. False alarms can be frustrating, but at the end, it’s usually due to installation.

On other major important tip I can offer, which is never mentioned: Have a conversation with your local police about their policy with alarm systems, and start that dialogue so you know 1) permits 2) false alarms 3) dispatch procedure etc.

Keith BrandonKeith Brandon

Keith Brandon is the Sales and Marketing Director for residential access solutions with Spectrum Brands HHI division. Keith oversees all of the residential electronic lock strategies and initiatives across North America for the market leading residential lock brands of Baldwin, Kwikset, and Weiser locks. This includes Kevo, the first to market Bluetooth enabled residential door lock. He is also responsible for the company’s Home Connect products that deliver industry leading integrated Zigbee and Z Wave lock solutions to the emerging and expanding home automation and security markets.

The most important tips I can offer homeowners who want to install their own home security system is…

Be a smart homeowner.

Consider your current lifestyle and the needs of your family when choosing any home security system. For example, do you travel often? Do you have children that arrive home from school while you are away? Do you have service personnel that need access to the home at predetermined times?

These considerations will help inform your decision and could set one system ahead of the rest. The purchase decision of a home security system is often an emotional one, so trust your instincts and educate yourself on what’s best for you and your family. If you feel the system is safe and trustworthy to meet your needs, and if it can be demonstrated for ease of use and a user-friendly process, you can rely on smart home technology to ensure you and your family are safe and secure.

Greg DavisGreg Davis

Greg Davis is the CEO and Founder/Creator of The Lock Locker, a new patented safety device for families that helps stop criminals from unlocking your door locks by preventing bump keys, 3D printed keys, stolen keys and other unauthorized keys from trying to gain access to your home.

Making your home harder to get into is the MOST important thing you can do to protect your family. My advice to homeowners who want to install their own home security system is…

All doors MUST be secured with an additional lock from the inside that can not be accessed by someone on the outside.

The #1 safety mistake 99% of families are making is assuming that simply locking ones deadbolt and door handle is enough. In truth locking ones door provides zero security to criminals or anyone who may have a copy of that homes key. Criminals are buying “Bump Keys” online and they open 90% of locks.

Also there is a new threat to home security: 3D Printed keys, where anyone is able to digitize a house key with an app on their smart phone and then have it 3D printed. This key is an EXACT copy of the original house key and entering the home will be quick and quiet, which is exactly what criminals are look for.

Our patented invention called The Lock Locker prevents ANYONE from unlocking ones deadbolt EVEN IF THEY HAVE A KEY TO YOUR HOME.

Richard MangahasRichard Mangahas

Richard Mangahas spent the last 8 years working in home automation and security in Orange County. Regarding security, Richard specifically specialized in physical security and access control. Richard now primarily works as an engineer, and available for private consultation at

I have many years of experience working with homeowners who want to install their own home security systems. The first thing I used to tell all clients is…

There is no magic security system. The most important security elements are things well within your control.

Second, security begins with common sense and basics. No security system makes up for bad habits.

  • Lock your door when inside the house
  • Lock your door when outside the house
  • Lock your windows

I am surprised at how many people leave doors unlocked. The Bureau of Justice Statistics lists 1,033,980 incidents where entry was gained by an open or unlocked windows (Table 7). It’s nearly 1/3 of all burglaries.

– Use your peephole and don’t let anyone in you weren’t expecting.

The same report shows 129,770 cases of an offender being let into the house. That’s 32,000 crimes that could have been prevented by simply not opening the door. I usually suggest the DIY-er to install a camera and intercom at the door. This way you can see the person and converse with them if you wished. Some advanced versions of this have the intercom call your cell phone so even if you’re away, it seems like you are not.

– Get things that make noise

I usually suggest some electronics that sound like a dog, a firebell, or a marine horn. These are items you can keep nearby and are amazing deterrents and attention getters. I often suggest the DIYer setup some remote controls and place them in various spots in the house to trigger them. The firebell is one of my favorites as it can usually be installed in the back of a kitchen cabinet.

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