We could promise not to make any corny jokes about Iowa. Then again, it’s hard to ignore Iowa’s reputation as America’s corn capital. But Iowa residents will be the first to tell anyone (especially us) that the state is more than just a giant field of corn. Iowa has more unique traditions than you can shake a stalk at. And when it comes to national politics, Iowans are known for being as straight down the middle as an irrigation trench. Sure, there’s a lot of pride in being the first state in the U.S. to vote every year, but Iowans don’t let that get to their head. Similarly, Iowans do not let the small matters bother them. This includes things like property crime. Iowans enjoy a low level of crime, noticeably lower than the national average. Does this mean that there is no crime at all? Of course not. But this is why home security in Iowa is so important, and why the state government takes it seriously.
Home Security Provider Requirements for Iowa
Much to everyone’s relief, Iowa does not create a complex maize maze of rules and regulations for home security providers. Instead, the state issues rather common-sense laws that are hard to argue against. For example, the state clearly explains that home security contractors and alarm installers must be certified within the state. That certification process involves a national criminal background check, the money for which must come directly from the applicant.
The state also has several endorsement levels for those home security contractors and alarm installers who so desire that coveted Iowa certification. This includes an Electronic Security Association endorsement, two Elite Continuing Education University endorsement types, and electrician endorsements, and an endorsement for professional engineers who just so happen to know their stuff when it comes to alarm systems. As such, the Iowan state government provides several advantageous avenues for people who want to hop right into the alarm system industry from multiple different fields.
Furthering the very common sense requirements on home security alarm providers, Iowa ensures that those who are doing the work are properly licensed. Deep in the kernels of information within the state’s laws, we find a requirement that each contracting company must have a liability insurance policy covering no less than “$500,000 per person, $1,000,000 per occurrence, and $1,000,000 property damage.” Attuning one’s ears to the details reveals a simple truth about Iowa and its laws: They’re simple, with no frills and with as little legalese as possible. This ultimately makes everyone’s lives easier, including home security providers.
Home security users in Iowa can expect a high standard of operation from their providers. This guarantees a level of trust between the provider and the user that is almost unheard of in states like Indiana, where any laws regulating the industry are extremely hard to come by. Rest easy, Iowa. You won’t have to have your ears trained toward the door all the time. Your common sense laws have guaranteed that one.
Putting Up a Home Security Camera or Two in Iowa
Interestingly, Iowa’s home security laws go against the grain just a bit. Instead of outright restricting home security cameras, or simply being as ambiguous as possible about whether they are or are not allowed, Iowa’s state government inserts CCTV language right into the law. On the same regulatory page, the state designed for alarm contractors and installers, we find this wonderfully sweet kernel: “Licensing is also not required for CCTV and video recording systems only where no notifications are sent.”
What this means for you, good Iowan citizens, is that your home security cameras are perfectly legal. However, note the catch in the language. As long as your CCTV or security camera system do not directly notify anyone of what they’re seeing, you’re in the clear as far as having and using them. This law also appears to indicate that you do not need a license to put them up, nor do you need to have a license to own them. This is not the case in every location in the country, but is clearly spelled out here.
There could be some ambiguity in whether or not this applies solely to home security providers and alarm installers, and not individual citizens. However, there is no reason to believe that this law does not extend directly to individuals and their personal property as well.
The issue of what is or is not acceptable has come to head in Iowa in the recent past. In 2011, the city of Davenport voted to place some specific restrictions on how cameras could be used, to include who could actually use them, and where they could be placed. While it is unclear whether that particular action ever passed, what is clear is that Iowa is fairly open, as a whole, when it comes to the use of home security cameras.
Your best bet is to follow the simplest rules for use. First, avoid having your cameras installed secretly. Make sure they are obvious for everyone to see, with signs indicating that the area is monitored. Secondly, make sure that your cameras are not trained toward a neighbor’s house. One of the area’s the Davenport council was trying to combat were cameras that were more than 50% trained at a neighbor’s house. Finally, it’s best to avoid using audio pickup on your cameras. While video recording laws are still a grey area for many legal practitioners, audio recording laws are well established. To avoid any instances where you might get accused of wiretapping do not include audio capture, or turn that function off.
Iowa Has Natural Disasters, Stay Safe
Vast corn fields can come in handy in Iowa. Particularly given the state’s propensity for tornadoes. While Iowa can certainly get bitterly cold in the winter time, it’s not snowstorms that are the most troublesome or worrying. It’s tornado season. Iowa is among several states sitting inside of the tornado hot zone known as Tornado Alley. The flat ground and mixture of cold and warm weather patterns is the perfect storm for, well, the perfect storm. Tornadoes can be extremely devastating, especially when they strike in highly populated areas. Although Iowa is not the least populated state (Wyoming proudly takes that title), it does sit at #30. And in that position, the reality is this: Most residents in Iowa are concentrated in around 20 cities throughout the state with populations ranging from 200,000 to 20,000 people. After all, the state is highly dedicated to agriculture.
So what’s a corny Iowan resident to do? Learn the basics of tornado safety, of course. While we’re sure every Iowa resident knows this information by heart, it’s always good to have a review session. Key to tornado safety is location. Remember that tornadoes will blow out windows, lift off roofs, and hurl objects through the air at incredible speed. If you have a tornado shelter, use it. There is no shame in running there first. If you have no tornado shelter, head to an area of the house that is mostly protected from windows — as much as possible. Stay under and behind an object that can absorb heavy impacts from above, and from the sides. Get under a table, a bed, behind a counter; all of these are places you may want to retreat to in your effort to avoid flying debris.
Essential to tornado safety, of course, is what can happen to your house. Tornadoes can completely rip off roofs and topple a house down to the ground. If you can, invest in a panic room. These can be built to high quality standards that can and will withstand tornadoes. Even still, if you’re hit directly, expect to be in for the ride of your life. Avoid panicking, and make sure you have emergency supplies at the ready — food, water, clothing, blankets, flashlights, and generators.
If we talked your ears off here, we apologize. However, getting your home security right in Iowa is as important to us as it is to you. We’re sure you’ll be popping your way through the details in no time, but remember: safety comes first. Thankfully, the Iowan government has worked its way down to the husk getting home security laws just right and wholly uncomplicated. It’s enough to avoid any corn squabbles over the details.