John Denver may have made the mistake of mentioning the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River in his song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (both are in Virginia, not WEST Virginia), but he’s right about one thing: West Virginia is “almost heaven”. The Mountain State has a lot to offer, from lush mountains and beautiful country roads to delicious apples and tasty pepperoni rolls. But more importantly, West Virginians are known for their friendly and polite attitudes. All these things make living in West Virginia heaven-like. Let’s not forget, however, that like any place on Earth, West Virginia still has crime. If you want to truly enjoy your stay in the state, you need a security system to protect your home.
Crime in West Virginia
So what does crime look like in West Virginia? The Mountain State has been and still is one of the safest states in the country. The occurrence of property crimes in the state averages at around 20 per 1,000 residents, which is lower than the national median (24.9 per 1,000 residents). Nevertheless, your chance of falling victim to a property crime when you’re in West Virginia is 1 in 50.
The state’s low property crime rate is largely attributed to its rural nature. Forty percent of West Virginians live in rural areas, where the population is not as dense as in urban cities. Areas with low population density tend to have fewer property crimes. For instance, one of the state’s largest rural towns is Romney, with a population of around 1,800. The property crime rate in Romney averages at 16.92 crimes per 1,000 residents. On the other hand, the largest urban city in the state, Charleston, has over 68 crimes per 1,000 residents. See the difference? Rural areas = less property crime; urban areas = more property crime.
Home Security Provider Requirements for West Virginia
Interestingly, West Virginia doesn’t impose state-level regulations as to who can operate an alarm business. But this doesn’t mean that just anyone can start their own alarm company. There are regulations that directly or indirectly affect alarm companies. For one, a contractor installing fire and burglar alarm systems must be at least a Licensed Specialty Electrician with a classification in low voltage installation. In addition, the installer or the company he’s working for must have a valid Contractor’s License. These licenses ensure that the people doing the job are qualified.
Another regulation that may affect alarm companies is Security Guard Licensing. Not many national alarm companies offer this feature, but several local companies do. If your potential alarm company offers security guard/patrol services, they are required to have Security Guard Licenses. The license proves that the people providing security services in your area are qualified, with good moral characters, and have enough training and experience to perform their duties.
Can You Use a Home Security Camera in West Virginia?
If you want to use a home security camera, use caution. In general, it’s illegal to record videos that invade other people’s privacy. It’s okay to install a camera within your home for the purpose of home security, but it’s illegal to point it at your neighbor’s window. It’s also illegal to place cameras in areas where privacy is expected, such as in the bathroom or in a person’s bedroom, even if it’s within your home.
Recording videos is one thing; recording audio is another. The federal wiretapping statute, a.k.a. the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, only permits conversations to be recorded if at least one of the parties involved consents to it. This means that if you are part of the conversation, it’s okay for your camera to record audio. To err on the safe side, it’s always a good idea to let your guests know that they are being recorded.
Safety During Natural Disasters
Aside from crimes, West Virginians must also watch out for natural disasters. The state government warns its residents of one major natural disaster in particular: floods.
A majority of the state is prone to floods because of its mountainous terrain. As we all know, floods are destructive and almost impossible to anticipate. What should you do to prepare for a flood? First, prepare an escape plan. Escape to where? Higher ground or flood-free areas. In your escape plan, you must consider which roads are accessible even during floods and which roads are easily flooded. Second, prepare an emergency kit that includes non-perishable food, drinking water, clothing, flashlights, blankets, and radios. And third, it’s nice to have life jackets lying around in your house, just in case.
If you find yourself unable to escape, call 911 immediately. It’s also best to go to your home’s highest point. If possible, go to your roof so airborne rescuers can spot you.
Protecting your home from disasters, both natural and man-made, is not an easy thing to do, but it’s also not impossible. With the right security system, security cameras, and a little bit of common sense, you will be able to live out a happy life in the heaven-like state of West Virginia.