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Amazon's Alexa can help protect your home
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Security & privacy

How to use Alexa to protect your home when you’re away

Alexa Guard is a free home security feature for your Alexa-enabled devices. You can use it as a virtual watchdog when you’re away from home. Once enabled, Guard will listen for breaking glass, smoke detectors and CO2 alarms. If it detects something, you will get a push notification on your phone, including an audio replay of the event. 

You can combine this feature with other Alexa commands too. Let’s say you get notified that Alexa picked up the sound of a window breaking. If you have an Echo Show, you can use the Drop In feature to see right inside the room.

You can even use Alexa routines to set off an alarm saying “Red Alert! Red Alert!” while it turns your lights off and on.

Alexa Guard works on all generations of these devices:

  • Echo
  • Echo Dot
  • Echo Show (the one with the video screen)
  • Echo Studio

Alexa Guard does not work on these devices:

  • Alexa-enabled Sonos Devices
  • Echo Look
  • Echo Auto
  • Echo Tap
  • Echo Companion devices like the Echo Link Amp

How to set up Alexa Guard

  • Open your Alexa app and tap the more button on the bottom right. 
  • Tap Settings.
  • Scroll down and tap Guard.
  • Tap Set Up Sound Detection.
  • Toggle the Glass & Alarm buttons to ON.
  • Now that it’s set up, you can turn guard mode on and off by saying,Alexa, I’m leaving,” and she will answer, “Ok, I’ll start guarding now”. 
  • To disable, say, “Alexa, I’m home,” and she will reply, “OK, I’ve stopped guarding your home.” 

Alexa Guard is an excellent free addition to your home security system. There’s also a premium Guard option you can purchase that will integrate with your existing security system, like a Ring doorbell.

You can upgrade Guard’s functionality with the sound of barking dogs and set it to automatically connect you to emergency services if an alert is triggered. 

How to enable Drop In

With Drop In, you can pop in on your own devices. You can do this with an Echo or Echo Show, the version that includes a screen. Using this feature, you can speak through the smart speaker or see through the camera with an Echo Show.

First, you need to enable it:

  • Open your Alexa app and tap Devices at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap Echo & Alexa at the top left.
  • Tap your Echo device.
  • Tap the Settings Gear on the top right.
  • Scroll down and select Communications.
  • Tap Drop In.
  • Choose your permission settings: On for permitted contacts, household only, or off.

How to use Drop In

Once you have Drop In enabled, you can use it to talk through the device or look around your room whenever you want. This could be a good deterrent if you get an alert that there was a strange noise.

Here’s how to use it:

  • Open your Alexa App.
  • Tap Communicate at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap Drop In at the top of the page.
  • Select your Echo Show device.

The best idea is to place an Alexa-enabled device everywhere you want coverage. If your basement windows are your most likely break-in spot, make sure you park an Alexa nearby. You could also have one located near your fire alarm or CO2 detector. 

Privacy precautions

There is a trade-off between having the convenience of a device like Alexa and having complete privacy in your home with no listening devices.

If you want the benefits of an Echo but also want to limit Alexa’s ability to listen, you have a few options. There are some Alexa settings you can adjust to protect your privacy. You should also be aware that your cell phone is probably spying on you a lot more often than your Echo is.

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