Increase Home & Business Safety with Smart Devices

We hear the buzzwords all the time.  Internet of Things.  Connected devices.  Smart TVs and thermostats.

There’s no denying smart technology is on the rise.  The worldwide smart home market is forecasted to be $53.5 billion by 2022.  The current estimated connected home technologies sales in the U.S. is at $1,485,000.

Smart technology can provide both home and business owners alike in Jacksonville with peace of mind, convenience and efficiency.  We know it can be overwhelming to pick the right device for your home from such a crowded market.  And once you do pick the device, you have to learn how to use it most effectively.

Below, our trained Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville technicians give some suggested smart devices to improve your home’s or business’s security, and how they work.

Smart Devices For Increased Security

There are a variety of smart devices that can automate processes and help to increase your home or business’s security.  Some devices to consider include:

Smart Locks

Installing smart locks can be a great first step in home or business automation, and can help increase the security of both as well.  For starters, a lot of smart locks will give you remote access, allowing you to check from afar if your door is locked.  Never again will you have that “Oh no, did I lock the door?” feeling 20 minutes down the road.

Smartphone with security app in a hand with a home in the background

Additionally smart locks can help you control who has access to your home or business in a more secure manner.  With traditional keys, if you want someone to have access without your help, you have to make a copy of the key.  But then, eventually, there are too many copies floating around and your security has actually decreased.  With many smart locks, you can give someone a code to unlock the door.  This code can then be changed every so often, to make sure only the correct people have access.

Some smart locks even go a step further, and allow you to give out time-limited codes.  For example, you can give someone a code that lasts 15 minutes, or 24 hours.  Then that code expires.  This ensure people only have access for as long as you want them to.

Automated Light Bulbs

Setting light bulbs to automatically come on at certain times of day can also deter any potential thieves.  You could set your lights on a traditional timer, so they turn on and off at specific times each day.  Or, if you’d like to go to the next level, there are smart light bulbs that can be controlled remotely.  These allow you to monitor which lights are on in your house or business, and turn any of them on or off from wherever you are.  Even if you’re not there, if lights are on inside it will look like you are, which will deter those robbers!

Motion-Activated Outdoor Lights

The same idea from above applies to outdoor lighting.  If a thief is sneaking around your yard or the parking lot of your business, and they trigger a light, they’ll likely be scared off.  The threat of being seen by neighbors, passersby, or someone inside the house or building is increased when alight shines.  No crook wants that!

Home Brightly Lit with Motion Activated Outdoor Lights

Smart Doorbells

There are some pretty high-tech doorbells available today.  Many of them have video cameras built in, which is a great way to remotely keep an eye on your house.  If you’re away, you can check in every once in a while for peace of mind that all is still well.  If you are home or in the office at odd hours, and you hear an unexpected noise outside or knock on the door, you can safely check who it is before actually answering the door.

Many of these doorbells can also send alerts to your phone if motion is detected.  If someone is roaming around outside your home or business, you’ll get a real-time notification on your phone.  Then you can open up the app, check the camera footage and make sure everything is safe.  If something is wrong, you can call emergency services faster than if you don’t know something is wrong until you get home later.

Smart Garage Doors

Garage doors with the right technology can also provide increased security for your home or business.  Some smart garages will also alert you of motion detected.  Again, even if you are not home or inside the  business, you can check on the app what the motion was.  If it is someone or something suspicious, you can alert the police sooner.

Security Systems With Connected Cameras

Security systems with connected cameras let you keep an eye on your home or business while you’re away.  These smart cameras allow you to check areas like your living room, backyard, office space – anywhere you set one up.  And, they allow you to do this any time, anywhere.

Some systems will even assign dates and times to its footage.  So, say you get an alert on your phone at 3am that motion is detected in your backyard.  You can go back later and check the footage from 3am to see what the motion was.  And, many of these systems can be accessed from mobile devices, so you don’t have to be at a computer to check.

Another great possible feature of these smart security systems is setting virtual boundaries.  You could set one, for example, to go a certain distance around your home or specifically around an area of your office that needs added security.  If that boundary is breached, you’ll be alerted.

Be Proactive

Smart home technologies come in a wide variety.  No matter the device or system, though, they have all have one thing in common – they’ll provide you convenience and peace of mind when it comes to your home or business’s security.  Don’t wait until something happens to retroactively install better security measures, though.  Be proactive and get started today, to ensure you and your family or employees stay safe!

We at Pop-A-Lock know it’s a very crowded market of smart technology.  If you’re not sure which to try first, check this list of smart home technologies, which recommends good starter devices, such as smart locks and door bells.

Or, contact your local Pop-A-Lock professionals to learn more about what solution might be best for you! Call Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville today at 904-354-8566 or visit us online at popalockofjacksonville.com today!

Pop-A-Lock mascot hugging child. We will take care of you!

How Can I Increase The Security of My Home?

Here in Jacksonville, feeling safe in your home is a top priority for most people. But many wonder, how do you get this safety? There are many measures you can take, such as using a high-end security system  and not letting your mailbox overflow. Below, Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville has included eight suggested ways you can increase the security of your home no matter the type of house or budget.

Make it Look Like You’re Home, Even if You’re Not

Most robbers are going to be looking for a house they know is empty. They don’t want an altercation, they want an empty house to ransack and leave. Whether you’re leaving for a vacation or just out for the day, there are a few ways you can make it look like you’re home, even if you’re not.

Install Motion-Activated Lights

Robbers don’t like to be seen. Motion-activated lights can be a great way to scare off someone looking to enter your home. When the lights come on, the thief is at risk of a neighbor seeing them. They also could believe someone is home and turned the lights on from inside.

Put Lights on Timers

Having smart light bulbs is a quick and easy way to make someone on the outside believe you’re home. Set the lights on random timers so some are always turned on. That way crooks can’t tell if you’re away running errands or on vacation. They also won’t be able to pick up on any recurring schedules such as being gone for work.

Don’t Leave Mail in the Mailbox or Packages on the Porch

An overflowing mailbox or unattended packages are signs to crooks that no one is home. If you’re going away on vacation, ask a neighbor or a friend to empty your mailbox and gather packages while you’re away. Even if you’re only at work or out for the day, ask delivery people to leave packages in a backyard or private area if you can.

 

 

Trim Your Bushes and Grass

As with the mail and packages, an unkempt yard can be a sign to a crook that you’re not home, and haven’t been in a while. This can make them feel more comfortable scoping out your home and robbing it. On top of that, overflowing bushes and grass can make it easier for thieves to stay out of site from neighbors. It’s best to keep your bushes and grass as tidy and trimmed as possible.

Security Gadgets For Round-The-Clock Safety

In addition to making it look like you’re home when you’re not, there are also other security measures you can take to provide additional safety when you are home. Below are some suggested tips and tools to keep you and your family safe inside your home.

Rekey Your Home

There are a lot of ways our house keys can get out in the world. Giving a spare to a neighbor or child off at college, for example. But, sometimes – for whatever reason – someone who once needed a key no longer does. Every once in a while you should rekey your home so you can know exactly who has copies of your key. This also lets you make sure no one has access who you don’t want to have access.

Install Smart Locks

A lot of robbers don’t force entry into a house, but instead find one with an unlocked door and walk right in. Installing smart locks that automatically lock behind you will make sure this isn’t an option. It will also stop the dreaded “did I lock the door behind me?” feeling miles down the road.

smart house, home automation, device with app icons. Man uses his smartphone with smarthome security app to unlock the door of his house.

Have Locks and/or Stops on All Windows

Many crooks know that most people keep their doors locked these days. But not everyone keeps their windows locked. Installing locks on your windows can help you sleep easy at night knowing every port of entry into the house is inaccessible. There are also window stops, preventing windows from opening more than six inches. This is great for getting some fresh air but keeping unwanted robbers out.

Have a Security Camera

If you want to have high security, you can install a security camera outside (or inside) your home. You can also install an alarm that goes off when doors or windows open. A camera will likely frighten away any robbers. It also can give you peace of mind by allowing you to keep an eye on your house when you’re not home. An alarm system will alert both you and the security company if someone enters your home.

CCTV security camera for home security & surveillance.

There are a lot of ways you can increase the security of your home. Whether it be something simple like making sure your mailbox isn’t overflowing, or something bigger like installing smart locks or a security camera. Depending on your budget, the overall safety of your neighborhood, and more, there is a solution out there for you!

Check out our free home security audit and contact one of our professionals today to schedule a visit for your home. Contact Pop-A-Lock’s Jacksonville location today by calling (904) 354-8566 or visiting our website at https://popalockofjacksonville.com.

Michael Brehm Is Celebrating 2 Years with Pop-A-Lock!

Pictured is Michael Brehm who is celebrating 2 years with Pop-A-Lock and our C.O.O. Brad Kistler. Michael has been a locksmith with Pop-A-Lock of Jacksonville for 2 years and has become one of the leaders in a number of categories within our entire company. We want to wish Michael continued success and we look forward to many more years together.

Happy 2 Year Anniversary, Tim!

Please join the Jacksonville team as we congratulate Tim Ayers for achieving his 2 year anniversary with Pop-A-Lock. Tim has been a valued team member during his tenure in addition for over a year Tim has been a valuable supervisor and has been willing to help in any way possible to help us in Jacksonville reach our goals. Tim was awarded a weekender bag and a $50 gift card for achieving this milestone in his career. Again Congratulations Tim.

Pending Winter Storm Prompts Attention To Free Pop-A-Lock “PALSavesKids” Program

As the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions prepare for what some forecasters are already calling a record snow storm, Pop-A-Lock, the country’s largest security company, reminds parents and emergency organizations about its popular PALSavesKids program that directs regional franchisees and technicians to prioritize calls that involve unattended children in locked cars.

350,000 Children Saved From Locked Vehicles Since Program Inception

The goal of the PALSavesKids program is to prevent vehicular hypothermia and educate caregivers about the program through interaction with customers and the distribution of educational materials to organizations supporting caregivers and children, and through social media.

“We launched this program in 1991 to educate caregivers about the severe dangers of leaving children in unattended vehicles or mistakenly locking a child in an automobile,” said Pop-A-Lock Chief Executive Officer Don Marks.  “By using our expertise in the security industry, we are able to quickly and efficiently remove children from harm.  This program provides our franchise with the opportunity to thank the communities that have supported our business for so many years.”

Aimed at supporting local police and firefighters, the program instructs parents or other concerned citizens to first call 9-1-1 and then call 1-800-Pop-A-Lock.

The Pop-A-Lock technician nearest to the scene will prioritize the call to arrive as soon as possible to unlock the child from the automobile.  This free community service program has saved over 350,000 children since its launch 25 years ago.

Even though children may not be directly exposed to the snow and wind chill, they are still at risk for hypothermia if left in unattended vehicles. The following facts highlight the dangerous severity of leaving children in locked vehicles where they can fall victim to the quick onset of hypothermia:

  • Smaller body size and an inability to make enough body heat through shivering puts children at higher risk of hypothermia and frostbite when exposed to cold conditions.
  • According to the Drive Steady Advocacy Group, children left in cold cars can suffer frostbit, or hypothermia if their body temperature drops below 95ºF.. Signs of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, exhaustion, poor coordination, slurred speech, and numbness. Children may have trouble communicating these symptoms.
  • Car seats and wearing restrictive clothing can actually increase the risk and worsen the chances of hypothermia in young children.
  • In addition, during winter months snow can block an automobile’s exhaust pipe, which mean parents or caregivers who leave the car on for their children to stay warm are still putting them at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.

To prevent vehicular hypothermia from occurring, the PALSavesKids program includes a call-to-action: “PALSaves 1-2-3” that reminds caregivers to “look before you lock” by: 1-Stopping; 2-Looking; and then 3-Locking.

PALSavesKids’ mascot, PAL Super Dog, also offers gentle reminders to caregivers to always look in the backseat before leaving the vehicle.  Specific recommendations to prevent locking children in automobiles include:

  • Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.
  • Put something you’ll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or briefcase, etc., on the floorboard in the back seat.
  • Keep a large stuffed animal or favorite toy in the child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal or toy in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal or toy is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.

For more information about Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville or PALSavesKids Emergency Door Unlock Program, visit popalockofjacksonville.com/pal-saves-kids/ and follow us on Facebook (@JacksonvilleLocksmith) and Twitter (@popalockjax).

“Holiday decorations pose safety risk for aircraft pilots”

We know we usually cover locksmith news here, but we thought we’d share this story since the holidays are upon us and most of us are affected by the safety risks of holiday decorations.

Your holiday decor could be a safety hazard … for pilots.

Consumers who purchased “Star Shower,” a plug-in laser light projector, should probably read the product’s directions. The decoration may help you “illuminate your house in a matter of seconds,” but it can also be a blinding hazard to pilots, according to an NBC affiliate.

“You experience what’s called a flash blindness,” Sgt. Morrie Zager, a helicopter pilot for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, told NBC. “Everything goes away except green. The worst part about it is the pain. It can cause anything from a mild distraction to a complete incapacitation of the pilot resulting in the aircraft crashing.”

The Star Shower device, produced by Telebrands, meets FDA regulations and Consumer Product Safety standards. It also carries a warning for users not to point the device directly at the sky and not to activate it within 10 nautical miles of an airport — several incidents have been reported in recent months.

Most notably, on Nov. 18, a Star Shower projector shined into the cockpit of a C-130 Coast Guard plane as it flew over Sacramento, California. While no one was harmed or charged in this incident, pointing a laser at a plane or chopper is considered a crime and could result in prison time and upward of $250,000 in fines.

Star Shower makers told the NBC affiliate that its product is compliant with FAA regulations for lasers — but emphasized the decoration should be pointed directly at your home, never directly into the sky.

Originally posted on CNBC.com

Tips for Home Safety While You’re On Vacation

You’ve got your bags packed and the kids in the car. The vacation of your dreams is about to begin. But you need to be sure you have properly secured your home before you head out for the holidays or you may return to a surprise of a broken-in home.

Secure All Windows & Doors

Locking up your home will keep most potential robbers from targeting it. Be sure to lock all windows and doors before leaving for vacation. If you have a sliding glass door, place a pole in the track, which will prevent the door from being forced open. Also, disable your automatic garage door opener just in case someone has its signal decoded.

Temporarily Hold the Mail & Newspaper

A few days before leaving, place a hold on your postal mail and any newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Many people just let their mail pile up while they’re away, which makes vacant houses easy for burglars to recognize. In the event that you would rather not interrupt your services, ask a fellow neighbor to pick up your mail and newspapers every day.

Set up Timers to Turn Lights on

A way to give the impression that there are people living in your home is to set up timers on the lights throughout your house. Have timers set to turn your lights on and off when you normally would each morning and evening.

Turn on a Radio for Noise

People rarely live in perfectly quiet homes 24 hours a day, so why should you leave your home devoid of noise when you vacation? Simply leave a radio on or set one up on a timer, like with your lights, to give the impression that you really have not left.

Ask a Friend or the Police to Monitor Your Home 

On the off chance that a criminal notices somebody keeping an eye out for your home, then he or she probably won’t target your house. In a few urban areas, you can request that the police drive by your home while you are traveling. Obviously, you can simply have your neighbor monitor your home if the police are not an option.

You could likewise give your assets to a trusted neighbor to watch. In case you’re going out, give your neighbor the keys. That way, in the event that you are robbed, they won’t able to take your car. Or your neighbor could move your car to encourage the illusion that someone is still occupying your house.

Alert Your Home Security System Company

Monitored home security systems can ensure safety of your home while you’re away. By alerting your vendor that you will not be home, the security company can alert the police as soon as they notice an irregularity, instead of trying to call you first. Those few seconds can make a big difference when someone has broken into your home.

For help with your home security, please call Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville at 904-354-8566.

Burglary Prevention Tips

It’s that time of year when the season gets colder and some of us go away on extended vacations for the holidays. It is at these times when our home is most susceptible to burglaries. Read below for several useful and practical tips to keep your home crime free.

  • Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break in.
  • Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed. Even if it is for a short time, lock your doors.
  • Leave lights on when you go out. If you are going to be away for a length of time, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.
  • Keep your garage door closed and locked.
  • Don’t allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers build up while you are away. Arrange with the Post Office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly.
  • Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended time.
  • Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary.
  • Pushbutton locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.
  • Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Special locks are available for better security.
  • Other windows may need better locks. Check with a locksmith like Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville or hardware store for alternatives.

Don’t Tempt a Thief:

  • Lawn mowers, barbecues and bicycles are best stored out of sight
  • Always lock your garden sheds and garages.
  • Use curtains on garage and basement windows.
  • Never leave notes on your door such as “Gone shopping.”

Locks…Get the Best:

  • No lock, regardless of its quality, can be truly effective. Key-in dead bolt locks provide minimum security. Ask a locksmith for advice on your situation.
  • Change locks immediately if your keys are lost or stolen.
  • When moving into a new home, have all locks changed.

Targeting the Outside:

  • Have adequate exterior lighting. A motion-sensitive light is recommended for backyards.
  • Trim trees and shrubs so that they cannot be used as hiding places for intruders.
  • Make sure your door hinges are on the inside.

Windows:

  • Most windows can be pinned for security.
  • Drill a 3/16″ hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame – place a nail in the hole to secure the window.

Alarms:

  • An alarm system is excellent for home security. It provides peace of mind to homeowners, especially while on vacation. There is a wide variety of alarm systems on the market.
  • Make several inquiries to different companies for the best security system available to you.
  • If you have a home alarm system, use it! Activate your alarm system — Alarm systems are only useful when you remember to activate them.
  • Many individuals have alarm systems but do not arm them because it is inconvenient. Many burglars know this and will not be deterred by a window sticker or sign indicating that the home has an alarm system.

If Your Home Is Broken Into:

If you come home to find an unexplained open/broken window or door:

  • Do not enter – the perpetrator may still be inside.
  • Use a neighbor’s phone to call police.
  • Do not touch anything or clean up until the police have inspected for evidence.
  • Write down the license plate numbers of any suspicious vehicles.
  • Note the descriptions of any suspicious persons.

Other precautions you should take:

  • Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other “secret” hiding places — burglars know where to look for hidden keys.
  • Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions, including a description of the items, date of purchase and original value, and serial numbers, and keep a copy in a safe place away from home — this is a good precaution in case of fires or other disasters. Make a photographic or video record of valuable objects, heirlooms and antiques. Your insurance company can provide assistance in making and keeping your inventory.
  • Trim your shrubbery around your home to reduce cover for burglars.
  • Be a good neighbor. If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Mark your valuables with your driver’s license number with an engraver you can borrow from your precinct. Marked items are harder for a burglar to dispose of and easier for police to recover.
  • Form a Neighborhood Watch Group. We can help you work with your neighbors to improve security and reduce risk of burglary.
  • Consider installing a burglar alarm system.

Winter is Coming: Fire Safety for your Home

Winter is coming, and that means making fires in the fireplace. Here are some ways in which you can keep you and your family safe this winter season.

Home fires can start and spread quickly, which is why we all need to be careful and educated when it comes to fire safety. Just a little bit of planning can make a big difference for your family.

Working smoke alarms reduce the chances of dying in a fire by nearly 50 percent.

The Facts
In 2013, 334 children died in home fires. Eighty-seven percent of all fire-related deaths are due to home fires, which spread rapidly and can leave families as little as two minutes to escape once an alarm sounds. Fires are not just a problem in the United States. In 2008, nearly 61,000 children around the world died due to a fire or burn.

Tips to Help Reduce Risk of Dying by Fire

  • Working smoke alarms reduce the chances of dying in a fire by nearly 50 percent. They are a critical first step for staying safe, but in order to be effective, they have to be working properly. For the best protection, install smoke alarms on every level of your home and in every sleeping area.
  • Teach kids never to play with matches and lighters. Make a habit of placing these items up and away from young children.
    Create and practice a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room in case of a fire. Get a stopwatch and time how fast your family can escape. The kids will love it. Here’s a handy worksheet to help get you started.
  • Children should know how to respond to the sound of a smoke alarm. Teach them to get low and get out when they hear it. A child who is coached properly ahead of time will have a better chance to be safe.
  • Use common sense in the kitchen. Limit distractions when cooking and don’t leave a hot oven or stovetop unattended.
  • Blow out candles before you leave the room or before you go to sleep.
    Fire safety is complex issue. Here’s more information on how to handle carbon monoxide, prepare for any burns and scalds that result from cooking in the kitchen, find out what to do with fireworks and general fire safety tips.

Halloween Safety Tips for Your Child

Walk Safely

  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
  • Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
  • Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
  • Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to
    the left as possible.  Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
  • Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

Trick or Treat With an Adult

  • Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.

Keep Costumes Both Creative and Safe

  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  • Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
  • When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.

Drive Extra Safely on Halloween

  • Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  • Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  • Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
  • Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

Source information: safekids.org