“Holiday decorations pose safety risk for aircraft pilots”

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

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 904-246-4590.

Important Home Security Tips

If your home is your castle, you need to keep it fortified and secure at all times. No need for a drawbridge, moats or crocodiles, however. You simply need to abide by these important home security tips, and your home will keep you and your valuables safe and sound.

Know Who has Keys to Your Home

When you first move into your home, you need to be aware that anyone who has ever had a key to your front door could still have access to your home. This can mean that quite a few people could simply enter your home without you even being aware, so you need to update your security pronto.

Have your locks rekeyed or replaced entirely, so you know that you’re the only one who has access to your home.

Get Sturdy Doors

A sturdy exterior door and sturdy door frame can mean the difference between being a target for thieves and actually being robbed. Sturdy doors that can’t be force easily make it more difficult for thieves to get in and out quickly, making your home a less attractive target. Make sure the door hinges are located on the inside, because this makes it harder for thieves to pry them loose and gain entry.

Install a Deadbolt

A properly installed deadbolt is one of the most effective locks available for homes. It’s much harder for thieves to break in when the deadbolt is set; firmly connecting the door to the frame every time you lock it.

Keep Entrances Well Lit

This makes any intruder highly visible from the street, and makes your house less attractive because of it. Also, leave lights on inside your house when you go out. Put them on a timer to give the illusion that someone is home at all times.

Get an Alarm

An alarm can be an effective deterrent, and the louder, the better. Thieves don’t want any attention drawn to them, and an alarm does just that.

Keep a Good Rapport with Your Neighbors

It’s always good to have your neighbors around to watch out for your home when you’re not there. Just be sure to return the favor, and you’ll make your street a safer place to live.

Don’t Make These Home Security Mistakes

It’s easy to make a little slip when it comes to home security measures. We’re busy people with busy lives. But to a criminal – especially smart criminals – loves a lax homeowner. But even a dumb burglar can score big when we’re lazy with our home security.

Here are some easy fixes for your making sure your home is secure for yourself and your loved ones:

1. Don’t nickel-and-dime your door locks. It’s all about high quality locks. A cheap lock is just that – cheap.

2. Don’t hide keys. We’ve all seen it in the movies, so anyone will know to check on top of the ledge above the door frame.

3. Make sure your valuables aren’t visible through windows. That goes for your home and car.

4. Flatten boxes that valuables came in like flat screen TVs. Then, put them in large garbage bags and out for trash pickup. Keeping those big boxes out of sight will help keep the bad guys at bay and not showcase what you have in your house.

5. Lock your doors! It might seem simple, but plenty of us use excuses like “I keep forgetting,” “It’s a hassle,” “I’m going in and out.” Your mistake, or lazy excuse, is a burglar’s reward.

6. Don’t leave any ladders in the yard.

7. Used timed lighters inside and out so that your place is never dark.

8. Keep your garage door locked at all times except during the seconds it’s in use.

9. Keep your house alarm on. Some intruders will try to break through a locked door or get in through a window. The second he does, the alarm will emit a piercing sound that will instantly drive him away. It’s also important to keep the alarm on even when you’re home. Burglaries happen during the day too.

10. Don’t post anything on social media that indicates you’re away from home.


* When you’re on vacation, arrange for a vacation hold of your mail and newspaper deliveries.

* To make your home look occupied while you’re out of town, have a trusted person park his car in your driveway and mow your lawn. Overgrowth leaves clues that you’re traveling.

It’s Spring! Time to Update Your Home Security

Every spring, we clean our homes as part of “out with the old, in with the new.” And you may be planning to invest in some home improvements and decorating, as well. However, don’t forget to protect your home and all of your hard work with the correct security measures. The higher the investment, the higher the risk of crime.

It’s easy to check and maintain your property’s security with a few simple steps. Firstly, it’s important to give your house and garden a thorough audit from the outside in. Ensure trees and bushes are kept to a reasonable size to reduce the possibility of burglars using them as “cover”. Also check the condition of your fences and gates, which can be prone to neglect, as any weak points can make it easier for would-be thieves to gain entry to your property.

Outer buildings are often target. External storage such as sheds and garages should be secured with high-quality padlocks, with hasps and staples.

In addition, don’t be tempted to leave your free-standing garden furniture out overnight, and keep ladders, bins and gardening tools stored out of sight as these can be used in opportunist crime to gain access.

In terms of windows, check that all on the ground floor and any that are accessible on higher levels have secure window locks. It is important to check the quality and integrity of the locks as well as the structural condition of the doors and windows themselves. Locks can be prone to rust, while rotten and cracked frames can make doors and windows easier to break through. If you have any doubts, a local qualified locksmith, such as Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville, will be able to advise on which locks will be the most suitable, and ensure that they’ll meet insurance requirements.

Sensor lights or dusk-to-dawn lighting are additional deterrents and also help you gain access to your home late at night. Opportunist thieves often approach houses that look like nobody is at home, so by installing a number of light timers around the house it appears that the house is occupied and therefore minimises the risk of a break in. A “fake TV” is also a good idea – this device emits light that mimics that of a TV and can give the impression somebody is watching something in an upstairs room for example.

It almost goes without saying, but be sure to lock up your house and set the alarm every time you leave. Don’t leave keys on show, particularly near doors, and never leave valuables such as laptops or jewellery on show which can tempt potential burglars. If necessary, get a safe professionally specified and installed.

By taking some simple security measures, you can ensure your property isn’t vulnerable to thieves and your possessions are protected from the threat of crime.

If you’re confused and need help with updating your home security locks, we’re only a phone call away at 904-246-4590.

10 Inexpensive Ways to Secure Your Home

With more and more technological systems for home security coming out, especially those with reliance on smartphone use, it seems as though those who prefer not to have a smartphone are completely left out of this boom. However, there are many ways that you can secure your home without relying upon Wi-Fi or a monitored security system.

The concept is to make burglars think twice before attempting to enter your place – to make it  look occupied. You’ve probably already heard of the usual tricks: When out of town, put a hold on your newspaper and mail delivery; have someone mow your grass; have someone park their car in your driveway, etc.

But let’s refine these tactics so that they don’t look staged. Getting a home security system is your best bet. But if you don’t have the money, then try these following tips:

  1. You’ve heard the one about leaving a large dog bowl by the front door. But come on, what actual dog owner does this? It’s still a good thing to do. (Make it look used, not spanking clean. Keep a few morsels of food in it.)
  2. Use automatic light timers.
  3. Plant thorny shrubs around windows.
  4. If you have horizontally-sliding windows, put Charlie bars or other blocking devices on the tracks to prevent them from being slid open.
  5. Hang a portable alarm on your front door’s inner doorknob; an alarm will sound if the knob turns (the battery-operated alarm can be turned off with a switch).
  6. Invest in a top-notch deadbolt system.
  7. Keep all windows locked! Yes, sex offenders and thieves really do slip in through windows.
  8. Install a fake surveillance camera above your front door and in the back.
  9. Invest in motion detection sensors that flip on lights and alarms.
  10. Learn self-defense and have the pepper spray strategically located in the house.

Always keep your doors locked! Even when you’re home! There’s no such thing as a burglar who never works during the day, and rapists aren’t stopped by daylight.

Home Security Tips

Thinking about home security might seem like common sense, but there are plenty of precautions to keep in mind. Here are few recommendations from us at Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville:

  1. Remove trees or branches that are close to your premises. This denies burglars access to upper levels.
  2. Windows, skylights, pet doors, patio doors, garage and carport access doors, upper level balcony doors and small bathroom windows are common forced entry points. Keep them locked when away and secured when at home.
  3. Don’t leave “hidden” keys in all the usual spots for thieves to find, such as under the mat, on a ledge, in a planter or on a door frame. Instead give a spare key to a trusted neighbor or hide a key on their property. If a prowler comes across the key they won’t know what it opens.
  4. Lighting can be used as cheap security. Always leave some lights on in your house at night, even when you are home.
  5. When going out, make sure your home looks occupied by leaving more than one light on.
  6. Close the drapes at night to hide the fact that no one is home. Drapes, curtains or blinds should fully cover windows.
  7. Always leave outside lights on at night. Thieves would rather work in the dark so no one can spot them, notify police, and identify them.
  8. Never place the packing materials from an expensive item on the curb for trash pickup. Instead, cut up the box and tie it with string, carefully hiding the product identification.
  9. When someone comes calling, don’t pretend you are not at home. Burglars want to find homes that are un-occupied so they can break-in. However, never open your door when you don’t know or trust the person(s) on the other side. Talk through the door or a nearby window. Chain locks are not strong enough, do not open the door! If you must have the door opened slightly, a floor mounted, retractable door wedge is an excellent security option.
  10. Never give out your personal information over the telephone to someone you don’t really know who you are speaking with. Often the caller will ask when they can contact you and then they have a better idea when you are going to be away.

Start the New Year with a Home Security Audit

Start your new year off on the right foot and consider getting a security audit for your home or other facility, such as a business. While our main focus is on emergency automotive locksmith services, Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville also offers a full range of services for your home and business security.

Home Security Audit

Is the lighting on your property sufficient to stop a would-be burglar? Are your locks strong enough to prevent the door from being kicked in? Let Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville provide you with a free security audit to address home security issues and bring you peace of mind. We will provide you with an accurate and comprehensive checklist of what you can do to make your home more secure.

Visit http://www.popalock.com/security_audits.php or call 1-800-POP-A-LOCK, and have a Happy New Year!

Protect Yourself and Your Purchases This Holiday Season

We are just a week shy of the Christmas holiday. As with every year, the winter season has us doing our holiday shopping right after Thanksgiving and continuing in full swing until the end of the year. Since there are so many people out on the road and going to and from stores, there leaves a lot of vulnerability between you, your personal belongings, and your purchases – both those you carry with you and leave in your car. In order to effectively “shop defensively” this holiday season, please keep this list of reminders at hand, so you can shop safely and consciously:

Avoid Being a Target for Burglars

  • Always shop with a friend. You are more likely to become a target if you are alone.
  • Park your car in a well-lit area.
  • Wear your purse or bag across your body. This way your hands will be free for your keys when you head to your car.
  • Combine your purchases into one bag, if possible.


Be Alert at All Times

  • Walk briskly to your car. Avoid talking or texting on your phone, or digging into your bag for your keys while walking.
  • Have your keys ready in your hand while walking toward your vehicle.

In Your Car

  • Keep your purchases out of sight in your parked car to prevent break-ins.
  • Check your back seat for potential burglars before getting into your car.

On the Web

  • Use credit, not debit. Credit cards offer much better protection against fraud than most debit cards.
  • When shopping online, verify the website’s URL and shop only from known retailers. There are websites out there that are created to look like real storefronts, but are instead scams and spoofed websites that may steal your personal information.
  • Be sure your anti-virus program is up-to-date. Shop at home and not on public Wi-Fi networks, such as at cafes, libraries or airports.

Remember to stay alert even during daytime shopping hours. Crimes aren’t restricted to night hours and can occur at any time. We hope that, with these tips, you’ll have a fun, productive and, most importantly, safe holiday season.

The History of Home Security

During the holidays, we’re reminded of the historical first Thanksgiving. Just as almost everything that exists today has a history, the same can be said for home security and the locksmith industry. We’ll be talking briefly about this history and give you some ideas on how better to secure your own home in the process.

At some point in time, people began to believe their possessions had value. From then on, home security became important to ancient humans. Although prehistoric humans, most likely, slept in caves or trees to protect themselves from nighttime predators, it soon became necessary to protect their possessions as well. However, the threat to home security did not come from just animals, but from other humans.

Early Locks in Walled Cities

Later, as time went by, prehistoric humans moved out of caves and into walled cities. And around 2,000 BC, the Egyptians invented what become known as the first “lock”. These early locks used a pin system based on the same principles as modern pin tumbler locks.

However, these early locks needed a large key to operate. The average key size during these times was 13 to 14 inches long, while keys to important public buildings or city gates could be two feet or longer. These early keys were signs of authority. Those who possessed them carried the keys on their shoulders.

The Barron is Introduced

By the 15th century, France had become the epicenter of lock making. But, the French chateau locks and chest locks were susceptible to burglars because their designs were similar to ancient Egyptian locks and were, therefore, becoming easier to pick.

Lock security got an update with an English lock known as the Barron. The Barron was patented in 1778. It was quickly replaced by the Bramah lock and the Chubb lock. These locks were considered unpickable, but eventually succumbed to lock pickers.

In the late 19th century, Linus Yale, Jr. developed the modern pin-tumbler type locking mechanism, which is still in use today. It has undergone many changes to enhance security, though nearly every improvement has been overcome by lock pickers. Because of these, lock companies continue to make changes to prevent burglars.

Protect Your Home and Business This Holiday Season

Today, the average thief rarely picks a lock. Instead, they force their way in using crowbars, screwdrivers, hammers and rocks. Although these techniques are not very sophisticated, they are quite effective.

Personal and physical security should be a top priority for every homeowner and business owner. Good quality locks and strong doors are excellent burglar deterrents. Security lighting, grills, and screens and fencing are also extremely effective in thwarting burglars.

So, take a cue from our ancestors and take steps to secure your home and business. To learn more, contact Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville today at 904-246-4590.