The Evolution of Door and Window Sensors

320px-Strain_-sensor_cable_installation

The first door and window sensor systems, found in New York in the 1860s, were simple electromagnetic systems. Magnets attached to a door or window would close a parallel electrical circuit when the equipped entry way was opened, causing an alarm bell inside the house to ring loudly.

The invention of the reed switch system by Bell Laboratories in 1936 changed the way entry sensors work. These newer systems consist of a magnet and two electrical connectors. The magnet holds the connectors together, maintaining a closed circuit. When the magnet is moved away, the connectors come apart and break the circuit; this effect can be used to trigger another mechanical event. In the case of home security, the opening of a sensor-equipped door or window breaks a circuit which triggers an alert. Today, the types of alerts triggered vary from physically sounded alarms to secret text messages, letting you know somebody is trying to enter your property.

Until recently, reed switch sensors were quite large; some being the size of two fists. Large sensors can deter burglars by letting them know a home’s entry ways are being monitored, but there’s also the chance these indiscrete devices will simply encourage potential burglars to find an alternative route into your home. However, micro sensors and hidden sensors now on the market eliminate this visibility problem. Most commercially available sensors are designed for a specific surface like metal or wood, but the new GE Security Micro Door/Window Sensor sold by SafeMart is designed to protect any surface. With this new product you can easily increase the security of any part of your home without having to do any installation programming because the sensor is professionally preconfigured as part of Safemart’s Plug & Protect® service. It’s now easier than ever to keep up-to-date on the security of your property with this easily customizable technology.

Five Tips for Treating Spring Allergies

daisies

 

Although spring brings beauty for all in the form of blooming plants and flowers, it also brings discomfort for many in the form of allergies. The spread of pollen and other spring allergens lead to a rise in runny noses, scratchy throats and itchy eyes. If you find yourself missing winter simply because it was easier to breathe then, here are five allergy-prevention tips to help you start enjoying the warm weather to the fullest:

 

  1. Know your allergies: If you find your symptoms particularly difficult to live with, find out what you’re allergic to by getting a skin test. Your primary care physician will most likely be able to administer this test or at the very least refer you to an allergist. The skin test is the cheapest and quickest method of allergy detection. Once you get your results, you’ll know what substances or plants you need to try avoiding in the future.
  2. Start with over the counter medicines: A simple medicine like generic Clariton might be all you need to fend off allergies. However, you can take your self-treatment further by targeting specific symptoms: eye drops containing antihistamines comfort itchy eyes and lozenges ease the pain of a sore throat.
  3. Prepare for outdoor activities: If you know your symptoms will likely flare up when you go outside, start the day by taking your medicine. Keeping extra pills and eye drops on hand as you go about your day can’t hurt.
  4. Stay clean: Spring allergens stick to your skin and clothes. Though it will require additional time and water usage, you should shower immediately after spending extended periods of time outdoors and do laundry often. In addition, you should wash your sheets frequently; pollen sticks easily to fabric, and you don’t want to be sleeping in a bed covered by your worst allergen.
  5. See a doctor if things don’t improve: If you follow the above four steps and are still suffering from severe allergy symptoms, talk to your physician about what kind of prescription will be best for your situation.

 

You can visit The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology’s homepage for more in-depth information about allergy treatment and prevention.

Beware of Pushy Door-to-door Salesman

salesmen

A March article in The Guardian tells the story of London resident Claire Seeber, a single mother of two, who was rushed into an expensive and unclear contract by a door-to-door salesman from ADT, the U.K.’s largest home security provider.

Weeks before the salesman’s arrival, thieves stole bicycles from Seeber’s backyard, so she was looking for more protection for her home. According to the Guardian article, Seeber signed a contract before the salesman’s departure that night. At the time, she didn’t realize her signature committed her to a three year contract with an expensive cancellation fee. Also according to the article, Seeber said she was subjected to high-pressure sales tactics, misinformed about the contract’s duration and specific prices, and mislead about particular points of the document she was told to initial. Moreover, Seeber reportedly experienced extended delays trying to have repairs made to her alarm system.

Cases of door-to-door home security salespeople bullying people into unfair contracts are common both in the United States and the United Kingdom. These aggressive representatives ask for entrance into people’s homes at odd hours. They offer one-size-fits-all security packages without trial periods or easy exit options, and they purposefully make their “customers’” obligations hard to understand. Suffice it to say, surprise charges are a regular feature of these arrangements.

In contrast, SafeMart offers flexible payment options. SafeMart’s terms are completely transparent. What’s more, there are no installation fees for SafeMart products and every product has a 90 day, no questions asked, return policy. Contrast that with the industry standard 3-day contract.

Monday Roundup

Xena

Xena, still reported missing, was named best Chihuahua at a British dog show in March.

Despite Friday being National Pet Day, several puppies—including a Chihuahua and a pit bull—went missing last week. On the bright side, Seattle citizens demonstrated fast reaction time and took down a would-be purse thief. Here’s the Monday roundup:

 

  1. Thieves in a central England village stole five dogs from a single home. One of the missing dogs, named Xena, was recently named best Chihuahua puppy at a local dog show.
  2. A group of Seattle citizens tackled a purse thief Saturday and returned the victim’s stolen items. The suspect, a teenager, snatched a woman’s purse and ran. Witnesses chased down the thief but let him go after recovering the stolen purse and its contents.
  3. The cab of a truck stolen two weeks ago from a Fort Myers, Fla. parking lot was discovered in rural east Florida Saturday. Unfortunately, the truck’s trailer, which contained 180,000 eggs, is still missing.
  4. A Spokane, Wash. woman posted a Craigslist ad Sunday seeking information about her missing pit bull, which she said was stolen Tuesday. The dog, 10-week-old Chalupa, is still missing. According to the ad, there is a $500 reward for returning Chalupa.

 

 

Five Pet Safety Tips

family with dog

Dogs: Part of the family, not just best friends.

Pets are part of your family. From playing outside on the first days of spring, to traveling on family vacations to curling up by the fire in the winter time, they’re loyal companions you want to keep safe. As a small celebration of National Pet Day, here are five tips for keeping your pet safe at home and on the road:

 

  1. Beware of potential poisons: Similar to a child, pets are likely to chew on and eat objects they don’t recognize. Avoid leaving out foods, medicine, chemicals and plants in places your pet can reach. Seemingly common foods and plants can be extremely harmful or even lethal to animals; the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center provides comprehensive lists of decorative plants and household chemicals to keep away from pets.
  2. Prepare for emergencies: If a natural disaster or other type of emergency occurs, you will want to have a plan in place to make sure your pet can evacuate your home safely. Include your pet in fire drills and other practice evacuations so they don’t panic in the event of a real disaster. Know where you can bring your pet; this can include nearby pet shelters and animal-friendly hotels, and always keep your pet’s identification tags and vaccinations up to date. Most pet shelters require proof of up-to-date immunization.
  3. Be careful with collars: In addition to serving as an accurate form of identification, your pet’s collar should fit the animal comfortably. As your pet grows, make sure the collar isn’t getting too tight. Ignoring this can subject the animal to excruciating pain and breathing problems.
  4. Play safe: Supervise your pets when they play with small toys. An unsupervised pet may swallow parts of toys like string and detachable segments, leading to choking or internal damage.
  5. Drive with pets inside the car: When you take your furry friends on anything from a ride to the store to a cross-country road trip, keep them securely inside the vehicle at all times. Heads and paws should never be sticking out of windows. It is estimated that at least 100,000 dogs die each year while riding in the back of trucks due to the position’s lack of physical security; do not let pets ride in open truck beds.

 

How else do you keep your pet safe?

 

History of the Home Alarm System

stock and gold ticker

The stock and gold ticker is a precursor to the modern alarm system.

The very first version of the home alarm system, created by an English inventor simply known as Mr. Tildesley, resembled the cheery device many stores use today to announce the arrival of new customers. Tildesley’s model involved the connection of a cluster of bells to a door’s lock, so a ringing would occur when someone tried unlocking the door. The system didn’t provide much protection, but at least people got a heads up when someone was about to enter.

Then in 1850 Boston-based inventor Augustus Pope pioneered the first electro-magnetic alarm system. Pope connected a basic parallel circuit to doors and windows. When an intruder tried opening an alarm-equipped door or window, the circuit would close, sending a current through a magnet that would vibrate in order to make a mounted hammer hit an attached bell. Pope also incorporated a switch spring that, once sprung, would keep the current and the alarm going even if an intruder closed the door.

Edward Holmes in the 1870s and 1880s popularized Pope’s system by making it commercially available to homes and businesses, as the public’s wariness about electricity declined. Edward Calahan, inventor of the telegraph-based gold and stock ticker, took alarm systems a step further by creating the idea of a central monitoring station. Calahan hooked up the electro-magnetic alarms to call boxes that could send telegraph messages to a central station that would then dispatch a messenger boy to help organize emergency assistance in the region from which the telegraph originated. Eventually, the telephone replaced the telegraph in this system.

Today, home alarm systems have progressed to incorporate digital and wireless technology. Motion sensors detect threats and digitally transmit information to home owners and law enforcement if needed. Products like SafeMart’s revolutionary ASAPer even expedite connecting the central station with the emergency contact list and emergency services.

 

April Showers: How to Protect your Home from Flooding

Flood

Flooding is one of the most common natural disasters because it isn’t a region-specific occurrence. Even if you don’t live in a flood plain or near a river, you can still experience flooding given enough rain. With spring about to bring a new round of floods to the United States, here are some tips for keeping your family and home safe before and during a flood:

  1. Know the alert terminology: Flood watch means flooding may occur; flood warning means it will absolutely happen. A flash flood means flooding will occur rapidly; these are the most dangerous.
  2. Protect your appliances: Basement appliances like washing machines should be mounted above the ground at all times. If flooding occurs, unplug all electrical appliances and shut off all utilities.
  3. Be ready to barricade: It’s always good to store an ample supply of barricading materials including sandbags and plywood. If flood waters start approaching your home, you can stack sandbags around the base of your home or erect a makeshift barrier using plywood and nails to seal off the foundation.
  4. Plan for the worst: While total evacuation due to flooding isn’t always necessary, make sure you and your family has an emergency plan just in case. Always head to higher ground in the case of flash flooding, and make sure you have a designated meeting place so separated family members know where to go. Having an emergency supply of food, flashlights and batteries that can last at least three days is also crucial, especially if you live in a high risk flooding area.
  5. Understand the strength of moving water: When evacuating by foot or car, avoid moving water. Six inches of moving flood water can sweep a person off his or her feet. A foot or more of moving water can be powerful enough to float a medium-sized car.

 

You can check FEMA’s flood page for more advanced tips and up-to-date flood warnings.

 

SafeMart’s LiveWatch Security Wins Big at This Year’s Awards

LiveWatch Security has recently been named winner in two competitions, winning Gold at the 2014 Stevie Awards and a Super Service Award from Angie’s List.

At the 2014 Stevie Awards, LiveWatch took home Gold for Best Use of Technology in Customer Service. LiveWatch was recognized for simplifying the customer experience while increasing programming efficiency by 50%. The patented Plug and Protect technology has made the process of installing home security easy for anyone.PNP

Plug & Protect® service provides professional-grade security at a do-it-yourself price. Pioneered by SafeMart over the past 10 years, customers all over the country are enjoying the savings and security of a professionally-configured solution.

The 8th annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service took place in Las Vegas, Nevada on Friday, February 21. Entries for this year awards program for contact center, customer services, and sales professionals were up 36%.  More than 1,500 nominations from organizations covering all sizes and industries were entered in the competition. 129 judges participated in the preliminary round, with more than 130 judges placed on seven specialized final judging committees to determine the Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards. The award marks the third year in a row that LiveWatch has impressed at the Stevie Awards. In 2013 LiveWatch won both a Silver and Bronze award, and captured another Bronze in 2012.

LiveWatch Security was also awarded for excellent customer service by being named one of Angie’s List Super Service Award Winners. The Award is given out each year to companies that have provided outstanding service based on member feedback from the previous year. Angie’s List awards this distinction to less than 5% of companies on the website. The 2013 Super Service Award winners must have an “A” average on reviews received in 2012 and an “A” overall rating.

Unlike traditional home security companies that lock in 3 to 5 year contracts, LiveWatch offers 1-year agreements. This short-term agreement motivates LiveWatch to offer premier service so that customers stay with us because they want to, and not because they have to.  LiveWatch is dedicated to moving past customer satisfaction, and reaching customer delight.

How to Protect Your Home from Pests

mouse trap

The mouse trap is an essential piece of equipment for DIY pest management.

Did you know? April is National Pest Management Month, and with pest season almost upon us, there’s no better time than now to start fortifying your home from nasty creepers and crawlers. Here are five do-it-yourself tips to ensure a high level of security from pests:

 

  1. Treating your home to keep pests out: Seal all cracks and holes on the outside of your home, especially those made around entry points for pipes and other utilities. Pay close attention to the foundation; you should replace old weather-stripping and reinforce loose mortar around basement foundation and windows. Replace rotted roof shingles to avoid bugs attracted to old wood; storing firewood at least 20 feet away from your home and at least 5 inches off the ground helps with this, too. Keep basements, attics and other small rooms well ventilated and dry. Also, regularly taking out the garbage, which tends to attract pests, is key to prevent infestation.
  2. Combating Ants: A simple mixture of 1 cup sugar and 1 cup Borax should do the trick. Sprinkle the concoction outside around your home’s foundation and inside around the home’s base boards. The sugar attracts the ants and the borax kills them.
  3. Dealing with cockroaches: If you notice cockroaches in your home, sprinkle a little borax powder in your kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Be careful to not put the powder where children could come into contact with it, though.
  4. Eradicating wasps, hornets and bees: If any of these stinging pests get into your house and you don’t have insect spray, you can just as easily kill the creatures with hair spray.
  5. Trapping mice: Peanut butter and bacon are the best types of bate for a mouse trap. When using peanut butter, make sure the paste hardens on the trap’s triggering device before you put the trap in place. If you opt for bacon, be sure to tie the bacon firmly around the trap trigger.

 

How else do you protect your home from pests?

 

Monday Roundup

 

Egyptian Cartonnage

This ancient piece of cartonnage was stolen during the mass unrest in Egypt in 2011.

From lizards causing false alarms in Bangladesh to millions of dollars of stolen French art showing up in the houses of unsuspecting Italian owners, it was a wacky week for burglary news around the world. Here’s a roundup of last week’s instances of property related crime:

 

  1. A wandering lizard managed to set off the alarm at a Bangladesh bank Saturday, sparking the fear of local police and news media. Officials initially feared a repeat of a January incident in which robbers stole 164 million Bangladeshi taka, which equates to $2.1 million.
  2. Egyptian government officials announced Sunday they are working to reacquire an antique cartonnage carving stolen during the country’s unrest in 2011. The piece of art, which was carved to honor the deceased, is in the possession of a French citizen who was planning to sell it via auction.
  3. Italian police identified two paintings formerly hanging in the home of a factory worker as works by French artists Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard, together worth $17 million. The paintings were stolen from a London museum in 1970 and bought for $70 by the factory worker in 1975 at an auction of items left behind by train passengers in Turin.
  4. A California man reportedly threw cash into the air shortly before police arrested him for robbing a nearby gas station. The man, 46, is being charged with one count of robbery and two counts of attempt robbery, for two failed heists earlier that morning.
  5. A Buntingtonford, England teenager’s April Fools’ prank caused her parents to raise a false alarm to local police. The 13-year-old hid a laptop and two watches before leaving for school. Her parents reported the objects stolen, which initiated an investigation that was terminated once the girl came back from school and said what she had done. Police reported annoyance with the incident.