Category Archives: Security Blog Posts

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America’s Most Dangerous Cities, 2013

Crime data are difficult to track and compare across areas, so SafeMart made it easy with a look at the top five cities in the FBI’s annual crime report. Unlike other websites’ lists, we also highlighted property crimes for each area per thousand residents for easy comparisons.

The FBI’s list of statistics is released every June with a violent crime index that includes murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. SafeMart analyzed that data and the background on these different cities so you can make smart choices about safety.

1. Flint, Michigan

  • Violent crimes per 100,000: 2,729.5
  • Population: 101,632
  • Property crimes per 1,000 residents: 66.47
  • 2012 murders: 63

In addition to its distinction as the city with the most violent crimes per capita, Flint also saw the most burglaries in 2013. In one bright spot, Flint’s overall property crime numbers decreased in 2012 compared to 2011, but its nonviolent crimes continue to increase. The city continues to have problems with financing – it faces a $20 million deficit from 2012 – so crime will likely be an issue for decades to come.

2. Detroit, Michigan

  • Violent crimes per 100,000: 2,122.6
  • Population: 707,096
  • Property crimes per 1,000 residents: 62.21
  • 2012 murders: 386

The murder rate in Detroit was the second highest in the country, as was its aggravated assault rate. These high numbers reflect the city’s continuing economic troubles, as it struggles to deal with unemployment – at 16 percent in April, compared to the national average of 7.6 percent – and the lingering effects of the recession. The combination of a shrinking population and increasing crime continues to push Detroit’s crime rate up.

3. Oakland, California

  • Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,993.1
  • Population: 399,487
  • Property crimes per 1,000 residents: 54.0
  • 2012 murders: 126

Like many of the cities on this list, Oakland has a long history of crime, which began to escalate in the 1960s. Most of its crimes now occur in rates two to five times the US average. Oakland has the distinction of holding the highest robbery rate of any city in America — 1,085.9 per 100,000 residents – and the rate has only increased in recent years. Property crime is also up significantly, hurt by police layoffs in 2010 due to budget cuts.

4. St. Louis, Missouri

  • Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,776.5
  • Population: 318,667
  • Property crimes per 1,000 residents: 80.7
  • 2012 murders: 113

St. Louis has a long history of high crime. It was named the most dangerous city in America three times, most recently in 2010, because the city experienced a decades-long upswing in violence. By 2011, its overall crime rate was finally below the rate in 1970. Though murder and other parts of the crime index decreased, vehicle theft and other elements of the crime rate went up in 2012.

5. Memphis, Tennessee

  • Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,750.0
  • Population: 657,436
  • Property crimes per 1,000 residents: 65.54
  • 2012 murders: 133

In 2006, the Memphis Police Department began a program called “Blue Crush” to fight crime that included more accurate crime reporting. Because of more precise figures than other cities, Memphis may report crimes to the FBI that other cities miss. However, the city’s chronic poverty rate of 26 percent (from 2007-2011, according to the most recent US Census Bureau report) continues to play a part in its high crime rate, though the city police chief said that crime has decreased by 25 percent since the beginning of the Blue Crush program.

Summary: 

These cities all face similar problems, particularly related to the continued loss of manufacturing jobs and related unemployment and economic issues. Whether or not you live in an area with increasing crime, look into protecting your home with SafeMart’s custom monitoring adviser.

Best of the Web

Every other week, SafeMart will curate the “Best of the Web” – top posts, headlines and other things that caught our attention for Saturday Superlatives.

What did you read this week? Tweet us any links we should add during this 4th of July weekend.

Firework Safety Tips for July 4 Parties

July 4 Firework Safety TipsFireworks, the center of most July 4th celebrations, don’t seem quite as fun when there’s a hospital visit involved. More than 5,000 kids and adults will end up in the emergency room this Thursday night, but these injuries are completely preventable with some precautions.

About 60 percent of yearly firework-related injuries occur in July because of the national holiday, but the long weekend doesn’t have to include a trip to the local urgent care center. Follow these tips to have a fun, and safe, time celebrating with family and friends:

  • Keep kids away from sparklers. Even though they seem innocuous, sparklers can burn at 1200 degrees. That’s hot enough to melt metal! 600 injuries occurred during last year’s July 4th celebrations – don’t let your child be part of that statistic in 2013.
  • Don’t judge a firework by its size. Dimensions don’t indicate the amount of explosive material inside the firework, and small fireworks can do big damage.
  • Never relight fireworks that didn’t go off as intended.
  • Leave a bucket of water near any firework-related activities in case of emergency.
  • Avoid placing any parts of your body over a firework when lighting the fuse. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 41 percent of burns occur on fingers and arms from close contact.
  • Never aim fireworks at anything other than clear sky, and do not throw them at anyone else. Adult supervision is particularly important for this safeguard.

Before using fireworks, check to make sure they are legal in your state and town. Regardless of legality, the safest way to enjoy a fireworks display is to attend a fireworks show in your town or city, and leave the high-powered pyrotechnics to the professionals.

How to Stay Safe While Barbecuing

More than 160 million Americans attended a barbecue last July 4, according to the National Retail Federation, and with good weather forecasts for much of the country, this year should have a strong turnout, too.

Before you gas up the grill, consider the most common “barbecue burns” – issues associated with this classic summer gathering – and how you might avoid any potential safety problems.

Barbecue burn: Sneaky guests

Prevention: Guests are notorious for snooping in medicine cabinets, closets and other private spaces. Place motion sensors on sensitive areas for immediate notification if kids have opened the liquor cabinet or a relative goes into a closed-off room.

 

Barbecue burn: Food safety issues

Prevention: Keep food refrigerated until serving, and put everything under shade to avoid melting or stale food.

 

Barbecue burn: Grill flames

Prevention: Keep a fire extinguisher near the grill, fire pit and other dangerous areas. Appoint one person to stand guard near the grill if children are running around so no little fingers are burned. Before the guests arrive, clean out your grill, whether you use a charcoal or gas grill, to make sure built-up grease won’t combust.

 

Barbecue burn: Roaming pets

Prevention: Put Fido away from guests and food. Assess your pets’ temperament and ask parents with visiting children about animal comfort levels to make sure all of your guests, whether they have two legs or four, have an enjoyable barbecue.

 

Barbecue burn: House burns

Prevention: Place the grill far enough from the house and patio that it won’t burn the side of the house. If you’re unsure about placement, keep moving the grill until you’re sure wind won’t blow smoke into the house or harm the siding.

SafeMart is focusing on 4th of July safety issues all week long. Check back tomorrow for more on keeping your family safe during this celebration.

 

 

 

7 Essential Road Safety Tips

A vast majority – 84 percent – of Americans will travel to July 4 celebrations by car this year, according to a new AAA survey. As parents pack sunscreen for the beach and hamburgers for the barbecues, drivers should also pay careful attention to the car itself before a road trip of any distance.

Car safety tips may be the last consideration on a red, white and blue to-do list, but with so many more drivers on the road this week, go over these tips before you head out the door for parades and fireworks:

  • Check your tire pressure. Only 17 percent of cars on the road have all four tires correctly inflated, according to AAA, and air is an easy, cheap fix at a gas station.
  • Top off your washer fluid before the dust accumulates on your windshield.
  • Take two pairs of sunglasses so you and your co-pilot can navigate if you’re driving in a sunny direction.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 100,000 accidents annually are caused by drowsy driving.
  • Look under cushions and mats for small objects that could make their way into toddler’s hands – or throats – during the road trip.
  • Ensure your kids’ car seats are properly placed by calling 866-SEAT-CHECK for free car seat inspections. Eight out of 10 car seats are not correctly installed, leaving your kids in preventable danger.
  • Pack a “just in case” kit with water, snacks and a mini fan in case of heavy, unexpected traffic or a car breakdown.

When you leave for July 4 festivities, don’t forget to lock your doors and turn on your home security system. If you’re going on a vacation, check out these safety tips.

SafeMart Road Trip Tips for July 4

How to Choose a Smoke Detector

According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly two-thirds of U.S. household fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms. If you live in one of the millions of homes without smoke alarms, learn how to avoid a preventable tragedy with the simple smoke detector.

Not all fire alarms are created equally, and fire prevention is not the area of home improvement to skimp on – cheaper usually means worse. While alarms can cost as little as $5 online, reduced prices lead to reduced security.

There are affordable, high-quality options for every price range, but it’s important to understand the different types of fire alarms before making a decision:

  • Heat detectors: Sensors inside the unit signal an alarm when the temperature reaches a fixed point or when a specific increase in temperature occurs. These are best for fire detection in small spaces with the potential for rapidly burning fires, but they are generally not as good as smoke detectors for residential use and should not be used as the primary method of fire detection.
  • Interconnected smoke alarms: These alarms are synchronized to all beep if one detects fire. Interconnected alarms are beneficial for larger homes if a resident could not hear an alarm in another area of the house – for example, a smoke alarm beeping in the basement when a family is sleeping two floors higher.
  • Monitored smoke alarms: Fire detecting devices are connected to a central monitoring station to call the fire department in case of smoke detection. These alarms are helpful if a fire starts when the house is empty or when residents are sleeping and are unable to quickly call emergency responders.

After making a decision about the best smoke alarms for your family, follow these tips for best practices:

  • Install smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall, far away from pets and small hands.
  • Place fire detectors on every level of the home, including the basement, and in hallways leading to bedrooms.
  • Replace alarm batteries twice a year and replace the alarm unit every 10 years.

Start the process now by determining what your unique home needs are with SafeMart’s Personal Safety Advisor.

5 Home Burglary Facts You Need to Know

Surprising Burglary Statistics

Click for a larger view.

During the last week of National Safety Month, SafeMart is sharing tips to maximize your family’s safety. After focusing on the dangers of the “silent killer” and kitchen fires, today’s post examines myths and facts about home burglaries.

 

Myth: Crime has gone down, so houses are safer than ever.

Fact: While the crime rate has decreased over the past few decades, many local areas have experienced an increase in burglaries. Now, houses have more to lose from robberies: The median value of stolen goods rose to $600 in 2011, from $389 in 1994.

 

Myth: Suburban areas have less crime because there are fewer hard criminals.

Fact: Most homes are burglarized by someone who lives within two miles of the house, and the majority of burglars are male teenagers.

 

Myth: Since my valuable jewelry is in a locked safe, there’s nothing big to steal.

Fact: The FBI reported that among all completed burglaries, those involving the theft of an electronic device or household appliance increased from 28 percent in 2001 to 34 percent in 2011. Robbers look for easily concealable objects like iPads, not huge paintings, to grab.

 

Myth: I work a 9-to-5 job, so I’m home at night to protect my home from burglars.

Fact: The majority of burglaries occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when kids and parents are out of the house and fewer people are in the neighborhood.

 

Myth: If a burglar came to my house, I could respond quickly enough on my own to stop him.

Fact: According to the Washington Post, most burglars take between eight and 12 minutes to rob a house. That likely isn’t enough time for anyone to notice and respond to the incident, unless the police are notified upon entry.

Prevent Kitchen Fires During June’s National Safety Month

SafeMart recognizes this June’s National Home Safety Month, a reminder of the importance of vigilance in homes of all sizes. This week, SafeMart will look at five different areas of home safety, starting with Monday’s focus on fire.

Prevent kitchen fires during June - and every month - with these cooking safety tips.

Prevent kitchen fires during June – and every month – with these cooking safety tips.

Each year, one in 320 homes experiences a fire, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and many more go unreported. These fires can range from the large-scale wildfires currently sweeping the West to tiny kitchen fires put out with a bit of flour, but all are cause for concern.

Large-scale wildfires will never threaten most homes east of Colorado, but all homes face the internal dangers of cooking hazards. The NFPA reports that 42 percent of fires start in the kitchen, and for every one reported incident, there are likely 50 others that go unreported.

Kitchen fires are highly preventable and easily put out with the right preparation. Follow common sense tips: don’t use metal in the microwave, roll up sleeves and tie back hair, keep towels, pot holders and paper products away from the stove. As summertime grilling heats up, don’t forget about outdoor kitchens and grills. The same tips apply outside, and remember to watch children around barbecues, just as in the kitchen.

Don’t simply dismantle a smoke alarm for good if it goes off when cooking; instead, make sure the kitchen is well-ventilated and you are attending to anything on the stove or in the oven. If something in the microwave causes significant smoke, unplug the unit and wait for the food to cool instead of opening the door immediately.

Cleanliness is key to avoiding kitchen fires. Wipe down grease, clean out toasters and microwaves, dump out crumb trays and sponge up spills every time you cook.

When the temperatures rise, keep your cool by avoiding kitchen fires and having a fun National Safety Month.

Home Security Cameras Catch Burglars

A burglary is every homeowner’s worst nightmare, but security cameras help the real-life terror have a happy ending.

Burglaries are expensive – the average incident costs the affected home $2,096, according to the FBI – and upsetting, so homeowners have recognized the value of a security system with cameras to both deter would-be burglars and catch robbers in the act or after the event.

Here is just a sampling of the smart homeowners who installed cameras and other security devices that did their job in the past few months:

  • Four people were arrested, with another on the loose, after a Colorado homeowner called the police when her security cameras showed the group attempting to steal a motorcycle. Full story here.
  • An English couple that moved to America this year experienced two break-ins, but then found justice when police caught the burglars. The couple viewed real-time video of the robbery on their cell phones, then told the police what color sweatshirts the teenage burglars wore so the police could catch the boys. Full story here.
  • A SafeMart employee saw the benefits of a home security system first-hand when he caught a burglar stealing from his garage. The employee saw the  man through his image sensor and alerted police, who found and arrested the burglar. Full story here.

These homeowners experienced the benefits of a security system up close. While a burglary can be traumatic, they — and SafeMart’s customers — know they can rest easy with the peace of mind that only comes from a high-quality security cameras.