Monthly Archives: December 2011

Holiday Travel Safety

If traveling is ordinarily riddled with opportunities for stress and security threats to appear, travel during the holiday seasons can be especially challenging. With masses of people on the road, in airports, on buses, and taking other forms of transportation, traveling around major holidays easily increases the chance that individuals and families will face potentially dangerous or aggravating situations. Whether traveling a short distance to a family member’s home or flying across the country or even around the world for a holiday, it’s important to stay well-prepared and to consider some of the most relevant risks associated with the trip. When travelers take the time to think through their holiday journeys in advance, having an enjoyable and safe trip is much easier.
Drunk drivers are undoubtedly one of the greatest hazards for travelers during various holidays. From New Year’s Eve to Easter to the Fourth of July, many holidays encourage heavy drinking, and despite widespread knowledge about the dangers of drunk driving, some motorists choose to get behind the wheel, creating dangerous driving conditions for everyone. One of the most important things holiday travelers can do for their own safety and for the safety of others is to commit to taking a cab or carpooling if drinking. Even when only a few drinks are consumed, driving a vehicle can be extremely dangerous, and can also have serious negative consequences in terms of fines, license revocations, or even jail time. Watching out for drivers who may be intoxicated on the road is also essential. Though many holiday drivers are responsible enough to decline to drive if they’ve been drinking, it’s simply not practical to count on the idea that everyone else on the road has made the same wise decision. Practicing defensive driving, as a result, is necessary. Holiday drivers should keep a close eye on other motorists, whether on the freeway at high speeds or simply driving around the neighborhood.
Holiday travel plans frequently involve flying or taking other methods of mass transit, and practicing basic safety guidelines when taking advantage of planes, trains, and buses is crucial for enjoying a safe and pleasant holiday. A highly effective way for travelers to avoid potential complications and cut down on traveling confusion is to ensure that they’re well prepared before leaving home. This principle goes beyond basic packing advice to include checking and double-checking itineraries, keeping an eye on weather forecasts, and paying attention to the news in case certain airports or other hubs experience widespread delays or cancellations. When individual travelers and families are aware of the possible complications they might face during their trips and have adequately prepared, delays and other common problems are sure to have a minimal effect. Travelers who take care to stay alert on their travel situation and who prepare in advance can also contribute to a smoother experience for others; in great numbers, well-prepared travelers can significantly change the course of potential travel problems and can create a better atmosphere for all who are on the move.
In the chaos of preparing for travel and embarking on a trip around the holidays, many people neglect to attend to basic security needs, especially in terms of keeping their homes and other properties safe. For both short trips and longer stays, ensuring that a home is properly secured against intruders and other threats is a wise idea, and can make the process of traveling far more relaxing. Travelers should ensure that all of their normal home security features are working properly before embarking on a holiday trip. It’s also a good idea to put a few measures in place to give the home the appearance of being maintained or occupied. This can be achieved by asking neighbors or friends to use a home’s outdoor trash receptacles, or to park a vehicle out front. Of course, protecting vehicles themselves is also an important goal, and homeowners may wish to keep their cars locked in a garage or parked in a safe location around the home rather than in a long-term parking lot at an airport or other facility, which may be a target for theft and damage. By taking various steps to keep homes and other properties secure while away, travelers can enjoy holidays that aren’t marked by worrying about the potential for crime.
When holiday travel safety is given due consideration, and travelers put time and effort into their preparation, it’s easy to make the journey as enjoyable as the celebration itself. Whether traveling on the road, boarding an airplane –or a series of them–, or taking another form of transport, holiday travelers can make revelry a part of their travel plans so long as the right safety and security precautions are taken.

Let the Dog Bark!

So many dog owners spend much of their time and some of their money trying to get their dog to stop barking.   But what dog owners might not realize (and your neighbors as well) is that sometimes barking can be a good thing.  That is the case when someone is trying to invade your space.   For example, a break in.  Dogs bark to protect their home and their owners so if you hear a dog barking maniacally at 3 in the morning it probably means something is wrong.  Now this is not to say that all dogs barking all the time is okay.  Dogs should be trained to bark when something is wrong or unfamiliar.

Here’s what some of our Facebook fans had to say about their dogs and their barking

Daniel Russ said –

That’s what dogs are good for.  Mine is my “ears” when I’m asleep.  We live in the boonies.  Any human activity anywhere within a 1/2 mile of our house, after hours, is cause for alarm.  Here, a man’s house, shop and rolling stock is part of his castle.  I’d rather scare them off with my alarms.  But if they want to invade my home they will have made their intentions clear.

Ronday Rowan said –

A two hundred and twenty pound Great Dane barking will get your attention no one comes near my house.

Larry Anderrson said –

I have a security system on my home and a 5 pound Yorkie dog.  His bark will not scare away a harden thief, but it does give me ample warning so I can load and cock my 40 caliber glock!

Elias Arismendez –

My Doberman usually scares people away except the one time my wife locked him out back.  That day our house was broken in through the front door.  Our neighbors heard our dog barking but no one did anything.  Everything was gone.  Now in addition to leaving the dog INSIDE the house religiously, we have every door window and room wired.  We have dual technology PIR sensors throughout the property, 8 night vision security cameras, remote iPhone access, and home automation to both the security system and camera system.  I’m working on finishing the moat in the front with alligators but having trouble attaining a city permit. Ok so I embellished a little on the moat. But the rest is accurate and I’m still adding onto our system! I’m a techie and it’s become a bit of a pet project.  It’s fun!!!

All this dog barking business may prompt the question – Can a dog replace an alarm system?  Well, here’s what I have to say on the matter.  Mind you I have three dogs of my own, I still indeed have a security system in place.  Here’s why –

Whether you opt for a watch dog or guard dog it is certain that having a dog is a benefit to your home security, but what about when you are not home?  Who is a barking dog going to warn?  And if a thief is casing your house, he is sure to come up with a way to entice or hurt your dog.  That’s where a home alarm system comes in.  A home alarm system does not stop working when you leave the house, granted you arm it!

Second, an alarm system can go beyond door and window sensors, it can have contact pads under carpeting and is likely to have motion sensor lights outside the home.  In addition an alarm system can be instructed to call a monitoring agency, police, or a homeowner in the event the alarm is triggered.  As much as I love them, can you say the same for your dog?

Can You Trust Your Nanny?

In scores of households, keeping a constant eye on children and ensuring they have everything need on a daily basis can be a considerable challenge. From the demands of busy careers to long commutes around town and conflicting hours between work and school, parents may find that they’re simply not able to be home often enough to feel confident that their children are properly cared for. In some instances, parents may simply want a little extra help with child-based chores. For a number of reasons, hiring a nanny is a popular choice for modern families, and with a strong and satisfying relationship with a nanny, families may be able to enjoy a more relaxed pace at home backed by a great feeling of security. Inviting someone into the home, however, whether it’s for short stints on a daily basis or around the clock, naturally introduces a security risk. While most nannies would never harm a child or carry out crimes such as petty thefts from a home, the rare occasions in which such events that do occur make careful nanny screening a wise choice. By approaching the hiring and assessment of a nanny with great care, families can feel more confident about their choice, leading to a greater peace of mind.

Finding a reliable source for a nanny is the first step towards arranging a successful relationship. Ideally, families can turn to grown siblings, parents, or other family members who may have experience with certain nannies or companies. While it’s true that different family members may have differing opinions of the competence or quality of the same childcare professional, recommendations can signal that a given person or employer is reputable and capable of earning the trust and respect of others. Families may also be able to source nannies from professional organizations or agencies. Such businesses typically provide extensive in-house screening, and may even oversee the training of nannies for particular skills. Though agencies can be useful to families in sourcing a nanny, it’s important to keep in mind that no amount of third-party screening can replace the important steps of self-screening. A third option for finding a nanny is to browse resumes, either with a collection of people hoping to be hired such as a job site, or by placing a help wanted ad in a local newspaper or other publication. Though hand-selecting possible nannies may take more time and effort than other sourcing options, it can help ensure a closer match with desired skills and experience.

Performing a background check on nanny candidates is an extremely important part of finding the right person for the job. Screenings can be and often are performed by professional agencies in order to simplify the work involved, but even with the very best professional screening, it’s important that families look into the backgrounds of nannies on their own, as well. Any candidate that is not forthcoming about their past experience or various parts of their professional lives should be treated with suspicion; an open attitude and sense of confidence in discussing qualifications can indicate that a nanny has nothing to hide, and is genuinely interested in the job at hand. Calling references, getting in touch with past employers, and even checking the veracity of educational information, if possible, are all good measures to take to ensure that a candidate is honest and is truly qualified.

Perhaps the most important –and most powerful– part of the hiring process for a nanny is simply meeting with the candidate and spending time with them, both away from and in the presence of the child or children in need of a caregiver. Though this step is sometimes hastened or skipped altogether, it can provide valuable information to families –information that would otherwise not show up in screening processes. Observing how a potential nanny interacts with children and handles a variety of situations is the key, and can help families get a feel for both the caring and disciplinary instincts of the nanny. Families should feel comfortable making suggestions and seeing how these suggestions are carried out in an initial visit or care giving session. Spending time alone with a nanny is also important; as it can help families get to know the professional a little better and is likely to bring out any inconsistencies or points of concern that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Hiring a nanny and trusting children to their care may be a nerve-wracking experience for some parents, but those in search of quality professional care can make more confident hiring decisions with the help of reasonable screening and assessing tools. With careful attention to a nanny’s source, background, and performance in person, families can find a nanny ideal for their needs.

Mobile Apps Showdown at CES – SecuraFone

SecuraFone, a new mobile application debuting from SecuraTrac, harnesses the power of GPS technology to mitigate the potential for emergency situations, notifying you via text message when something could go wrong before it even happens. And, if you are driving, SecuraFone locks your phone to help you avoid driving distractions.

Leading up to CES 2012, SecuraFone is competing in the Mobile Apps Showdown, a fast-paced contest where consumers and industry experts are asked to weigh in on the apps they think have what it takes to make it in the marketplace. Test and vote for SecuraFone as the winning app today by visiting www.mobileappsshowdown.com. Voting closes today, Thursday, December 22, so vote now!

Know When Your Mail is Delivered and Prevent Mail Theft

The U.S. Postal Service handles 668 million pieces of mail every day.  The vast majority of it arrives intact and to the hands of its rightful owner.  However, mail theft still does exist.  In fact, mail theft remains the most common form of white-collar crime in America.

Mail theft is the act of one person taking, destroying, or otherwise tampering with another person’s mail for the purposes of obstruction or learning the secrets, business, and personal information of the other person.  One way to avoid mail theft is to simply retrieve your mail as soon as it is delivered, but how do you know when it’s delivered?

The answer is the STI Wireless Mail Alert.  The Alert (STI-34200) will immediately let you know when the mail has arrived, eliminating repeat trips out to an empty mailbox and any chance of someone swiping your mail before you get to it.

The STI Wireless Mail Alert beeps and flashes when your mail is delivered.  The mailbox sensor is triggered when a postal carrier opens the mailbox door.  The sensor sends a wireless radio signal to the indoor receiver (up to 1000 feet away) which will chime and flash letting you know the mail has arrived. If the supervised sensor is removed from the mailbox, stolen, loses signal or battery is low, the receiver will beep once a minute.

Mail Alert is designed to work with conventional mailboxes with doors that open downward.  A magnetic contact with an 18 inch lead is included for mail boxes that do not open downward.

Oh ya – and a word to would-be-thieves, mail theft is punishable under federal law by heavy fines and potential jail sentences of up to five years.