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

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

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, please visit us at: www.popalockofjacksonville.com and follow us on Facebook (@JacksonvilleLocksmith) and Twitter (@popalockjax).

“Holiday decorations pose safety risk for aircraft pilots”

Monday, December 14th, 2015

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 Holiday

Friday, December 4th, 2015

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

Friday, November 20th, 2015

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.

burglar-home-safety

  • 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

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

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

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

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

Prevent Leaving Your Child in Car Emergency

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

It can happen to anyone. A child dies in a vehicle after being locked inside. This tragedy typically occurs when a parent or caregiver makes a change in their routine. The parent that normally drives the child to their activities has a schedule change, causing the other parent to take over the chauffeur responsibility. When someone is not accustomed to handling this responsibility, a lapse in memory can occur. Depending on the weather conditions, a child locked in a vehicle may experience hypothermia or heat stroke.

 

Here are some tips to help prevent the tragedy of locking a child inside of a vehicle.

Make the back seat a must check

Place your purse, briefcase, or any other important item that you must and always grab when leaving the car in the backseat.

Visual Reminder

Place your child’s diaper bag or favorite toy in the front passenger seat with you. This will visually remind you that the child is in the car.

The Care Giver Check In

If you don’t arrive to the caregiver by a certain time, have them call you to find out where you are.

If someone other than yourself is bringing the child to your caregiver, call them at a designated time to ensure delivery.

Be Ready to Help

What if you see a child locked in a car? Don’t just assume it isn’t your problem. If the parent isn’t nearby, send someone to find them while you stay with the child. Don’t wait too long. Call 911 and Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville, which has a free community service of getting kids out of locked cars. Make sure you save our phone number into your phone now: 904-354-8566.

Avoid Burglary: Reinforce Your Doors

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Sometimes, TV talk shows have a panel of guests made up of reformed burglars and thieves who are tasked with informing viewers about how they can prevent burglaries. Guests talk about their crooked pasts and how they entered the homes they burglarized.

Most say they entered through an open window or unlocked door. Some may claim they picked locks. However, picking a lock is not as easy as reformed burglars may make it seem. Instead, the majority of homes are entered by force. Burglars will break, pry, jimmy, kick, or cut open doors and windows to gain access to a home.

Since the majority of illegal entries are by force rather than finesse, homeowners should examine the construction of doors, windows, and their frames of their homes. A sturdy, solid door jamb or window frame can help prevent a forced break-in.

Choose Sturdy Materials

Solid wooden doors without decorative panels or steel and steel-clad doors offer the best protection against forced break-ins. Likewise, door frames constructed of steel or solid wood should be installed securely to the walls or wall studs. Lastly, the door and door frame should fit together snugly. If a homeowner is able to insert a screwdriver between a door and its frame and wiggle the screwdriver more than a quarter-inch, the door needs to be reinforced.

If reinforcing a door’s frame is impractical, use a latch guard to reinforce the area around the latch of the lock. The latch guard will make it nearly impossible for a thief to spread the door and frame apart enough to “pop the lock“.

Additionally, a door’s hinges should be protected to make it difficult to pry the door open from its hinges. Homeowners can use hinge guards or hinges that do not have a removable pin to protect the hinged sides of their doors. Hinges should be on the interior of the building and not on the exterior where thieves can access them.

Don’t Forget the Windows

Windows are more vulnerable to attack than doors. Secure all windows with security screens or decorative grills, especially if the windows are not visible from the street or are not well-lit.

Once you have determined that your doors, windows, and their frames are as secure as possible, choose the best locks you can afford for your doors. Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville can install the lock that best fits your needs and help you upgrade the security of your doors and windows. To get started, give us a call at 904-354-8566.

Duplicate Your High Security Keys is a Good Idea

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Many Jacksonville home and vehicle owners can remember a time when a key for a mortise lock could be duplicated for under a quarter. With the high-security keys used in many home and vehicle locks today, that price seems to be long gone. Duplicating high-security keys can cost tens to hundreds of dollars. While high-security keys may look like ordinary keys, the technology within them makes them difficult to duplicate and requires advanced locksmithing tools and expertise.

Why Do Duplicate High-Security Keys Cost So Much?

High-security keys are designed to be difficult to copy without the proper equipment. That is why it costs so much to duplicate the key. Take, for example, automobile keys equipped with VATS (Vehicle Anti-Theft System), a system developed in the 1980s to stem the theft of Chevrolet Corvettes.

VATS-equipped keys have pellets in their blades that have a particular electric resistance value. If an improper key is inserted into a car’s ignition and the onboard computer reads the wrong code in the key, the computer shuts the ignition system down for four minutes.

On the locksmith’s end, the expense incurred for generating a key for one of these vehicles is partially due to the cost of the pellet equipped blanks, the electronic equipment needed for the key to communicate with the on-board computer.

The difficulty of originating a key comes not from obtaining the correct pellet blank, but from the interrogation of the computer. Even with the proper blank and equipment, a locksmith can spend two hours trying to determine the proper resistance of the key. Even when a locksmith has the right “decoder,” every time he “asks the wrong question,” the computer shuts the system down.

Why Making Duplicate Keys Is Worth the Money

Despite the frustrations inherent in duplicating keys, they offer good, difficult-to-compromise security for Jacksonville, FL home and vehicle owners. That’s why the extra costs associated with duplicating the keys are justifiable. For example, insurers often offer discounts for vehicles that are VATS-equipped, since the systems decrease the chance vehicles will be stolen.

It is also wise to keep a properly coded and cut duplicate VATS key as an alternative to having a locksmith make new keys from scratch, which can cost upwards of three hundred dollars.

Though security can be expensive, having a backup system, including duplicate high-security keys, is a money saver. Let us know how we can help you by contacting Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville at 904-354-8566.

Pedestrian Safety for Your Kids

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Pedestrian Safety

Teach kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street..

Whether your kids are walking to school, the park or a friend’s house, here are a few simple tips to make sure they get there safely.

Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19. Teenagers are now at greatest risk. Teens have a death rate twice that of younger children and account for half of all child pedestrian deaths.

  • Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Then remind them to continue looking until safely across.
  • Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street. It is particularly important to reinforce this message with teenagers.
  • It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  • Children under 10 need to cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until age 10.
  • Be a good role model. Set a good example by putting your phone, headphones and devices down when walking around cars.