Safe At Home

By Tim Torres

June 20, 2008 5 min read


Guard your fortress with a few new security gadgets

By Tim Torres

Copley News Service

Your home is your castle. And with some common sense and a few new security gadgets thrown in, you'll soon have a castle keep.

Life would go a little smoother if you took time to review safety precautions around the house. Do you have a small throw rug near the stairs? That's gotta go. And when was the last time you tested your home's alarm system?

If you can't afford a complete security makeover, here are some new devices that can help you feel more at ease when you are away from the castle.


The $60 TeleSpy is an intruder notification systems built into a working telephone. It looks like a regular phone yet has a motion detector and microphone inside. If you set it and someone triggers it, it calls you at work to let you know - and hear - that you have an uninvited guest. "It's unobtrusive and affordable," says Shane Peterman with


Thinkgeek also offers a $8 Hidden Wall Safe that looks like a power outlet. This is handy, Peterman says, because most burglars spend less than six minutes inside a victim's home and only have time to check the most obvious places for valuables. It comes with an installation kit and you can change the faceplate to match your existing outlet plates.


Peterman says a very useful device is the $300 RFID Digital Door Lock. Once installed, you just tap your radio frequency ID card or key fob to the reader button to activate, authenticate and unlock your door. It also has a PIN pad, so even if you lose all eight entry keys, you'll never lock yourself out again. You can change your PIN or reprogram your RFID cards when needed. This lock comes with a built-in alarm and is pickproof as it has no keyholes and comes standard with a night deadbolt function that disables all external functions.


The basics of home safety include:

- Keep stairways, halls and exits free of clutter.

- Throw rugs should have non-slip backing.

- Use night lights in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways.

- Emergency phone numbers should be placed by the telephone.

- Store all poison and dangerous chemicals away from food items and out of reach of children.

- All chemicals should be clearly labeled.

According to the American Red Cross, before buying a carbon-monoxide detector, check to make sure it is listed with Underwriter's Laboratories, standard 2034; or there is information on the package or owner's manual that says that the detector/alarm meets the requirements of the IAS 6-96 standard.

The Red Cross strongly recommends that you visit your local fire department to learn how to use a fire extinguisher properly. Then, purchase an ABC-rated fire extinguisher and teach all responsible family members how to use it.HOME SECURITY

There are some common mistakes made in home security:

- Hide-a-key. Many homeowners hide a key somewhere on the property. Burglars know all about these commonly used hiding places. If you frequently lose your keys or lock yourself out of the house, consider getting a fingerprint or keypad door lock.

- Burglar alarms. A home security system is only useful when activated. Test your alarm on a regular basis. Don't forget to turn it on when you leave. A single thief can ransack your house in a matter of minutes.

- Unlocked sheds. If you have a storage shed, keep it locked at all times, otherwise you're offering thieves use of your tools to assist them in getting into your home. Also, make sure you don't leave a ladder in your yard. Someone could use it to gain access to second-story windows.

- Keys in the car. It's bad enough if you leave your car unlocked (you shouldn't, even in the garage), but never leave a set of house keys or your garage door opener visible in the car.

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