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Smart Systems: The Evolution of Home Security

As a homeowner, finding the right security measures to keep you safe in your home can be challenging. However, residential security systems have come a long way. With smart technology and remote monitoring, homeowners have the added benefit of keeping an eye on their home, anytime of day, regardless of where they are. When compared with early efforts of home security such as door shakers, it is easy to say that residential security systems have improved immensely. Keep reading to learn about the evolution of home security, and how modern technology can give you peace of mind in your own home.

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Traditional Home Security

Door Shakers

The first surge in home security efforts happened after World War I due to an increase in crime. Though it may sound trivial now, homeowners during this time would hire a service called door shakers. As the name implies, door shakers were a group of night watchmen who would shake people’s doors each night to make sure they were locked.

The First Instance of Central Monitoring

This is also when we saw the first rise of central monitoring services. Homeowners would install electromagnetic contacts to their doors and windows which were connected to a battery and bell. If the alarm system was triggered, the central station of the homeowner’s security monitoring provider would send a security guard to their home.

Early Stages of Video Surveillance

Fast forward to the 1970s, video surveillance became a widely accepted form of home security. Though the first model of the security camera was created in the 1940s, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the camera system became popular for crime prevention. It’s worth mentioning that these early models of the security camera were not discreet. They were much bulkier than the often inconspicuous versions we see today.

The security system included a large motorized camera that moved down a track to view the perimeter of the home. These cameras were often paired with an intercom through which the homeowner could communicate with visitors outside their home and an alarm to alert emergency services.

Hardwired Security Systems

In the 1980s, security became less expensive and therefore a large part of home technology. At this time, security measures were hardwired which comes with a few downsides. They were expensive to install and difficult to adjust. They also required a connection to a physical phone line which made them more vulnerable to being damaged by criminals. If the wires would cut on these security systems, a monitoring service would not receive any notification of criminal activity at any given residence. During this time, automated garage doors and fiber optic video surveillance became mainstream and soon became more affordable in the 1990s.

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Cellular Monitoring

By the 2000s, hardwired systems became less common, as more systems primarily relied on cellular monitoring that uses internet monitoring as a backup. This decade also saw the rise of services that enabled users to access their homes via a web browser. Security also relied less on professional installation, allowing homeowners to install their own security measures of their choosing. They could buy various home security components and install the wireless sensors themselves.

Modern Home Security

Today’s home security measures far exceed past efforts. With smart technology and remote access, homeowners can ensure their home is safe no matter where they are.

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Electronic and Biometric Locks

Modern locks like electronic locks and biometrics can further prevent unwanted visitors from gaining entry to one’s home. With electronic locking systems, homeowners can change the code periodically and even use a time-restricted code to allow entry to their home for a brief window of time. This is more secure than a traditional lock because a physical key can easily be lost or stolen. Plus, as more copies of the keys are made, this risk increases. 

Remote Monitoring

In addition to improved monitoring systems that allow for security companies to monitor security wirelessly, things like smart doorbell cameras give homeowners more personal control over their homes. The footage from smart doorbell cameras can be monitored from a homeowner’s phone or laptop – whether they’re running errands, out of town, or at home and want to confirm a visitor before opening their front door. They also typically include audio surveillance in addition to video components.

Smart Technology

Long gone are the days of questioning whether you locked up the house or closed the garage door. Technology like smart lightbulbs and keyless entry smart locks allow homeowners to adjust their home’s security even when they’re away. Though smart lightbulbs merely sound like a way to cut back on energy consumption and save money, they can also deter potential burglars. Most burglaries occur during the day while homeowners are at work. By taking advantage of smart lightbulbs, homeowners can make it appear as though they are home at any time from any location.

Stay Safe with Pop-A-Lock

Installing smart technology in your home is a great way to stay safe and your local Pop-A-Lock can help! We can rekey your locks without replacing the original hardware, or install new electronic locks to keep your home secure. Regardless of your home security needs, your safety is our number one priority.

 

Purchasing Your First Safe: A Guide For Homeowners

Purchasing a safe is one of the simplest things you can do to keep valuable items secure. However, if you’ve never purchased a safe you could end up buying something that doesn’t truly suit your needs. With these helpful tips, you’ll be able to regain  peace of mind knowing that your most prized possessions are secure.

Tips on Where and How to Store Your Safe

Before purchasing a safe, take into consideration everything you need to store in it. Determining the size of the safe you need will play a big role in where you store it.

You want to keep your safe hidden, but not if it means sacrificing light. Though hiding a safe in the depths of a dark closet may sound like a good idea, there still needs to be enough light to be able to open the safe and see inside. Certain locks, like combination locks, have very small numbers which are hard to see in the dark. As much as you don’t want a burglar accessing your safe, you still need to be able to get into it yourself.

Consider the flooring where you plan to store the safe. If you’re going to bolt your safe to the ground, concrete is much more reliable than wood. 

Some great places to consider storing your safe are in a guest bedroom closet or in an enclosed space underneath a stairway.

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Fire Ratings and Burglar Ratings

A fire safety rating determines how long the contents inside a safe will remain unaffected. An example would be a fire rating of 350-1 hour. This means that the inside of the safe will remain at or below 350°F for 1 hour. The reason fireproof safes are designed to maintain an internal temperature below 350°F is because paper will begin to burn around 387°F. Class A safes are able to keep internal temperatures at 350°F for up to 4 hours, providing superior protection.

Burglar-resistant safes are designed to prevent and slow down a burglar from breaking into a safe. Factors like wall thickness and door thickness can impact the level of security they offer. Similar to fire ratings, burglar ratings use time to determine their security. A TL-30 safe (also referred to as an F-rated safe) is resistant to common hand tools for 30 minutes. This may not sound like much, but 30 minutes refers to the time tools are actively touching the safe. This type of safe is so secure that jewelry stores are required to utilize them.

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Different Types of Residential Safes

Fire-resistant safes are used to store important documents, like birth certificates or a will. They may protect your paperwork from a house fire, but typically only for an hour or less. These safes are typically the most lightweight, but provide the least security against burglars. 

Burglar (fire) safes have three main types – standalone, wall safe, and floor safe. These safes are much heavier than the simple fire-resistant safe which makes them much more difficult to break into or steal. Most of them are fireproof, but not all.

Standalone safes are very heavy and can either be bolted into the ground or free standing. They can be fitted with different kinds of locks such as a combination lock, electronic lock, or traditional key lock.

Floor safes are designed to be embedded into the floor. For this reason, they can be the best option in terms of burglar-proof safes. The easiest way for a burglar to break into a safe is by removing it from the home and opening it elsewhere. By bolting a safe into the floor and locking it shut, the odds of a burglar breaking into it are much lower.

Wall safes are connected to the studs in the wall and are often located inside closets. They are discreet and convenient but are not necessarily the most secure. Wall safes are predictable and easy for a burglar to find. They can also be easily removed by cutting a whole in the drywall. 

Jewelry safes are also designed to be burglar proof, but are unique in their interior. These safes come with drawers, hooks, and often intricate designs on the inside. 

Similar to jewelry safes, gun safes have specialty interiors designed to keep firearms secure. They come in various sizes depending on how many firearms you need to store. They also come in various fire ratings. If you only need a gun safe to keep the firearms away from children, fire ratings may not matter. However, if you have an expensive or large collection, it’s best to opt for something fireproof.

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Which Type of Safe is Best for You?

The best kind of safe for your personal needs depends on the type of valuables you will need to store. If you only want to store important documents, a fire rating will have more importance than a burglar rating. If theft is your main concern, you’ll want to choose a TL-30 or F rated safe.

Regardless of which safe you choose, your local Pop-A-Lock is here for all your security needs. We offer expert security solutions so you’ll never have to guess whether your home and your valuables are safe.

High Rise Security

Apartment and Condo Safety

Home safety isn’t just for those who live in single-family units. With the number of people living in apartment and condominiums on the rise, it is important to think about the unique safety precautions that should be taken.

High-rise residential communities can be challenging to keep safe given their size and vertical nature. While it can be hard to get to know your neighbours in an environment like this, developing a sense of building loyalty and community will go a long way when it comes to keeping yourself and other occupants safe.

While high-rise residential security is a shared responsibility, here are some things to consider:

  • Make the effort to get to know the people in your building.
  • Use the building’s facilities (i.e. the laundry room or gym) during active times when other people are present. You can also consider using a buddy system.
  • Only open access-controlled areas such as the lobby or garage for people that you know.
  • Report suspicious strangers to the property manager or superintendent.
  • Make sure open or unlatched doors are secure. If you see a door propped open, close it.
  • When waiting for the elevator, stand off to the side of the door and be sure to look inside before you get in. If you are not comfortable with the occupants, don’t go in.
  • When inside the elevator stand near the control panel. If you are in danger, push all the floor buttons and the emergency button. Do not push the stop button as you may become trapped between floors.
  • Ensure the locks on your unit are secure and have been recently changed. Do not take the chance that the last occupant doesn’t have a key or didn’t give a key out.
  • Keep doors and windows locked. This not seem as important given the vertical nature of some of these buildings, but a high volume of people travel through apartment and condo complexes every day. An unlocked door or window provides opportunity for someone with bad intentions.
  • Utilize a safe to keep important items and documents.

 

To learn more about keeping your unit safe, contact Pop-A-Lock today and speak with a trusted locksmith professional. Search on Pop-A-Lock.ca by city name or postal code.

Home Monitoring

An overview of Canada’s top home monitoring systems

 

As Canadian citizens, it’s fair to say that for the majority, we live in safe environments, but crime does happen in the great white north.  In fact, Statistics Canada reports more than 1.5 million incidents of property crimes, and more than 150,000 cases of breaking and entering a year!

Thankfully there are a multitude of home security options available to us that give us state-of-the-art security features and require very little in terms of set up and maintenance.

 

Frontpoint:  This top-of-the-line home security system is perfect for Canadians who are looking for peace of mind and security and are okay with installing the system themselves. With set up in under 15 minutes, no wiring or drilling, and no manual programming required, this is one of the favourites.  Front point offers a 30-day risk free trial, and has excellent customer service, but does require a long-term contract and some of more desired features are only available with the higher pricing options.

Vivint: This product is perfect for those who want the most high-tech and smart capable home security system. Vivint is 100 per cent wireless and doesn’t inter the aesthetics of your home, comes with a lifetime warranty, and the extra home automation features can’t be beat. However, Vivint doesn’t offer a ‘no money back guarantee’, it requires professional installation, requires a long-term contract and is at a higher price point.

ADT: This is the home security system for people who want the safety of the biggest security company around, and who aren’t looking to spend an arm and a leg to get it.  With a six-month money back guarantee, and affordable pricing, ADT is the go-to for many families looking to add a little extra security to their homes.  The trade-off for these benefits is that contracts tend to be on the long side, self-installation isn’t an option, and customer support can be lacking.

Bell Smart Home: Perfect for Bell’s existing TV, Internet and Phone base, Bell Smart Home allows its current customers to bundle one more service.  By bundling, customers save some money making it an affordable option, and its self-monitoring high-tech equipment gives homeowners the option to use devises like the Nest thermostat and cameras, as well as other home management devises.  As this is a newer service, some of the kinks are still being worked out, and customer service can be frustrating to deal with.

Honeywell’s Smart Home Security Kit:  This easy to install DIY security system uses an app to send alerts to your phone.  Its high-tech equipment and facial recognition software are well liked, but the cost of the system can be a little pricey. Honeywell also only offers self-monitoring, so homeowners who are looking for the added assurance of a third-party security service might want to look elsewhere.

If you want to know more about home security systems, the knowledgeable staff at Pop-A-Lock will work with you to understand your exact security needs.

To find a locksmith that you can rely on, choose Pop-A-Lock. For a business near you, search on Pop-A-Lock.ca by city name or postal code.

 

Home Security Checklist

Quick tips to keep your home secure

Our home is more than just the place where our families, our pets, and our belongings live, it’s our shelter in the storm, the place where we can relax and unwind. We all want to feel safe in our homes, and while we can’t control some things, there are some easy ways that we can make sure that our home is secure. These basic security measures can not only help give us peace of mind, but they can help keep us safe.

  • Use deadbolts: A sturdy deadbolt on all your exterior doors will help keep your home secure. If your doors have a window, also consider installing a floor lock as an extra precaution.
  • Motion-activated floodlights: Installing motion-sensor floodlights around your home will help shine a light on anyone who might be entering your property after dark. Make sure the bulbs are changed regularly for optimal use.
  • Sliding doors: If you have a sliding door, make sure there is a solid bar or dowel in the tacking system. This will help prevent break-ins by preventing a trespasser from easily opening the door. This bar should measure almost the exact length of the track so there is enough room to remove it from the inside, but not so much room that someone could open the door enough to gain access to the inside.
  • Spare combination: Gone are the days of being able to hide a spare key under a stone by the door or on top of the doorframe – thieves know where to find your key! Instead, give your key to someone you trust, or install a small combination safe somewhere on the property.
  • Visible house number: Your house number should be easily seen in the event that you need to make an emergency call. Consider using reflective numbers or installing a light above the area. It’s important that your home can be identified even if it is dark out.

The knowledgeable staff at Pop-A-Lock can advise you on all things relating to home security. To find a locksmith that you can rely on, choose Pop-A-Lock. For a business near you, search on Pop-A-Lock.ca by city name or postal code.

Protect your home when you vacation

Don’t let home safety worries ruin your vacation

Most of us have a friend or family member who has a horror story about coming home from a vacation to find that there has been a security breach. Not only are these stories cringe-worthy from a financial perspective, but they leave us feeling worried about own safety.

Whether you’re preparing for a quick weekend getaway or an extended trip, here are some things to consider before you lock-up-shop

  • Keep your neighbours informed. If they know that you will be away, they will be on high alert if they see activity at your home or note anything suspicious. If you have a good relationship with them you can even ask if they would be okay collecting your mail if you are taking an extended trip.
  • Add light timers for your external lights. Consider a time or two for your internal lights as well to help give the illusion that someone is home when they are not. Make sure that your timer works on random intervals. It will defeat the purpose if your lights turn on and off at exactly the same time every night.
  • For an extended trip have a neighbour, friend or family member shovel the snow or mow the lawn in your absence. Nothing tips off someone looking to burglar a home more than visible evidence that there hasn’t been anyone there.
  • Make sure that all of your locks – on both doors and windows- are in good shape and work properly. If you need to replace your locks, call Pop-A-Lock and connect with a locksmith professional. Ensuring that your locks are solid and secure can help to deter someone looking for an easy break-and-enter.
  • If you are going away on vacation make sure to put a hold on your newspapers. A collection of mail is a great signal that the home is unoccupied.
  • Do not advertise travel plans on social media platforms.
  • Do not leave a spare key out
  • Ensure the garage door is locked
  • Don’t have your home address programmed into your GPS. If you are leaving your car at the airport and it gets stolen, having “home” set up in your navigation system will simply lead the thief back to your home.

To keep your home safe and secure, contact a Pop-A-Lock near you by searching on Pop-A-Lock.ca by city name or postal code.

 

 

 

 

Property Managers: Rekeying for safety

As any property manager knows, keeping those who are living in your apartment or condominium units safe, is of the utmost importance.

With tenants and condo owners moving in and out of units, it’s important to make sure that the space I ready for the next occupant as quickly as possible.  Part of ensuring that the unit is ready for the change of hands, involves ensuring that the locks have been rekeyed.

Regardless of the size of location of the building, making sure the locks are “new” provides safety and peace of mind for the next tenant and ensures that there are no remaining keys that could allow access to the unit. In some cases, property managers will leave the locks as they are, indicating that the tenant can have the locks changed at their discretion, however this can create issues if the property manager ever needed to enter the unit in an emergency and was left without a way to get into the unit.

Instead of property managers attempting to rekey their units alone, which can be a frustrating and time consuming process, consider working with Pop-A-Lock’s team of professionals.  Pop-A-Lock offers site visits and free estimates for properties looking to have their security measures enhanced by rekeying their locks. The company’s team approach saves time and money and property managers can rest assured that Pop-A-Locks qualified and trained locksmiths will get the job quickly and to a high standard of care.

Maintaining a high level of security within your building can be easily managed by utilizing a team of experts who understand the important of tenant safety.

To learn more about keeping your property safe, contact Pop-A-Lock today and speak with a trusted locksmith professional. Search on Pop-A-Lock.ca by city name or postal code.

For Property Owners – Covid19

Condominium owners, Directors and Property Managers: Protecting property, tenants and contents

Maintenance and repair services necessary to manage the safety and security of properties and buildings has been deemed an essential service and is still available during COVID-19. We’re taking many precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of our clients and employees, including educating our staff on Public Health recommendations, implementing a “no touch” policy and closely monitoring the health of our employees.

Keeping those who are managing and/or living in your condominium units safe, is of the utmost importance.

According to the National Post, “a new pattern of neighbourhood crime is emerging right now and it looks something like this: fewer traffic violations, less drunk driving, fewer frauds but way more domestic violence, commercial break-ins and stunt driving.  Self-isolation suddenly and fundamentally changed our lifestyles; how we move, where we go, how we play and who we spend time with.

With many buildings sitting empty right now, commercial break-ins are up 45 per cent in March and vehicle thefts increased 44 per cent.”

Regardless of the size of location of the building, making sure the locks provide safety and peace of mind for tenants in all areas of the building; front and side entrances, parking garages and storage spaces.

Our teams have been dispatched to provide and install the following options:

Door Interlockers – A protective force for all aluminum and wood doors.  The door guard extends the length of the door and creates a seal between the frame and door.  It will protect vulnerable areas like electric strikes on access doors, deadbolts and lock cylinders.

Lost keys/damaged locks – Replacing lost keys, designing new master key systems and providing high security keys (pick resistant and non-duplicatable) as options to secure premises.

Door Hardware – routine repairs of door frames, exit hardware and door closers in the event of an emergency in the building.

Maintaining a high level of security within your building can be easily managed by utilizing a team of experts who understand the important of tenant safety.

To learn more about keeping your property safe, contact Pop-A-Lock today and speak with a trusted locksmith professional. Search on Pop-A-Lock.ca by city name or postal code.

Understanding Door Hardware

Selecting your hardware

Doors seem like a pretty simple piece of our security systems, but the elements to consider when selecting a door and door hardware can be daunting for some.

When considering door hardware, there are four main steps – hanging the door, securing the door, controlling the door and lastly, protecting the door.

Hanging the door

In most cases, hinges will be used to hang a door, and the most common types of hinges are the 3-knuckle and 5-knuckle.  You can select a continuous hinge which will run the length of the door (often used for external doors), or you can opt for a pivot hinge if the door is heavy. The pivot hinge is often used in aesthetic cases.

Securing the door

Once you have your door hung, it’s time to make sure it is secure! There are a multitude of locking options for you, the most common being mechanical locks (which include tubular, cylindrical, mortise, interconnected and deadbolts), and Electronic hardware (which include Standalone locks/ readers, Networked locks, and readers).

Controlling the door

Controlling (closing) a door can be done through give basic times of door closers. These consist of surface-mounted closers, floor closers, concealed closers, high-security closers and electronic closers. Not only does a closer close the door once it has been opened, but it also controls the speed at which the door closes, protecting it from slamming. Closers can be found in both manual and electronic versions. When selecting your ideal closer, be sure to think about the criteria you may need to consider such as performance in fire situations, resistance to opening forces, the control given over the rate of closing, safety, durability and whether there is a high risk of vandalism.

Protecting the door

When giving extra protection to your door there are many products that can assist in preventing wear and tear. Consider protective plates, push plates and pulls, edge guards, stops, gasketing and thresholds.

For all you’re your security and protection needs, call Pop-A-Lock. Their trusted locksmith professionals can assess your needs and provide guidance. To find a locksmith that you can rely on, choose Pop-A-Lock. For a business near you, search on Pop-A-Lock.ca by city name or postal code.