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How to safely travel in a Car

Before embarking on a road trip with a car full of kids, make sure everything about the vehicle is in top working condition, including the windshield wipers, A/C, heat, fluid levels, seatbelts and lights (exterior and interior).

Hopefully you’ll have a GPS; make sure that works, too; they’ve been known to malfunction. Have a backup mobile GPS app too.

While on the road you may hear a lot of “Are we there yet”s. Feel free to announce, “Next one who asks are we there yet will have to do 20 pushups.” Just kidding, but seriously, come up some way to discourage any nagging if it bugs you enough. Kids iPads loaded with family moves and a good headset are the best tool ever invented for parents. My Aunt used to have a yard stick on the dash. Us kids still have scars from it. I wish we had iPads!

  • If you’ll be driving in a foreign country, make sure you have everything you need in the car that the country requires.
  • Have emergency supplies: first aid kit, nutrition bars, flares, flashlight, pepper spray (check laws), blankets, water, motion sickness tablets, etc.
  • Don’t load the kids empty-handed; give them coloring books, crossword puzzles and other age-appropriate word games, 3D puzzles that will keep them occupied for extended periods trying to figure them out, etc.
  • Give older kids (8-10) a long word that you can make a ton of words out of, such as “Transportation.” Arm them with a pencil and paper on a clipboard and give them a command to “Go” once you’re on the road. Who will have formed the most words by the time you get to your first rest stop? Every word formed gets them a dime. This will pretty much guarantee stillness and quiet among the participants.
  • Do not tolerate resistance to seatbelts. “The car won’t start till everyone’s buckled up.”
  • Pack snacks such as raisins, bananas, apples and nuts.
  • Take a rest stop at least every hour to 90 minutes. Not only do the kids need to get out and move, but remaining cramped in a car for extended periods can lead to a blood clot in the adults’ legs!
  • Sing-alongs? I don’t know. Not my thing.
  • Avoid loud music; the driver needs to hear sirens and honking horns. Unless it’s Led Zeppelin.
  • Forbid screaming, yelling and hitting. Such can cause you to lose control of the car or miss an exit. Issue all the rules before you even get the vehicle out of the driveway.
  • And last but not least, everyone must relieve themselves prior to traveling whether they feel a need or not…before getting into the car.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Reasons a Space Heater Can Cause a Fire, & Safety Tips

Do you know the three reasons why a space heater can cause a fire, and what the No. 1 reason is?

6HAs a home security specialist, one of the areas of safety that I’m always screaming about during the cold weather is space heater safety, including making sure people know the reasons why such a little device could bring an entire house down in ashes.

The National Fire Protection Association names these three reasons that a space heater can start a fire: The unit is too close to a flammable agent like a mattress or bedding; the space heater is on but not attended; and dirty chimneys.

The NFPA offers these tips for electric space heater safety:

-Require a three-foot childfree zone around space heaters.

-Supervise children when a space heater is going.

-Put the “space” back in space heater: Give it ample personal space—three feet of it—from anything else.

-Make sure the unit has no broken or malfunctioning parts.

-The unit should always be on a flat, solid surface.

-Use only a unit with an automatic shut-off so that it shuts off if knocked over.

-Never use extension cords.

-Never leave a space heater on when absent or asleep.

Here are the NFPA’s tips for fuel burning space heaters:

-Use only the fuel that the manufacturer specifies, and the proper grade if the fuel is liquid.

-Refuel the unit only outside or in a well-ventilated area.

-Keep a window open when the unit is in operation.

-Newly manufactured gas space heaters have a mechanism that shuts it off if it detects low ambient oxygen. If your old unit doesn’t have this feature, replace it.

-Allow at least five minutes to lapse if your gas heater pilot light goes out, before relighting, and light your match before you turn the gas on to avoid a flashback.

-Never light the unit if you smell gas from it. Instead shut off all controls, open the doors and windows, then call a gas service tech.

Knowing the reasons why a space heater can start a fire is just the beginning of safety; you must also mind the rest of these tips.

Robert Siciliano home security expert to Schlage discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

10 Lifesaving Smoke Alarm Safety Tips

One minute or less…

6H…is all the time you may have to escape a fire in your home. Schlage, which is dedicated to keeping homes and families safe, sound and secure, and I ask: “Do you have a smoke alarm?” It can double your chances of escaping death. Home smoke detectors have cut fire fatalities in half since they came on the market in the early 1970s.

Nevertheless, fires kill about 3,000 people a year in the U.S. Forty percent of these deaths occur in homes that lack working smoke alarms (40 percent!)

  • If you don’t have a smoke alarm, get one or as many as you need—today.
  • Never deactivate them while cooking.

Did you know that most fire deaths are from smoke inhalation, rather than being burned to death, even though the dead body often becomes burned to a crisp (yes, TMI, but seriously)…? An escape route can be blocked by thick, dangerous smoke, not plumes of fire. A smoke detector can get you responding sooner and thus avoid fatal smoke inhalation.

  • Exit the building when the alarm sounds.
  • Then stay out. (Have a post-escape family meeting place pre-determined.)
  • From a neighbor’s house call 9-1-1.

Smoke alarms can also signal a flashing light for the hearing impaired. Alarms are also available that trigger a vibration under your sleeping pillow.

The Importance of Drills

Plan an escape route, then run fire drills. If possible, figure out two ways to exit every room, even if that means out a window. Make sure everyone in the household understands and can run through the escape route. The practice should include the post-exit meeting place outside.

  • Practice drills during less-than-desirable times: in the middle of the night, in very cold weather, etc., as well as under more ideal circumstances.
  • Tweak the plan as necessary. Who may be capable of actually sleeping through the alarm? This should be addressed. Make sure that an escape plan is in place for physically disabled occupants, babies and pets.
  • Purchas a folding ladder in case an escape through an upper window is necessary.

Maintenance

  • Every month (or at least every 6), clean dust from the alarms and push the test button.
  • Never paint the alarm.
  • Change the batteries every time you change your clocks.

10-Year Lifespan

An alarm that’s over 10 years old needs to be replaced. If you’re not sure how old they are, replace them.

Leave Quickly

Some door handles are fussy when you try and open them. Make sure your home is equipped with door handles that unlock then the door is opened from the inside, like the Schlage F51A. This lock allows homeowners to leave quickly and conveniently in an emergency.

Robert Siciliano home security expert to Schlage discussinghome security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

10 Christmas tree safety tips

My friends at Schlage want you to have a safe holiday season. Did you know that Christmas trees can kill? Not by falling on you, but by burning down your house. Between 2006 and 2010, about 230 home fires per year were responded to by U.S. fire departments, killing an average of four people each year and injuring many more.

6HThough not common, Christmas tree fires usually cause serious and costly damage. Eighteen percent of these fires were caused by a heat source too close to the tree. Improper disposal of the tree is also implicated as a cause. Here are tips to prevent this very preventable type of residential fire.

  1. Choose fresh over cheap and dry. The fresher the tree, the less likely it will pose a fire hazard. Look for flexible needles that don’t break, and a trunk with sap.
  2. Keep the water coming. The tree stand should contain a continuous source of water and be sturdy enough to resist toppling by kids or pets.
  3. Don’t choke the cord. Attach only three maximum strings of lights to any one extension cord, then place cords along walls to prevent a tripping hazard. Never run them under rugs or carpets.
  4. Trees don’t need warmth. Keep the tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, candles and even a TV.
  5. Not any lights will do. Use low energy, safe lighting that’s been certified by a safety testing lab. Don’t use damaged or frayed cords.
  6. Shut the lights.Never leave the lights on overnight. Same goes for any appliances not in use when you are home or away.
  7. Don’t keep a dry tree around. Dispose of it at this point properly. Don’t even keep it in the garage.
  8. Artificial tree safety awareness. Artificial trees should be flame resistant and have a seal for an approved safety testing laboratory if the tree contains a built-in lighting set.
  9. Death by artificial tree. If the tree is metal, never use electric lights, as they can charge the tree and lead to electrocution.
  10. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Make sure everyone knows its location and how to use it.

Robert Siciliano home security expert to Schlage discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

Fight or Flight: What Would You Do?

First, I’m a big believer in running away from a predator. If some whack job breaks into your home and wants to hurt you, RUN out the nearest door. But if you are backed into a corner or a loved one needs protecting, then you may have to fight.

Mom and Dad teach us not to hurt others. As children, we are taught kindness and manners. This is called civilized conditioning. Civilized conditioning is what allows us to inhabit a civilized society without having to worry every second about violence. .

But, as you know, violence is an everyday occurrence somewhere. The fact is, there are plenty of people out there who are uncivilized and capable of doing awful things to others.

Civilized conditioning is a double-edged sword. The good part is, it prevents us from being violent toward others for no reason. The bad part is, it prevents us from being physical with another person in the event we do need to protect ourselves. Civilized conditioning is known to contribute to making a person freeze up, stop breathing and panic when someone attacks.

What would you do if confronted by a bad guy? How would you respond? Freeze up? Run? Fight?

As a parent, if someone were to walk up to your child and put his hands on her, without hesitation you would respond with a vengeance—because the parental instinct to defend one’s child never goes away. So you do have it in you; your job is to access those instincts when it comes to saving your own life.

Tools to overcome civilized conditioning when necessary:

  • Realize that no one has a right to hurt or harm you at any time or for any reason.
  • Know that fighting back and offering resistance is the most effective way to remove yourself from a dangerous situation.
  • Ask “What if” questions like, “What if, as I rounded this corner, there was someone there to attack me?” to prepare your mind and body to respond in the event of danger.
  • Use visualization to see potential scenarios in your mind and act out in your head how you would respond.
  • Take as many self-defense classes as you can afford. Self-defense is a life-enhancing experience that gives you an enormous amount of perspective.
  • Develop an acute awareness of your environment (also known as situational awareness), no matter where you are or what you are doing. If something feels wrong, something IS wrong.
  • When attacked, always run to safety, such as to inside a store, someone’s home or any populated place. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
  • Incorporate technology like home alarm systems to give yourself an edge over predators.

Robert Siciliano, personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com, discussing burglar-proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

10 Tips for a Safe and Secure Spring Break

Spring has arrived, and students are gearing up to head to warmer climes and tear it up on spring break. Coming from a dad who a) tore it up a bit at that age himself and b) lives and breathes safety/security, I have a few tips—from low tech to high tech– to keep teens and twentysomethings from getting into trouble, becoming victimsorhaving their identity stolen, which—believe-me—will put a real damper on a vacation.

#1 Don’t be stupid. I know this is easier said than done. Anyone who plans a spring break trip which involves partying amongst thousands of other teens is actually planning on getting stupid. That’s not a successful plan. Make smart choices and be careful.

#2 Eat. You’re probably going to be consuming alcohol. Eat and eat often. Alcohol is poisonous; food absorbs the poison and can helpprevent you from getting sick or too intoxicated (in-toxic-ated).

#3 Moderation. Everything in moderation, including alcohol. Negative side effects of too much alcohol can mean bad hangovers or even death.

#4 Cover your drink. There are lots of idiots who think it’s fun and funny to drug people by slipping drugs into drinks. Get your own drink and cover it up with your hand or a napkin.

#5 Use the buddy system. Never leave a friend alone, especially if he or she is inebriated.

#6 Use a designated driver. Seriously. Or cab it.

#7 Watch out for aggressive people. It is a sad fact that too much alcohol makes men get aggressive and women sometimes become vulnerable. Beware of this and don’t become a Spring Break statistic.

#8 Protect your wallet. Cash, credit cards, IDs, etc. should go in your front pocket. Have a photocopy of everything accessible online.

#9 Locate/Lost/Wipe. Install software to locate or wipe a lost mobile device, and make sure it’s password protected.

#10 WiFi security. Whether on a mobile, tablet or laptop, you’re going to be connected to the internet at some point. And just like there are predators out there waiting for you to slip up so they can take advantage of you, there are criminal hackers looking to swipe your wireless data and access your accounts to steal your identity. Download Hotspot Shield VPN for your iOS, Android, PC and Mac to encrypt all your wireless internet traffic.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

Grilling Safety Tips for the Summer

The warm weather brings pretty flowers, green grass, and the aroma of barbeque. I consider myself a relative expert on the barbeque part as I smoke the equivalent of an entire cow and a few pigs each summer.  If you understand what a “smoke ring” is and hickory, cherry, apple and oak woods are your best friends then you know what I’m talking about.

Most people prefer the fall off the bone pork baby-back ribs but I’m a bigger fan of beef ribs and short ribs. And NO barbeque sauce, trust me on this.

http://www.homesecuritysource.com/WorkArea/edit.aspx Anyway grilling is a great way to bring the family and friends together but it can also results in burning down your house too. So the National Fire Protection Association wants you to pay attention to what you are doing and make sure you adhere to the following fire safety tips.

Grilling Safety Tips

Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.

The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Keep children and pets away from the grill area.

Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.

Never leave your grill unattended.

Charcoal grills

There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.

If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.

Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.

When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Propane grills

Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department or use the fire alarm call box. Do not move the grill.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing ADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures

A Sherriff Issues Holiday Crime Prevention Tips

A Florida County Sheriff via The Recorder issued the following tips to prevent holiday crime. I’m going to break them down and shorten them up to keep it concise.

“We are coming up on one of the most festive times of the year for families with the celebration of several holidays. However, joy and fun can quickly turn to disappointment and sorrow when someone becomes a victim of a scam, burglary or online fraudulent holiday shopping scheme.”
Scams: Holiday cyber-crimes including fraudulent auction sites.  

Protect: Do business with known sites. Look for high ratings and user approvals.

Scam: Resale of stolen or counterfeit gift cards

Protect: Only buy gift cards from well established retail environments and immediately check the card balance.

Scam: Reshipping merchandise purchased with stolen credit cards.

Protect: Generally reshipped stolen merchandise is much cheaper when sold online. If it’s too good to be true it’s hot!

Scam: Using an auction site or classified pages to advertise an item at a bargain price and the crook will charge your legitimate credit card for the order then use a separate stolen credit card to purchase the product and have it shipped.

Protect: Pay with PayPal so your credit card number and personal information is not shared with the seller.

Scam: Thieves break into cars in mall parking lots.

Protect: Lock your purchases in the trunk or out-of-site.

Scam: Purse snatchers are looking for easy money.

Protect: Carry purses with the strap going over one shoulder under your coat.

The holidays are a time to enjoy and get together with loved ones. An ounce of prevention can prevent holiday heartache.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist toHome Security Source discussing Home Security on NBC Boston. Disclosures.

Best Secret Hiding Places: Dead Space

Burglars know where you hide stuff. That key under the mat or in the flower pot or the jewelry in the dresser draw or the cash in the cookie jar. But there are better ways to do things. A heavy fire retardant safe bolted to the floor is best. And there are other options too.

We have dead space all over our homes. If you are handy, this dead space can become handy.

  1. Walls: There is a 16 inch center to center void in most of your homes walls made up of 2x4s and sheetrock. Newer homes built in the last 30-40 years have sheetrock opposed to horse hair plaster. Sheetrock is much easier to cut out and make a faux access panel.  This is a great hiding place for anything including long items like rifles and shotguns.
  2. Stairs: Underneath stairs there is often a big void as big as the tread itself. This isn’t always the case so consider drilling a hole before you go ripping up a tread.
  3. Staircases: Underneath many staircases is a closet of some kind meant to fill the big void the staircase creates. But there is always an additional void that gets boarded up because it’s too low to the ground to be effective space for a closet.
  4. Kitchen cabinets: In many homes the tops of kitchen cabinets are exposed giving plenty of space up top to lay things flat. In other cases the tops of the cabinets meet sheetrock that meets the ceiling. This can be a big void. Cut a hole in the top of a cabinet and put stuff up there, then seal the hole with a panel. The very bottom of cabinets have a similar void.
  5. Electrical outlets: Because your walls are hollow making a small hiding place out of a fake electrical outlet is easy. Hardware stores have all you need to cut a hole, put in a deep outlet box and put a non useable outlet or switch in.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist toHome Security Source discussingADT Pulse on Fox News Live. Disclosures

“Grim Sleeper” Gets Nabbed

In La La Land aka Los Angeles where everyone is a waiter or waitress and wants to be Tom Cruise  or Julia Roberts, they captured a serial killer dubbed “Grim Sleeper” named as such due to the fact there was a lull in his murderous killing spree.

The Los Angeles Police Department had been hunting the man who had stalked South Los Angeles since 1985, killing at least 10 women. Lonnie David Franklin Jr. was at one time was an employee for the LAPD. Detectives pulled DNA from the crime scenes and had the information for years.

Recently the LAPD arrested his son for an unrelated charge. From that arrest they pulled his DNA, (I don’t know why) and it was a partial match to the DNA found at the crime scenes in the 80’s. This is called “familial DNA”, like father/son, mother/daughter or twins. However the son was too young to commit the crimes back then so detectives searched out his social network and on a hunch determined his father would more than likely be the closest match to the sons DNA. Based on where dad lived in proximity to the murders, dad fit the killers profile.

Detectives followed him to a pizza joint and let him finish up then went in and grabbed a few hunks of crust and a drinking glass and did a DNA test on it and they found their match.

Real life “crime scene investigation” stuff. Law enforcement got their man. Nice to see the good guys win one.

The chance of you ever coming face to face with a serial killer is extremely slim. However, there is an extremely slim chance you’d ever get struck by lightning too. But I’ll bet you wouldn’t go climbing a metal flag pole in a lightning storm.

The key is to understand your options and know your strengths if you’re ever faced with an attacker. My favorite form of self defense is running away. Like Muhammad Ali would say “I’m too pretty”. Do you really want to get punched in the face? RUN!

Also take a self defense training program. The best self defense training technique is called “adrenal stress training”, learn as much about it as you can and find a course in your area.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing self defense on some cool station in Virginia. Disclosures.