7 Essential Road Safety Tips

SafeMart Road Trip Tips for July 4

A vast majority – 84 percent – of Americans will travel to July 4 celebrations by car this year, according to a new AAA survey. As parents pack sunscreen for the beach and hamburgers for the barbecues, drivers should also pay careful attention to the car itself before a road trip of any distance.

Car safety tips may be the last consideration on a red, white and blue to-do list, but with so many more drivers on the road this week, go over these tips before you head out the door for parades and fireworks:

  • Check your tire pressure. Only 17 percent of cars on the road have all four tires correctly inflated, according to AAA, and air is an easy, cheap fix at a gas station.
  • Top off your washer fluid before the dust accumulates on your windshield.
  • Take two pairs of sunglasses so you and your co-pilot can navigate if you’re driving in a sunny direction.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 100,000 accidents annually are caused by drowsy driving.
  • Look under cushions and mats for small objects that could make their way into toddler’s hands – or throats – during the road trip.
  • Ensure your kids’ car seats are properly placed by calling 866-SEAT-CHECK for free car seat inspections. Eight out of 10 car seats are not correctly installed, leaving your kids in preventable danger.
  • Pack a “just in case” kit with water, snacks and a mini fan in case of heavy, unexpected traffic or a car breakdown.

When you leave for July 4 festivities, don’t forget to lock your doors and turn on your home security system. If you’re going on a vacation, check out these safety tips.

How to Choose a Smoke Detector

According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly two-thirds of U.S. household fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms. If you live in one of the millions of homes without smoke alarms, learn how to avoid a preventable tragedy with the simple smoke detector.

Not all fire alarms are created equally, and fire prevention is not the area of home improvement to skimp on – cheaper usually means worse. While alarms can cost as little as $5 online, reduced prices lead to reduced security.

There are affordable, high-quality options for every price range, but it’s important to understand the different types of fire alarms before making a decision:

  • Heat detectors: Sensors inside the unit signal an alarm when the temperature reaches a fixed point or when a specific increase in temperature occurs. These are best for fire detection in small spaces with the potential for rapidly burning fires, but they are generally not as good as smoke detectors for residential use and should not be used as the primary method of fire detection.
  • Interconnected smoke alarms: These alarms are synchronized to all beep if one detects fire. Interconnected alarms are beneficial for larger homes if a resident could not hear an alarm in another area of the house – for example, a smoke alarm beeping in the basement when a family is sleeping two floors higher.
  • Monitored smoke alarms: Fire detecting devices are connected to a central monitoring station to call the fire department in case of smoke detection. These alarms are helpful if a fire starts when the house is empty or when residents are sleeping and are unable to quickly call emergency responders.

After making a decision about the best smoke alarms for your family, follow these tips for best practices:

  • Install smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall, far away from pets and small hands.
  • Place fire detectors on every level of the home, including the basement, and in hallways leading to bedrooms.
  • Replace alarm batteries twice a year and replace the alarm unit every 10 years.

Start the process now by determining what your unique home needs are with SafeMart’s Personal Safety Advisor.

5 Home Burglary Facts You Need to Know

Surprising Burglary Statistics

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During the last week of National Safety Month, SafeMart is sharing tips to maximize your family’s safety. After focusing on the dangers of the “silent killer” and kitchen fires, today’s post examines myths and facts about home burglaries.

 

Myth: Crime has gone down, so houses are safer than ever.

Fact: While the crime rate has decreased over the past few decades, many local areas have experienced an increase in burglaries. Now, houses have more to lose from robberies: The median value of stolen goods rose to $600 in 2011, from $389 in 1994.

 

Myth: Suburban areas have less crime because there are fewer hard criminals.

Fact: Most homes are burglarized by someone who lives within two miles of the house, and the majority of burglars are male teenagers.

 

Myth: Since my valuable jewelry is in a locked safe, there’s nothing big to steal.

Fact: The FBI reported that among all completed burglaries, those involving the theft of an electronic device or household appliance increased from 28 percent in 2001 to 34 percent in 2011. Robbers look for easily concealable objects like iPads, not huge paintings, to grab.

 

Myth: I work a 9-to-5 job, so I’m home at night to protect my home from burglars.

Fact: The majority of burglaries occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when kids and parents are out of the house and fewer people are in the neighborhood.

 

Myth: If a burglar came to my house, I could respond quickly enough on my own to stop him.

Fact: According to the Washington Post, most burglars take between eight and 12 minutes to rob a house. That likely isn’t enough time for anyone to notice and respond to the incident, unless the police are notified upon entry.

Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning With Early Detection

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning with these tips.

SafeMart continues honoring June’s National Home Safety Month with today’s focus on the “silent killer” – carbon monoxide. This odorless, colorless gas was responsible for 80,100 fire department calls in 2010, with the vast majority (94 percent) of incidents occurring at residential properties.

Alarms most frequently go off in the early evening hours, peaking around 8 p.m., when homeowners are returning from work and starting to cook and use generators. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are most similar to flu symptoms, without a temperature, and can include loss of balance, vision and memory problems and overall confusion.

Carbon monoxide is particularly dangerous for those who are asleep or intoxicated, as the fumes may be deadly before the problem is recognized. Exposure is also more unsafe for children, pregnant women and the elderly than it is for the general population.

Despite the danger of the silent killer, carbon monoxide sensors are affordable and easy to install with the following tips in mind:

  • More sensors are better: Even if your local fire code only requires one carbon monoxide detector, it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to carbon monoxide.
  • Place alarms on every level of your home and in the garage within 10 to 15 feet of sleeping areas.
  • Do not install alarms in direct sunlight or at low levels where pets could damage them.
  • Check the unit’s life expectancy and put a reminder on your calendar to purchase a new alarm before the battery dies. All carbon monoxide detectors have a limited service life, generally from five to six years. Detectors that sync with a monitoring service can alert the central monitoring station, as well as the homeowner, when they need to be replaced.
  • Install alarms away from bathrooms and other humid areas of the house.
  • Mount sensors higher than children’s reach, and instruct kids not to play with them.

During National Home Safety Month – and every month – make sure you’re protecting what’s priceless from the silent killer.

Complete Guide to Securing Your New Home from DoItYourself

SafeMart partnered with DoItYourself.com, one of the top home improvement and home repair websites, to give new homeowners tips on security during the moving process. June is one of the top three months for home buying, but the busyness of moving can often make even the most cautious homeowners forget about these basic tips:

The Yard

  • Inspect the house’s yard and the surrounding yards. Unkempt properties are a more likely target for intruders because they imply a lack of habitation or care.
  • Trees that are close to the home can provide access to a higher floor entry.
  • Overgrown bushes and landscaping give intruders more hiding places.
  • Certain locations are more susceptible to floods. Find past records of flooding in your area if the house is near large bodies of water.
  • Particularly dry areas of high temperature are more likely to spread and start fires.
  • Make sure that enough natural lighting reaches the yard. Look for sources of artificial light for nighttime around the house.

The House

  • Check the doors for sturdiness. Make sure they are made of solid wood or metal, and that they are not worn from age or use. Many intruders enter households by kicking in the front door.
  • In addition, make sure there are no windows near the door that intruders could break to unlock the door from the inside.
  • Inspect all possible points of entry for intruders. Make sure windows and doors all close and lock properly.
  • The house number should be clearly seen from a distance. Police and other officials may use this to find you and help more quickly in an emergency.

After you have decided your new home will keep you safe and comfortable, there are still some more measures to take to protect your home against intruders.

Practice Safe Habits

  • Keep the garage door closed so intruders cannot use it as a means of entry. Many intruders enter households through doors in the garage because they are less likely to be locked or reinforced.
  • Do not keep a key hidden around the house. Rather, keep your spare keys with a trusted neighbor.
  • If you have a tool shed, make sure it is also well secured. Otherwise, it may provide tools for intruders to use when breaking in.
  • Have phone calls from your home forwarded to your cell phone if you are not home, so others won’t know when you are gone.

Reinforce Doors and Windows

  • Rekey or replace the locks of your house. This will ensure that you are the only one with copies of your key.
  • Install anti-lift devices for the windows so intruders cannot use them to enter your home. You can use through-the-frame pins for vertical sliding windows, and wooden sticks or dowels for horizontal sliding windows.
  • The windows should open no more than 6 inches for ventilation.
  • Sliding glass doors should also have anti-lift devices to keep them from being lifted out of the track. You can use through-the-door pins or upper track screws.
  • For sliding doors, keep the latch and door rollers working properly.
  • If you do not already have them, install deadbolts and strike plates in all doors.

Install a Security System

  • A home without a security system is 3 times more likely to be broken into, and losses due to burglaries average $400 or more.
  • Surveillance cameras will help you keep an eye on all areas of your house.
  • Yard security such as a lawn perimeter alarm will also deter intruders before they even get close to your home.
  • Certain security systems allow you to control your house locks even when you are far away. This eliminates the need to keep spare keys, which can fall into the wrong hands.
  • Alarms will immediately and effectively alert you to an intruder, so you can keep your family and home safe.
  • Make all aspects of your home security system secure and effective. Intruders will be able to find the weakest spot of your system and use it.

Maintain Your House and Yard

  • If the house’s lighting isn’t sufficient, install lights and lamps around the house to eliminate any hiding places.
  • Keep the greenery trimmed and well-kept. Intruders use overgrown bushes and trees to stay out of sight.
  • If you have a gate, keep it in good condition. It won’t completely stop intruders but it will deter them, and they are very easily spotted when trying to climb over fences.
  • Do not leave personal property lying around in the yard. This signals to outsiders that the homeowner has items worth stealing and can convey carelessness.
  • Plant roses or thorny plants under windows and fences to make breaking in harder for intruders.
  • If you recently moved, what steps did you take to secure it? What helped make the process less overwhelming?

Prevent Kitchen Fires During June’s National Safety Month

SafeMart recognizes this June’s National Home Safety Month, a reminder of the importance of vigilance in homes of all sizes. This week, SafeMart will look at five different areas of home safety, starting with Monday’s focus on fire.

Prevent kitchen fires during June - and every month - with these cooking safety tips.

Prevent kitchen fires during June – and every month – with these cooking safety tips.

Each year, one in 320 homes experiences a fire, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and many more go unreported. These fires can range from the large-scale wildfires currently sweeping the West to tiny kitchen fires put out with a bit of flour, but all are cause for concern.

Large-scale wildfires will never threaten most homes east of Colorado, but all homes face the internal dangers of cooking hazards. The NFPA reports that 42 percent of fires start in the kitchen, and for every one reported incident, there are likely 50 others that go unreported.

Kitchen fires are highly preventable and easily put out with the right preparation. Follow common sense tips: don’t use metal in the microwave, roll up sleeves and tie back hair, keep towels, pot holders and paper products away from the stove. As summertime grilling heats up, don’t forget about outdoor kitchens and grills. The same tips apply outside, and remember to watch children around barbecues, just as in the kitchen.

Don’t simply dismantle a smoke alarm for good if it goes off when cooking; instead, make sure the kitchen is well-ventilated and you are attending to anything on the stove or in the oven. If something in the microwave causes significant smoke, unplug the unit and wait for the food to cool instead of opening the door immediately.

Cleanliness is key to avoiding kitchen fires. Wipe down grease, clean out toasters and microwaves, dump out crumb trays and sponge up spills every time you cook.

When the temperatures rise, keep your cool by avoiding kitchen fires and having a fun National Safety Month.

Celebrate National Small Business Week with Security System Reminders

SafeMart celebrated the 50th year of National Small Business Week, an event that honored the millions who manage and work in small businesses June 16-22. These companies comprise a crucial part of the American economy, but too many businesses face profit loss from property crimes that can be prevented with simple security measures.

Crime is a major hurdle for small businesses: Companies with less than $5 million in annual revenues may be up to 35 times more likely to become a crime victim than their larger counterparts, and as many as 30 percent of business fail as a result of crime, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Every business owner fears robbery, which cost businesses a combined $1.4 billion in 2007 – an average of $1,991 per burglary. Despite these troubling numbers, less than half of small businesses installed any preventive security measures, some due to perceived high cost and others due to time constraints.

Alarm systems can alleviate much of the stress on small business owners without significant financial or time investment. Many business owners are familiar with home alarm systems, a system that translates well to small business protection.

These fully customizable systems can protect against both internal and external dangers: A security system sounds an alarm and alerts the police in case of burglary, and specific employee codes allow managers to see who enters and exits a building 24/7.

While most business owners worry about burglary, an often-overlooked property crime can be even more expensive than robbery. Vandalism is the most common crime against businesses, and the average incident cost a business $3,370, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Devices such as security cameras and motion sensors help protect against both vandalism and burglaries, securing businesses day and night.

Small business owners can have greater peace of mind during their few off-hours, knowing their businesses are secure from vandalism, burglary or other nightmares with streaming video and real-time alerts accessible from anywhere in the world with just a smartphone or Internet connection.

SafeMart works with businesses of all sizes, from mom-and-pop shops to major universities. Learn more about how you can increase accountability, improve productivity and protect what’s priceless today by visiting SafeMart’s commercial solutions page.

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Home Insurance Rewards Homeowners with Security Systems

Home security systems protect prized possessions and homeowners’ wallets through insurance savings. Insurance companies offer a 10 to 20 percent annual discount on homeowners’ insurance policies, a significant reduction that could save dozens, or even hundreds, of dollars yearly.

SafeMart works with most insurance companies to make sure you receive this important savings. The companies include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Allstate
  • American Family Insurance
  • Geico
  • Liberty Mutual
  • MetLife
  • Progressive
  • State Farm Insurance
  • Travelers

These insurance companies recognize the value of protecting your home – the average burglary in 2012 cost a homeowner $1,675 – and so insurance companies reward protective measures. The more safety devices homeowners have in place, from carbon monoxide detectors to surveillance cameras, the less likely a home insurance company will need to assist after a break-in, fire or other damaging event.

When comparison-shopping for home insurance, list all relevant safety features, even if you doubt you can save money. The National Association of Realtors says insurance companies offer varying discounts for the following safety features:

  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Smoke detectors
  • Sprinkler system
  • Dead-bolt locks
  • Heat detectors
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Wiring system which is both up-to-date and adequate for multiple appliances, which prevents overloading of sockets (a fire hazard)
  • Backyard pool (if present) surrounded by fence with a securely locked and bolted gate
  • Heating system which is both updated and regularly inspected by a professional

Home insurance discounts can offset the initial installation cost and the monthly monitoring plan through annual savings. If you currently own a home security system, speak with your home insurance company to find out how you can lower your homeowner’s insurance before your next bill.

Home Security Cameras Catch Burglars

A burglary is every homeowner’s worst nightmare, but security cameras help the real-life terror have a happy ending.

Burglaries are expensive – the average incident costs the affected home $2,096, according to the FBI – and upsetting, so homeowners have recognized the value of a security system with cameras to both deter would-be burglars and catch robbers in the act or after the event.

Here is just a sampling of the smart homeowners who installed cameras and other security devices that did their job in the past few months:

  • Four people were arrested, with another on the loose, after a Colorado homeowner called the police when her security cameras showed the group attempting to steal a motorcycle. Full story here.
  • An English couple that moved to America this year experienced two break-ins, but then found justice when police caught the burglars. The couple viewed real-time video of the robbery on their cell phones, then told the police what color sweatshirts the teenage burglars wore so the police could catch the boys. Full story here.
  • A SafeMart employee saw the benefits of a home security system first-hand when he caught a burglar stealing from his garage. The employee saw the  man through his image sensor and alerted police, who found and arrested the burglar. Full story here.

These homeowners experienced the benefits of a security system up close. While a burglary can be traumatic, they — and SafeMart’s customers — know they can rest easy with the peace of mind that only comes from a high-quality security cameras.