How To: Increase Home & Business Safety with Smart Devices

We hear the buzzwords all the time.  Internet of Things.  Connected devices.  Smart TVs and thermostats.

There’s no denying smart technology is on the rise.  The worldwide smart home market is forecasted to be $53.5 billion by 2022.  The current estimated connected home technologies sales in the U.S. is at $1,485,000.

Smart technology can provide both home and business owners alike in Tampa with peace of mind, convenience and efficiency.  However, we know it can be overwhelming to pick the right device for your home from such a crowded market.  And once you do pick the device, you have to learn how to use it most effectively.

Below, our trained Pop-A-Lock Tampa technicians give some suggested smart devices to improve your home’s or business’s security, and how they work.

Smart Devices For Increased Security

There are a variety of smart devices that can automate processes and help to increase your home or business’s security.  Some devices to consider include:

Smart Locks

Installing smart locks can be a great first step in home or business automation, and can help increase the security of both as well.  For starters, a lot of smart locks will give you remote access, allowing you to check from afar if your door is locked.  Never again will you have that “Oh no, did I lock the door?” feeling 20 minutes down the road.

Smartphone with home security app in a hand with a home in the background

Additionally smart locks can help you control who has access to your home or business in a more secure manner.  With traditional keys, if you want someone to have access without your help, you have to make a copy of the key.  But then, eventually, there are too many copies floating around and your security has actually decreased.  With many smart locks, you can give someone a code to unlock the door.  This code can then be changed every so often, to make sure only the correct people have access.

Some smart locks even go a step further, and allow you to give out time-limited codes.  For example, you can give someone a code that lasts 15 minutes, or 24 hours.  Then that code expires.  This ensure people only have access for as long as you want them to.

Automated Light Bulbs

Setting light bulbs to automatically come on at certain times of day can also deter any potential thieves.  You could set your lights on a traditional timer, so they turn on and off at specific times each day.  Or, if you’d like to go to the next level, there are smart light bulbs that can be controlled remotely.  These allow you to monitor which lights are on in your house or business, and turn any of them on or off from wherever you are.  Even if you’re not there, if lights are on inside it will look like you are, which will deter those robbers!

Motion-Activated Outdoor Lights

The same idea from above applies to outdoor lighting.  If a thief is sneaking around your yard or the parking lot of your business, and they trigger a light, they’ll likely be scared off.  The threat of being seen by neighbors, passersby, or someone inside the house or building is increased when alight shines.  No crook wants that!

Home brightly lit with Motion Activated Outdoor Lights

Smart Doorbells

There are some pretty high-tech doorbells available today.  Many of them have video cameras built in, which is a great way to remotely keep an eye on your house.  If you’re away, you can check in every once in a while for peace of mind that all is still well.  If you are home or in the office at odd hours, and you hear an unexpected noise outside or knock on the door, you can safely check who it is before actually answering the door.

Many of these doorbells can also send alerts to your phone if motion is detected.  If someone is roaming around outside your home or business, you’ll get a real-time notification on your phone.  Then you can open up the app, check the camera footage and make sure everything is safe.  If something is wrong, you can call emergency services faster than if you don’t know something is wrong until you get home later.

Smart Garage Doors

Garage doors with the right technology can also provide increased security for your home or business.  Some smart garages will also alert you of motion detected.  Again, even if you are not home or inside the  business, you can check on the app what the motion was.  If it is someone or something suspicious, you can alert the police sooner.

Security Systems With Connected Cameras

Security systems with connected cameras let you keep an eye on your home or business while you’re away.  These smart cameras allow you to check areas like your living room, backyard, office space – anywhere you set one up.  And, they allow you to do this any time, anywhere.

Some systems will even assign dates and times to its footage.  So, say you get an alert on your phone at 3am that motion is detected in your backyard.  You can go back later and check the footage from 3am to see what the motion was.  And, many of these systems can be accessed from mobile devices, so you don’t have to be at a computer to check.

Another great possible feature of these smart security systems is setting virtual boundaries.  You could set one, for example, to go a certain distance around your home or specifically around an area of your office that needs added security.  If that boundary is breached, you’ll be alerted.

Be Proactive

Smart home technologies come in a wide variety.  No matter the device or system, though, they have all have one thing in common – they’ll provide you convenience and peace of mind when it comes to your home or business’s security.  Don’t wait until something happens to retroactively install better security measures, though.  Be proactive and get started today, to ensure you and your family or employees stay safe!

We at Pop-A-Lock know it’s a very crowded market of smart technology.  If you’re not sure which to try first, check this list of smart home technologies, which recommends good starter devices, such as smart locks and door bells.

Or, contact your local Pop-A-Lock professionals to learn more about what solution might be best for you! Call Pop-A-Lock Tampa today at 813-226- 0423 or visit us online at popalocktampafl.com.

PAL Saves Kids Emergency Door Unlock Mascot Hugging a Child

How Can I Increase The Security of My Home?

Here in Tampa, feeling safe in your home is a top priority for most people. But many wonder, how do you get this safety? Through taking measures like using a high-end security system to not letting your mailbox overflow, you can  increase your home’s overall security. Below, Pop-A-Lock Tampa has included eight suggested ways you can increase the security of your home no matter the type of house or budget.

Make it Look Like You’re Home, Even if You’re Not

Most robbers are going to be looking for a house they know is empty. They don’t want an altercation, they want an empty house to ransack and leave. Whether you’re leaving for a vacation or just out for the day, there are a few ways you can make it look like you’re home, even if you’re not.

Install Motion-Activated Lights

Robbers don’t like to be seen. Motion-activated lights can be a great way to scare off someone looking to enter your home. When the lights come on, the thief is at risk of a neighbor seeing them. They also could believe someone is home and turned the lights on from inside.

Put Lights on Timers

Having smart light bulbs is a quick and easy way to make someone on the outside believe you’re home. Set the lights on random timers so some are always turned on. That way crooks can’t tell if you’re away running errands or on vacation. They also won’t be able to pick up on any recurring schedules such as being gone for work.

Don’t Leave Mail in the Mailbox or Packages on the Porch

An overflowing mailbox or unattended packages are signs to crooks that no one is home. If you’re going away on vacation, ask a neighbor or a friend to empty your mailbox and gather packages while you’re away. Even if you’re only at work or out for the day, ask delivery people to leave packages in a backyard or private area if you can.

 

Trim Your Bushes and Grass

As with the mail and packages, an unkempt yard can be a sign to a crook that you’re not home, and haven’t been in a while. This can make them feel more comfortable scoping out your home and robbing it. On top of that, overflowing bushes and grass can make it easier for thieves to stay out of site from neighbors. It’s best to keep your bushes and grass as tidy and trimmed as possible.

Security Gadgets For Round-The-Clock Safety

In addition to making it look like you’re home when you’re not, there are also other security measures you can take to provide safety when you are home. Below are some suggested tips and tools to keep you and your family safe inside your home.

Rekey Your Home

There are a lot of ways our house keys can get out in the world. Giving a spare to a neighbor or child off at college, for example. But, sometimes – for whatever reason – someone who once needed a key no longer does. Every once in a while you should rekey your home so you can know exactly who has copies of your key. This also lets you make sure no one has access who you don’t want to have access.

Install Smart Locks

A lot of robbers don’t force entry into a house, but instead find one with an unlocked door and walk right in. Installing smart locks that automatically lock behind you will make sure this isn’t an option. It will also stop the dreaded “did I lock the door behind me?” feeling miles down the road.

 

smart house, home automation, device with app icons. Man uses his smartphone with smarthome security app to unlock the door of his house.

Have Locks and/or Stops on All Windows

Many crooks know that most people keep their doors locked these days. But not everyone keeps their windows locked. Installing locks on your windows can help you sleep easy at night knowing every port of entry into the house is inaccessible. There are also window stops, preventing windows from opening more than six inches. This is great for getting some fresh air but keeping unwanted robbers out.

Have a Security Camera

If you want to have high security, you can install a security camera outside (or inside) your home. You can also install an alarm that goes off when doors or windows open. A camera will likely frighten away any robbers. It also can give you peace of mind by allowing you to keep an eye on your house when you’re not home. An alarm system will alert both you and the security company if someone enters your home.

 

CCTV security camera for home security & surveillance.

 

There are a lot of ways you can increase the security of your home. Whether it be something simple like making sure your mailbox isn’t overflowing, or something bigger like installing smart locks or a security camera. Depending on your budget, the overall safety of your neighborhood, and more, there is a solution out there for you!

Check out our free home security audit and contact one of our professionals today to schedule a visit for your home. Contact Pop-A-Lock Tampa today by calling (813) 226-0423 or visit us online at popalocktampafl.com!

Keep Kids Safe! 8 Tips to Prevent Locking Kids in the Car

 

Accidentally locking a child in the car is a stressful and scary experience for any parent. Moving child seats to the back was good for airbag safety, but it had one unfortunate consequence: the number of kids getting accidentally locked in or left behind skyrocketed. Through our free emergency door unlock program in Tampa, Pop-A-Lock has rescued thousands of children who were accidentally locked in. From talking to their parents, we know just how easy it is to do. Being stressed, distracted, or just changing your usual routine can be all it takes.
Since November is Child Safety and Protection Month, we thought we’d offer our top tips to avoid accidentally locking a child in the car. Because — let’s face it — that panicked phone call to Pop-A-Lock is one you hope you’ll never have to make.

 

Tips to Prevent Locking Kids in the Car

  1. Take your kids with you, even if you’re only going to be out for a few minutes. It’s not just a smart idea: Florida has an unattended child law that makes it mandatory. Being in the habit of taking your kids with you every time you get out of the car will help you remember to do so even on busy days.
  2. Don’t leave keys within reach of your children, whether at home or out and about. Auto lock buttons make it extremely easy for kids to lock themselves in the car.
  3. Keep a spare set of keys with you. Don’t keep them on the same key ring as your main set! Spare keys are a good idea for so many reasons. (P.S.  Pop-A-Lock can duplicate most car keys for much less than your dealer.)
  4. Communicate with your child’s other caretakers. The most dangerous lock-ins occur when a child is forgotten in the backseat for long periods of time, such as a full work day. Often, one parent assumes the other has dropped the child off at daycare. Ask your daycare or preschool to call you any time your child is absent.
  5. Make sure your car trunk has a release mechanism on the inside. Older kids who are playing around your car might shut themselves in the trunk and be unable to get out.
  6. Teach your kids that the car is not a safe place to play. Unattended cars and kids are a dangerous combination.
  7. Have a plan to check the car seat every time you leave the car. Some people put an important item like a wallet or phone on the floor in front of the car seat so they have to look every time they leave the car. Others have signs on the dashboard. Never assume that you’re incapable of forgetting.
  8. Program Pop-A-Lock’s number into your phone now. Even with good precautions, accidents happen. Pop-A-Lock locksmiths around the country provide free, fast emergency door unlocks that save lives. Call 813-226-0423 if you need an emergency locksmith in Tampa. We work with first responders and emergency services to get there fast, work effectively, and rescue your child. And we’re open 24/7.

Every year in the US, there are an average of 38 fatalities from kids being locked in the car. Let’s work together to lower that number.

What to Do If You Hire a Scammer Locksmith

Even if you weren’t having a bad day before you locked yourself out, you’re probably having one now. You’re running late, you’re frustrated, and you just want the locksmith to show up and do his job already. But what if the locksmith you call shows up exhibiting every sign of being a scammer?

(Classic signs of a scammer locksmith: upping the quote you were given over the phone, arriving in an unmarked service vehicle, not having ID linking him to the company, refusing to give you a written quote. Scammer locksmiths are at work in Tampa and just about every major city.)

If you go along with this locksmith, be prepared to pay anywhere from twice to four times what you were quoted on the phone.  We’ve even heard horror stories about these scammers ruining locks and charging you the full amount to replace it with a new one. It’s a classic bait and switch, and unethical locksmiths who know you are desperate to get back in take full advantage of your situation. So what can you do to keep this situation from getting worse?

How to Prevent the Situation from Getting Worse

    • Insist on an itemized written estimate before the locksmith starts to work on your lock. Having that in writing protects you from the worst of the added on fees. However, if it’s already significantly higher than what you were quoted over the phone, be aware that it’s only going to get worse from there.
    • Refuse service. Florida law says you only have to pay for the product or actual service. They can’t make you pay for just coming out. You will have to wait for another locksmith, but it could save you $50 or more.
    • Refuse to pay ridiculous fees. Scammers may threaten to call the police to intimidate you into paying. If you agree, they will back down and offer a more reasonable price. They definitely don’t want the police on the scene.
    • Know what a reasonable price for your locksmith service is. If you have a good idea what a reasonable price for service is (Pop-A-Lock offers free, inclusive quotes), you’ll feel more confident in standing your ground and have more leverage.
    • And if you do end up getting scammed, contact your local State Attorney’s office, along with the Florida Attorney General. By reporting scammers, you can help us keep bad locksmiths out of Tampa.

Scammer locksmiths are at work in every major city and come equipped with false business names and seemingly local numbers that route to distant call centers. They’re not limited to auto locksmiths or home locksmiths, either. Protect yourself from them by researching locksmiths before you ever need one and programming that number into your phone.

Pop-A-Lock Tampa is proud to be one of the good guys. We stand behind our 100% inclusive phone quotes and are devoted to answering your questions, showing up when we say we will, and providing friendly, competent service at a fair price. Check out our Tampa locksmith testimonials to see what previous customers have said about us!

How Bad Could a Bad Locksmith Be?

In the past few years, locksmith scams have gone up — way up — thanks to out-of-town scammers who pose as legitimate locksmiths in your city. Tampa is no exception. Maybe you’ve seen some of the news stories on shady locksmiths, or heard about a friend’s bad experience. Everyone is being urged to do the research, find a trustworthy Tampa locksmith, and put the number into your phone now — before you lock yourself out of the car at 1am.
Haven’t gotten around to doing this yet? Let’s talk about what could go wrong if you hire a bad locksmith. Getting ripped off is a given, but that’s just the beginning. These are real and common risks of hiring a locksmith without first checking up on the company.

Risks of Hiring a Scammer

  1. Pay 3 to 5 times as much (or even more) for locksmith services. Not only do scammers use a bait and switch (low quote, high final price), they also sometimes do more work than necessary in order to charge you more, like drill a lock they could have picked. What should be a $45-$70 lockout service in Tampa can end up costing you $300+ if you pick a dishonest locksmith.
  2. Risk damage to your doors, locks, or windows from an inexperienced, untrained, or unequipped technician. Pop-A-Lock often gets called to repair damage done by other locksmiths, such as poorly installed hardware and damaged seals and locks.
  3. Have to pay for a legitimate locksmith to fix the damage. Add this to the inflated prices you’ve already been charged, and you’re facing a major total bill.
  4. Face intimidation or threats from shady locksmiths who use strong-arm tactics to get you to pay up. We’ve heard about locksmiths who arrived in tow trucks, unlocked the door, and threatened to tow the owner’s car unless he agreed to ridiculously high fees. These scammers take advantage of your anxiety and vulnerability when you’re locked out.
  5. Get ripped off with no way to get your money back. Dissatisfied customers often find that the company name and address turn out to be bogus and no one responds to their complaints. These companies aren’t interested in customer service; they’re just out to scam you.
  6. Have your keys copied and your house or car broken into. Unless you hire a locksmith with a good reputation and ALOA membership, you can’t make assumptions about the technicians it hires. Are they trained and uniformed? Do they undergo background checks? Are your keys safe in their hands? Not always.

And the hallmarks of a good locksmith? A well-established, locally owned and operated company with a strong reputation, ALOA membership, free 100% quotes, and highly trained, uniformed technicians. (And yes, Pop-A-Lock performs background checks on all technicians.) It’s not hard to avoid the bad apples if you take a little time now to do your research.

Getting locked out doesn’t have to be a nightmare. If you’re in Tampa, put Pop-A-Lock’s number into your phone now: 813-226-0423.

 

Pop-A-Lock Locksmith of Tampa New Website Is Live!

About our New Website

It’s official.  We have just launched the new website for Pop-A-Lock Locksmith of Tampa Florida — the leading Tampa Locksmith!  There are many changes from our old website.  Primarily, we have tried to capture the flavor of the work we do around Tampa better than we did before.  There are a lot more photos and links to places you can go to find more information about us.

As a reminder, we service the entire Tampa area, including Brandon Florida and Riverview Florida, along with the many other smaller cities and suburbs surrounding our city.

We continue to offer our FREE car lockout service to all residents if a child is locked inside a vehicle.  Believe it or not, we’ve almost done 10,000 emergency door unlocks to date for free.  Find out more about our service on our emergency door unlock page.

Please take a look at our new site.  We’d appreciate hearing your feedback.  If you’re longtime Pop-A-Lock clients here in Tampa, please feel free to send us a note, or even better write a nice testimonial for us on one of the review websites.

We look forward to continuing to help the residents of Tampa.

Pop-A-Lock Locksmith Tampa Facebook Page LIVE!

About our New Facebook Page

Alright, we are listening!  Many of our loyal customers have requested that we launch a Facebook page so that they can keep up with what’s happening with our company here in Tampa.

Please go here and like our page!  We’ll be posting specials and updates as to what we’re doing around town.

An example would be our local partnership with Lowe’s hardware stores in Tampa.

One of our customers noticed us at Lowe’s, and was quite impressed that our two companies were partnering together.  We hope to more proactively share this kind of information with you so you can more easily access our services.

Please let us know what other kinds of updates and information you’d like to see.

From Tampa Lowes Kickoff

 

From Tampa Lowes Kickoff