Tagged in: Safety

Guide To Traveling When You Feel It’s Risky

So maybe you’ve gotten afraid of traveling because of recent attacks around the world which targeted popular tourist spots. But how do you manage this when you’ve already made your plans and cancelling is just not an option?
 

We know that living in this world means that a terrorist attack can occur at any time – in any place – and for any reason, or no reason at all. So how do you determine which country is safe to visit and which is not? We can judge our own comfort levels and decide accordingly. What main factors impact our judgment? There are two: risk perception and risk tolerance. Risk perception has to do with our understanding of the risk that has been ingrained in our minds based on what we have heard and what we consider the level of threat to be. Risk tolerance is based on your individual tolerance of danger. So when making a decision, you need to first estimate how much risk is there and then are you able to tolerate it or not?
 
Connect and Read Other Travelers’ Reports
 
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Sign into TripAdvisor and go ahead and ask questions relating to your trip or read the already present reviews. You can sort the reviews based on places and dates to ensure that you go through the latest posts. For any unanswered questions, post your own and mention the location!
 
Advice by Your Government
 
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The government regularly issues updates on which countries to avoid. Many consider it an excessively worded list, but it is a good starting point on which countries to avoid and which to cover.
 
What Are Others Saying
 
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You can also view other countries embassy sites for information on where they are limiting their citizen travels. These are found on their websites and popular countries on whose embassy sites to check include USA, UK, Canada, and Australia.
 
Map the Locations and Your Stays
 
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Identify which locations are high target threats and then map them. Carefully assess what the distance is between those locations and your destinations. This will help with the risk tolerance aspect as you can get a feel about the level of threat your destination faces.
 
Go Over the Local News
 
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Mostly English newspapers focus on the crimes against foreigners and hence will give you a clear view of what is going on in and around your chosen destinations. www.onlinenewspapers.com is an amazing collection of English newspapers from around the world.
 
Perspective Is Important
 
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Normal people are impacted by terrorist threats for a maximum of a day or two. They have to continue with their lives as they have mouths to feed and lives to carry on. Before believing into the news reporting of only the bad, think about all the good that must be going on as well.
 
Security Is Always Higher After Incidents
 
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Normally, the aim of terrorist attacks is to cause panic and confusion by using the element of surprise. So if you’re going to a place that has been recently attacked, be assured that there will be extra security around ensuring a much higher level of security that includes metal detectors and visible guns.
 
Waiting it out until the situation gets better will probably take forever so here are some measures you can take for your own safety:
 
STEP Enrollment:
 
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The US government has created a program under the State Department titled Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) which is aimed towards making it easier for them to track your movements and get in touch with you in case of any emergencies.
 
Crowds Are a No No
 
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When terrorists attack at any location, their aim is to cause the maximum damage with the least amount of casualties to themselves. This is only possible if they attack large crowded locations so try to avoid them as much as possible.
 
Twitter Feeds
 
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Follow major global news and twitter feeds along with your country’s and the visiting country’s major police and rescue services to get the main news as soon as things happen. Twitter is the most updated so ensure to keep an eye on it.
 
Monitor the News
 
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Stay connected via international news channels and online by ensuring your room has these channels included as a part of their package and pay for the Internet connection so you can view news as and when you want.
 
Save the Emergency Numbers
 
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Find out what the numbers are for emergency services in your destination country and save them. Along with this, save the number to your hotel and any others you know in the city.
 
Satellite or Local Phone Rental
 
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Normally in emergency situations, a roaming network becomes weak or cut off. So ensure you have a local number handy for such situations or rent a satellite phone so that it continues working and you can call for help.
 
Vetted Taxis
 
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While it will cost more, having a hotel driver or a hotel vetted taxi to take you around will allow you the peace of mind from traveling in crowded public transportation. So go for this option and book a hotel car for the whole day.
 
Identify the Risks Most Likely to Impact You
 
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Make sure that you take necessary precautions when out and about like you would at your home. Avoid flashing too many monetary things like jewelry and phones or shopping from expensive outlets in one go. These things identify you as rich tourists. Of course, this is something you should not want.
 

 

7 of the Biggest Travel Scams 

Some of the world’s biggest travel scams are in tourists’ favorite spots. Why? Simply because the more tourists there are, the more opportunities there are for these scammers. They say there is no such thing as a smart criminal, but they sure are sneaky and believable. A lot of tourists end up falling for these travel scams the majority of the time. The surprise chaos and lack of time to react usually causes the traveler to be vulnerable and fall for the scheme.
 
Prepare yourself. Here are 7 of the biggest travel scams.
 
 
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Gypsy Newspaper Distraction
 
Usually in Rome, a group of gypsy children come up to assumed tourists and surround them with newspapers in their face. While it may seem like a cool cultural experience, the newspapers are just a distraction from the pick-pocketing they are doing literally right under your nose.
 
 
Bus 64 Scandal
 
Another travel scam in Rome is the Bus 64 scandal. Bus 64 tours a variety of historic sights and buildings, so it not only attracts a lot of tourists, but it also attracts a lot of pick-pocketers. There are usually multiple perps in on this scam, so one causes that distraction while the other commits the crime. They typically look for small items like phones, cameras, purses, etc. so keep your valuables close.
 
 
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The Fake Bracelet Thief
 
This travel scam is mostly known to happen in Paris and Rome. People perceive Paris and Rome to be cities of love and romance, so when you see a charming local approaching you, you don’t hesitate to pay attention. While offering to help you with language barriers and directions, he/she quickly puts a bracelet on your wrist, accusing you of stealing it, and demands payment. Most tourists report that they end up paying because of how shaken up they are from the unexpected chaos.
 
 
The Hot Dog Trick
 
Accidents happen, but if you’re in the airport, you can never be too careful. The good ole hot dog trick is used quite a bit. The scammer is eating a hot dog next to you and “accidentally” squirts mustard on you. In fact, there’s a mustard bottle in his hot dog so he purposely squirted you when he bit down into his “hot dog.” His accomplice picks up and walks away with your luggage while the “kind gentlemen” offers to help you clean up.
 
 
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Security Checkpoints
 
Nobody looks forward to going through the security checkpoint at the airport, but you have to do it. Having your items stolen while going through the security checkpoint would really make you dread ever doing it again. After you have placed your items in the tray to go through the conveyor belt and you are ready to walk through the metal detector, someone cuts in front of you and “forgets” his keys in his pocket. The line stops until the perp removes his keys, and in the mean time, his partner in crime is walking away with all of your items in the tray.
 
 
The Forced Tab
 
This scam usually happens in two’s. Two beautiful girls at a bar scope out their two male travelers. The girls invite the men to a private room, have a few drinks, and rack up a pretty hefty bill. When the bill comes around, the girls are gone and the tab is left to the lovely gentlemen. Sometimes, the bartender and bouncer are in on it so it may be impossible to walk out without paying. And once the male travelers have paid, they are kicked out.
 
 
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The Gypsy Baby Toss
 
Whenever you’re in Europe, be on the lookout for gypsies. When they search for the victim of their gypsy baby toss, they usually tend to go after single women. The gypsy approaches the traveler and tosses the baby into their arms. Amongst the chaos and shock, the gypsy takes everything she can get her hands on. When the victim finally looks down, the baby is only a doll and the gypsy is gone.

 

 

Never Travel Alone To These 5 International Cities

For traveling, they say, the more the merrier. However, sometimes a bigger group is not just for the reason that it’s more enjoyable, but because it’s safer to travel as a part of bigger groups.
 
Certain cities around the world are known for magnificent architecture, others for food, and others for their wondrous hospitality. Unfortunately, some places may be known for posing quite a few problems for tourists. You may come across cab frauds or thefts in these locations.
 
Below is a list of dangerous cities around the world where it’s best to go in groups and have an added item as part of your gear: ample precautions!
 
Bogota, Colombia
 
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An industrial city with the world’s finest coffee and scenic beauty, it is frequented by many. However, is it safe? Every year, thousands of Americans flock to this city for different reasons such as volunteer work, tourism or studies.
 
The condition is not as bad as before. However, the city is still not that much of a safe haven. According to the State Department, American travelers are the more vulnerable and easy targets.
 
People on travel forums also suggest sticking to popular travel destinations to ensure safety.
 
Mexico City, Mexico
 
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Mexico is also a much-frequented spot. Popular and easily accessible, it is the go-to destination for many tourists in the region of North America.
 
However, while going to Mexico, your mind may be thinking of all the scrumptious foods to devour. Do not for one moment, forget the dangers lurking out there.
 
The U.S. Department of State warns American citizens against going to certain places since the safety and security is breached due to organized criminal groups.
 
In the past, U.S. citizens have been at the receiving end of crimes such carjackings, kidnappings, robberies, and even homicides. It also notes that while tourist destinations and resort areas generally do not have drug-related crimes, it is best to keep in mind that drug trafficking and other crimes can take place in Mexico. The number of US citizens murdered in 2014, as reported to Department of State was 100 and was 103 for 2015. U.S. citizens are advised to keep a low profile when strolling out and to avoid the displays of precious possessions.
 
Lima, Peru
 
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One of the historic cities in South America, Lima is on the go-to list of many tourists. Since the tourists flock in high numbers, so do the criminals to the city, waiting for the right moment to take advantage.
 
From illegal taxi services to hijackings, this city can be a bump in the journey.
 
Most crimes reported against the tourists are pickpocketing, theft, robbery, and being overcharged. Thefts of vehicle parts are also not uncommon.
 
If you are traveling outside Lima by car, it may be hazardous due to potential danger of a crime.
 
When going to Lima, make sure to follow these safety precautions to avoid any nasty incidents:
 

     

  • Avoid being lured by any unknown person, anywhere.
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  • Keep your valuables close by and don’t hold your camera carelessly in your hand without the hand strap.
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  • Travel with trusted transport operators through a transport agency and do not discuss your travel plans out there in the public.
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  • You might come across some crooks dressed as police officers. If at any point police stops you, ask for their personal identification and insist on going to the following police station.
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  • In Peru, drug trafficking is illegal and punished severely. Hence, be mindful of the people around you and keep a close eye on your luggage, seeing to it that no one can slip drugs into them.

 
New Delhi, India
 
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New Delhi is a budding city of India and is booming in terms of tourism as well as commerce. As much as you would like to discover the mystical and traditional side of India though New Delhi, be wary of the dangers out there. One of the dangers is sexual assault crimes against women.
 
According to the British Foreign Ministry, it is not just Western travelers who have had to face such a heinous consequence. Travelers from Denmark, Germany, or even Japan have been sexually assaulted. It is best for travelers to stick together in larger groups and create a safe itinerary beforehand.
 
It is also advised for women to adhere to local dress codes and avoid isolated areas such as the beaches when alone.
 
At night, it is best to avoid traveling alone on public transport. If taxi must be taken, take it from the hotel or airport stands and avoid hailing taxis from the street. Properly identify the driver of any taxi before traveling.
 
Also, do not leave luggage unattended as there have been cases of handbag snatching in Delhi.
 
Pickpocketing is common as well and hence purses or bags should be tucked closer to the body. Men should keep wallets in the front pant pocket instead of the rear.
 
Jakarta, Indonesia
 
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As the British Foreign Ministry reports, there can be threats of terrorism and kidnapping of foreigners. In addition, Jakarta is also susceptible to many earthquakes and tsunamis as it is located along a series of fault lines known as the ‘Ring of Fire’.
 
There are many accidents around the train crossing (Keeta Api). As one local suggests, don’t trust the other people violating the rules, and strictly adhere to the rules and regulations.
 
Some other dangers to be mindful of are robbery as well as fake taxi meters installed in cabs. These have been modified to make the passengers pay more than the normal price. Try the ‘Silver Bird’ taxi which can be arranged by your hotel.
 
In bars, drinks can be spiked to victimize unwatchful tourists. Some other dangers can include credit cards being swiped multiple times.
 
Although twists and turns are a part of an adventurous journey, it is best to adopt safety measures so that you can enjoy your trip at its best.
 

 

Child Predators Are More Real Than You Think

This video may seem a little scary to most of you, especially if you have a child, but here’s a lesson for the 21st century that is shocking.
 
As part of a social experiment, Coby Persin decided to put some kids to the test, with the permission from their parents of course.
 
Catching up with these young girls on Facebook, some as young as eleven, Persin, actually a 20-year old poses as a seemingly harmless good-looking 15-year old and in only a few days, manages to lure the girls out to meet them in person.
 

What’s the most surprising? The girls actually end up believing the lie and put themselves in potentially dangerous situations – doing so behind their parents’ backs.
 
Of course, the fact that it’s only part of a social experiment means that all the girls were safe, and hopefully learned a lesson they would remember for life, but that doesn’t mean the result would have been the same if the situation was real and the girls had played into the hands of a child predator.
 
The United States alone has over 75,000 registered child predators, the word registered being key here, so you can only imagine how dangerous the world really is for young girls.
 
A shocking video no doubt, but a necessary one too because it truly teaches everyone and their parents that discussing the dangers of social media is a real need – especially in today’s world.
 

 

Instagram Safety: Tips To Keep Your Kids Safe

A study conducted in 2015 by Pew Research Center has suggested that the social media application Instagram was the second most popular social media application for teenagers, especially girls. So we’re forced to ask, are your children using Instagram? And, if so, what ways can you help keep them safe?
 
About Instagram
 
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Instagram was founded in 2010 and was acquired by Facebook later on. It’s a social media platform that allows users to share videos and photos with their peers and the general general public. Instagram users take or upload a picture (or video), edit it, add a caption if desired and post it.
 
Other Instagram users have the option to like a photo, write a comment, or even share it with their own friends. Some users on Instagram use it to keep an imagery log of everything in their daily lives; other users create collections of pictures that reflect a theme they are passionate about such as traveling, fashion, or food.
 
While Instagram has implemented a minimum user age of 13 years (compliant with the COPPA – Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act); there are still many underage users and Instagram has taken the bold step of deleting accounts of children not yet of 13 years old.
 
Parental Concerns
 
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Probably one of the biggest concerns with kids using Instagram is the content they are sharing and what it may reveal about their personal lives. Pictures in front of their school; their favorite ice cream shop; your street or house; family vacations; road trips; all give away clues to you and your child’s location to anyone who is looking for patterns in their life.
 

The drawback of Instagram is the automatically public posts as the default setting for every new post. Even if your child knows not to post any information that can personally identify them, they may get coerced by their peers into posting inappropriate content such as suggestive pictures. The only aim is to be more popular by having the most likes, comments and followers, and sometimes this race amongst peers can take ugly turns.
 
What we need to do is to remind kids that whatever is posted online will never be taken down and is accessible to anyone looking hard enough. Even stuff shared using private browsers and accounts can have information stolen and leaked on to public forums for everyone to see and anyone to misuse.
 
Now the big worry that faces us is that of other users: what about inappropriate content they share? Instagram has been used for online bullying such as making kids felt left out by friends out partying and making mean comments on pictures. Everything negative in real life can turn negative on Instagram as well. So how do you ensure your kids are safe and protected?
 
Some Useful Suggestions
 
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  • Wait – until your kid reaches 13 to allow them to sign up. Not only is it the law, it is there to protect them.
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  • Hide it– Take over the settings and make the account private. Limit picture viewing access to friends only and ask them to only add people they know. This prevents imposters from getting into the friend circle.
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  • Go stealth – Geo-tagging must go. Turn it off. It’s fun to see where you have taken pictures, but it’s not safe for your child as anyone with bad intentions can easily find them and make a track of their daily route.
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  • Educate – Explain to your child the dangers of sharing personally identifiable information on Instagram as it can lead to anyone tracking them. Explain to them that a picture is worth a thousand words and that if they are ever in doubt over posting something, they should discuss it with you.
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  • Monitor – Make a note of their username and password and make secret, unplanned checks on their Instagram. Let them know that it is not your child you do not mistrust, but the world at large. Also, keep your Instagram ID added to their friends for an easier check up daily without having to sign into their account.
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  • Set expectations – Discuss your concerns with your children. Have a heart to heart discussion and reach a consensus on the amount of time allowed, the proper pictures to post, and what issues they may have with you.
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  • Teach – Teach them to remove tags as well as how to make sure the Photo Mapping feature has been turned off. Make certain that they know how to go ahead and report users who are posting inappropriate images or comments publically or privately.
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  • Model – Make sure your own Instagram account is a model for your kid to use as a guide. This will make the discussions on limits and boundaries easier as your kids will know that this is not only for them, but also for you and your safety.

 

 

Avoiding Rail Road Accidents With Google Maps

Rail road crossing accidents are easy to avoid, even more so now, and yet the number of accidents at rail road crossings has been slightly up for the last three years. In 2014, there were nearly 2,300 accidents according to Federal Rail Road Administration (FRA) data.
 
To bring these numbers down to zero, the FRA joined Google in an attempt to give a warning to drivers while they approach a crossing.
 
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The app aims to make visible all the railroad crossings via Google Maps. It will also issue audio plus visual warnings when the car approaches a crossing. As of now, there’s no timetable as to when the feature will appear in the app.
 

It is hoped that with this, drivers will be more cautious as they pass through railroad crossings. “About 94% of accidents at crossings is due to driver inattention and error,” the FRA said. It’s also noted that the main cause of accidents are drivers trying to beat the train to the crossing and miscalculating the time and distance.
 
The agency is currently working with Apple and other mobile map makers to ensure the safety feature is adopted and dispersed as much as possible. However, those agreements have not been confirmed, and Apple has not commented on this.
 
The FRA is trying to capitalize on common driving behaviors — getting directions through a smartphone — to increase safety. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation, which oversees the FRA, has also developed its own app with all railroad crossing listings. However, without Google Maps, the app wouldn’t reach as many people as having it incorporated in other applications.
 
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This surge in efforts to make rail road crossings safer came after many deadly accidents over the past year, though collisions were not involved in all of them. The most prominent example is of the Metro North train in the NYC area which hit an SUV resulting in the death of six people. The FRA reports 270 people have died from railroad crossing collisions in 2014, up from 234 the previous year.
 

 

A Wireless Home Security Camera That’s Just Right

Installing a security camera in your home can be a costly endeavour. Furthermore, such specialized cameras can be difficult to install and require to be continuously connected to power. For cameras that run on battery, continuous recharging is itself very annoying.
 
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Blink on the other hand is among the new breed of wire-free HD home monitoring and alert systems which is inexpensive and easy to install and operate. The proprietary semi-conductor chip which is a trademark of Immedia employs power saving technology, which unlike conventional security cameras, don’t need to plugged to the power source to charge the battery. The battery can last for more than a year giving you complete peace of mind. In addition, the low price tag gives you more freedom to install multiple devices in your home. Being wireless, it can be placed or moved around your home to anywhere you’d like.
 
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Blink is equipped with a built-in motion and temperature sensor. It also comes with full WiFi connectivity. If you want to synchronize multiple cameras installed in your home, all you need to do is download the Blink app for your Android or iOS and it automatically syncs all the cameras connected to your home WiFi network. Using the sync module, you can connect up to 16 Blink cameras placed within 100 feet range if all are connected to the WiFi.
 
Blink comes with its trademark power saving mode which conserves the battery by keeping the wireless camera in sleep mode when there is no activity. The recording mode is only activated when the motion sensors detect any activity which it does in about fraction of a second. It then sends an alert to your smartphone for you to see the nature of alert and to decide accordingly.
 
The privacy LED of the system is based on hardware rather than on the software. This feature makes Blink non-hackable.
 
It also comes with an optional alarm unit which is battery-powered and can be placed anywhere in your home or office.
 
Here is a list of few core features of this incredible device:

  1. HD video – provides you with crystal clear view of your home or business
  2. Motion detection – equipped with a motion detector, the system is triggered when it detects any activity and goes in to recording mode
  3. Instant alerts – these alerts are sent to smartphone accompanied with the video of the event for you to respond
  4. Live View mode – allows you to easily retrieve live video streaming on your smartphone using the Blink app
  5. Instant On – causes video recording to begin instantaneously, i.e. within fraction of a second after the sensor detects any activity
  6. Temperature sensor – allows you to monitor your home or office temperature. It sends you alerts in case it gets too hot or too cold
  7. Night vision – is a proprietary feature of Blink ensuring 24/7 visibility, day and night.
  8. Built-in microphone – provides audio access
  9. Privacy assurance and Status alerts – are received in the form of notifications when WiFi connection is turned off in your home or office
  10. On-board USB storage – allows users to send recorded videos to on-board storage instead of Blink cloud.
  11. Auto arm/disarm function – provides you added advantage to automatically arm/disarm the Blink system. This feature can also be customized location-wise.
  12. 90 degree viewing angle
  13. Wall mounting kit

 
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Blink has been on Kickstarter, the world’s largest crowd-funding platform for creative projects since September 3rd 2014, where over 6,000+ backers have pledged more than $1 million to bring this project to life. Blink’s one-of-a-kind technology, together with affordability of this system, makes it a must buy if you want to secure your office or home on a low budget.
 
With its public launch set for May 2015, you can pre-order this smart home security and surveillance device for as low as $69 to experience complete peace of mind both day and night.

 

 

Backtracker Bike Safety

Every time a cyclist is on the road, there’s always a cause for concern when riding alongside cars and trucks which are much, much heavier. Apart from the title of planet killers that cycling enthusiasts regularly direct towards car owners, these vehicles are known to be another kind of killers too. Look at these statistics and you will know why safety whilst cycling should be of prime importance.
 
– 726 cyclists lost their lives on US roads in 2012, a 6.5% increase over the previous year’s figures
 
– A study undertaken by the League of American Bicyclists shows that 10% fatalities occur in T-hits, 8% head on, 6% in right hooks, 6% where the driver fails to yield and 4% in sideswipes
 
– The highest fatalities occur in rear end incidents when a car hit a cyclist from behind – a whopping 40%
 
40% is indeed a bothersome figure. Call it the need of the hour, or a device that we all wish had come along earlier, the Backtracker is an innovation that is set to give cyclists an advantage that could very well save their lives.
 
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What is the Backtracker?
 
The Backtracker is more than just a passive safety device like indicators or maybe a rear view mirror. It acts independently so that the possibility of an accident is reduced, warning the cyclist when a car is approaching from the rear. The technology gives cyclists sufficient time to take necessary measures if they’re in the way, and even activates the flashing lights at the rear of the bicycle so the drivers know as well that there is a cyclist ahead.
 
Backtracker’s makers compare it to the sixth sense we all wish we had. Installing the components on your bike allows you to detect a vehicle when it’s up to 153 yards or 140 meters away in the rear, thus allowing you sufficient time to react if necessary.
 
It’s a radar based system and the best thing about Backtracker is its ability to work in all kinds of weather. Whether it’s rainy or foggy, a cyclist can depend on it without a second thought.
 
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The workings
 
The components of the Backtracker are simple to use and can easily fit every type of bicycle. A front unit that fits on the handlebar makes up the warning system for the cyclist, indicating the speed and distance of vehicles approaching from the rear through LED lights. A rear component makes up the all-important radar as well as warning unit with flashing lights, to alert the rear-approaching driver.
 
A technology that is simple as well as reliable, Backtracker is the cycling enthusiast’s new best friend, one that keeps everyone safe!