For adult children living far from their aging parents, worry is a way of life.
The threat of falls or other medical issues constantly plague the minds of loved ones.
It is something that Jon Holland knows firsthand.
“My mother was living by herself far from here and you do worry,” the Brunswick resident said.
If there was an emergency, he knew that paramedics would be called, however once they arrive, there was a good chance that they would not be able to enter the home.
“If someone falls and calls the paramedics or the police, and the resident can’t come answer the door, then they either break down the door or break a window,” Holland said.
“So not only would it take extra time, you will have to replace the door or window after the emergency has passed.”
That’s when he started looking for solutions.
The one he found was Secure-A-Key. The concept, developed by Ohio-based firefighters, is incredibly simple. A key is placed in a lock box outside with a code. The code is only given to emergency 911 dispatch personnel.
If there is an emergency, dispatchers share that information with those coming to offer aid, either the paramedics or the police.
And while that is the primary use of the box it has others. The box can also keep homeowners from getting locked out.
For Holland, the idea seemed like a perfect fit.
“I got my mother one of these and it was wonderful. It really gives you peace of mind,” he said.
Holland also felt that those in the Golden Isles could benefit from the box.
He enlisted the help of his longtime friend, T.C. Cowan, who was a local police officer for more than 30 years. Holland also has 30 plus years background in law enforcement and he met Cowan while the two were working at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC).
Together, they decided to open a branch of the business in Brunswick, Secure-A-Key of the Golden Isles.
The two feel that the box offers multiple benefits to area residents.
“It is geared toward the elderly but it really is good for everyone. Anyone can lock their keys out and this is much better than putting it under the mat or behind a flower pot ... everyone knows to look there,” Holland said.
Instead, the lock box creates a secure way for homeowners to guard against those looking for easy access. Holland notes that the box is virtually indestructible.
“The firefighters who developed this put about 1,000 pounds of pressure on to it and it got a little bent ... but it didn’t open,” he said.
“So no one is getting in this box. If they want to gain access to the home — they are going to have to do it another way. They’d have to break a window,” Cowan added.
“We met with local law enforcement and firefighters. Everyone thought it was a great idea.”
While the box keeps criminals out, Cowan sees a great deal of value in allowing emergency personnel a way inside.
As a retired police officer, he knows how critical that can be when time is of the essence.
“As a former police officer, it is really a great thing to have to allow help a way into the residence,” he said.
The price is highly affordable — $150 — and incredibly easy. Holland and Cowan come onsite to install the system. They program the code and hand deliver it to local dispatchers.
“We don’t mail or email it. We take it straight to them,” Holland said.
“That way we know it’s secure,” Cowan added.
Typical codes are four to eight digits, but Holland and Cowan can create longer sequences if desired.
If a situation arises where the code needs to be reset, they also do that for clients for a fee. But they do not take that lightly.
“We also do not give out the code over the phone ... we only do it in person, at the home,” Holland said.
In addition, parents can also use the lock box for children coming home from school.
“That way they don’t have to worry about them losing a key,” he said.
“They just have to remember the code.”
“And of course, they have to remember to replace the keys,” Holland added.
Overall, however, the duo believe the system provides an invaluable service to homeowners and families.
“It is affordable, secure and simple,” Holland said.
A homeowner can go to your local hardware store and purchase a security box system but it will not likely be registered with the 911 Communications Center.