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Guide to Fire Doors

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Fire doors are integral parts of commercial and residential safety or security. They are used in conjunction with fire door locks that help contain or slow the spread of fire throughout a location, while also functioning as a safe and protected egress method for all interior occupants. They are made to be fire resistance, and similar to the way deadbolts are made to withstand force, they are made to withstand huge levels of heat. Here’s a guide to the functionality of fire doors as prepared by Top Locksmith.


Definition of Fire Doors

Fire doors are part of emergency and fire safety planning, and a core aspect of PFP (passive fire protection_ protocols which are used in buildings as fire safety structure. These protocols slow down or contain a fire’s spread. Fire doors are set with fire resistance ratings which measure the amount of time that a PFP measure withstands the aspects of a fire resistance test  – which are all set with different requirements depending on your country or state. It’s important to pay close attention to fire protection protocols, as they are essential for both the protection of property, but also lives. Fire door locks should not be confused with fire rated door locks, as the door locks are usually geared towards burglary protection rather than complete fire protection.


Requirements for Fire Door Locks

Fire doors need to be able to grant egress in the event of an emergency that would call for people to quickly exit. They have to contain a fire into a specific area, secure property, and protect lives. The fire door lock is made of the locking mechanism, the fire door hinges, the latching technology, the closing devices, and the releasing device. THey need to be hung on hinges meant to be part of the fire door itself made of steel bearing or heavy duty steel hinges that can resist high heat pressure and intensity. They need to have an active latch bolt, but deadbolts should not be used on fire doors meant as an exit point, as they are not the necessary kind of active latch points that allow for safe egress. If you put a deadbolt on another type of fire door, make sure that it is fire resistant.

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Residential Locksmith FAQ

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Home Safety

The lock experts at Top specialize in providing superior residential locksmith installation, repair, and maintenance services. Here’s a guide to the most common questions we get asked about our services by inquiring home or apartment dwellers.


How long will it take for the technician to get to our location?

Our technician will arrive directly at your location between 15 minutes and a half an hour depending on how close your location is to our mobile locksmiths.


Do I need to know what kind of locks are installed inside my home?

Nope! Our locksmiths have a professional eye for identifying lock brands and types, and can help you remedy any issues with the utmost concern for your time and budget, as well as security.


How long would it take for a locksmith to open up a door in my home?

After our locksmiths get to your location and initially assess the issue, they can get to performing lockout services – which can range between twenty and thirty minutes depending on the lock type, lock issue, and entry method.


Will the locks in my home get damaged during the lockout process?

Probably not. The methods of door opening that our technicians utilize are safe for locks – notably picking or bump keys. However, in extreme situations, we might need to drill your lock to get the door open – in which case we will need to completely replace the lock in question.


Will my property be harmed during a safe opening?

Never ever. Top Locksmith employs experts that ensure that all of your important valuables are protected and remain without a scratch during th entire process of a safe lockout service.

Will a locksmith opening up my locked safe damage the safe’s mechanics?

Usually safes that are opened up by our locksmiths will have to be replaced, as they will no longer be able to function with the level of security that’s truly necessary to safely house your valuables.


How much does residential locksmith service usually cost?

Here at Top, we offer a wide range of services, and always work within the budget of our customers, with a flat-rate quote sent to you before a locksmith arrives at your location that will never be deviated from. Our primary goal is to provide the best locksmith services for our customers, and we will never stop working hard until we achieve it.

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Add On Lock Devices

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Baltimore Locksmith, Home Safety, Locks

We at Top Locksmith understand the priority and importance of keeping one’s home and family safe. Besides making sure your deadbolted shut at night, there’s a few other successful tactics that you can implement to make sure that your family remains as safe and secure as possible.


The initial steps should involve an upgrade of the entire lock infrastructure in your home. Many locks in American homes can be easily picked or bumped through criminal tampering. If you install a pick proof high security lock, you can help make your family much safer as well as greatly reducing the ease with which a criminal could break into your home. Your friendly assistant at Top Locksmith will be able to help you choose the exact right lock for your particular needs – highlighting burglar resistance abilities.


Door Devils


One device that works fantastically at securing doors is known as the Door Devil. It fits inside the jamb of the door, preventing it from being able to get kicked in. This is an effective security strategy – though one might not think burglars would be dumb enough to attempt kicking in a door – since many actually do, especially if they get frustrated at their lack of ability to effectively outsmart your impervious lock system.


Electronic Home Security


Another add on device that can greatly contribute to home security is an electronic home security system. These systems have wide variety in terms of their features and offerings for families or businesses. Many of them are attached to your entry door, so that when the door is opened when the alarm is armed, a loud alarm will ring out – which works to scare away any potential intruder (as it alerts everyone nearby with its piercing sound) as well as automatically contacting local law enforcement agencies, or the security company. Other features include motion sensors which can detect any motion inside the home, door knob sensors, or window sensors. Window alarms are always a good idea as windows are a common entry method for burglars. Finally, the installation of CCTV monitoring camera systems are never a  bad idea, as they can help you make sure that nobody is tampering with or trying to enter your home at any time you feel like checking.


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Underrated Security Strategies


There’s tons of home security and safety strategies readily available to anybody with internet access. Most of these strategies are definitely effective, however some burglars are aware of these strategies already, so it might not always work as well as you may want them to. It’s true, that even many deterrents won’t prevent extremely skilled or knowledgeable burglars from coming into your property. But if you follow the below strange security strategies, it greatly minimizes the chances of it happening; this is all due to the outlandish and creative aspects of these strategies.


Don’t Utilize Nightstands

Many burglars assume that weapons and valuables are stored in bedside nightstands or dressers – basically using a nearby piece of furniture as a form of improvised safe or deposit box. We urge you not to do this, because it’s a widely common space familiar to burglars. Perhaps consider storing valuables inside a high up cabinet in a child’s room, as the majority of burglars won’t assume that there’s valuable items stored there, especially if they are in a rush to leave your property quickly. It’s of course, not smart to put weapons in children’s rooms, but everything else is somewhat of a smart idea, especially if you can store items on a level too high for children to reach.


Fake Signs

Even if you don’t have an alarm system in your home, make sure to buy home security signs, because they work as excellent passive deterrents. You can easily find these signs online or at hardware stores, with a plethora of available branding – it’s cheap, and effective.


Move around alarm locations

The most common area for security alarms to be placed is inside the door closest to the front entrance of the home – this is meant to increase convenience for anybody coming into the home. However this is a major security floor, especially if there’s windows nearby the entranceway – as a criminal can easily break through the window and disable the alarm; we recommend, instead, to install an alarm system a bit farther away from the entrance way.


Car Key Strategies

If one does have a situation where a burglar enters their home, the most obvious reaction would be to call the police from your cellphone, perhaps a phone kept nearby your bed or nightstand. We recommend keeping your car keys on hand, so if you do end up hearing a burglar in your home, you can quickly set off your car alarm, which will likely spook and scare off the burglars.

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Deterrents and Home Defense

Home Defense

A burglary occurs about every 15 seconds in the United States.This might seem somewhat discomfiting, and that is completely justified. The best way to avoid having to worry about this risk, is by reinforcing your home with as many layers of security as possible. By utilizing a system of deterrents, you can make your home completely unappealing to any potential burglars. Here’s our list of the most effective burglar deterrents.

Locked Doors

Make sure to keep your doors locked at all times, even when you’re home – and definitely at night. If you leave screen doors or windows open that’s fine – but make sure that you have a good lock for the screen in place that will create a sturdy barrier against intruders. All doors should be fit with deadbolts, and any sort of patio or sliding door should be fit with anti-entry security devices.


Get Strong Window and Door Locks

Since all burglars enter homes through windows or doors, ensuring that you have a first-rate and functional lock is an absolute must. Don’t be cheap when looking for the right lock – just ask your local locksmith for their recommendation for the strongest and best lock for your living situation.


Have your home security evaluated

Many local police departments offer free home security checks. If you call to ask for this service, officers will inspect your house, and suggest improvements to its security.


Get Security Cameras

Put burglars on the defensive by having visible security cameras on both the inside and outside of your home. Make sure the cameras have adequate night vision, and enough hard drive to store a long enough duration of video – usually a few days worth. If you can’t buy this high end of functional camera, fake plastic cameras can work as great deterrents – just make sure that they don’t look too fake, so fake that thieves can easily identify them as decoys.


Motion Activated Lights

These lights positioned outside your home can strategically illuminate dark areas of your home with motion sensor floodlights. This makes it highly unlikely that any sneaking burglar will attempt to continue stealing from home when they’re lit up in the middle of the night publically.


Home Alarm Systems

This is one of the top strategies for discouraging home burglary. You can get endless ranges of systems with included extras – from a basic household alarm to an industrial quality siren. Make sure to choose whatever package affords you the maximum level of protection. Ensure that your alarm company has a quick response time, and that the police get notified automatically whenever there’s an alarm event.


Door Strength

Make sure that you have thick, solid wood or metal doors for your home that would be impossible to kick in. If your doors have an inset window, install a second lock by your floor, so that if the burglar breaks the window pane, they can’t simply reach down the inside to unlock the door – and it couldn’t hurt to install protective bracing in the doorframe.

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Gate Security

Gate Security


Gates can offer a great deal of security, depending on how they are installed, their style, and how they are maintained. Of course, gates will always be more secure when they are locked, however for the most part just the site of a gate is a fantastic deterrent for prospective criminals. Short gates that any human can step over are not effective deterrents – the more secure the gate appears (and functions) the higher its security.  There’s a few kinds of gates that aren’t worth investing in at all. Here are some.


Gates with small Holes

Small holes inside the gate allow criminals who are passing by to look inside your property to assess its security, as well as potentially open the lock through the openings with tools thin enough to pass through them.


Gates with large holes

This should be obvious, but a gate with a large hole is merely cosmetic, rather than functional. It allows criminals to reach inside the gate, look inside it to assess your security, or open it from the outside.


Short Gates

Short gates require reinforcement with locks, however if your gate is so short that it can be stepped over, any lock won’t help at all. Even gates that are short enough to see over are a risk, as anybody can reach over it and access the lock or handle.


Things to keep in mind about your Gate:

  • Don’t have valuables in plain sight of the gate
  • Latches without locks can be opened by anyone reaching over the gate
  • Door Knobs that allow for unkeyed egresses can be turned  by someone reaching over the gate.
  • Locks must be combined with keys, combinations, or remotes to be effective.


There’s a few ways to increase security on your gate; while barbed wire, or the like, is surely effective, it’s aesthetic drawbacks make it a seriously unappealing option. Another option is to grow roses along the walls of your home; while looking beautiful, the rose’s thorns will operate as a form of elegant barbed wire. Don’t get a gate outfit with hand or foot holds – get a tall, flat, smooth gate that’s sturdy enough that it can’t get kicked in. Security cameras will also help you figure out if anybody unruly is trying to enter your home; consider placing multiple cameras in both obscured and obvious places to maximize both your functionality, and the deterrents surrounding your security system.

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Spring Security Tips

Spring Security Tips

Spring is officially here. With it come all the attractive benefits of grass, birdsong, baseball, and picnics. Unfortunately, Spring also comes with an increase in burglary. Now that you’re hopefully going to be spending more time outside the house than during the frigid winter, it can help to know a few useful security tips to prime your house for the upcoming warm season. In this blog entry I’ll detail three handy reminders to keep in mind, so you can always know that your home is safe.


Switch Up your Schedule

As traffic also increases in warmer months, burglars will rely on rush hour traffic to make break-in attempts at houses. Just to be safe, try leaving early from home or work some days, or after work make an excursion to a movie or restaurant, just so those who may be monitoring your home schedule won’t have an idea of when exactly it is you are not home.


Keep your Keys on a Clip-on or Lanyard

Since you’re likely going to be spending more time outside over the next few months, make sure that you lower the chances of dropping your keys while you’re out having fun; when this happens, the chances of you retrieving the keys are slim to none – and even worse, if your address is on your keys it’s a surefire way of inviting a burglary. Make sure to keep your keys on a secure string, clip, or lanyard that you can attach inside a bag, around your neck, or on your belt loop in order to keep them on your body at all times.


Lock up your doors and Windows

Street traffic also increases in warmer months, and with this, an increase in people who will be able to peer inside your property, spot any desirable valuables, and plan a break-in. The best defense is to lock your doors and windows, and keep your blinds shut. Thieves often look for unlocked cars, vans, or trucks to find a spare key inside. If you’re concerned about the security of your locks, give Top Locksmith a call – we will have technicians at your location within minutes to inspect all your locks and prime your home security.

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Little Known Facts about Safes

safe lock

For an item as ubiquitous and universal as safes, very few people know about their history, or the technical aspects of their construction. Here’s our primer on little known facts about safes.

The higher the price, the more quality the safe

While this equation isn’t always true with every kind of product, with safes it definitely is. The more expensive the safe is, the stronger it’s doors and body are, the thicker the metal is, and these safes contain materials that can blunt drills, cutting tools, and even disperse heat. Cheap safes, on the other hand, can be opened with the strike of a skilled hand – think about cost as a measure of how expensive the materials are, and with how much care they are constructed.


Safes should be Hidden

Make sure to conceal safes; by hiding it, any burglar will have to find it before even being able to attempt to enter it – making it even less likely that they will be able to steal from you. An even greater security tactic is to hide the safe in the floor or within a wall – this will cover up it’s weaker sides, and allow you to hide it in a way that most people wouldn’t be able to see.


The more inaccessible the safe is, the better it’s hidden

The most secure safes are the one’s that are hardest to access – any safes that are made invisible, or even inaccessible, requiring some kind of advanced exhumation are completely protected from the average thief. This is the best possible way of hiding a safe – however if it’s a safe you want regular access to, this strategy might prove inconvenient, if superiorly secure.


Safes can be cut

This is why adding additional layers of concealment is such a good strategy. Although a quality safe will be protected from the average criminal, if you’re handling something truly priceless, you may be dealing with a more advanced level of burglar. It’s worth it to bear in mind that even Diamonds and Steel can be cut with the right tools – so it’s important to keep your investments secure by not only investing in the highest quality safe, but by making it as hard to access as possible.


How Criminals can Break into Safes

We are all familiar with the cinematic trope of the burglar cracking the safe by using a stethoscope to listen for the clicks – this isn’t really that common. Most criminals aren’t lockpicking experts – they are mostly concerned with getting out of there as quickly as possible. The majority of thieves will steal the entire safe; the common approach to mitigate this risk is to bolt the safe directly to the floor. This should never be done,a s then the thief can use the floor’s leverage to pry open the door of the safe with a crowbar. Expensive safes made of strong material can be broken into using angle grinders or torches – advanced and uncommon equipment, but equipment that is surely out there in the world. Whether you have a safe in your hallway closet or in a bank, they are not completely impervious – making the importance of concealment and deterrents an even more pressing issue.



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Pet Safety and Home Security

Keeping your Pets Secure

Home security doesn’t just relate to humans; it also affects our pets and animal friends. Not only is safety achieved by keeping people from breaking into your home, but it’s also achieved when certain things are kept inside your home. Different animals require different security strategies. In this blog post I’ll detail some of the essential aspects of securing your home for your pets.



Animals are often plucky and try to push what they are able to do. Depending on what kind of pet you have, they might try to escape with more gumption than others. It’s important to analyze the size and strength of your pet. The distance between any bars of fences needs to be wide enough and narrow enough that the animal can’t simply walk through it. It also needs to be high so that animals can’t jump over it. Horses, for example, can jump over fences. Gaps under fences are also a risk for any turtles, lizards, digging animals, or even cats that can dig or crawl under it. Build up the ground under fences to prevent this from happening. The fence needs to be constructed with the trends and size of your pet in your mind.



Gates need to be installed by keeping the weight, height, and mind of pets in mind – some pets can even open complicated gates. Pigs have  been known to do this. Large animals can bang into gates to try to open them; you’d be surprised how much strength they have. You need to get a strong and sturdy gate with a heavy duty lock – at the proper height, because if it’s too low, pets can go over it.


Animal Carriers and Animal Habitats

These enclosures need to be specifically sized and constructed according to the size and tendencies of your pet. You don’t want your pet to interpret it’s home as a small cage- but when you’re training a pet, using a carrier can be incredibly helpful. Kennels are a great transportation tool for pets while you’re on the road; however they should always be fasted firmly inside moving cars so that it doesn’t get banged around. Habitats are larger spaces for animals where they can run around. They operate as a self contained safe space for animals. You want to fill these with features specific for your pet – it needs toys, heat lamps, food sources, soft surfaces, or anything that you think will make it more comfortable. This provides the stability to ensure that your pet is comfortable and won’t try to run away.


Doggy Doors

If you want to get one of these, you need to make sure that they are large enough for the pet, but small enough that a human can’t get through it. Animals can squeeze – but you don’t want burglars to. If you want to install a doggy door in your front door, make sure to have a double sided deadbolt installed, just in case. Also, make sure to fence off any outdoor areas in your property to help protect your pets.



Dogs are legally required to be on leashes when they are in public – they are great methods of training dogs, and allows them to run around and be active while also being safe. All animals can be trained to walk on leashes – even lizards and cats! The handling of the leash has to be done firmly and tenderly, making sure not to hurt the pet. Fabric or metallic leashes work, but fabric is a much better choice, as they are lighter and much less likely to hurt the animal. Contrary to popular belief, tying animals to things to keep them in place is never a good idea.


ID Collars

These are amazing tools. These ensure that if your  animal escapes your home that you will be able to recover them somehow. If somebody finds your pet, it’s wearing of an ID collar mitigates the chances of it being put up for adoption or simply kept. Identification can help anyone who finds your pet return them to you, or alert them of any medical needs for the animal. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to return your pet if it does manage to get out of the house. Have your name, and address clearly printed on the Identification collar to help them know exactly where to return it.

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Solo Living Security Primer

23 Security Tips for Single Living

Since the dawn of the 20th century, the amount of people living by themselves has steadily  increased. Living alone can be exciting, lonely, organized, hedonistic, and hermetic. However living alone comes with it’s own range of safety concerns. In this blog entry I’ll detail some of the most important tips that can be of value when you’re living by yourself.



Make sure that your closest friends know your general routine, so that they notice when you’re not around or aren’t on your usual plan. If you let your friends know if you’re going to be away or if you’re unfortunately injured it’s basically creating a security net that can step in when things go wrong. People will check in on you – even if they just do so on the phone.


Consider getting a House Sitter

This can be someone who sleeps at your home when you’re away or stops by every now and then while you’re absent to check if everything is OK. This is a must if you have pets in the home that will be left unattended, as they need interaction and food. However long your house is occupied by a trustworthy person is just as long as it remains safe from burglars.


Close your Windows

Only leave windows open a crack if you need to leave an open window at night. The majority of criminals would prefer a quick and easy entry point; the majority of them would seize the opportunity to enter through an open window. If you’re keeping a window open, let it be right near where you’re sleeping – or as far from it as possible, depending on how scared you are about potential confrontation with the criminal. Otherwise, leave all your windows closed, especially when you’re not home.


Close your curtains at Night

At nighttime it’s really easy to see inside homes when the lights are on. You don’t want strangers to be able to look inside your house – they might spot valuables, get tempted on the spot, or start plotting a future break-in. Many criminals scout neighborhoods looking for signs of empty homes; meaning if you’re away, keeping your blinds closed are a must.


Keep track of who has your Keys, and Change your Locks

When you’re first moving into a place, make sure that all locks are changed; you never know what contractors the landlord has previously given keys to, and they might have copied them. Even if the previous tenant returned all their keys, you can never be too careful, so get your locks rekeyed. Many stores will copy keys regardless of any ‘do not copy’ warnings. Rekeying is the basic level of safety, and changing your locks completely is the conservative. You can choose.


Upgrade with Deadbolts

If your renter’s contract allows you to upgrade your locks, do so. By upgrading the core of your existing lock with a stronger mechanism with a deadbolt, your safety and security will increase exponentially. Upgrading locks is one of the simplest and most effective ways to up your home security levels.


Keep Track of all Spare Keys

Spare keys are a great way of preventing lockouts, but it’s important that you’re not careless with them. Bad places to leave spare keys are under mats or conspicuously placed rocks or statues. Trust us, burglars know to look for those items. By leaving a key unattended, you are increasing the chances that your home will be broken into. It’s smartest to leave your spare key with a close friend or neighbor.


Light Protection

Consider getting outdoor motion sensor lights. THis is great, because it draws attention to any weird activity happening outside your home at night. Also, as a general safety rule, make sure you keep flashlights with fresh batteries in your home in case of any blackouts or if the power gets cut.


Be private with your self-living status

This doesn’t mean become a social recluse, rather it simply means don’t constantly proclaim throughout the neighborhood that you live by yourself. It makes it much more likely that a criminal will overhear you and target you as a potential burglary victim. In apartment buildings, it’s wise to not have overt signs on display that refer to your living arrangement – for example on mailboxes or buzzers list your “Surname Residence” rather than just your full name. This way anyone inside your building won’t be able to know off the bat that you live in your apartment alone.


Adopt a Dog

There’s a reason dogs have a fantastic reputation as  guards. Dogs are both territorial and protective – they are basically like a roommate that’s always home. Having a dog in your home greatly decreases the chances that you’ll get broken into. Not only will it make you feel like you have companionship – but they will provide great protection at discouraging any criminals from messing with you – so if you have the time and responsibility level to take care of a dog, you should consider adopting one from an animal shelter. Never buy dogs at pet stores, as these procur animals from puppy mills that are run in horrible conditions, treating the dogs horribly.

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