Home security begins, well, at home. Fortunately, the "newer, better, cheaper" imperative of tech innovation is on the march here as much as in home entertainment. For protection against intruders, you can get a phone that meshes with your home-security system and doubles as a panic button. From fire-fighter-grade smoke masks to next-generation smoke detectors to a GPS collar that makes it easy to keep track of Rover no matter where he roams, here are gadgets to take care of everyone in the family.
SUPERSMART SMOKE DETECTORS Smoke detectors have made a big leap forward thanks to some simple wireless communication. First Alert and Kidde, the Coke and Pepsi of the smoke-detector business, have new systems that allow battery-powered detectors to share information when a potential fire is brewing. That way alarms can alert everyone in the house, not just those closest to the danger. Best of all, the systems are simple to set up: instead of wading through complex wiring diagrams or calling in the pros for an expensive installation, you just buy a few detectors, place them throughout your home and link them wirelessly with the touch of a button.
FIRST ALERT has three different models in its OneLink line firstalert.com $50 to $90 a unit), currently available at Home Depot. The priciest includes smoke and carbon-monoxide detection and talks aloud, announcing throughout the house the specific location where a hazard has been detected.
The KIDDE WIRELESS SYSTEM includes a detector and the SmokeSounder add-on alarm, which features a lower-frequency siren for the hearing-impaired and spoken alerts that kids can easily understand www.kiddeus.com $50 each for detector and SmokeSounder, available at Lowe's).
PRO TOOLS: XCAPER SMOKE MASK KIT Fire fighters have long used special masks that completely block hazardous fire-borne toxins like carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide. You can get the same level of protection with the Xcaper Smoke Mask kit myxcaper.com $50). The lightweight portable package includes goggles and a powerful pocket-size flashlight--perfect for any fire emergency at home or away.
A PHONE FOR HELP If you have an ADT security system, the Panasonic KX-TG2970B SecurityLink cordless phone panasonic.com and adt.com $200) can extend your home-security capabilities. The phone acts as a mobile control unit to arm or disarm your system from anywhere in the house, and it emits audible warnings if a sensor is triggered on your grounds. The phone features panic-button options that put you in immediate touch with the security company and a 24-hour emergency-power backup, so that it can keep protecting you even during a blackout.
FINDING FIDO GlobalPetFinder is a GPS collar that enables you to track your missing dog via cell phone, PDA or computer. Given the cost--$350 plus a monthly $18 to $20--it's best for only those pooches most likely to wander • The less pricey PupLight ($20), a collar-hung safety flashlight, helps locate your dog at campsites and sheds light during nighttime walks