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Portable Door Alarm Can Keep Intruders Away : Other products include a soothing sound machine, an emergency data card and an anti-bacterial toothbrush.

February 07, 1993|JUDI DASH | Dash is former travel editor of The Record in Hackensack, N.J. Her Gear and Gadgets column appears monthly in the Travel section.

Recently, a New York television crew showed on hidden camera how easily intruders could get access to guest keys and guest rooms in some of the city's top hotels--and other investigative stories have revealed similar problems in hotels around the world. The situation, which could be life-threatening if the guest is unfortunate enough to be in at the time, has prompted countermeasures.

For example, Telko, which manufactures a wide range of business and home security devices, has developed a portable door alarm that sends out piercing alarm beeps or loud chime sounds if the door is jarred or the knob turned.

The vibration-sensing alarm hangs over the inside door knob and can be set to either chime or alarm. A dial adjusts the alarm-activation time to between five and 15 seconds of being jostled. The alarm operates on one 9-volt battery (not included), and there's a tiny red light that glows if the battery is low. The alarm comes with two red-and-white warning stickers stating that the "premises are protected by electronic surveillance."

I tried the alarm on my apartment door. It worked so well that my next-door neighbor came rushing over to find out if I was in trouble. The long beeping alarm is far more piercing than the three-note chime sound--and thus, in my opinion, more effective. The timing device on my alarm was ineffectual. No matter how I set the dial, from five to 15 seconds, the alarm went off as soon as the doorknob was turned. The defect didn't seem to make the alarm less effective, just more trigger-happy.

While gentle knocking on the door (as a hotel maid or room-service waiter might do) will not trip the alarm, hotel personnel who abruptly enter the room while the alarm is set will no doubt get quite a scare. Any traveler who has had the misfortune of being walked in on at an inopportune moment by a housekeeper or waiter who has neglected to knock first (a serious breach of hotel protocol), no doubt will relish this opportunity for both forewarning and revenge.

Home Security Vibration Door Alarm/Chime (334175), $14.95 from The Safety Zone, (800) 879-7070. A similar model offers a choice between a piercing alarm and dog barks (in lieu of chimes). The Safety Zone sells this version, (334144), for $19.95. No matter how sincerely you ask for a quiet hotel room, there's no guarantee that outside sounds won't intrude. Airplane noise, loud neighbors, comings and goings in the hallway, and the beeps and screeches of road traffic can conspire to make a good night's sleep maddeningly elusive. The Marsona Portable Environmental Sound Machine takes a queue from "white sound" devices New Yorkers have been using for years to mask the sounds of the city. Just plug in the machine (dual-voltage adapter is included), select the environmental sound you prefer ("rainfall" or "waterfall" or a mixture of the two) and adjust the volume to suit.

The machine worked fine for me but is unlikely to calm light sleepers who are kept awake by all sound, water sounds included. Also, really loud neighbors and external noise will break right through the sweet pitter-patter background. Still, for blocking low-level noise intrusions, I found the Sound Machine comforting indeed.

Marsona Portable Environmental Sound Machine (30709M), $119.95 from Hammacher-Schlemmer, (800) 543-3366. A domestic-voltage model for 110-voltage outlets only (30708M) is $99.95. In traffic accidents or other health emergencies, speedy treatment often is of the essence. But if the patient is in shock or unconscious (or simply doesn't remember key information such as blood type or allergies to medications), getting timely treatment can be jeopardized.

HealthShield Resource Data, an Ohio company, manufactures a credit-card-size Emergency Medical Data Card that goes far beyond the bare-bones information provided on medical alert tags and bracelets. The process works like this: You fill out a legal-size form with an extensive amount of information, including allergies to foods or medications, hospitalization history, health insurance details, names and phone numbers of religious counselors and emergency contacts, even emergency surgery and organ-donor authorizations. (You can leave any questions you find intrusive blank.)

You mail the form to HealthShield, which has the document reproduced on microfilm measuring 1 1/4 inches by 1 inch. The microfilm is laminated onto an ID card, which is labeled "Healthshield Emergency Medical Data" in bright blue and red letters. The back of the card contains the instructions that the information can be read with the help of a magnifying glass, microscope or microfiche reader. The ID contains a warning that medical information may have changed since the card's issuance. Of course, much depends on the card being found in a timely fashion and on hospital personnel's willingness to take the time and effort to decipher it. Even so, as they say, it couldn't hurt.

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