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Home Energy Saving Checklist

by Amy August 26, 2016

Home Energy

There are various approaches to take in order to reduce your utility bill, and based on the season, these bills will always fluctuate. In order to reduce your energy footprint, these suggestions have been provided by the Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings, combined with home automation tips.

• Turn down the temperature of your water heater to a warm setting, rather than hot. It is recommended to be set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, check if your water heater has an insulating blanket. This insulation helps reduce the loss of heat and will affect your bill in a positive way. This normally accounts for 14-25% of the energy consumed in your home.
• Make sure your furnace or heat pump receives professional maintenance every year.
• Consider exchanging your light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights, otherwise known as CFLs. Another great option is light-emitting diodes, known as LEDs. These bulbs can save up to 3/4 of the electricity used by basic light bulbs. Bulbs with 60-100 Watts are ideal for energy conservation.
• Turn off the lights when you are not in the room. Installing timers or occupancy sensors is also a great way to make sure the lights are always turned off behind you. Automated lighting is a great way to control your lighting energy costs.
• Keep large electronics turned off when they are not in use. For example, if you’re not going to use your desktop computer for more than two hours, it is a great idea to turn off the monitor and CPU system in order to reduce energy use. This tip should also be applied to any equipment that drains energy when it is not in use. Cell phone chargers, fans, coffee machines, printers, and radios all drain energy even when they are turned off but still plugged into the wall.
• Install a programmable thermostat that will adjust the temperature according to your life schedule. This way the house can be comfortable when you arrive home, but not wasting energy to keep it at one temperature the entire day. Automated thermostats are an easy way to ensure that heating or cooling spend is used most efficiently.
• Clean or replace filters for your furnace, air conditioner, and heat pump yearly.
• Check your windows for leaks or drafts. Add film or caulk to all of these areas in order to reduce wasted energy. The typical home loses more than 25% of its heat through windows.
• Insulate hot water pipes. Also, insulate your heating ducts in areas like the attic and crawl spaces. This can prevent up to 60% of heat loss.
• Be aware of your major appliances’ efficiency. Upgrading to a newer, energy-efficient appliance will lower costs as well.
• Consider planting tall trees and shrubs around the west side of your house. This will create natural shade and reduce air conditioning costs.
• Washing clothes in cold water is also known to reduce costs. It is also beneficial to hang dry your clothes when possible to reduce the use of the dryer. Ensure your dryer vent is clear of lint so the door will fully close.

Using these tips will reduce the use of energy in your home. Gather your electricity and fuel bills and compare their costs from month to month in order to recognize your progress. For more information on home energy conservation, and to view a helpful checklist, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s web site. View My Alarm Center’s home automation offerings to help you save an average of 15% on your home energy bills.

Source: http://energy.gov/eere/femp/home-energy-checklist

Back to School Child Safety Tips

by Cassie August 9, 2016

School Safety Tips

The school year is starting up. While you are out buying school supplies and new outfits, take the time to teach your children school safety tips as well. Review safety tips for transportation and also emergency contact information. If an emergency does arise, be confident that your child will know what to do because you’ve taught them how to respond. Use these safety tips to ensure your child stays safe this school year.

School Bus Safety: The American Red Cross informs children on how to stay safe while riding the school bus. Security tips include how to wait to board the bus until it has come to a complete stop and the driver instructs them to get on. Your child should ensure that they are always getting on to their designated school bus, no alternatives.
Carpool Safety: If your neighborhood is participating in a carpool, make sure that every driver in the group is following proper safety protocol. All passengers need to be buckled, and anyone who is under 13 years old should travel in the back. Never attempt to overload a car full of children to save a trip. Travel safety tips are available on safecar.gov and provide feedback for parents on how to keep their children safe on the way to and from school.
Walking Safety: Children 10 years old and younger should always be accompanied by an adult on their way to and from school. Teach them the basic traffic laws of a walking pedestrian by abiding by crosswalk rules and walking traffic lights. Inform them to always look both ways before crossing any streets and avoid approaching strangers if possible.
Stranger Danger: Make sure to inform your child of “Stranger Danger.” It is not wise to create panic necessarily, but it is essential to explain to your child that not all people have good intentions and it is possible for bad things to happen when dealing with strangers.
Contact Information: It is important that your child remembers what number to call in case there is an emergency. All children should know their home phone number and address. Try to get them to memorize your personal phone number, and give them a piece of paper to keep in their backpack with all other emergency contacts.
Know School Policy: Determine the policy for your school in case of an emergency. It is also important to know their policies on releasing students early from school and what is needed from visitors. It is important for you to feel that your child is always safe while at school.
After School: Howtolearn.com suggests many tips to teach your children if they are going to be coming home to an empty house after school. It is important that you teach them how to be safe while they are home alone. Show them to lock the front door as soon as they come home, and to keep all other doors locked while you are not home. Your child should also never answer the front door to any strangers while no one else is home. My Alarm Center offers home security systems, that enable parents to receive alerts when children arrive home.

Whether your child is at school, coming to or from school, or home alone after school, make sure they always know what to do in order to stay safe. Role playing is suggested by experts so that you know exactly how your child will respond in an emergency situation and teach them how to handle it properly.

Sources:
http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Keep-it-Safe-When-You-Head-Back-to-School
http://www.safercar.gov/parents/OnTheMove/BackToSchool.htm
http://www.howtolearn.com/2013/09/back-to-school-home-security-tips-your-kids-need-to-know/

Monitored Fire and CO Detectors vs. Standard Alarms

by Amy July 27, 2016

Monitored Fire detector

Traditional smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are commonplace across homes in the U.S. These alarms are considered the basic, necessary alert to indicate a fire or CO concern, but they are only as useful as the audible alarms they emit; if no one is present at the time of the alert, the property, valuables, and pets are at the mercy of a neighbor or passerby and their ability to alert local emergency authorities quickly.

The alternative, a professionally monitored fire and carbon monoxide system, means the difference between a few minutes of response time and potentially hours.

See the benefits of a professionally monitored fire alarm and CO detector system:
1. Linked to a central monitoring system, a monitored alarm will summon the appropriate help immediately, whether you are home or not, or are unable to hear the alarm.

2. Many times, occupants of the home are suffering from CO or smoke inhalation and may not be conscious enough to contact local authorities; a monitored system removes that risk.

3. Children, elderly individuals and pets may be unable to contact emergency response services in the event of a home fire or carbon monoxide situation; a monitored alarm system can be their voice.

4. Not all fires damage the entirety of the home, but if left unattended by a professional, those fires can potentially impact the majority of the property over time. If quickly acted upon, both the home and personal belongs can be saved in many cases.

5. Gain peace of mind of knowing whether you are home or away, that your home and its occupants are professionally protected in the event of a fire or CO detection.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 84% of fire related deaths are due to home fires. Carbon monoxide kills an average of 400 Americans each year, as reported by US Product Safety Commission office. The risks are real and the security of your family is number one. My Alarm Center is proud to offer monitored fire alarms and monitored CO alarms across the U.S., from Seattle to Philadelphia. View the monitored fire alarm video for more information on the difference between a standard alarm and a monitored home alarm system.

8 Vacation Security Tips for your Home

by Cassie July 11, 2016

vacation security

It’s difficult to go away for an extended amount of time and not worry about the security of your home. By taking precautions before leaving, you gain peace of mind and improved home security. Here are 10 ways to prepare your home’s security for an upcoming vacation:

1. Ask a friend to keep an eye on your home
The key objective to finding a house sitter is to continue to make the home appear occupied. If you don’t plan to have someone stay in your home while you are gone, it is a good idea to have someone stop by at least once a day or minimally ask your neighbors to keep an eye out. By asking a friend to remove the mail, adjust lights and take care of the trash pickup, it shows that the home is occupied which can deter an intruder. Of course, make sure you choose a reliable and trustworthy person to monitor your home . Have trouble finding someone to keep an eye on your home? You can always consider adding a home automation system for advanced lighting control, helping to make your home appear occupied with custom scheduling. Make your house a smart home and enjoy the added benefits of climate control as well as state of the art security monitoring with real time alerts.

2. Don’t post vacation plans on social media

Even though you are excited for your upcoming vacation, it’s safest to share your experience after you’re back. If you post about your upcoming trip, you’re sharing that your home will be vacant in the upcoming weeks on public networks, which is a security risk . Also, refrain from posting photos during your getaway, no matter how beautiful, until you return home. Giving away your current status is another security risk for your potentially vacant home.

3. Stop your Mail service
Contact your local Post Office and place a “stop” order on your mail. A few days’ worth of mail piled in your mailbox or at your door step is a clear indication that no one is home to pick it up. The same idea applies to newspapers. If you have a difficult time stopping either service, ask a friend or neighbor to retrieve your mail and papers.

4. Remove spare keys
Make sure you remove spare keys that are hidden on the outside of your property. If they are tipped off that no one is in the house, an intruder will be tempted to look for a spare key. Avoid the risk of someone finding the key by removing it entirely. With digital keypads, you can remove the need for spare key placement, but still enable your pet sitter or neighbor to access your home.

5. Keep the landscape trimmed
In order to keep the house appearing occupied it is important to maintain normalcy from the outside. If you are a diligent homeowner who keeps their lawn in great shape, keep up this routine. If you plan on being away for an extended time period, hire someone to cut the grass while you are away. Leaving the yard untidy is a clear indication that no one is around to take care of it.

6. Make sure you lock up
It may seem obvious, but make sure you lock all windows and doors. If the deadbolt to the garage is usually left unlatched, now is the time to lock it. With the home being fully locked, it becomes less attractive as a target to intruders who are looking for a quick entry point. Double check your windows and doors upon your departure.

7. Protect your vehicle
If you are leaving on an extended vacation and parking your car at the airport or elsewhere, make sure it is in a secure location. Also, remove the garage door opener from your car. This could provide an access point into your house if an intruder gets into your vehicle.

8. Install a home security system
Installing a home security system provides you peace of mind with 24/7 professional monitoring , alerting local authorities to any security breaches. Plus, alarm systems deter potential intruders from entering your home. Additionally, home security systems can alert you remotely if there are any movements or changes within your home, even when the pet sitter does not arrive.
Before you leave for vacation, make sure you take the necessary precautions to prepare your home. Just a few minutes of preparation could save your home from any unexpected visitors and provide you peace of mind for the duration of your tip. Enjoy your vacation and ensure your home will be safe and sound until your return.

Safety Tips for the Fourth of July

by Amy June 21, 2016

fourth of july safety

 

 

This Fourth of July, enjoy your family and friends while staying safe! Follow these safety tips in order to have a fun day and protect all of your guests.

Grilling Safety

We all love a classic hot dog or cheeseburger fresh off the grill. Make sure that grilling is done in a safe area and monitored by a responsible adult. Here are other precautions, including tips from the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association.

  • Check gas grill lines for cracks, holes, and leaks
  • Make sure that children are monitored and stay a safe distance away from the grill
  • Never grill indoors, in the garage, an enclosed area, or close to any surface that could catch fire
  • Ensure the grill is at least two feet away from decks, siding, or outdoor equipment
  • Avoid a grease fire by keep the grill clean and avoiding fat buildup
  • Never leave the grill unattended while in use
  • Wear safe clothing, free of loose sleeves, string, etc. that may catch fire

Sparkler and Fireworks Safety

The staple of a Fourth of July celebration is fireworks but firework materials can be dangerous. Take the proper precautions in order to protect everyone present at your holiday event. Here are tips to prevent a firework safety incident, including recommendations from The National Council on Fireworks Safety.

  • Make sure to use fireworks in a safe area that is dry and fire resistant
  • Don’t point sparklers or fireworks at yourself or others
  • Do not allow young children access to handle fireworks and make sure they are always supervised
  • Always have a fire extinguisher or hose available while using fireworks
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers
  • Read all caution labels carefully before using any fire materials
  • Obey your local laws for your county
  • Use safety goggles or protective equipment while using fireworks
  • While using sparklers, use them away from other people and make sure a responsible adult is lighting the material
  • Make sure to have a bucket of water to put the sparklers in after they are used

Water Safety

If you plan to spend the Fourth of July at the pool, beach, or lake, make sure you take the time to plan ahead accordingly. These water tips, including recommendations from the American Red Cross, will help keep your family safe!

  • Never consume alcohol while using water vehicles
  • Always double check there are enough life preservers available if needed
  • Ensure the pool is in an enclosed area to restrict who can and cannot enter the pool
  • Make sure a lifeguard is present, or a responsible individual is monitoring water activities
  • Review water safety tips with all of your guests, especially children
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings
  • Keep a first aid kit present near the pool
  • Stay hydrated and keep water available
  • Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water that could be cold in temperature or hazardous

At My Alarm Center, we’re here to help protect your family and wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Home Automation Gifts for Dad

by Cassie June 13, 2016

 

Home Automation Gift

Home Automation Gifts for Dad

This year for Father’s Day, get your dad the gift of home automation. Not only will he love receiving the latest technology, but he will gain daily convenience and peace of mind, with increased home security.  Here are a few of the ways that home automation can help simplify his life and increase your family’s home security:

Keep Doors and Windows Closed

By providing your dad with a home automation system, he won’t have to worry if the garage door was left open once he sits down to relax for the night. Through automated sensors, he can simply check from his mobile device and close it with the push of a button and rest easy knowing that his lawn equipment or big kid toys are secured. Dad can check for open windows while traveling and ensure that the home is secure from anywhere.

Adjust the Thermostat

Many dads take responsibility for managing the thermostat to reduce heating costs. Most often, Dads choose to keep the house cool at night and then adjust it in the morning, to a more comfortable temperature. With smart home technology, Dad can adjust the temperature right from his mobile device or schedule the temperate change to occur at customized times of the day or night, ongoing. Manually changing the thermostat is a fatherly task of the past.

Improve Home Security

When we hear a bump in the night, Dad is usually the one who investigates. Now, he can be the protector of the castle without leaving his bedroom. Using wireless cellular monitoring, and a smart home app, Dad can monitor surveillance cameras to check on the family. Dad can also ensure that the home is secure while traveling, providing increased rest and relaxation.

Eliminate Keys

Dad will never have to worry about locking out any family members or hiding a spare key. Secure key pads provide an easy way to unlock the door through the home automation system. He’ll never have to wonder if the kids are able to get into the house after school or if the dog walker made it in time, giving him undeniable peace of mind. He can allow contractors or friends into the home remotely with the touch of a button and reduce security risks caused by handing out spare keys.

Keep Tabs on the Family

Dad will now have the ability to receive alerts on home arrivals and departures. Home sensors detect motion and alert Dad to movement in designated locations in the home, even ones that are out of sight.

Detect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide

Monitored smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors give Dad peace of mind and protects your family’s home and pets. This smart home gadget sends mobile device notifications and alerts local authorities in the event of smoke or carbon monoxide detection, even when no one is home. This way, your home and pets are safe even when family members aren’t present. It can work with or without a home security system being armed and is professional monitored for total peace of mind.

When deciding what gift to get Dad for Father’s Day, home automation is the gift that keeps giving peace of mind and convenience, every day. The benefit list doesn’t end here! Contact My Alarm Center to learn more about home automation and the packages we offer from coast to coast, from Philadelphia to Seattle.

Summer Home Security Tips

by Amy May 25, 2016

Home Security Tips for Summer

 

The weather conditions during the summer season encourage homeowners to naturally become a bit lackadaisical with their home security. Opening doors and windows for that summer breeze and causally straying over to neighbors houses, all the while, leaving their home at risk for a break-in. Homeowners can protect summer fun, personal possessions and family members with several easy security precautions. Check out these summer home security tips:

Door Security

Doors should be locked to keep intruders out of a home regardless of the season. You may be resting on a chaise lounge chair after cutting the grass and then suddenly fall asleep on a cozy backyard patio. The back door to your home and the door to your garage may be unlocked while you are napping after your chores. Those doors could have been locked with a gentle push from your finger. Or even more convenient and safe, home owners can rely on home security systems with automation, which can automatically lock your doors with a remote feature, without worry. Also, surveillance cameras can be used to detect prowlers who are near a front porch or a driveway.

Windows Security

Windows are not typically used for entering a home but do provide an excellent opportunity for an intruder while you’re attempting to get a cool breeze before bed time. You should remember to close and lock all windows, especially before you leave your home. The small effort that you will use to lock those windows will be much less than the effort that you will use if you are forced to repair damages after a burglary.

Garage Security

A homeowner may not lock a garage door while he or she is using a hedge trimmer to trim a bush. The door may not be locked while the grass is being cut or while the homeowner is using a garden tiller in a vegetable garden. You may wash your car and then suddenly go inside the house to quickly answer the phone. If the garage door is not locked, then an intruder could easily steal power tools from your garage or enter at a later point if you neglect to close up securely when you’re finished working or relaxing outside.

Fence Gate Security

The gates for fences should also have high-quality locks, which will provide you with an additional layer of protection. An intruder would be forced to open the gate before having access to the doors for your home. Gates and doorways are excellent locations for motion sensors. If an intruder is on your property, then the motion sensor would activate a light, which would provide favorable conditions for a surveillance camera, and even better yet a deterrent!

Deck Security

The warm weather conditions can lull homeowners into a false sense of security because there are fewer problems while the flowers are in bloom. Family members may go to the backyard deck for quiet moments and for quality time. The lawn furniture, gas grills and bicycles on backyard decks can attract thieves. A Home security system discourages thieves and reduces the risks for a home break in.

As summer settles in, make sure to protect your home and protect your family with these home security tips.

How Home Automation Boosts Home Value

by Cassie May 16, 2016

 

Home Automation Home Value

Home automation refers to the electronic and automatic control of household activity, appliances and other features. With a home automation system, a homeowner can lock and unlock the doors, adjust the temperature of their home, turn the lights on or off and even open and close the blinds, all from their tablet or smartphone, using an automated service such as My Alarm Center’s MyHome. Investing in smart home technology can provide both convenience and additional security, both of which are appealing to prospective buyers. Here are some of the ways home automation can increase a home’s value.

Latest Technology

Millennials are accustomed to using technology in their daily routines. As this generation’s presence grows as first time home buyers and repeat home buyers, meeting their technological expectations in the housing market will best serve the home sellers profit interests. In fact, the National Association of Home Builders and the Consumer Electronics Association reports that a home automation system can increase the value of the home by three to five percent when it comes time to resell.

Increased Energy Efficiency

Many first-time home buyers are leading the way towards a greener environment. Interest in sustainable living has risen significantly in recent years. Incorporating home automation technology into a new or existing home makes it simple to reduce your home’s carbon footprint by lowering energy consumption.

Many home automation systems feature energy-saving smart lighting and energy consumption controls. These features allow homeowners to turn their appliances on and off remotely. They can automatically program climate control systems. Automated faucets and irrigation can help reduce water usage, as well. In addition to increasing the appeal of your home when it comes time to sell, home automation systems can save you money on energy bills until you do sell. In fact, energy savings can be significant and, over time, can completely offset the costs to automate a home.

Safety and Security

Home automation systems provide the latest technology in home security. With these systems, homeowners can remotely monitor indoor and outdoor home cameras. They can receive text message alerts when the kids come home from school. They can also monitor their pets when they are away from home. Some systems allow homeowners to remotely view delivery packages left at the front door, turn lights on and off when away on vacation and even institute safety measures when a carbon monoxide leak or water leak is detected in their home.

Home automation adds an increased level of safety and convenience for potential home buyers. In addition, many savvy home buyers understand that home automation systems have the potential to save a significant amount of money over the long run by lowering energy bills, reducing theft and even preventing catastrophic damage from burst pipes and carbon monoxide leaks. My Alarm Center is here to help protect your current home and help you increase the value of your property when it comes time to sell.

How to Keep Safe in Door Knocker Season – My Alarm Center

by Amy May 2, 2016

Door Knocker Safety

Warm, pleasant weather means more time for your family outside, but also more door to door sales activity. Many sales people are innocent and easy to direct away from your home, but there are some door knockers who have less admirable ambitions about approaching your home, such as tricking people into scams and selling low quality goods, so it’s important to be on guard at all times. Here are effective tips to keep you and your family safe in the event of a door knocker security situation.

You Shouldn’t Feel Pressure

A good sales person will be encouraging and engaging, but a questionable door knocker will turn the pressure on high from the start and keep demanding your agreement. For example, some sales people will turn up the pressure by telling you that this is a once in a life time opportunity, making you feel that you have no option but to commit, or that the supply is very limited so you must act now. These claims are only meant to make you feel uncomfortable, and pressure you. It will only get worse if you let them continue, so it’s best to remove yourself from the discussion and direct them away.

Charities Claims Aren’t All True

Supporting a charity is a positive contribution to your community, but some people use charitable organizations as a way to collect money from trusting people and use it for profitable gains. Rather than committing to a charity at the time of solicitation, document the charity’s information and tell the person that you’ll donate online or at a local establishment at a later time. If the person does not react kindly to that action, beware of pressure and proceed cautiously. You can continue by stating that you have no cash on hand and you may donate later, at another time or online.

Be Mindful of Signing Contracts At Your Door

Contracts are binding, and many unethical door knockers are providing contracts that support their or their businesses objective, not you as a consumer. If the topic of conversation is interesting to you, offer to take a copy of the contract to review it for legitimacy first.  For home security companies, door to door sales agents may make false claims about your existing security system.  Keep your existing security system agreement in mind and be aware of pressure from a competing company. It’s also very important to remember that it is your right to nullify any contract signed through a door to door transaction as long as you do it within three days of signing.

Research and Validate

Does the product or service really speak to your needs and seem too good to pass up? It’s best to still decline the door to door offer and research the company and reviews online first, before making a commitment. While not every product, business or service may be found on the Internet, most legitimate ones will have an online presence, especially on social media. Check reviews, scam alert websites, discussion boards and more for information.

Keep the Door Closed

It’s not rude to leave the door unanswered to stay safe and keep away from questionable door knockers approaching your home. It’s the easiest way to avoid a confrontation or scam. Also, it’s important to never let a door to door sales person in your home. There is no reason for them to conduct business anywhere other than outside.

At My Alarm Center, our purpose is to keep you and your home safe, from coast to coast. Let us know if you have any questions on door to door knockers.

5 Secrets Home Burglars Are Keeping from You

by Cassie April 13, 2016

Home Break In

It is every home owner’s worst nightmare. Returning home from a relaxing vacation with your family only to find your home has been ravaged and ransacked. Every drawer is turned over, photographs litter the floor, household items destroyed, and prized personal belongings are just gone. Why me? What could I have done to prevent this from happening to me? Should I have gotten one of those home security systems and security cameras?

Prevent this from happening to you. Here are five secrets burglars don’t want you to know to prevent a home security breach:

1. They watch your house. You may remember them. That friendly passerby walking his dog that waved when you walked out to get the mail wasn’t just a new face in the neighborhood, he was staking out your house. What could he see when your door was open? Nice furniture, big TVs, gaming systems? Or the repair man that walked through your home to the kitchen to fix the sink. He really was just as nice as could be, but he was really analyzing the layout of your house. What is the best way to get upstairs, where jewelry, money, and prescription drugs are kept? Anything valuable downstairs that could be easily grabbed on the way out?

2. They avoid houses with dogs, too much risk. Burglars avoid houses with dogs. Why risk breaking into a house with an alive alarm system that can bite? So yes, even little Fido is protecting you.

3. No matter how safe your neighborhood is, an unlocked door or window might as well be an invitation. Five minutes is plenty of time to rob you blind when the front door is unlocked. The barrier between them and your home is gone, now they can quickly get in and out without anything in their way.

4. Have neighbors pick up your mail, newspapers, shovel your driveway, anything that makes it look like someone’s home when you are out of town. Full mailboxes and newspapers in the driveway screams that no one is home and hasn’t been for a few days. For those semi-professional burglars, they may know which day of the week is garbage day after casing the neighborhood for a few weeks and target a house that did not put their garbage cans out.

5. Home security systems and security cameras work! One of the main reasons thieves have decided to break into your home is because it’s easy and they aren’t likely to get caught. When they are casing a house to rob, that is one thing they look out for. Is there a camera that will show my face? Is there an alarm system that will alert police, who will be waiting for me when I step outside the house? Most importantly, advertise that you have one of the home security systems and security cameras! Don’t be shy! Make sure to get a My Alarm Center sign to put in your yard that you can display clearly.

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