The holidays are around the corner. It’s time to decorate. Light candles. Put the fireplace to good use. It’s a wonderful time of year. But it’s also one with extra potential for fire hazards.
If you live with dogs — and you’re just a bit of a worrier like me — you might find yourself wondering what would happen if there’s a fire and your pets are home but you’re not.
This is one of those nightmare scenarios that is so scary, I don’t even want to think about it. I have those Animals Inside stickers on my windows that list my pets’ names and species (available free from the ASPCA), but still. As much as I try not to read the stories about human and pet casualties of a house fire, the headlines still stick in my brain.
Will the firefighters have time to check? What about dogs like Tucker, who army crawls under my bed when he wants to feel safe (usually to escape the cats)? Or Jasper, who gets so wigged out when he smells smoke (like the time apple pie juice burned in the bottom of my oven), that he runs around and cries. Or Lilah, black as night, who disappears in the shadows?
This is what the folks at Leeo were thinking about when they developed the Smart Alert nightlight, a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm detector.
The device, which retails for $99, gives you peace of mind. An incredibly simple gadget, it plugs into any outlet and continuously monitors your home for the sound of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If they go off, Leeo immediately calls and texts so that you can take quick action to protect your pets and your home.
It looks just like a nightlight — and it installs like one: Just plug it in.
Leeo’s basic job is to listen. If it detects the sound of your alarms, it notifies you. Don’t worry; Leeo does not record your conversations or report back to central control with hilarious replays of the argument you had with your significant other about whether your dog Harley absolutely needs another dog bed even though he ignores the three he already has and sleeps on the couch.
Download the free Leeo app, and it basically walks you through the setup, which takes only a few minutes. Once it finds the Leeo device, you enter your name, address, and cell phone number, as well as contact information of others you would want to notify in case of an emergency (such as all family members — even if they disagree about the dog bed).
The user interface is intuitive, but if you need a little help, there are several short videos on the Leeo website.
We felt the best place for our Leeo was in our dining room, which is essentially in the center of our home, where it could hear all our alarms.
In addition to our own smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, we also have detectors that are hooked up to a central alarm system and connected to an alarm company.
Before I tested the alarms, I brought the dogs outside to play in our backyard. You may want to find someone to take your pup for a walk if you think the alarm might stress him or her.
Testing was easy; it took less than a minute for the notice from Leeo to come through on my phone. When I didn’t respond, I got an automated phone call. It was very, very fast.
The alert notification that comes from Leeo allows you to listen to the sound of the alarm, to confirm that it is, indeed, going off. There’s a link to enable you to call 911 with one touch. If you don’t respond to the text, Leeo will call you and automatically play the sound the device heard. The automated system asks if you would like to be sent the phone number for the local fire department, which in our town is dispatched through the police. And they got it right, though I probably would have called 911.
We also tested the central system, the one hooked up to an alarm company. That didn’t work out exactly as planned. (Note to self: Next time you want to test the central alarm, ask the alarm company to put the system into test mode first.) After the friendly firemen left, and after the helpful customer service person put our central alarm in test mode, we successfully tested Leeo with our central system.
To be honest, I heard from Leeo faster than our alarm company.
Leeo also keeps track of the temperature or humidity in your home, and lets you know if it deviates from the parameters you set. (It’s a good way to know if your AC or furnace stops working.)
One of my favorite features (for no other reason than it’s fun to play with) is the ability to change the colors and intensity of the nightlight. I will not divulge how long I played with the color picker part of the app to tune it to the perfect shade of turquoise to match my dining room. Let’s just say that the next time there’s a bored child (or adult) visiting my home, I will hand her the app and let her play. And maybe join her. If your phone is not at hand, you can adjust the brightness by turning the ring on the Leeo itself.
Overall, I was quite impressed with Leeo. It’s well designed, easy to use, and performs exactly as expected. For $99, it buys a whole lot of peace of mind.
Available: From the Leeo site, as well as online retailers and electronics stores.
Mobile app: Free, available for iPhone 4S or later running iOS 8+ or Android phone running 4.3+.
Outlet: Plugs into any standard U.S. electrical outlet.
Requires: In-home WiFi.
Quality: Well made with high marks for usability and functionality.
Style: Functional, and the design is simple enough to match any decor.
Function: It worked exactly as expected when tested, and I was informed faster than my external alarm company.
Creativity: From the device itself to the website, instructions, and app, Leeo uses creativity to make the experience exceptional.
Value: $99 for peace of mind? I’ll take it.
Leeo is a detector detector; it listens for the sound of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors going off, and notifies you via phone or text. Whether you have store-bought devices or a central alarm system, (or both if you’re a worry wart like me), Leeo will let you know when one of them is sounding. I feel better leaving four cats and three dogs home alone knowing that Leeo is listening for the sound of those alarms. If I wasn’t given the device to test for free, I would have purchased it.
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About the author: Susan C. Willett is a writer, photographer, and blogger whose award-winning original stories, photography, poetry, and humor can be found at Life With Dogs and Cats. She lives in New Jersey with three dogs and four cats (all rescues) and at least a couple of humans–all of whom provide inspiration for her work. Refusing to take sides in the interweb’s dogs vs. cats debate, Susan enjoys observing the interspecies interaction among the varied inhabitants of her home–like living in a reality TV show, only furrier. In addition to Life With Dogs and Cats, you can find more Lilah, Jasper, and Tucker (and the rest of the gang) on Haiku by Dog™, Haiku by Cat™, and Dogs and Cats Texting.