Beat the burglars and prevent home fires | Daily News

Beat the burglars and prevent home fires

Local inventor perfects new security electric bell
H.M. Premaratna Banda with his new innovation.
H.M. Premaratna Banda with his new innovation.

H.M. Premaratna Banda (59), a former police officer, currently an OIC of a private security firm, has transformed his innate scientific passion into creativity. An unlikely inventor has provided a spark of electricity to the competitive arena of home security innovations.

His innovation will protect homes against burglars whose favourite move is to go for the power box located outside your home and disable the electricity before a break-in attempt. Also, let’s say that you fell asleep at night on the ground floor and a fire occurred on the first floor of your house.

“This is what will happen,” explained Premaratna, “the trip switch in the house will turn off protecting the wiring system, but this does not stop the fire, which will spread rapidly without your knowledge.”

“By the time you wake up to the flames, smoke, and heat, the fire has ruined everything. As a former police officer I know that a large number of fire accidents happen due to problems with electric short circuits,” he said.

Premaratna’s security innovation, which he calls, “Night Security Electric Bell” alerts the families against thieves, crooks and electric short circuits. More importantly, one does not have to spend a fortune on it.

This security device gets activated in the event of any unanticipated electricity disconnection in homes.

Premaratna said, if a burglar shuts off the main power box, the siren in the unit blares off, and a white emergency SOS light attached to it starts blinking simultaneously.

It immediately alerts the house owners and their families - say that they were asleep in the house - it alerts them when and where the trip switch turns off due to an electric short circuit.

“This way they are enabled to take necessary action against the breaker box thieves by informing the police or the neighbours or they may take action to catch the thieves by themselves,” said Premaratna.

He recently filed a patent application for this piece of equipment. The Sri Lanka Inventors Commission had accepted it after a judging process and had issued a certificate for his work.

To get all these anti-burglar and fire protection benefits, one has only to plug this piece of equipment into any power socket in the house, be it in their bedroom, the hall, or kitchen. One does not have to attach it to the main breaker box.

How it evolved

The system works with a battery-backup set up in the unit, which will activate the alarm and the emergency light, the moment the power is cut.

As per Premaratna, nobody in Sri Lanka has built a security alarm activated in a power disconnection before him. “Therefore,” he said, “I have taken steps for obtaining a patent for this equipment from the Office of Sri Lanka National Intellectual Property.”

The inventor hails from a village in Ethimale, a rural inter-provincial area in the Monaragala District of the Uva Province. He went to Wellasa Central College situated at Bibile in the area of Wellassa, Hewelwela in Monaragala. Premaratna later joined the Sri Lanka Police. He works as an OIC of Shadow Watch Security Service, whence he works as a security officer at the Colombo Hilton.

Premaratna lives with his wife and daughter. The daughter, Apsara Indrachapa is studying medicine at the Peradeniya University.

What triggered you, as a career security person, to focus your attention to devise something like the night security electricity bell, which involves syncing some scientific expertise and knowledge?

Premaratna said, “I consider myself a person who strives to understand scientific principles, how things work so to say it despite what society held for me. I could say I am a fast learner when it comes to a wide range of scientific subjects.”

“I read many books and articles on science, which has helped me a lot to understand things and to nurture my ideas.”

Has electricity been a field of particular interest to you?

“I find the interplay of forces of magnetism and electricity both fascinating and intriguing. But that is not all. Look, I used to give private tuition to Ordinary Level students in science. Biology was my Advanced Level subject stream. I could not carry my education further because of multiple financial constraints I had. What I could not do, I have provided that opportunity to my daughter. She is a medical student at the Peradeniya University.”

“The electric bell is but just one idea I have set my mind on. Currently, I am working on a project to devise a system to reduce the stopping distance of a vehicle when brakes are applied. The work concerning this is nearing completion. I am planning to apply for a patent.”

Emotional connection

When did you get the idea of creating a night security electric bell, given that there are so many modern security-monitoring systems that have come to the market using sophisticated digital technology such as CCTV cameras and others?

First of all, I must say these modern security systems are a costly affair. They are imported material. A middle-income family may not have the financial capacity to purchase equipment like that. Besides, the average users may find it challenging to get around with them. There could be complicated issues associated with their maintenance as well.

The new alarm will be less costly. An average low to middle-income house-owner would be able to afford its price. It is easy to handle. Should there be repair, any radio and TV technician in your area will be able to repair it in a short time. More importantly, it will work.

The idea of creating a piece of equipment that would alert the inmates of a house came to my mind a long time ago, when my daughter was three or four years old.

The three of us went to sleep with doors and windows closed to keep out the cold. I had a good knowledge about burglars and vandals in the neighbourhood as a police officer.

But this is not what happened. The time was around 1.30 am. We were not asleep at that time because our daughter was crying. We found no electricity in the house, and there was a burnt smell all around with smoke. We realised that the circuit breaker has tripped off because of an electrical short-circuit.

It was fortunate that we were awake at that time and were able to put out the fire with minimal damage to property or life.

I thought what if we were asleep at the time? Then I would be putting my family at the risk of a fire. The circuit breaker tripped out during the fire, but the fire kept spreading. This incident stayed in my memory for a long time.

So is it correct to say your motivation has come from a personal experience?

It had a strong influence on me. But to create something, you have to be inspired by circumstances, the environment, and the characters you associate with, such as your parents, friends, teachers, bosses, and others. You will have to apply yourself with unwavering effort. I must say I had a great O/L Science teacher at my school called Kantha Lamahewa, who inspired my science path.

At best, the night security electric bell can get burglars running. With that turned on, you do not have to undergo unsettling post-trauma effects after a burglary.