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5 Simple Tips for a Safe Winter

You know the security basics — having a security system, posting your security signs and stickers, keeping your property clean and landscaped and having good lighting. But with the colder, rainier weather comes a whole new set of winter safety tips and security measures to consider.

We’ve gathered a list of some easy items to check off your list to help keep your property secure in these longer, darker and rainier months.

Clean your video surveillance camera lenses

Weather happens. Dust collects. Spiders settle in. All of these factor into the visibility of your security camera lens. And since the whole purpose of the camera is to be able to see what’s going on (or what has gone on), keeping the camera lens clean is essential. To clean your surveillance camera lens, try the following:

  • Use a soft brush to gently clear away any dirt or debris on the camera lens and around the camera exterior. If there is a significant amount of buildup on the lens, try washing it with warm water
  • Then, take a microfiber cloth and rub it over the lens to remove any remaining build up

If you have any questions about surveillance camera maintenance for your interior or exterior camera, refer to your camera’s User Manual or feel free to give us a call any time at (503)207-5300.

Inspect batteries in your smoke and CO detectors and alarm system sensors and clean around them

So you weren’t pulled out of your precious REM cycle at 2:30 am this year by the chirp on your smoke detector telling you it’s time to change your battery – that’s great. But as time creeps on, the battery on your smoke and CO slowly drain and it’s important to test them regularly to ensure they are in good working order.

An easy trick to make sure they are always powered properly? Check on the batteries in your CO and smoke detectors during daylight savings when you move your clocks forward or backwards. In addition, it’s always a good idea to keep the area around these devices clean and dust free to ensure their sensors work at maximum efficiency.

Not sure how to check your battery life? Check out our Tech Tip video on it here. For older devices, a good rule of thumb is to gently twist the cover and replace the battery when the cover comes off.

Check your property for any water damage or warping

Before the great Oregon rain officially arrives and stays for the next six months straight, it’s a good idea to walk your property inside and out to check for water damage and other issues that might impact not only your property, but how your security system works with your property.

Water damage or warping can cause alarm sensors to move or cease working, leaving weak spots in your security system. Catching this damage soon after it happens is integral in ensuring your door and window sensors still work properly and remain where they were originally installed.

Common signs of water damage include stains, discoloration, material separation and mold or mildew smells. If you think water has damaged your security system, call your security provider to have a technician review the situation.

Consider a video doorbell to monitor packages

Did you know that 30% of Americans report that they’ve had a package stolen at some point? It seems like package thieves are in the news every few months in the Portland area,  preying on unattended porches to snag packages before the owner is any the wiser. Video doorbells can quickly put a stop to that — or at least give you the peace of mind of knowing who is at your door.

With a video doorbell like the Skybell, you simply have it installed in place of your regular doorbell, download an app on your smartphone and wa-lah! You receive notification any time someone comes to your porch — with live video — and have the ability to communicate directly with them. And should someone run away with that perfect gift you found for your kids, rest assured that the app has the footage recorded and ready to send to the authorities.

Prepare in advance for emergencies

If the memory of being stuck in 4+ hours of traffic during the snowpocalypse 2 years ago isn’t enough to encourage you to stock up on emergency supplies, we aren’t sure what is. Make sure to have food, water and an up-to-date emergency kit stashed in your car, as well as in a safe place in your house before the foul weather hits.

A basic car emergency kit includes:

  • Battery operated flashlights and a radio
  • Extra batteries for these devices
  • A First Aid kit
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Road flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Tarp
  • Cat litter or sand for slick, icy roads
  • A blanket or extra warm clothing

But of course, customize to suit your needs — an extra phone charger in your car may be useful, or maybe extra baby formula if you have a newborn.

While it can be difficult to prepare for everything Oregon’s winter season may throw your way, we hope these winter safety tips will help. For more information about  securing your home or property for winter, or with any questions about services First Response offers, give us a call at (503)207-5300.

About First Response

Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Beaverton, First Response Security is one of the largest privately owned security companies in Oregon. Our commitment to “A Higher Standard’ enables us to deliver the client service we believe you deserve.

Behind the Scenes with an On-Site Officer

Despite the bumbling, donut-feasting, highly inept security guard that the media often portrays, the real-life On-Site Officer is anything but.

From the second they clock to the moment they leave for the day, it is an On-Site Officer’s job to cover a variety of duties as chosen by the owner or property manager. But it goes beyond the expected foot patrol, hard checking exterior doors and monitoring for disturbances — an On-Site Officer is just as often a security surveillance monitor, a comforting presence in stressful situations and a friendly face providing customer service to those who need it.

Below you’ll find a snapshot of a typical day in the life of an On-Site Officer in the Beaverton/Portland area, a report similar to the one every one of our clients receives at the end of a shift.

Please note: No donuts were eaten in the creation of this report.

  • On site and on duty at 0856. Checked in with First Response Dispatch. Retrieved keys, badge and site phone from security office. Began patrolling the shopping center.
  • At 0912 I gave directions to a visitor looking for a Doctor’s office in the shopping center.
  • At 0959 hours I found a piece of paper on the walkway that appeared to be confidential patient information. I returned it to the front desk at the Doctor’s office.
  • At 1011 hours I issued a parking violation to a vehicle with no visible DMV placard parked in a disabled spot. I documented the vehicle with a photograph.
  • At 1028 I returned to the security office and updated my reports. I monitored the security cameras.
  • At 1144 I resumed exterior patrols of the shopping center. I checked on a woman whose car was stalled in the parking lot. Roadside assistance arrived and I continued my patrols.
  • At approximately 1226 hours the manager of a store at the shopping center informed me that a female was causing a disturbance outside of the store.  I arrived onsite to find the woman yelling profanities, and witnessed her kick a customer’s vehicle; there appeared to be two other persons with her at the time.  I confirmed that the store manager was on the phone with police, and notified my supervisor of the situation. While the police were on their way, I approached the suspect and asked her to stop kicking the vehicle and speak with me about the issue.  The suspect calmed down, ceased any further aggressive action, and began to explain to me her situation. I let the suspect vent until the Police arrived at approximately 1248 hours.  I provided the police my report, and they furnished me with the suspect’s personal information.  I  documented the damage to the vehicle in my report, and the police took the suspect into custody.  When the police departed the premises, I updated the store manager and informed my supervisor that the situation had concluded.
  • At 1332 hours, the two other persons left the property.
  • At 1341 I returned to the security office, updated my reports and resumed monitoring security cameras.

 

How to Stay Secure in 6 Easy Steps

We’ve all experienced it — you see the Nextdoor post about break ins around your neighborhood, or the broken glass outside the business down the street from yours. There is some suspicious activity going on around you, and while this can be a scary thought, there are some simple things you can do to help prevent your business or home from becoming the next target. We chatted with our team of local experts to come up with some practical security tips.

Invest in a security system. The whole purpose of a security system is to help should your property ever be targeted for theft, vandalism or other suspicious behavior, right? According to the FBI’s annual crime report, there were more than 1.5 million burglaries in the U.S. in 2016. The good news? That number is down over 25% from what it was in 2012. In a study at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology from 2012, 60% of criminals surveyed said that an alarm presence would cause them to seek an alternative building. And if they discovered an alarm while attempting a burglary, more than half commented that they would vacate the property immediately.

Display your security company’s signs and stickers. This one goes hand in hand with investing in a security system. The same study from North Carolina noted that signs of increased security — like alarm stickers and signs from your security company, or surveillance cameras — were a deterrent when placed in windows, doors or yards where people can see them.

Keep your property well lit. Having good lighting, paired with keeping any bushes or trees near windows trimmed, can also discourage targeting due to lack of a convenient hiding place. No one wants the spotlight on them when they are up to something dubious, after all. According to a survey done by KGW last year of 86 inmates serving time for burglary in Oregon, homes with large bushes or trees and blind spots are ideal targets. Things like motion activated lights and 360 degree lighting coverage leave intruders nowhere to hide.

Know your neighbors. Make it a point to get to know the neighbors on your street. Better yet, form a neighborhood watch to keep an eye on the block and alert police if anything suspicious is happening. It also doesn’t hurt to give a trusted neighbor your contact information in case they see something odd happening around your property.

Consider video surveillance. Installing video cameras, motion activated cameras and video doorbells are all great ways to get an idea of what is happening on your property quickly, whether through a monitoring center like ours or through a convenient App on your phone. And researchers in that same UNC 2012 study found that nearly 40% of those involved with property theft said seeing a security camera would factor into their decision to go somewhere else.

Make sure you have an emergency contact list. One of the most forgotten security items is also one of the easiest! Make sure to update your emergency contact list for your alarm system on a regular basis, in case there is ever a situation when you don’t answer your phone when your alarm system is activated.

Your Business Needs a Plan: Responding to Active Shooting Incidents

According to the FBI website, there were over 160 active shooter incidents between the years 2000 and 2013, underscoring the need for every business to have a plan to prevent an manage an active shooter incident.

 Sadly, active shooter incidents have occurred in all types of venues, and the trend does not seem to be slowing. Any business can be vulnerable to such a situation, so every business should consider having a plan in place to prevent and manage such an event.

What is an Active Shooter Incident?

You have had the opportunity to hear the phrase several times since the Columbine tragedy but may wonder what the term “Active shooter incident” means precisely.

The FBI defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.”

In most cases, the shooter expects to die in the event, which makes preventive measures the most critical line of defense.

Prevention; Your First Choice

Once an active shooting incident starts, it is difficult to stop before there are injuries or deaths because they happen quickly and unexpectedly. This makes layers of deterrents your most valuable option in preventing a potential active shooter.

These deterrents should include:

Responding to an Active Shooter Incident

  • Getting out is the first objective. Have an escape plan and train employees in evacuation
  • Alert authorities as soon as possible. Call 911 and leave the line open, and hit the panic button on your alarm system.
  • If you can’t get out, hide out. Take cover quickly as possible.
  • As a last resort, take action. Getting physical with a shooter is never a safe option and should only be considered if your life is in eminent danger. This can be done by attempting to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter by throwing items and improvising weapons, and banding together to attack the shooter.

Today, every business should consider the possibility of an active shooter incident, and be ready with a plan. If you would like more information on how you can deter crime, please call us today at (800)862-4880.

About First Response Inc.

Headquartered in Beaverton, First Response Inc. is the largest privately owned security company in Oregon. Our commitment to “A Higher Standard” enables us to deliver the client service we believe you deserve.