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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.

 

3 Tips for Increased Office Fire Safety

Whether it’s on your mind because of a certain episode of This Is Us or you’ve seen the security spring cleaning tips floating around online, there’s never a bad time to brush up on office fire safety information.

We’ve gathered a few tips to help prevent and prepare for fires in the office.

1. Have a fire evacuation plan.

Between 2007-2011, there were more than 3,340 fires in office properties, according to estimates by the National Fire Prevention Association. Does your office have an emergency evacuation plan? Do you practice it regularly? If the answer to either of these questions was “no,” it’s time to implement or review your office emergency evacuation plan. OSHA has a great, comprehensive breakdown of them here.

2. Invest in the right equipment – and ensure it’s being monitored.

In 2016 alone, the Oregon Office of the Fire Marshal estimated $128 million lost in non-residential fires. And while we’re not saying anything bad about those $25 smoke alarms you bought at the hardware store, professionally monitored smoke detectors and CO monitors could mean the difference between peace of mind and that sinking moment you realize you forgot to buy new batteries for your self-installed smoke detector…two years ago.

Having a designated, highly trained person watching over your fire system 24/7 ready to dispatch the fire department can provide unmatched protection. According to research done by the NFPA, 31% of office fires happen between 7pm and 7am, and result in more than 67% of the property damage cost. Meaning: almost one third of these fires are happening after regular office hours, when no one is around to see or hear the alarms going off. As noted by the NFPA, “These findings highlight the need for automatic detection and extinguishing equipment to protect these properties when they aren’t occupied.”

Not only is professional monitoring a useful step in protecting your workplace from fire, but having a licensed technician install the fire equipment only adds to peace of mind. They work with industry standard equipment and know the most effective places to install these items. Plus, our technicians always test to make sure everything works properly  and return annually to ensure it keeps working properly. A simple tip to help you remember to check your smoke detectors in the meantime? Test them when you change your clocks!

3. Know the different fire extinguishers.

Did you know that there are more than six different classes of fire extinguishers? Most class A fire extinguishers will work on ordinary combustibles (paper, plastics, clothing, wood, etc.), but it’s good to learn which fire extinguishers at your workplace specialize in what type of fire  so you never spray the wrong one on, say, the expensive hardware and irreplaceable data of your computer servers. There’s also PASS, an easy acronym to remember how to use them:

Pull the pin

Aim low

Squeeze the lever

Sweep from side to side