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Spring Clean Your Security

Ah, spring. The blossoms are blooming, the allergies are hitting, and the sun is making a (more frequent) guest appearance in our lives again. And if it hasn’t already, the urge to furiously clean and declutter everything might have already hit you. While Marie Kondo-ing your home is great and all, when was the last time you cleaned up your security? Check out our simple tips below for spring cleaning  your cyber, home or business security this spring.

Inside Your Property

  • Change out the batteries on your smoke and CO detectors, and test them to make sure they’re working properly. While you’re at it, inspect your fire extinguisher to ensure it is in good condition.
  • Test out your alarm system and update emergency contacts, if needed.
  • Inspect your doors and windows to make sure all locks are still working properly.
  • Replace your furnace filters — not only will this help with those pesky pollen allergies, it will help keep the filter free and clear of accumulation that could lead to a fire.

Outside Your Property

  • Clean your security cameras and light fixtures and replace any light bulbs that have gone out.
  • Maintain your landscaping — make sure to trim bushes and trees near windows back to leave potential thieves nowhere to hide.
  • Check your security signs and stickers. Are they looking a little old and sun faded? Call your security company to get new ones. In one study, more than 60% of convicted burglars said that signs of a security system would make them reconsider robbing the house.
  • Perform your own security audit outside your property. If you were going to rob it, how would you do it? Check the points of entry you would try yourself and see how difficult they would be to get through. Then, make any upgrades as necessary.

Cyber Security

  • Delete what you no longer use. This includes unused apps on your phone, emails you’re no longer interested in being subscribed to and old emails and files you don’t need any more.
  • Make sure your software is updated on your devices and your router. This should happen on a frequent basis as it is, but if you’ve been putting off, now is the time.
  • Review your passwords and ensure you have unique passwords. Consider using an online password manager like LastPass to help with this and create as strong of passwords as possible – see tips from Wired on how to do so.
  • Safely get rid of your old computers/phones/floppy disks, etc. View a list of local computer recycling sites in the Portland area here.

 

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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.

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

 

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.