Security Advice During Darker Winter Nights

In the winter, it gets darker earlier and earlier. Now this does happen every year, but the extended dark hours do bring some extra security concerns. Burglaries increase, driving becomes more dangerous and you might be at more risk walking in the dark.

 

6 Winter Home Security Tips

  1. As it gets darker earlier, there may be longer periods where your home is in darkness. You might want to leave lamp on during the day. Or you can invest in timers, to make your lights come on around 4pm (or whenever it gets dark). This will make your home seem like its occupied, even if you are out at work, or have gone away.

  2. If you are leaving and returning from work in the dark once the winter nights draw in, then you may want to install some ‘dusk till dawn’ lighting. Which will light up the entrance to your home, making it safer for you to return to or leave your home.

  3. This tip is for all year round really, but is extra important when its darker for longer, which is make sure all your doors and windows are locked. Even when you are in your home, bet ESPECIALLY if you are out.

  4. This might not prevent a break in, but keeping your home at a warm temperature (at around 18 degrees) it can help keep you well and prevent your house from getting damp.

  5. Consider installing an alarm system, with the increase in burglaries in the winter, it’s a good time to beef up your security.

  6. As its getting darker earlier you may want to install or update your outdoor lighting. Motion detecting lights, will blanket your garden in light if there is an intruder creeping around. Hopefully this should be enough to scare them away.

 

6 Driving Safety in Winter

  1. It’s good to do this all year round, but in winter when you can be stranded in the cold, you need to make sure your car is safe to run. Check the fuel, oil and water levels regularly and check your tires have the right amount of tread to run safely.

  2. As the roads get icy, it’s good to check that your brakes, including your handbrake, are working properly. Same goes with your fog lights.

  3. When it turns really cold you don’t want to be caught out without your heaters working. So, its best to test them regularly.

  4. We suggest that you have an ‘emergency kit’ in your vehicle. This should include ice-scraper, de-icer, warm clothes and blankets, torch, boots, first aid kit, jump leads, a spade and anything else you think you may need in the event of a break down or another emergency.

  5. If the weather is particularly bad, especially with snow, you may need to reconsider your journey all together. Only travel in adverse conditions when absolutely necessary.

  6. If your car is icy in the morning, you might be tempted to leave it running, while you nip in to get warm water, or finish getting ready while the car defrosts. However, leaving the keys in the ignition is an open invitation for a thief to drive away with your vehicle while you are inside.

Working as a Locksmith in Care Homes

We here the NGCL always make it a priority to bring the latest news within the Locksmith industry to all Locksmiths and with new regulations coming in for working in care homes that will effect the Locksmith industry, we have written this blog to try and answer any questions you might have!

 

New CQC Care Home Regulations

As of Thursday 11th November 2021, anyone working or volunteering in a Care Quality Commission (CQC) care homes in England will need to be full vaccinated against COVID-19 with one of the approved vaccines, unless exempt, and must provide proof of status upon arrival through a NHS COVID Pass.

Read the full regulations here.

 

How Does this Apply to Locksmiths?

The Department of Health and Social Care have amended the Health and Social Care Act 2008 so that from the 11th of November 2021 anyone that will physically enter a CQC registered care home in England must follow the new vaccination regulations. This will include Locksmiths carrying out general Locksmith services for the care home or the residents.

Although this is currently only required in England, this will also apply to those who might live in Scotland or Wales but offer Locksmith services in England.

 

When is Someone Fully Vaccinated?

Someone is fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second COVID-19 vaccination or 2 weeks after an approved single jab vaccination.

 

What are the Exceptions?

If you are medically exempt from receiving an approved vaccine then this does not apply to you, however you will need to show proof of exemption upon entering a CQC care home.

GOV.uk provides further guidance on medical exemptions here.

Likewise, in the case of emergency situations where the care home may be unsafe or unsecured and the work is deemed urgent by the care home, proof of vaccination or exemption is not necessary. However, this can only be decided by the care home management or in situations of great emergency like a fire.

 

How to Provide Proof of Vaccination Status

When entering a CQC care home to provide Locksmith services you must show your vaccination status or your medical exemption. Please refer to GOV.uk for how to gain proof of medical exemption but if you are vaccinated there are 3 ways which you can prove your vaccination status.

 

1.      The NHS COVID Pass on the NHS App

If you open the app store on your smart device, you should be able to download the NHS app. If you download this app onto your smart device and log in you will then be able to access your digital NHS COVID pass in the format of a QR code which you will be able to show upon arrival.

This QR code will be valid for 30 days but will refresh each time you log into the account. Please note that to use this method you must be registered with a GP surgery in England and must have an NHS log in. If you do not have an NHS log in, it will prompt you to create one.

 

2.      Online NHS COVID Pass Service

You can access your NHS COVID pass through a web browser on a desktop, laptop, or smart device without having to download the app. Simply follow the log in prompts on the NHS website to access your NHS COVID pass online. From there you can then download the pass as a PDF and print it off should you wish too.

This QR code will be valid for 30 days but will refresh each time you log into the account so if you are printing off a PDF ensure that it is still valid before you use it. Please note that to use this method you must be registered with a GP surgery in England and must have an NHS log in. If you do not have an NHS log in, it will prompt you to create one.

 

3.      NHS COVID Pass Letter

You can also get an NHS COVID pass letter send to you in the post which confirms your COVID vaccination status. You can request the letter after having your second dose of a 2 dose vaccine or after a single dose vaccine.

You can request the letter online or by calling 119.

You may need to wait 5 working days after your last vaccination so that your record will be up to date. Once requested you can expect your letter within 5 working days.

 

Living Outside of but Working in England

Currently the new regulations only apply to those working in CQC homes in England, however if you live or work in another country like Scotland or Wales but work in England this regulation will also apply to you.

If you live in Scotland but work in England you can get proof from https://www.nhsinform.scot/

If you live in Wales but work in England you can get proof from  https://gov.wales/

 

Please note that the purpose of this blog is to provide factual information about the new regulations which effect the Locksmith Industry as released by the English Government and does not provide any opinions on vaccinations.

Best Locks for your Bathroom

Depending on how many people live in your home, then your bathroom lock can be one of the most important locks for your property. Bathroom locks are not supposed to be the most secure as if you hurt yourself while in the bathroom, other people need to be able to get in. A bathroom lock is more about stopping people from bursting in when you are on the loo, not protecting you from a burglar. So, there are some considerations you need to make when purchasing a bathroom door lock.

 

Level of Privacy

The purpose of a bathroom door lock is mainly privacy and not to provide true security. Unlike when choosing a front door lock, you shouldn’t be considering how secure you will be behind the bathroom door. Bathroom doors tend to be hollow, meaning they can be weak, easily broken down if needed. So, what level of privacy you want in the bathroom is something you need to think about.

This will vary from one person to another, if you have roommates or children in the house etc. If you have children then you might not want bathroom locks at all, so there is no risk of them locking themselves in and you will always have access to them, while they are learning how to use the bathroom in a safe way. However, if you live with housemates then you’ll want a lock that keeps the door closed if someone tries to enter.

If you do have children but still want a lock on your bathroom door then you might try to find a discreet lock. In a house full of adults this doesn’t matter so a more obvious lock would be fine.

 

Emergency Access

It’s been proven that your bathroom is the most dangerous part of the home, and the most likely place you will injure yourself. This makes it important to have a bathroom lock that is easy to unlock from the outside if something were to happen or have an emergency access plan. Having a bathroom lock that can be easily unlocked from the outside means that the door won’t have to be kicked in if you have an accident. Kicking in the bathroom door can be dangerous in itself, as it might cause more injury.

 

Difficulty of Use

Another consideration you need to make is how easy the lock is to use. Everyone needs to be able to use it with ease, so if anyone you live with has physical disabilities or if you live with an older person, this needs to be considered. If you find it difficult to use the lock then it’s more likely that you will get stuck in there. It will be worth considering installing a lock that doesn’t only lock one way, this will allow for the bathroom door to provide security by stopping anyone just walking in, but can be opened freely from the outside. However, everyone is entitled to their privacy and dignity, so it’s important to make sure everyone can use the lock with ease. For those that have real difficulty with doors and locks, you are able to install push button lock mechanisms and locking systems with large handles.

 

Lock Durability

An issue that can be bad for your safety is a lock that doesn’t work properly. You need your bathroom lock to be reliable, especially in case of an emergency. It’s important to get your lock fixed or replaced if you find that it is broken or not working at 100%. One way to extend the life of your bathroom door lock is regular maintenance, to keep all the parts moving correctly.  You should also look for bathroom locks that have a British Standard mark, so you know it’s been made with solid materials and has been tested and vetted.

 

 

Common bathroom door lock types

Door Knob Locks (Ball Privacy Knob)

These are the most common bathroom door lock/handle that you will find. They can be used on their own for your bathroom door, however if used for an exterior door, it will need to be paired with a deadbolt. The mechanism for these locks is found inside the door knob itself. There is a knob on both sides of the door and they can be fitted with either one or two cylinders, this will depend on if you want to be able to lock it from the inside.

 

Handleset Locks

These are designed with a handle on the outside, there is also a twist knob or a keyed opening on the inside. These tend to use a deadbolt not a spring bolt so do provide more security. But it’s worth checking how you would unlock it during an emergency. Handle set locks tend to be more aesthetically pleasing than a typical doorknob lock.

 

Handlevers

This is a simple handle lever with a twist knob on either side. The security on this one isn’t the best, but it can be opened very quickly in emergencies, so this might be good if you’ve got children. You can also unlock these with one hand, so for those with physical disability it would work well.

 

Are You Thinking of Installing a New Bathroom Lock?

We here at the NGCL aren’t just external security experts, we’re internal ones too! Meaning that when you want a bit of privacy in your home, we have the skill, know-how and stock on board to help you out! Find your local Locksmith with the National Guild of Certified Locksmiths.

Why You Should Change Your Locks When Moving

Moving to a new home is an exciting experience that can both stressful and thrilling. But something that isn’t always at the top of the priority list is changing the locks. Secure locks on windows and doors is the first step in home security and is the first line of defensive against would be intruders. In this blog we go through why you should be changing the locks when you move to a new house and what implications there may be!

 

Who’s Got a Spare Key?

The unfortunate truth is that when you move into a new home, you do not know who might have access to your home. The previous owners may have lost a key and never thought to replace the lock, or they might have given a spare to a friend just in case or a tradesperson who may have needed access…have the keys been returned? Although those who might have been given a spare key will only have the best intentions, you can never be sure of that, which ultimately could leave your house vulnerable to intrusion.

 

Lock Security and Safety

Another reason to consider changing the locks when you move home is that you can confirm what security your locks have. For example, the most common lock on a uPVC door is a euro cylinder, but different models and makes can have different security features. A common way in which intruders will try to gain entry to a property is through ‘snapping’ the lock on a uPVC door, so to combat this anti-snap euro cylinders were created to provide an extra level of protection and if someone should try and break the lock, the lock breaks in a certain place to still protect the inner mechanism. This offers an extra security towards common burglary techniques and is a reassurance that if you were to leave your home, your home is better protected.

However, not all euro cylinders are anti-snap. So, when you move into a home, you may find that your locks are not anti-snap (as an example) and thus more vulnerable to attack.

 

How your Locks Can Affect Your Home Insurance

Surprisingly, the locks you have on your home can affect your home insurance, and even in some situations may invalidate your home insurance to the point that your insurer may not be obligated to a pay-out should you make a claim. We discuss how your locks can affect your insurance below.

 

Putting Down the Wrong Locks when Setting up Insurance

When setting up home insurance, the insurance provider will usually ask what level of security your locks hold. Insurance provider LV states “Home insurance companies may expect a minimum level of security on entrances to your home… They usually ask if you have these locks in place already and if you don’t, you’re given a few weeks to get them fitted” Insurance companies are looking for a certain level of security in your locks as “The more secure the lock, the better it will be regarded by insurance providers” – Compare the Market.

If you don’t know the correct locks that you have fitted on your doors, not only could you be paying more in insurance premiums unnecessarily, but by unwittingly providing incorrect information about your security circumstances, your insurance provider may not be obligated to pay out should you make a claim. This is because in most insurance policy terms and conditions it will state that you need to provide correct and accurate information of circumstances, and if you do not, you could be in breach of The Insurance Act 2015. This act clarifies that a consumer must be open and honest with their insurer and tell them about any material circumstances that may influence the decision of the insurance, which can cover what type of locks are fitted on your property.

 

To find out more about The Insurance Act 2015 and what you need to tell your insurer this summary offers insight: https://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/legal/insurance-act-2015/

 

Unforced Entry into Your Home

It shouldn’t be a shock to discover that if you were to leave a window open when you left the house and some was to enter your home, your insurer wouldn’t be obligated pay out on a claim. But what might be surprising is that same reasoning is true if someone were to enter your home with a key. This is also referred to as unforced entry.

 

When you move into a new home, you unfortunately are unaware of who may have access to your home. Money Expert report that nearly 40% of all UK homeowners admit to loosing at least one set of keys, but what is really shocking is that nearly 31% of homeowners said they didn’t change their locks after they had lost keys! Now a friend of the previous owners may have given their friend a spare key that is sitting in the back of the cupboard and they have no intentions of entering your home, but the risk is also there that the previous owners may have lost a set of keys, not replaced the locks and an ill wishing stranger has a set of keys to your brand new home.

 

Furthermore, Confused.com reports that the Association of British Insurers states that if money is stolen from a property there must be signs of forced entry to validate the claim. The idea of unforced entry comes into play here as, like if a window was left open, if someone was to enter your home with a key (unforced entry) it may not be treated as theft or a burglary but rather can fall under deception – which is often not covered under home insurance policies. Ultimately, your insurance provider may take circumstances into account and look favourable upon your situation and claim, but this is never guaranteed.

 

Most insurance experts: LV, Compare the Market and Policy Expert to name a few, argue that you should always change your locks when you move into a new home to ensure that your home is secured not only from intruders but also in terms of policy validity.

If you decide not to change your lock, there is no guarantee that your insurance policy may be invalidated, likewise there is no guarantee that it may be valid. We always strongly suggest changing the locks, not only for peace of mind but also security, and to always carefully read your insurance policy terms and conditions.

 

Improper Fitment of Locks

We all like to save money by doing DIY projects, but some things require a professional. If you do decide to replace the locks on your new home, make sure that you hire a trained professional to install them properly as like LV states:

“If you don’t have quality locks, properly fitted, you’re leaving yourself open to theft…your insurer isn’t obliged to pay out when you make a claim.”

Make sure to call out a Locksmith to fit the correct lock onto your door, as if you fit it yourself and it’s not fitted correctly, this could invalidate your insurance.

 

Why it Pays to Have the Right Locks

Whilst it might seem like an expensive cost in the short-term, long-term the benefits are much higher. Good reasons to consider are:

  1. With higher security locks it can lower your insurance premiums for your cover.
  2. Higher security locks can deter burglars from trying to enter your home.
  3. If you happen to be burgled, if you meet the requirements of your insurance policy, you can replace the things that are damaged or stolen.
  4. If gives you better peace of mind that your home and valuables are secured when your away.

 

References and Further Reading

https://www.moneysupermarket.com/home-insurance/house-locks/

https://www.gocompare.com/home-insurance/locks/

https://www.lv.com/home-insurance/stay-insured-with-the-right-locks

https://www.endsleigh.co.uk/blog/post/insurance-requirements-door-locks/

https://www.comparethemarket.com/home-insurance/content/house-locks/

https://blog.policyexpert.co.uk/insurance-revealed/

https://www.moneyexpert.com/home-insurance/house-keys/

https://www.confused.com/home-insurance/guides/how-keys-can-invalidate-your-home-insurance-policy

Is the Locksmith Industry Regulated?

Unless you work in the industry, you might be unaware that the Locksmith industry is unregulated. This means that there is no official governing body to set the standards of work within the industry and that there is no need for education or a licence to become a Locksmith. This not only leaves customers with no guarantee about who they might be calling out, but also infuriates professional, experienced Locksmiths who must repair the work done by an undertrained Locksmith. So, what is the solution?

 

What’s the issue with the Locksmith industry being unregulated?

The main issue that absolutely anyone can advertise themselves as a Locksmith even if they have never changed a lock in their life. Now this is not only potentially disastrous for customers, who need professional, fair, and quality services but also can cast a bad light on those in the industry who are competent and provide their customers with an excellent service.

Alongside not being able to ensure standards and quality, another issue remains that independent Locksmiths go largely unsupported by the industry in terms of updates, shared experiences, and continual training. Different Locksmith training institutions will offer brush up courses and regularly update the content of their course when changes in the industry demand it, which is an unused resource for the Locksmith industry however as anyone can claim they are providing ‘Locksmith training’ sometimes it is hard for detailed, supportive courses to be separated from the scams.

 

Should the Locksmith Industry be Regulated?

Yes. We here at the NGCL fully support the industry becoming regulated because ultimately it will mean that all customers are offered some protection no matter who they call out and Locksmiths will gain a basic level of support which will only help to continually raise the standards of practising Locksmiths. Essentially bringing regulation to the industry would allow our ethos to become true, “Supporting Locksmiths. Protecting Customers”.

We believe that bringing in some form of regulation to the Locksmith industry is needed to help moving the industry in the right direction that will benefit everyone that is involved.

 

What is currently already in the industry?

Firstly, there are associations much like The NGCL in which Locksmiths can become members of. Within these associations they often will have standard and requirements that a Locksmith will have to meet to become a member, for example, should a Locksmith wish to join The NGCL we have a rigorous vetting process which they must first pass to join and then there is a continual process of assessment to ensure that are standards are continually met whilst attending jobs.

Secondly, the has recently been developments in Locksmith training. Up until now there has been no official Locksmith qualification and accreditation courses have been offered to individuals looking to become Locksmiths. These accreditations are still a great resource and we believe adequate training for anyone looking to come into the industry, however the first Locksmith Qualification has now been introduced in the UK with only a select few offering it at their training centres. This qualification is a step in the right direction in the hope of officially formalising the need for an education before trading as a Locksmith and to also take the first steps perhaps in the potential requirements to become a Locksmith if regulations do come in.

 

Locksmiths in the US

For some time now a requirement of trading in as a Locksmith in certain states of America has been to retain a Locksmith licence. This license ensures that those who are advertising themselves as a professional Locksmith meet the standard requirements from the state and makes it harder for ‘rogue’ Locksmiths to join a Locksmith association, company or build a client base. This licence allows professional and trained Locksmiths to be separated from those who are less than competent and gives customers the assurance that they will receive a good service at fair prices.

This system in the US seems to be a very adept system in which to create a system that professional Locksmiths can be identified, and customers can have confidence that they will receive a quality service.

 

The Solution

At the end of the day ensuring that customers are protected, and that trading Locksmiths have the support and the education they need is essential, so some form of formal regulation and governance in the industry is what is needed to ensure this. We think the launching of the Locksmith Qualification is a step in the right direction and we thoroughly support any further steps to ensure that high standards of practise are always in the Locksmith industry.