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.

Why you should have a dash cam in 2021

As Britain’s roads are becoming busier and filled with more car traffic than ever, people are starting to think more about their safety on the roads and how they can protect themselves and their cars.

A solution: dash cams!

We recommend that all Locksmiths look into dash cams as they offer a range of different benefits that not only help to secure your vehicle when you’re on the road, but to also help you to feel more at ease.

What is a dash cam?

A dash cam or dashboard camera is a small video camera that is mounted on the dashboard or windscreen of a vehicle that is used to continually record the surrounding road traffic. A survey conducted by Which? found that more than 1 in 4 (27%) motorists currently use a dash cam, with 72% of those dash cams drivers believing that all drivers should follow suit.

The different types of dash cams

Front view

This dash cam will record everything in front of you. These are the most common as they are often the cheapest cameras.

Front and back view

These dash cams will record what is happening both in front and behind your car. Although more expensive they can be more useful in the case of an accident as most accidents involve rear-end collisions at low speed so the extra cost might be worth it so that you have evidence of the crash.

Cabin view

This is a camera that faces inward to provide an internal view of what’s happening inside your car. These are particularly useful in taxi and car services to capture any anti-social passenger behaviour.

Why should I install a dash cam?

Dash cams can be a reassuring presence for those on the road as they can provide valuable and accurate recording of other motorist’s road conduct and any events as they transpire.  They can be particularly useful in the event of a collision to determine who might be a fault, as this is often something that drivers worry about. When you have a collision it’s sometimes hard to determine who, if anyone is at fault which then makes it harder should you need to claim on your insurance.

You can also get some dash cameras that have a parking mode, which will start recording when parked if an impact is detected. This can be useful if someone was to hit your car whilst parked and doesn’t leave a note, being able to watch back footage will allow you to better determine what has happened and who might be responsible.

Benefits of a dash cam

  • A dash cam can reduce insurance premiums

Some insurance policy providers will offer lower premiums if you have a dash cam installed in your car. This is because video footage can be used as an independent witness in disputes to establish liability of fault and potentially eliminate a “crash for cash” incident. A crash for cash incident is when another driver brakes in front of you to cause a collision with the intention to make a claim against you. With a dash cam you could have an accurate recording that shows that the person in front braked for no apparent reason and thus prove the accident might not have been your fault.

  • A dash cam can prove you weren’t at fault from an accident

Unfortunately, most road collisions are not straight forward where if there is doubt about fault it can become one word against another. This is where dash cam footage comes in, a video can be used to settle disputes meaning that if the other party is found at fault then you may not have to pay your excess or be reimbursed if you have already paid.  As an added benefit this evidence could also help you to retain your no claims discount which would also be another factor to help you reduce insurance premiums.

  • Can improve driving

Although this is not a guarantee it has been suggested that the awareness that your own personal conduct is being recording that you are more conscious of your actions and therefore a potentially safer driver.

What are the potential downsides of a dash cam?

When one dash cam is placed it is normally recording the front view from the car so can only offer a “one sided view” of traffic. This means that in the unfortunate case you were to have an accident your dash cam may not capture the incident should it happen out of view.

Another drawback of a dash cam is that like other electrical devices it can draw the attention of thieves, meaning that to decrease the chance of a break in best practise would be to disconnect and reconnect the device every time you leave the vehicle.

How to install a dash cam

Although they are very useful devices, dash cams have very strict rules on how they can be installed and if are not done properly can leave you with a hefty fine and 3 points on your licence.

A dash cam must be placed so that they don’t obstruct the driver’s vision; if they are found to be in a position that obstructs vision it could land you with a on the spot £100 fine and in worst case scenario if it goes to court could land you with a £1000 fine and 3 points on your licence.

Where is the best place to install a dash cam?

The best place to fit a dash cam is behind the rear-view mirror so it is in the centre of your windscreen maximising what is captured but it is also out of your line of sight. This ensures that it captures both lanes of the road ahead but also that you will not be penalised for improper placement. It might be tempting when installing your dash cam to stick it where you think it works best or is convenient for you, we don’t suggest this.  The safest place for a dash cam will be out of your eyesight and somewhere we it would be difficult for you to engage with whilst driving. The same laws that apply to phones, navigation systems and electronics apply to dash cams and can carry the same penalties.

Top Christmas Safety Tips 2020

As we move closer to Christmas the festive season is going to hit us hard with twinkling fairy lights, decorative ornaments, presents and the Christmas spirt! But throughout all this joy and cheer could you possibly be doing things that put you more at risk? We created this handy blog to highlight some of the activities that could be putting you at risk and how you can minimise the risk whilst still having all the fun!

Christmas Lights

Arguably one of the best parts of Christmas is all the decorations that line the streets, our homes and businesses to really amp up that festive feeling. But what you might not realise as you deck the halls is that as homes light up with Christmas lights across the UK they can become a massive electrical safety risk.

How to use Christmas Lights safely

After 12 months of being stored away in the attic in a box some lights can become electrically unsafe, so you should always follow some simple safety precautions and checks when busting out the lights!

You Should:

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for set-up and use
  • Use the lights for their intended purpose
  • Use replacement bulbs that are the same type and rating as the originals
  • Switch your lights off and unplug them before you go to bed
  • Ensure lights are away from flammable decorations or furnishings that could easily burn.
  • Consider using a timer to ensure that your lights are not left on for too long at a risk of overheating.

You Shouldn’t:

  • Use lights outdoors unless they are specifically designed for that purpose.
  • Connect lights to a power supply whilst still in the packaging
  • Overload sockets; although extension leads might have up to five sockets, it is not always safe to use all five at the same time.
  • Replace lamps/bulbs whilst the lights are connected to a power source
  • Attempt to repair faulty lights; you should replace them.
  • Use lights that are damaged or faulty.

How can I avoid overloading sockets?

Ensure that you check the rating of an extension lead before plugging any appliance into it. They can range from 13A (which is most common) and lower, with the rating being clearly marked on the back or underside of the extension itself. You can always refer to the manufactures guide for more assistance.

Another important thing to remember is that you should never plug an extension lead into another extension lead, only one extension lead should be plugged into one socket.

 

How do I put up decorations safely?

  • Keep real trees away from heat sources.

Place your tree away from heaters and fireplaces. Live trees can be extremely flammable from the needles and sap with the risk only increasing with the presence of flammable decorations.

  • Work as a team

When putting up decorations that are above your normal reach, ensure you use a proper ladder with someone supporting the base.

  • Secure candles

Keep candles on a sturdy, flat surface to prevent them from tipping and never leave them unattended.

  • Consider using a fake tree

Although an unpopular choice for most, you can get trees that are fire resistant which will lower your risk.

Christmas Cooking

If it isn’t all the lights that you love around Christmas time, then it is definitely the food. Glorious spreads filled with flavour and a few glasses of festive cheer are always present at Christmas but many people admit to leaving cooking unattended!

With a house full of family and friends it is easy to get distracted as the holiday host but you need to keep an eye on what you are cooking to ensure that a risk isn’t created and also that it doesn’t burn!

Driving Home for Christmas?

Luckily in the UK our winters consist of mostly rain with only a few places getting heavy snow. However, wherever you live, whether snow or not, driving in much colder weather calls for a higher attention.

  • De-ice and remove any snow from your vehicle

Clearing your windscreen is an obvious thing for most, but you need to make sure that all ice and snow is removed from your car. By leaving anything on the roof of your car, whilst driving it could potentially fall of and block your view or other road users.

  • Check road conditions and give yourself extra time

Check your local road conditions before driving, this will allow you to take the best route and allow yourself more time to get to your destination safely.

  • Slow down

Reduce your speed and expand the space that you are giving other road uses to account for unpredictable actions and the risk of black ice.

  • Be cautious on public transport

It is vital that we all play our part in reducing the spread of Coronavirus, and that means being sensible and cautious when out and about. If you are taking the bus, train, or coach home this Christmas make sure to maintain social distancing and only travel if you are free from any symptoms. Remember hands, face, space.

Holiday Shopping Safety

Unfortunately, there are still those Grinches out and about that don’t live up to the Christmas cheer and can put a damper on your festive season. To keep safe during the frantic Christmas rush keep these tips in mind:

  • Stay alert

With many possible distractions and large crowds you need to be that extra bit vigilant as you never know who might be watching.

  • Don’t leave your valuables vulnerable

Avoid leaving your purse/wallet and gifts in plain sight in an unattended vehicle. Try to fit them into your boot or cover them as to not to pique the interest of an ill-wisher.

  • Park in well-lit areas

Parking in well-lit busier places will deter others from approaching your vehicle as the risk of getting caught is higher.

  • Don’t leave your purse/wallet unattended

Keep your purse/wallet, keys and cards close preferably in a zipped pocket.

  • Shop online with caution

Online shopping can be a blessing at Christmas but only enter your payment information, such as card details or Paypal, on trusted sites. If something looks too good to be true, it usually is.

  • Remember Hands, Face, Space

If you decide to hit the shops this festive season, please be mindful of social distancing and mask requirements, to keep yourself and those around you safe.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We wish you a safe and merry holiday season!

Top Door Lock Maintenance Tips for 2021

The front door offers our homes protection from the elements, intruders and the outside world but is unfortunately overlooked by many in terms of maintenance. We have created our top tips for 2021 to ensure that your door can be in the best shape possible and to answer some common questions about door maintenance. If you are interested in keeping your doors in working order, utilising its lifespan, and maintaining security read ahead!

 

1.    Ensure that your door is properly hung

Locks are designed to work in conjunction with a frame and a handle that are fitted and maintained correctly. A door that is not hung properly sags or binds, which puts an immense amount of pressure on the latch or bolt of the lock, this leads to potential problems such as lock failure.

You can identify if a door might not be hung properly by the gap between the door and the frame. A properly hung door should have a uniform gap across all sides of the door, if you find this is not the case, we recommend calling out a professional Locksmith to adjust your door and to give your door mechanism a once over to ensure that no damage has been done whilst the door was binding.

 

2.    Spring clean your door locks

Much like cleaning a house, you should get into the routine of cleaning your front door and back door locks to ensure that they are free of grime and dirt. This can be simply done by using a mild soap or detergent with lukewarm water.

Be aware that using chemical cleaners on your locks could cause more harm than good as it can strip the protective coating off the lock which protects it against everyday wear and tear, therefore we strongly advise that you do not use such chemicals.

 

3.    Lubrication is key

With the outside of your lock clean, the inside should be too. As one of the most overlooked factors of lock maintenance it is essential to lubricate the internal workings of your lock annually to keep it working properly. This can be done by spraying a small amount of lubricant into the keyway and gently moving the key in and out of the lock, removing any debris from the key before placing it back into the lock.

 

4.    Proper care of keys

Improper use of keys within locks can lead to either damage to the key or damage to the lock, which can cause you hassle and inconvenience. Pulling on your key whilst in the lock to close the door behind you, forcing the key to turn in the lock when met with resistance and forcefully pulling the key from the lock, are all common improper uses of keys that puts pressure on the lock making them more susceptible to breaking and jamming. We always recommend using keys gently when in locks and never using force to either insert a key or open a lock.

Keep in mind that keys are designed to fit perfectly with the internal components of the locking mechanism, so if they lose their shape over time, through forceful use or damage it could cause your key to be unable to interact properly with the lock.

We strongly suggest that you keep a close eye on the condition of your keys and to get a new one cut when your current one starts to show signs of wear and tear. A top tip is to keep an unused original key from which copies can be made to ensure that the new keys are as accurate as possible.

 

5.    Handle maintenance and care

Excessive wear and tear on handles can cause a multitude of issues, the handle breaking or becoming loose as examples. Much like when using your keys, the use of a handle should be gentle and smooth to allow for the latch to have time to disengage from the catch before pushing the door to open. Rough use, excessive weight and forceful entry are all elements that will damage your door handles whether an internal door, front door, or back door.

 

6.    Know when to call in the pros

All doors should be easy to operate, with no force needed to close them, lock them etc. If they are not, then it might be time to call in a professional Locksmith to come out and evaluate the situation. You may be tempted to do the work yourself, but we strongly advise against this as not only could it invalidate your home insurance but can also compromise the security of your home leaving your property vulnerable.

All NGCL accredited Locksmiths are uPVC, wooden and composite door experts, so whatever the issue they will be able to assess and fix with parts from their fully stocked van. Whether it is a door adjustment, lock adjustment or lock change, our Locksmiths are professionally trained to quickly sort any situation and provide a first-class service to our customers.

 

FAQs Answered:

Should you use WD40 on locks?

Yes, you can. WD40 is a solvent-based lubricant and when used sparingly can be effective in the annual cleaning of locks. However, we always suggest that you research the best lubrication for your lock as there are different lubricants that work better on specific lock.

Do locks need to be oiled?

All locks require annual lubrication to help ensure that locks work properly.

How do you lubricate a lock?

Simply spray a lubricant onto the keyway of the lock, and gently move the key in and out of the lock, cleaning debris off the key before re-entering the key into the lock.

Why do keys get stuck in locks?

A common cause of getting a key stuck is when the teeth of the key gets caught on the internal lock pins and binds with them. This is when the key will get stuck.

Sash Jammers

There are multiple ways you can improve your home security including this small and inexpensive piece of equipment! But what are sash jammers? Will they make my home more secure? What are the best sash jammers? Read on to find out!

 

What are Sash Jammers?

Sash jammers are a small device that can improve the security of your uPVC windows and doors. They attach near the window or door frame and pivot over the door or window securing it into place, offering another level of security that can help prevent against forced entry.

 

Are Sash Jammers Effective?

Sash jammers are effective in improving your home security as they add an extra boundary through which a burglar must force through when trying to break into a home. This will add time to the burglar’s efforts and will give you more time to call the police and get to a safe place if you’re home. If you’re not home some burglars may even give up trying to break-in as they aim to be in and out of your home in as little time as possible to avoid getting caught! They fit most types of uPVC windows and doors and are widely available at a cheap price.

 

How can I make my uPVC Windows more Secure?

You can make your uPVC windows more secure by getting an approved Locksmith to fit a sash jammer. Another way you can improve your window security is to upgrade the locks to anti-snap locks which prevent the burglar from being able to pick the lock or damage it and have the ability to force the window open.

 

What are the Best Sash Jammers?

Sash jammers are available cheaply and ‘does what it says on the tin’. If you’re looking to buy the best of the best then take a look at the sash jammers that bolt through the frame and are lockable from the outside, of course, these will be more expensive than your regular sash jammer.

 

Can I fit a Sash Jammer Myself?

Yes, it is relatively easy to fit a sash jammer yourself. However, if you are upgrading your doors and windows due to security concerns, perhaps you have recently been burgled then we recommend you call a professional Locksmith. Not only can our NGCL Locksmiths fit your sash jammer correctly they can also give you advice on your home security and fit more secure locks if need be.

 

How many Sash Jammers do I need?

Depending on your door or window type you will typically need between 1 and 4 sash jammers. You’ll need 1 sash jammer for a small window, 2 for a single door one at the top and one at the bottom and therefore for patio and French doors you will need 4 sash jammers, 2 at the top and 2 at the bottom.

 

Cost of a Sash Jammer

Sash jammers are a really good budget option for upgrading your home security as buying the sash jammer yourself will be around £10.

 

Please Remember

Please remember that sash jammers are to be used in conjunction with your secure, British Standard approved locks. Using as sash jammer without additional locks will not only leave your home vulnerable to break-ins it will also invalidate your home insurance.

 

NGCL Locksmiths

If you need a trusted local Locksmith to upgrade your home security then give us a call on 0808 164 2928 or visit our website to find a reputable Locksmith near you! https://www.thengcl.co.uk/find-locksmith/

Lock Snapping

What is Lock Snapping? Anti-Snap Locks

Ever heard of the term lock snapping? Maybe you’ve unfortunately had your lock snapped by a burglar and therefore they were able to gain access to your precious home? Take a look at our blog to discover exactly what lock snapping is and how you can prevent it!

What is Lock Snapping?

Lock snapping is the term used when an intruder snaps the door lock in two by using brute force. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence as it requires no skill and often regular things around the home are used to assist this burglar technique allowing access into someone’s home within seconds. Once the intruder has managed to apply enough force to remove the outside of the lock it leaves the mechanism exposed allowing the lock to be tampered with and unlocked.

What Doors are Susceptible to Lock Snapping?

uPVC doors and windows are the most at risk to lock snapping as they more often than not have a euro cylinder lock type. As the most common door type in the UK this leaves approximately 22 million homes at risk to lock snapping techniques which just take around 13 seconds to snap.

 

How to Prevent Lock Snapping

The best way to prevent your locks from being snapped is to upgrade your locks to an anti-snap lock. To upgrade to an anti-snap lock call one of local Locksmiths today on 0808 164 2928 or visit our page to Find a Locksmith near you!

There are many things you can do to help prevent your home being a potential target; we’ve found lots of good home security advice through Keytek® who have a full Home Security Guide (click to see more).

 

What is the Best Anti-Snap Lock?

The only anti-snap lock that has a TS007 3 Star rating, SS312 Sold Secure Diamond Accredited and Secured by Design Accredidation is the ABS High Security Euro Cylinder. So, the ABS High Security Euro Cylinder is the best anti-snap lock currently available on the market.

Our Locksmiths are able to fit this lock for you anytime you like as they carry a fully stocked van to all jobs including this part.

 

How do I know if I have an Anti-Snap Lock?

An anti-snap lock will either have a 3 Star Kitemark or a Sold Secure Diamond located on the lock. if you’re unsure, one of our local Locksmiths will be able to help you.

 

What Should I do if my Lock has been snapped?

If you find that your lock has been snapped or tampered with you should immediately call the police and try not to touch around the lock area as the police will hopefully be able to gather some evidence. Once the police have visited you should then call a Locksmith to come and change your locks to ensure your home security is as secure as it can be.

 

The NGCL

Here at the National Guild of Certified Locksmiths we believe it is our duty of care to ensure all of our customer’s homes are as secure as they can be. To upgrade your locks to anti-snap locks call one of our friendly team members today on 0808 164 2928 or request a call back online here.

Best Locks Money Can Buy

There are thousands of locks on the market, some standard security, some high security and some manual and others electronic. Here at the NGCL we have been looking into the best locks around and found the few below to meet our high standards!

 

Schlage Encode

The Schlage Encode is a smart deadbolt; you can connect to it from anywhere meaning you have total control. One benefit of getting an Encode is that you don’t need to buy a separate hub or bridge to lock it from your phone; it will just connect to your home Wi-Fi. You can specify who has access and you can add up to 100 recurring and temporary lock codes that you can change anytime you like. You can also send virtual keys to any guests via email or text. It’s relatively easy to fit and has a low battery indicator, so you know when it needs changing. There have been some reports that the battery life isn’t great, so you’ll have to change the batteries every couple of months.

By using the free Schlage app you can receive notifications when someone enters the house, you can give every member of the house a personal code. This means you will know when your children enter the house. You can also lock the door from anywhere, so even if you are sat at work and notice someone has left the door open you can lock it there and then.

 

Mul-T-Lock ENTR

Mul-T-Lock have separated themselves from other smart locks on the market by adding the fingerprint access option. The fingerprint wall reader allows you to save up to 20 different fingerprints, meaning you can allow your parents, a dog walker or babysitter to enter your house without the need for a key. You’ll never forget your fingerprint like you could a key or, as can happen these days with smart locks, run out of battery on your phone and be locked out!

Of course like all the smart locks on the market, it offers you control of your lock with a smartphone app. The Mul-T-Lock app works with Bluetooth, so you don’t have to be worried about having no Wi-Fi or phone signal. You can have 20 virtual keys and these can be easily changed or deleted from the app. So you never have to worry that someone unsavoury may have your key.

You can also choose to have a touchpad wall reader; this means that every member of your family can have their own code to enter the house. Again, these can easily be changed or revoked if you feel your security is threatened, or someone may have told people the codes. You can even request to have remote control of your lock; this was made for people with limited mobility in mind. Think of a car key, it’s like that but for your door!

 

Medeco Locks

Medeco Locks are the only non-smart locks on our list. It is a fact that smart locks are considered safer than manual locks; however Medeco locks are used in the White House. Any lock that is used to keep the president safe is worth being on this list. They offer deadbolt, rim and mortice cylinders, key cabinets, key in knob and key in lever cylinders, padlocks, cam locks and many more security solutions.

They are fairly pricey considering they aren’t smart locks, but the company is incredibly reputable and the locks have a reputation of being the best there is.

 

Yale Assure Lock SL

Yale boasts that this is the ‘slimmest’ electronic lock around, so if you’re looking for something stylish, this might be your best bet. The Assure Lock is a touchscreen deadbolt which allows you to have keyless entry. You won’t have to search around your bag for your keys or phone, simply put in the 4-8 digit code and you’re in and to lock the door you just have to tap the keypad.

This particular model won’t connect to your Wi-Fi or give you access with an app, you’d have to upgrade for that, you can connect it to a smart device, but it’s more complicated than the others. But you can program in up to 250 codes, which is way more than most other smart locks.

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