What to Put in Your Home or Business Safe

Having a safe for your home or business is key to protecting essential items necessary for your peace of mind or your company’s well-being. But many people choose to use safe deposit boxes in banks, thinking that method is more secure. However, items in a home or business safe will be covered under homeowner’s or company insurance policies, a benefit you won’t receive from a bank.

What exactly should a homeowner or business owner keep in a safe? Here’s a quick list of the more important items to have securely stored in a safe box.

For the Homeowner’s Safe

In the case of a natural disaster or a fire, homeowners can make a tragic situation more tenable by having their most valuable possessions locked in a safe. Keep these personal items secured in your safe:

Current insurance policies and agent contact information.

This information is critical to have on hand in case of an accident.

Personal, legal documents.

Have passports, original birth certificates, and original Social Security cards for all family members in the safe. These items are frustrating, stressful, and expensive to replace.

Family photo albums.

Even if you scan your photos and make digital copies of them, you will feel much better knowing that copies of irreplaceable family memories are safely preserved.

Copies of relevant legal and investment documents.

You will need this information should you have to suddenly access funds, or to make sure that power of attorney statements and wills are enacted in the manner you deemed fit.

Medical information.

You will want a list of family doctors, prescriptions, and pharmacy contact information so that you can get new medical supplies if needed.

Safety deposit box keys.

Copies of these keys will be needed to allow you access to your safety deposit box in an emergency situation.
Information on outstanding debts, payment due dates, and contact information. It’s critical that you know the state of your debt and protect your credit, even in an emergency.

For the Business Owner’s Safe

Similar to a homeowner’s situation, a smart business owner will prepare for any situation or circumstance by protecting the information and possessions most important to the business, employees, and customers. After all, companies want to be trustworthy and reliable to clientele. These are the items that should be in a business owner’s safe.

Credit card information.

In the case of emergency, the business may need access to its lines of credit to get back on its feet as soon as possible.

Confidential information about services and products.

Copies of any information about the company’s goods or services should be kept in the safe for the good of the business. This scenario may also apply to customers’ information from orders to financial dealings.

Contracts.

Whether contracts apply to employees or customers, or both, you will want copies safely preserved in case of a natural disaster.
Stock and bond certificates. A business owner may need quick access to this information in stressful circumstances, so having it on hand in the safe is a good idea.

Financial documents.

Any and all financial documents about the efficacy and heart of the company should be kept in the safe.

Electronics.

Any electronics such as laptops or tablets which contain sensitive company or customer information belong in the safe to keep this information out of the wrong hands.

Whether you are a homeowner or business owner, keeping vital information in a safe is the smartest move you can make.

 

How to Choose an Electric Strike Lock

The electric strike lock may not be a colorful component in a locking system, but it is one of the most important. This type of lock is not only cost-effective, but also a better alternative than electrified lock mechanisms in some circumstances.

Reasons for an Electric Strike Lock

Electric strikes are devices installed on doors to allow entry via an access system or remote release system. 

Unlike a magnetic lock, a strike does not secure a door; that’s the responsibility of the door handle or lockset. The electric strike allows access to a secured door with a key card, pass, etc., without the need for a key to the lockset.

Types of Electric Strike Locks

There are two styles of electric strike lock:

Fail-Safe Locks

Fail-safe locks (also called fail-open) operate as a magnetic lock would. A direct electric current is applied to the strike, causing the door to lock. In a power failure, the door can be pushed or pulled open.

Fail-secure locks

Fail-secure locks (also called non-fail safe or fail-locked) open when an electric current is applied to them. In a power failure, this kind of lock will remain locked, although the mechanical can still be used to open the door from the inside.

An electric strike lock is useful on any door where high traffic occurs and requires monitoring or where items need to be secured and safeguarded. It also regulates employee access and helps prevent employee theft.

Choosing an Electric Strike Lock

Choosing the right kind of electric strike lock depends on the kind of door you have. The door material, and whether the door is internal or external, double or single, determines which electric strike lock is best. Strikes are available for nearly all door styles and of various material types, like aluminum and timber.

Security and Monitoring Requirements

The level of security desired will impact the type of strike that is best for your doors and circumstance.

For example, a low-security situation with no defined holding force may only require a low-cost electric strike. However, in a high-security environment, a strike with a maximum holding force of 1,500 pounds or more may be necessary. 

Most electric strike manufacturers produce strikes with or without a monitoring facility. Door state monitoring should involve the use of a separate reed switch on the door or frame. 

Type of Lockset

Your electric strike lock must be compatible with the type of lockset on your door. Use the lockset manufacturer’s compatibility chart to determine if your electric strike works with the lockset in question.

Latch Bolt Dimensions

Similar to a lockset, your choice of electric strike lock will need to accommodate the type of lock bolt sizes. Make sure that the centerline location of the latch bolt is correctly positioned around the centerline of the lockset to ensure that the lock will work as desired.

Power Needs

Most electric strike locks are 24 VDC, although 12 and 24 VAC options are also available. Choosing AC or DC power is critical because each strike application is different. Consider regulated or filtered power sources where practical as these sources will extend life to the strike’s operating capacity.

Code Compliance

Fail-secure electric strike locks must be used on fire-rated doors so that the door automatically goes into a locked position when the power is turned off. Because fail-safe locks go into an unlocked state when no power is applied, they do not meet code requirements for fire doors.

Consult a locksmith if you are uncertain about what kind of electric strike lock you need for your building or office.

Telephone Entry Systems for Higher Security

Whether you are looking to protect a real estate investment or your residential property, security of your facility and property is always a priority, and rightly so. Although there are many inexpensive or outdated entry systems available for commercial and residential purposes, purchasing the right telephone entry system the first time can give you peace of mind and secure your assets.

What are Telephone Entry Systems?

Telephone entry systems (TES) are a standard method of controlling visitors’ access to the gates and doors of your property. 

This type of security system provides communication from a monitored, secured entry point to a tenant, resident, or visitor to a building via communicating through phone lines.

How Do Telephone Entry Systems Work?

When communication is established, the person at the gate can speak with the person inside the property. If the tenant or resident wishes to allow the visitor in, he can dial a number on his telephone that will activate a relay in the TES. More sophisticated telephone entry systems can also provide control through the use of access devices like card readers or keypads. Telephone entry systems are available in two styles:

● Dedicated phone line systems, or auto dialers, require a dedicated telephone service for the entry system.The operator can type a phone number into the TES keypad, and the system will dial the number, connecting through the telephone service. Parties on both ends of the call can speak with each other, and if the tenant wants to admit the visitor to the property, he can dial a number on his telephone.

● Shared phone line systems are another kind of TES available for commercial and residential purposes. These systems will connect to a series with an incoming phone line. The entry system uses the phone wiring going into a home or building as a control board that can connect with all interior phones. Again, operators may give permission to visitors to enter the property at that point.

The Advantages of Telephone Entry Systems

Telephone entry systems allow for multiple benefits in commercial settings.Commercial properties will benefit from a TES system in the following ways:

Access

TES systems provide a highly efficient way in which to manage visitor access at secure entry points. Businesses can communicate directly with visitors to determine if they should have access to the property. 

Protection

Commercial properties require security for the protection of employees and assets while restricting access to unknown persons. 

A telephone entry system is a superior option in that it eliminates the needs for re-keying or key tracking because most TES systems integrate with transponders, and can often be connected directly with an alarm system

Additionally, key codes can easily be changed when employees are hired or fired .

Flexibility

A telephone entry system provides direct two-way communication between the visitor and the entry point. However, the individual monitoring the business can perform that function remotely and does not have to be on the company premises. 

A telephone entry system creates a more controlled, secure, and safe environment for employees, residents, and visitors, so consider installing one today to protect your investment.

When Should You Replace Your Locks?

Between the number of secure buildings that are part of your life and the multiple doors they have, there are a number of reasons for getting locks replaced, some of which are more obvious than others. In this post we’ll go over replacing locks vs. rekeying, as well as some common scenarios for when you may want to get your locks replaced.

Replacing Locks vs. Rekeying

First, you need to identify whether you want your locks replaced or rekeyed. Replacing a lock requires a full replacement of the locking mechanism and any accompanying knob or handle. Rekeying involves removing the pins and springs in the lock cylinder and replacing them with new ones that operate with a new and different key. 

When to Get Your Locks Replaced

So how often and when should you replace your locks? Let’s look at some scenarios where changing your locks is best for your security and peace of mind.

Misplaced Keys 

Misplacing keys is a common occurrence and one that warrants replacing your locks. You can’t be certain that someone else hasn’t found your key, so changing your locks in this situation is inconvenient. However, it will put your mind at ease.

Stolen Keys

Stolen keys mean that one (or more) people have access to your property. Don’t wait to see if your keys resurface. Move quickly to get your locks replaced.

Worn Out or Rusted Locks

Even the best of locks suffer from wear and tear over time due to heavy and repeated use. Lock stressors can range from stiffness and looseness to rust and tarnish. Old, well-worn locks are easy for criminals to pick while newer, tighter locks are impossible to open without the right key. Replace your old locks and secure your home.

Renting out space or adding a new roommate

Subletting a room or an apartment, or sharing your living space with a roommate, are common reasons for changing out your locks. The tenant receives keys to the property upon rental and returns them upon termination of the lease. Replacing the locks is necessary if this process does not go smoothly or if the tenant distributed copies of keys to other people.

Moving into a new home

Because you can’t be certain who has duplicate keys to your new home, even if it’s a brand-new build, it’s smart to replace your locks. The former owner may have distributed copies to other people, or the home may have had a realtor lockbox, and that key has passed through many pairs of hands. Never assume that the locks on your new residence are tamper proof; replace them and rest easy in your new home.

Home invasion and burglary

Burglary is a horrible invasion of your sense of security. In this scenario, you need to expect the worst: the criminals have your keys and access to your home. Don’t take the chance that your keys haven’t fallen into the wrong hands. Replace your locks after a home invasion and restore your sense of privacy.

House sitting

Consider changing your locks if you’ve had someone watch your house while you’re on vacation. Even if you trust that person, you can’t be sure that someone didn’t get access to a key without the house sitter knowing.

Regardless of your particular scenario, it’s a best practice to upgrade your security by replacing your locks every few years for both better performance and greater security. 

Tips for Protecting Your Master Key

Each day we use keys to secure some of our most prized possessions: buildings, cash, documents, and assets. If you misplace your master key, or if someone copies your key without your knowledge or permission, your business—and everything within it—could be at risk.

The Importance of Protecting Your Master Key

Losing your master key necessitates the need to rekey your entire master key system. This situation can be extremely costly depending on how many doors your business or facility contains. Schools, college campuses, hospitals, gyms, factories, office buildings, hotels and restaurants often have multiple entrances and exits, and rekeying all of them would be incredibly expensive.

Who Needs Access to the Master Key?

Having a master key is beneficial for any business because it allows you to access multiple rooms with the same key, which is critical in various scenarios. High-security areas, such as commercial offices and financial safes, are also examples of where a master key can come in handy. There are various different needs for access to the master key, including but not limited to:

Emergency Personel 

For example, during a fire a master key allows fire departments and emergency personnel to access all parts of the building quickly.

Custodians

Additionally, the master key may be necessary for custodians to use in case of plumbing or electrical accidents.

Landlords

Landlords and building security would benefit from having quick entry to any door on the premises.

Managers

A master key is also helpful in managerial situations, so that store or office managers have admittance to areas of the building that they need to oversee.

Employees

Depending on your business, some employees might need a master key.

Any combination of individuals such as those listed above may need different levels of master key access. For example, a manager may have a master key to access an individual unit, custodians could have a separate key for maintenance and storage doors, and other employees a key for more specific, off-limits areas like swimming pool gates or common rooms.

Ultimately, a master key improves the flexibility and workflow of business, allows for security and additional control to eliminate unauthorized access and employee theft, and provides ease of entry during emergency situations.

Tips for Keeping Your Master Key Safe

We’ve established the importance of having master keys for your company and what difficulties a lost master key can create. What steps can you take to keep your master key safe and avoid the hassle and expense of rekeying your locks?

Here are ways you can keep your master key from falling into the wrong hands:

Be Selective

Give key access only to people you trust. Although this isn’t necessarily foolproof, it’s one of the best ways to keep the master keys safe.

Keep Track

Keep careful records of anyone who gets a copy of a master key, and check those records regularly especially when turnover occurs within the business or facility.

Create a Label System

Label keys with a code system that is not accessible in case of theft. Don’t label the keys in an obvious fashion, such as by room number.

Store Securely

Keep the master key and any duplicates in a secure location far away from high-traffic or commercial areas.

Use a Key Safe

If you purchase a key safe, make sure that you find one with a fire rating, lock type, size, and security rating that meets the needs of your business.

The master key is at the heart of any business or organization. Make sure that your keys stay safe so that your company is well-protected and secure.