Halloween Safety Tips

In the last few years Halloween has looked a little different for all of us, so 31st October 2021 we need to remember to keep ourselves safe from Covid-19, our home protected from burglars and still let our children have a spooktacular time!

Did you know that November is the month you are most likely to be burgled? A home is burgled every two minutes in November, so read ahead to find out how to keep your home safe this Halloween 2021.

Read our Top Ten Security Tips List now to help add extra security to your home.

 

Costumes

Make Sure It Fits

Be sure that your child’s costume is not too long for them, walking up and down the street in the dark with a hem that too long is a recipe for disaster.

Make It Glow

A perfect way to jazz up your kid’s costume is to add some glow sticks, bike lights or reflective tape.

Not only does this add some fun to the costume but also makes your child easier to be seen.

Masks

Don’t try to wear a face mask underneath your Halloween costume or make an alternative, as these are not protective or safe, instead incorporate your mask as part of your costume by using face paint on the forehead or making a mask out of a breathable Halloween style material.

Masks can also restrict your child’s view; perhaps try opting for face paint instead so they can see clearly.

Do They Have Allergies?

Make sure your child is not allergic to the face paint you want to use, so they don’t have a reaction before they go out. It’s also important to make sure they wash it all off properly before bed.

Is It Flammable?

This one is a biggie. There are lots of candles out on Halloween, and if a cape or flowy costume gets caught on the flame then it can be very serious. Make sure any costume you buy has the CE mark that means its flame-retardant. We also suggest using lights instead of naked flames to light any pumpkins or other decorations.

 

Trick or Treating

Road Safety

Ensure your children stick to the pavement, cross at dedicated crossings, and never step out into the road from parked cars.

Also make sure you only trick or treat in safe and well-known areas to make sure you stay safe and make sure your young children are accompanied when out trick or treating and not left alone.

Go As a Group

Older children should go out in groups, and the route they take should be approved by an adult and they need to stick to it. Use phones to check in regularly and set a curfew for them to be home by.

No Pumpkin – No Treats

Be aware of those houses that aren’t getting involved in Halloween. Traditionally a house was open to trick or treaters if they had a pumpkin outside, with those wishing not to partake in this often posting a sign in their window or on their door.

If Halloween is your thing, then why not put up a sign welcoming trick or treaters. If you don’t wish to participate head over to the Neighbourhood Watch website to download their sticker!

Covid Safe

Make sure you and your family are being Covid safe when you trick or treat. This can include wearing suitable face masks, respecting social distancing, and using hand sanitiser regularly when knocking on doors.

Doorstop Safety

Whether a burglar is using distraction burglary, or will run past you to try to grab something, make sure your stay safe when you open your door by reading about How to Deal with Doorstep Crime and make sure you have burglary deterrents set up to reduce the risk of them targeting your home.

It’s important to also make sure no children go in other people’s homes – they should always stay on the doorstep!

 

Sweets

It’s best to avoid allowing your child to eat homemade treats as you do not know the full ingredients. Check over each of the sweets for anomalies and make sure that all sweets and chocolates are in sealed wrappers.

Also make sure there are no sweets that will set off your child’s allergies, and if you’re not sure, just throw them away. Remember to brush yours and your children’s teeth properly after eating sweets -they are extremely sugary.

 

Decorations

When decorating your home inside and out make sure you avoid any major dangers. This includes using battery powered candles instead of having an open flame to minimise the risk of fire, supervising your children when they’re pumpkin carving and avoiding putting any decorations on stairs to avoid the risk of tripping.

 

Halloween Party

Protect Your Home

When planning a Halloween party, make sure you know who you’re inviting so you know who is in your home.

Secure your valuables, hiding them away in a safe or a locked room. That way if any strangers do make their way in your home, it won’t be easy for them to take anything of importance or value.

Covid Safe

Although we can have parties again, its still best to be safe. Try to have doors or windows open if the party is inside, to allow for air to flow. Think about how big the party venue is to ensure people can socially distance and it isn’t overcrowded.

Or stick to the new traditions made over Covid. Why not have an online Halloween party that you can invite all your friends and family to. An online spooktacular quiz, movie marathon and best fancy dress competition are all things you can still do safely from your own home.

 

Pumpkin Picking

Visiting a pumpkin patch is a relatively low risk fun Halloween activity for you and the children to enjoy. Remember to wear your mask and sanitise your hands before and after visiting to stay as safe as possible.

Why not order a few pumpkins or root vegetables in with your shopping and hide them around the house as a pumpkin scavenger hunt for the kids (big and small)!

 

Halloween Donation Box

Food banks are struggling more than ever. Many have had to close down or relocate so finding them is a struggle. Why not get the whole family involved in decorating a box with Halloween spookiness and fill them with tinned and long-life food to donate to your local food bank? Find your local food bank with the Trussell Trust here!

 

Follow our tips to avoiding Halloween vandalism…

  • If possible, park any vehicles in a garage or a protected area. Parking your car in a garage or a protected area will help to prevent vandals from egging or damaging your vehicles.

  • Fit motion-sensing lights to the exterior of your home. Increasing the lighting on the outside of your property will help to deter vandals as they will be more visible to you and your neighbours.

  • Be friendly. Most people will only prank people that have been unwelcoming, so just make sure you are well stocked up on candy and you shouldn’t have any disgruntled trick or treaters.

  • Move garden ornaments out of sight, preferably in a locked garage or shed. Popular home insurance claims during this time of year are usually for smashed windows and damage to doors and garden furniture.

If you’re not in the Halloween spirit, there are a few measures you can take to avoid trick or treaters:

  • Turn off the main lights inside your house and shut the curtains. The majority of trick or treaters will avoid your home simply because they will think you are either asleep or not home.

  • Put up a sign to explain that you are not welcoming trick or treaters.

 

Keytek® Locksmiths

Trick or treat? Make sure you’re not fooled by a faulty lock by getting locked out this Halloween! Find your nearest Locksmith here! Liked our blog? Please check out some of our other blogs by visiting our Blog page when you share our ghoulish tips on social media!

Should I get a Guard Dog?

You might have seen in the newspapers recently that a number of the England Football Team have purchased guard dogs for their homes, after a spate of break ins. These dogs can cost upwards of twenty thousand pounds and take months to train. So, are these dogs worth the time and money? We will take a look at whether they are an effective security measure.

 

History of Guard Dogs

It’s unclear exactly when humans started using dogs for protection, but some of the first recorded protection dogs date back to 150BC in Rome. These early farmers would use dogs to protect livestock and they would introduce the dogs to livestock when they were puppies, so the dogs would ‘imprint’ and feel protective urges.

By the Middle Ages dogs were being used to hunt, protect and even catch criminals. In the 19th century the first recognisable breeds of today came in to being. Most notably the modern-day Rottweiler, who herded livestock, but also protected merchants’ money.

The first recognised formal police dog training started in Belgium in 1899, which then spread across Europe using mostly German, Belgian, and Dutch Shepherd Dogs, which is still the case today.

 

Guard Dog vs Protection Dogs

You might not have known that there is a difference between a guard dog and a protection dog. There are also other categories of security dogs.

 

Guard Dog

A guard dog will be specifically trained to be exclusively a working dog, not a family pet. Guard dogs are generally used within the police or military. Usually a guard dog cannot ‘turn off’ their training, there are three levels of guard dog training and a dog can be trained in each;

 

Alarm Dog

Normally a large breed with a loud deep bark. An alarm dog will bark when someone approaches, but will not attack. It’s hoped the bark will be enough to deter any intruders.

 

Sentry Dog

These dogs are mostly used to guard the outside of a large building, such as a factory or warehouse. Sentry dogs tend to roam free, without a handler and will attack any intruders.

 

Attack Dog

These types of dogs are trained specifically to attack or kill, when given a command by an owner or handler. Dogs like this are designed to be used by police dogs or within the military service. Attack dogs tend to not be sociable and do not make suitable pets (unless custom training is given).

 

Protection Dogs

Protection dogs tend to be family pets that are trained to protect and defend their families in any threatening situation. The breeds used for protection dogs tend to be extremely loyal and will truly be part of the family unit. They should be socialised with children and other pets, and even neighbours. Most of the protection dog breeds will need to be specifically behaviour trained and will need to be taught their position within the family. They can be dominant, so it’s important that the owner establishes their role as the alpha. These breeds do have a natural instinct to protect, but this will need to be built upon from a young age.

The main difference between a guard dog and a protection dog is the training. So, depending on what your needs are will influence which one you require.

 

Chaperone K9

If you have seen the press about the footballers acquiring guard dogs then you would have seen that they are mostly from a company called Chaperone K9. This family run business provides a high-level security dogs while maintaining high standards in dog welfare. They tailor each protection dog to the needs of their client. When purchasing a protection dog from Chaperone K9 you have a detailed consultation to discuss your needs with their expert trainers. From this they will identify the best breed of dog for you family and develop a bespoke training package. Dogs are trained from 8 weeks old and are sourced from vetted and trusted breeders. By the time you receive your dog, they will have had 2 years of intensive training. Owners are encouraged to be part of this training process, so that they and the dog can fully bond and develop a close relationship. Owners will also need to undertake some dog handling training, so they are fully confident when the protection dogs handed over. Chaperone K9 do offer ongoing support and will be on hand to help with any difficulties new owners have. To find out more visit the Chaperone K9 website.

 

Are Guard Dogs Effective?

Advantages of Guard Dogs

  • Intruder Deterrent

Just the presence of a dog can deter a burglar, so the presence of security dog should work even better. Burglars like to work in the dark and quiet, so a barking dog making a scene should force a burglar to leave. Also the threat of a dog bite should also stop a bugler in their tracks.

  • Personal Protection

A dog trained to attack can help protect you from harm, if an intruder turns violent. This may offer you piece of mind and make you feel more relaxed in your home.

  • The Illusion of Security

Even if you and your dog are out of the house, a ‘beware of the dog’ sign can give a burglar enough hesitation to move on.

  • Instant Protection

If you are home when someone enters your home and you call the police, there will inevitably be a response time. If you have a guard dog present in your home, your protection will be instant.

 

Disadvantages of  Having a Guard Dog

  • Your Dog Could be Harmed

If your dog tries to protect you then they could get hurt, possibly fatally, in the process which can be distressing for you and your family, especially younger children.

  • Your Dog Could be Stolen

If your intruder isn’t just a chancer and has planned the break-in, part of the plan could be to take your dog. Not only are they beloved family pets, they are also worth a lot of money – especially if they are a pedigree dog.

  • They Can’t Call the Police

If your dog is home alone and someone breaks in, are unable to alert the authorities. So, if their presence doesn’t make a burglar leave or alert a neighbour, an intruder will be left to their own devices.

  • They aren’t Video Recorders

If you are using a dog as your only form of security system, then they won’t be helpful in identifying an intruder if a break-in is successful.

  • They Could Harm Someone who isn’t an Intruder

The owner of a guard dog will be liable for any damage done by the animal. Which means you could be in trouble if the dog harms an innocent party, or even if it harms an intruder.

 

guard dogs law UK

Guard Dogs and the Law

There are of course laws around owning a guard dog that you must adhere to. If you do have a guard dog in your home, then you must follow guard dog laws in the UK.  You must have clear signs stating the fact at every entrance and fence to your home. This mean that you are completely covered if someone is injured by your guard dog. If there is not ample warning in and around your home signifying a guard dog, then any damage done while you dog is not restrained will make you liable. It is also required within UK law that there is a handler who has complete control over the dog present at all times.

There are certain breeds that must not be used as guard dogs, by law. As of 1975 dogs banned from being guard dogs are;

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro

If you are found to have a guard dog of these breed then you could be prosecuted and fined up to £5000.

It is also in UK law that a guard dog be on a lead when out in public, this is in case an incident occurs and the owner isn’t close enough to respond quickly.

 

Is a Guard Dog Worth Investing in?

If you have the resources to fund one, and your lifestyle requires an extra level of protection then it could be something to consider. Dogs have been used for thousands of years for protection and are still used by the police and army to this day, meaning that they are an effective way of protecting your home and family. However, the most effective way to keep your home secure is to use a mix of security measures, such as security cameras and alarms, so these used with a protection dog is a good way to maintain your homes security.

To find out about other ways to protect your home visit out Home Security Hub.

Keytek’s Padlock Buying Guide

What is a Padlock?

Padlocks are defined as portable locks with a shackle that may be passed through an opening to prevent use, theft, vandalism, or harm. A padlock is traditionally used to secure; gates, sheds, bikes etc.

What do I need to consider when buying a Padlock?

The first thing you need to consider is what your padlock will be protecting. If it’s just going on your shed to stop any kids from stealing your plants then you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money. However, if your padlock is securing a £600 bike, then it might be worth investing a little more money in a high security padlock. Once you’ve decided on how much you want to spend then there are some other factors you may want to consider.

Materials and design– As with most things in life you get what you pay for, so if you buy a cheap padlock made with cheap materials, it will be easier to break. Whereas a well-made padlock, constructed with high grade materials will provide you with more protection. If your padlock will spend most of its life outside, then consider buying a weatherproof or waterproof padlock. Its rains a lot in this country so you don’t want your padlock to rust and therefore become ineffective.

The Shackle– you are looking for the silver loop at the top that clicks in to secure the padlock. If you can, get a padlock with the shackle almost completely hidden. One way thieves break padlocks is by snipping the shackle with bolt cutters, but if they can’t get near the shackle, they can’t cut it. Cheaper padlocks tend to have the shackle completely exposed, so again, it goes back to what you are trying to secure and how much you want to spend on a padlock.

Different Types of Shackles:

  1. Closed shackle

The closed shackle is a common type, which increases the protection and difficulty of any attack with a saw and bolt cutters – as the name suggests, the shackle is closed to prevent being cut off.

  1. Straight shackle

The straight shackle is another common type, which is often used for roller shutter doors. That being said, it has other uses, such as securing containers and large warehouse doors.

  1. Circular/round shackle

From its name, the circular shackle has a curved design, unlike any popular or traditional design. Since the design is spring loaded, it prevents any force or the lock being drilled.

  1. Long shackle

With a very traditional design, the long shackle is popular for making the padlock use itself very convenient and easy to secure items.  However, it is important to consider that shackles are the most vulnerable part of any padlock, and having a long pass through shackle does reduce the security level of these particular padlocks.

Is it a good standard? – To be sure that you are getting a padlock that has been rigorously tested and vetted by a trusted authority, you need to look out for mark of quality. Look for the ‘British Standard’ kite mark. When you see this mark you know that a padlock has been tested by the British Standard Institute and that it passed the criteria set by them.

The British Standard Institute will test the different qualities the padlocks have, for example; how long a padlock would take to pick, or how much force it would take to get through the shackle. So you can be sure that if a padlock has this symbol on, it will be of good quality.

Combination VS Key- You might be more familiar with the key designs as they are more common, but like we’ve stated before it depends on what you are using your padlock for. For example, if it is being used to secure a back gate in a family home, then a combination lock might be best, as many people will need access and there is no risk of losing the key. However if it only one person using the padlock for say, a bike, then a key lock may be more beneficial as you don’t want the code falling into the wrong hands.

If you do decide to go for a padlock with a key then you want as many pins as possible, the more pins the harder it is to copy the key. If you are really worried about someone coping the key then you do have the option of buying a high-end padlock with a restricted key, this means that a Locksmith or key cutter will refuse to cut a new key without evidence that you are the owner.

Best Padlocks

 

  1. Master Lock 189EURD Key Padlock with Shrouded Shackle

£12.97 From Amazon.

The Master Lock Padlock is a perfect fit for both indoors and outdoors, from doors to storage units, fences, and garages. The shrouded design of its shackle is mainly styled to protect the padlock from cutting. What makes the padlock unique are the double locking levers, which add to its security from hammering and prying. The stainless steel material of the padlock is also making it very durable and weather resistant.

 

  1. TSA Approved Locks – Pack Of 2- UK Brand – New And Improved Model for 2021

£9.99 From Amazon.

The TSA padlock is a perfect use for luggage, gym bags, and lockers. What makes it unique is the 4 digit combination that is more secure than any other standard 3 digit padlock. The combination of the padlock is made of a hard zinc alloy, a high quality material that increases your security.  It is very affordable and used by many people.

 

  1. ABUS 37/80 Granit Alloy Steel Padlock

£148.52 From Amazon.

The ABUS padlock has a tensile strength of nearly 25,000 pounds, making it a difficult one to defeat! It has a reinforced steel foundation that adds to its resistance to physical strikes. As a result, the padlock is extremely resilient physically. It’s a product that comes with a lifetime warranty. The best part is that you will never misplace the key as well as featuring a substantial size and strength.

 

  1. Arrone Fingerprint Padlock

£50 From Hausnous.

If you are looking for a smart padlock, look no further! The Arrone padlock offers you convenience and easiness for anything that you use quite often and as a result, would end up with lost or stolen keys. Whether indoors or outdoors, the Arrone Padlock is water and dust resistant with a long-lasting charging battery that can last up to 200 days after a full single charge. It is very easy to use, especially when it comes to charging it as it uses a USB cable to charge.

 

  1. Yale Closed Shackle High Security Steel Padlock

Yale is one of the biggest names in the security industry, if you’ve done any research on padlocks or any locks for that matter, then you will have come across the name. The Closed Shackle Padlock is perfect for securing anything indoors, tool boxes or internal doors for example. As mentioned before any padlock with a concealed shackle is going to be very hard to tamper with. The Shackle on this Yale padlock is made of boron steel; boron is high-grade precision steel that is used in advanced automotive and heavy-duty industrial applications due to its extreme strength. It also features double ball locking, this means that even if the thief cut the shackle on both sides, it wouldn’t move. The Yale Closed Shackle High Security Steel Padlock is a robust and secure padlock, the only limitation being that it’s not built to withstand bad weather conditions, so its use is limited to inside.

Check out more of our Security Tips!

Smart Locks vs Traditional Locks

Having a secure door lock is one of the most effective ways to protect your home and ever since Smart Locks came on to the market, there has been an ongoing debate about whether they are A) safe, and B) more secure than Traditional Locks. We are going to look at a thorough comparison of smart and Traditional Locks, and see which comes out on top as the most secure.

Traditional Locks

When we talk about ‘Traditional’ locks, we are referring to the typical locks you see on pretty much every door; a Euro Lock, Mortice, Yale type (Night Latch) etc. These are the locks that you know already, and will most likely have on your door. These locks need a physical key to open them. Have a look on our ultimate guide to traditional locks here.

Traditional Lock

Smart Locks

When we talk about ‘Smart’ locks we are referring to a lock that is controlled by your phone, or another devise such as a fob. These locks use either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and not a physical key to unlock your door. Read our ultimate guide on smart locks here!

Smart Locks

Door Lock Security

This one is the biggy. Which lock is actually more secure? The one big issue facing Smart Locks is that anything that is connected to the internet can be vulnerable to hacking. So if you install a Smart Lock for your home, there is a chance someone could break in by hacking the lock. This is one fundamental flaw that affects all Smart Locks.

With Traditional Locks it’s hard to give an overview of safety because they are all different and many factors have to be taken into consideration. However, we will just look at common locks that you will find on your front door, like a Euro or a Mortice Lock, as they are vulnerable to picking.

Traditional front door locks are susceptible to breaks in; arguably just as much as or even more so than a Smart Lock. An experienced burglar can snap a Euro Lock and gain entry to your house in seconds (see more on our lock snapping page). You can invest in an anti-snapping lock, but this is still vulnerable to ‘picking’.  This is also true of Mortice Locks. You can get high security locks that are anti-snap and anti-pick.

When deciding which the most secure lock is for you home, you need to think about whether it’s more likely an intruder will pick your lock, or hack it. Statistics show us that burglary is a crime of opportunity, so it’s not likely an intruder will have pre planned to hack into your smart door lock. As discussed, Smart Locks often run off Bluetooth or Wi-Fi so there is always a chance this will fail, potentially leaving your home vulnerable.

There is a lot of debate about which lock is the most secure lock for your home. Both have the strengths and weaknesses.  So, comparing them on secureness might not make you decided one way or another. It’s the other factors that might make up your mind.

Convenience

This is an area where Smart Locks definitely come out on top. The ability to let someone into your home from miles away is great. Especially if you have children that tend to misplace their keys during the school day. In this day and age, people are generally never without their phones, so it’s a good way to ensure you are never locked out.

With Traditional Locks, if you want to grant someone access to your home while you are not in, you would have to trust them with a key, or leave on under the mat (which we strongly advise against). These can both cause security issues, as it’s an open invitation to any burglar who finds it and you trust someone not to lose the key. Having a Traditional Lock also means that if you lose your key or lock yourself out, whomever else has a key would need to physically come to your location to let you in.

However, a phone running out of battery, having no internet access or something disrupting the Bluetooth means that you could be locked out of a Smart Lock. Most Smart Locks do have a key override for this reason, but you may feel this defeats the object of having a smart door lock, a physical key is never going to run out of battery or lose connection.

 

versatility & Control

The Smart Lock market is growing very quickly, and more options are constantly introduced to the market. When it comes to versatility, Smart Locks come on top of the competition. Although the device is controlled by a phone or other smart device, regular keys will also work most of the time. Some Smart Locks have fingerprint scanners on the inside, while others have touch sensors that actuate the lock to open or close a door. In terms of versatility, some Smart Locks can even connect to different other smart devices, including the Amazon Echo.  As for control, you can use key tag, keypad, or your mobile phone to control your lock or even to log in activities and see who has accessed your door when you are away. Traditional locks wouldn’t be considered as versatile. There are many options with different brands in the market, but the way to use them is often somewhat the same.  As for traditional locks, you can control who has a key and ensure that you have high security locks fitted, but this does not protect you from having your keys stolen.

Smart lock vs traditional lock cost

smart lock vs traditional lock cost

Generally speaking, Smart Locks are more expensive than Traditional Locks and this could be a big factor in your decision. So we will run through some general prices and what you get for your money. (This is not taking in the account the cost of hiring a locksmith to fit/replace your locks)

Depending on what door you have the cost for a new lock will change. A replacement cylinder for a uPVC door starts at £25 for the most basic lock. This price will change if you have a wooden door, as you will probably need a Yale lock replacement or a Mortice Lock replacement. With a Yale Lock you can just replace the cylinder and that starts at £15 and upwards, but if you needed the whole lock and back set replaced, the price starts at £35. When changing a Mortice Lock you need to decide if you want a 3 Lever or 5 Lever, (5 Levers are generally used for external doors, and 3 Levers for internal).  5 Levers start at around £45 and 3 Levers at £25.

If you wanted high security locks then the price will jump up again. For the highest grade anti-snap or anti-bump lock, the price will start at £30. Higher security Mortice Locks start at around £40.

There is no denying that Smart Locks are more expensive than Traditional Locks. The cheapest Smart Lock out there is the Candy House Sesame Smart Lock and that’s around £100. The bigger names for Smart Locks out there are August and Yale and they will set you back around £250-£300 for the basic package. You have to think whether or not the extra cost is worth it, but you get all the benefits; lock and unlock your house from anywhere, send friends and family virtual keys and receive notifications about whose entering and leaving.

Smart Locks will use the same mechanisms as Traditional Locks, so really you are paying extra for convenience. If you wanted to pay extra for home security, you might be better off investing in an entire smart home system that includes cameras, motion detectors and an alarm system.

The Future of Home Locks

The future of technology holds many aspects in home security. The main concern is what the future will be like in terms of home security, especially when it comes to your property’s first line of defence, which is your lock. In fact, smart locks will be part the ever changing technology just like other smart device. Just like any other technological device, it is very expected that smart locks will the future of home locks, with convenience taking a huge aspect of it.  In fact, in 2020, 47% of UK households own already a smart home device, apart from smart TVs and watches.  Therefore, it is not a surprise to expect that convenience would win and the future will be mainly smart locks.

 

For a full buyer’s guide on Smart locks visit our Smart Locks Blog.

Call Keytek® Today!

There is nothing that can make your house 100% secure, but by taking some simple measures you can deter thieves. Look out for sturdy doors and windows or consider replacing them when they are old and worn. Having the locks changed is one of the BEST things you can do to protect your new home.

Hiring a professional Locksmith to fit these is the only way to be sure that your locks are insurance compliant. Keytek® offer a free home security check with every job we do, so if you book us in for the day you move we can appraise your home and give you our best advice on how to keep the burglars away.

You can find a rough guide for the cost of Locksmith services on our Locksmith Prices Page.