As we approach the last few weekends of the year, thousands of businesses across the country will soon be closing their doors for the Christmas and New Year period.
That's great news if you're a 9 to 5 employee - that extra-long Christmas break is well-deserved after a long and tiring year. However, if you're a business owner or manager, this time of year has probably got you thinking about other things - unusual opening hours, darker nights, frantic shoppers, less staff and much more!
We understand that all of these factors together can sometimes lead to security unintentionally dropping down your priority list, so we're here to remind you of the importance of keeping your people and property protected, by taking simple and effective precautions.
Of course, there are also many businesses that remain open throughout the celebrations, however the advice below is not just for Christmas - it applies all year round.
What do I need to think about?
Whether you own a shop, look after a school, manage an office or run a factory, there are many common security risks that must be addressed to ensure continuity over the festive period.
Closing down for Christmas and New Year? Unoccupied buildings are at higher risk of intrusion, theft and vandalism as there is simply no-one there to deter a criminal. That is unless you specifically employ security guards or night staff to keep an eye on things out-of-hours.
A cost effective way to provide protection for your property is to deploy security technology. This should include the presence of an Intruder Alarm system with a highly-visible and good condition external Bell Box. Quite simply, your alarm system is the foundation of your security strategy.
In addition to alarms, most businesses use CCTV systems to help watch over their property. Camera installations are becoming more and more advanced. The cameras themselves are now able to provide incredible image quality in high definition, giving clear video footage and new features, such as the ability to be viewed remotely via an App. This is down to the evolution of 'IP' systems, which use network connections instead of traditional analogue cabling. Cameras are another strong criminal deterrent and are essential for collecting evidence, overseeing live site activity and checking recorded footage.
There are many more security systems that can be integrated into your building, such as Access Control and Lighting. Click here for more information about our technology.
Under the guidance of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005*, all UK businesses are legally required to implement fire safety practices and protection. Fire has the potential to be completely devastating and so the requirements set out within this legislation are designed to minimise the risk to people and properties, and the number of incidents that occur.
Before leaving the premises unoccupied over Christmas, ensure that your Fire Protection systems have been maintained and are in good working order. These include your Fire Alarm and Fire Extinguishers. This could be the difference between minimal and totally destructive damage, should a fire break out.
If you are the responsible person for fire safety, we recommend checking your Fire Risk Assessment in case there are any specific actions that should be taken at this time of year. Fire Risk Assessments should be reviewed approximately every three years. If your assessment is out of date, you should ensure a new assessment takes place as soon as possible.
*Different legislation applies in Scotland and Northern Ireland
Dealing with an emergency situation
If a break-in or fire was to occur at your business premises, how prepared are you to deal with the emergency? A good place to start is to ask yourself the following four questions...
Are your alarm systems ready to alert you to an incident?
Your Intruder and Fire Alarm systems should be well-maintained and always set when you are not there. If a system is displaying a fault or has proved to be unreliable, then this needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Failure to detect an intruder, and especially a fire, could be catastrophic.
How quickly would you find out about it?
Without the use of a monitoring service, you are reliant on a member of your staff or the public contacting the Police or Brigade in the event of an emergency. This is simply fraught with risk, and a matter of minutes can be the difference between catching a criminal or preventing a major fire. Alarms that are 'monitored' allow you to find out about an activation almost instantly, through a secure connection to a 24-hour Alarm Receiving Centre (or Monitoring Station).
Who will be available to deal with an incident?
The setup of your monitoring service includes providing a list of keyholders to the Alarm Receiving Centre. Keyholders are people chosen by you, who agree to be contacted should an incident occur. Keyholders should be able to attend and access the property within 20 minutes of being notified, and should be trained on using the alarm systems.
This system is not totally without risk though, as attending the property could put you or your keyholder in danger. Depending on your individual risk and preference, we often recommend the services of a keyholding company. These are professional people that will attend alarm activations on your behalf.
Monitored systems can also trigger Police or Brigade Response. Again, this is dependent on your specific risk level.
How badly would an incident affect your operations?
A burglary or fire can be extremely costly. As well as the potential risk to life and loss of property and assets, the resulting downtime could mean the loss of trade and profits. It's a harsh fact that many businesses simply don't recover.
The good news is, ensuring continuity for your business is simple, so long as you take the time to understand your responsibilities and measures in place. If you need any help or advice on security or fire safety, we're here to help.
Call our team on 01452 372626 or click here to enquire online