Thanksgiving Safety Tips from Boyd & Associates

Did you know that the number of fire alarms Boyd & Associates monitoring center receives skyrockets on Thanksgiving Day, largely because of home cooking fires?

Cooking is the number one way house fires start, and the NFPA agrees, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires. Luckily, many of the alarm signals received by our monitoring center on Thanksgiving are accidental alarms, not full-fledged fires. But with a house full of guests and a belly full of carbs, revelers often aren’t prepared to respond to their monitoring center’s outreach.

Even if Turkey Day is just a small, intimate group this year, you won’t want your holiday interrupted by a home cooking fire or even a smoke alarm.

Many Boyd & Associates customers experience this frustration around the holidays, and the people who know first-hand are the Protection Specialists in our 24-hour monitoring centers. They’ve provided tips on how to help prevent cooking fires and accidental alarms on Thanksgiving, and what to do if your smoke alarm goes off.

How to set yourself up for safe cooking on Thanksgiving

It only takes a few simple steps and a little mindfulness to prepare.

Just in case your monitored smoke alarms are triggered, Boyd & Associates customers should have these two pieces of information memorized or accessible:

  • Your Verbal Alarm Password (if you have one) – this is the single word you will give Boyd & Associates to verify your identity on the phone.
  • Your Master Panel Code – this is the numeric code you will need to disarm your system at the panel.

If possible, give several people you trust access as well. If you’re pulling a 12-lb turkey out of your blazing hot oven, you’ll appreciate the extra hands.

Additional prep should include:

  • Clean any grease, dust, or food particles from your oven and stove top.
  • Make sure you have a non-expired, properly inspected handheld fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Program the phone number for Boyd & Associates monitoring center (800. 381. 2693) into your phone so you’ll immediately know it’s us if we call. This number is exclusively used by our monitoring team, so you can also use it to notify us of an accidental alarm or return a call from one of our Protection Specialists.
  • Speaking of calls from Boyd & Associates, make sure your emergency contact list for Boyd & Associates is correct.
  • Test your smoke detectors to ensure that they are in working order.

How to prevent home cooking fires

The number one factor in home cooking fires is leaving your cooking food unattended. While everyone wants to spend time with guests on Thanksgiving, it’s important not to abandon an active kitchen. If possible, bring some of the socializing into the kitchen with you. Here are more tips to help prevent unintentional home cooking fires.

  • Keep kids at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Make sure all towels, potholders, flammable utensils, and other items are kept away from the stove top. Long sleeves, loose clothing, and long hair can also pose a fire risk.
  • Double-check the burners when you turn a new one on or off.
  • Don’t cook sleepy or while drinking. If you were up all night basting the turkey — or started celebrating early — give yourself a break and avoid the stove.
  • When cooking with grease, keep a lid nearby in case you need to smother a fire.
  • Turn your pan handles inward so you are less likely to knock it off the stove.

How to respond to a smoke alarm

First things first: If your smoke alarm goes off, start by determining whether there is a fire. This may sound obvious, but even if you’re pretty sure, play it safe and double-check. Your top priority is always getting yourself and your guests out of the house safely.

Next, know the drill. There is always a chance you’ll accidentally trigger your smoke alarm while cooking a big meal, no matter how careful you are. Smoke detectors sounding off when there’s no emergency can be frustrating but knowing what comes next will make it much easier to respond.

If there is an accidental alarm, you can temporarily silence your Boyd & Associates smoke detector by entering your numeric passcode and disarming your system. Remember, if there is still too much smoke, it may sound again. To lessen the chance of a false alarm while cooking large meals, try the following:

  • Clean your smoke detector regularly to eliminate dust and dirt build-up.
  • Keep a close eye on your food while cooking.
  • Crack open a window before you start cooking.
  • Set up a fan near your smoke detector.
  • Use a smoke detector cover, which can be found at a hardware store or online.

We’re here to help

If you do experience a fire or medical emergency on Thanksgiving, remember: Boyd & Associates is here for you 24/7, and that includes holidays! In an emergency, you can always activate the fire or medical panic on your control panel, and Boyd & Associates monitoring center will respond quickly.

Don’t have a Boyd & Associates professionally monitored fire alarm system? Call us today to speak with one of our security experts.

Halloween Home Safety Tips: A Trick Or A Treat?

Halloween is right around the corner. For some, this holiday signifies a day greater than Christmas. The elaborate face painting and collaborative costumes make it a fun way to commemorate this spooky holiday. What isn’t so fun is having to make an insurance claim or clean up the damage from some Halloween vandalism or pranks gone awry. Here are some harrowing Halloween stats:

  1. On average, crimes related to theft away from home jump by 21% on Halloween
  2. Insurance claims for theft inside the home are approximately 60% higher due to Halloween shenanigans
  3. Claims related to vandalism raise by 19% because of Halloween mischief
  4. On Halloween night, car theft increases by about 5%
  5. Halloween had the highest average number of insurance claims for any day of the year.

Insurance companies see an uptick in claims the day after Halloween. As is evidenced by the numbers, there is a spike in crimes related to vandalism, property crime, and mischief. While these are vague categories, one trend emerges: Your property is typically the target.

To avoid becoming part of these statistics, you can take a few extra precautionary measures to get your home ready for trick-or-treaters, and to prepare for the less desirable tricksters. Here are some Halloween home safety tips for this coming Fright night.

  1. Choose your trick-or-treating venue or neighborhood wisely
  2. Take steps to protect your vehicle
  3. Lock all doors, in your home and your car
  4. Provide plenty of lighting for walkways
  5. Keep valuables out of plain sight
  6. Make your trick-or-treaters visible
  7. Avoid distractions while driving or walking on Halloween night

Vanquish Vehicle Vandals

The trick: 5% increase in car theft, two times more likely to fall victim to car vandalism
The treat: Preventing vandalism and costly insurance claims for vehicle damage

According to the Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI), your vehicle is almost twice as likely to get vandalized on Halloween night. And we aren’t talking about a simple egging or a smattering of toilet paper. The same study cites “The average cost per claim was $1,528…” Needless to say, most damage requires more than a light cleaning.

A report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) illustrates that vandalism is not the only damage you are likely to see on Halloween. There is also a 5 percent increase in car theft on the last day of October.

To help avoid a massive mess or a missing car on the first brisk day of November, try out our Halloween tips:

  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Choose trick-or-treating neighborhoods wisely
  • Don’t leave valuables in plain sight
  • Lock the doors, roll up windows, and set your alarm
  • Park in the garage
  • Hand out candy in the driveway or with your car in direct sight
  • Park in a populated area

Preventing Property Pranks

The trick: Theft inside the home goes up by 60%
The treat: Keeping your loved ones and valuables protected from pranksters

According to an article posted by USA Today, there is a significant increase in burglaries and theft from homes on Halloween. The articles states that “Insurance claims due to theft inside the home go up by a whopping 60%.” Normally, a largely populated area is your friend when it comes to burglary prevention. But with such a large influx of children carting pumpkin buckets, it can be easy to drop your guard.

Whether your neighborhood is booming with costumed characters or relatively quiet, there are a few precautions you can take to help protect your home. Try out these Halloween safety tips:

  • Provide plenty of lighting: Carefully placed lighting makes it easier to see those who approach your home. Well-lit walkways are also important for ensuring little ones get to and from your home safely.
  • Place Halloween decorations carefully: Avoid excess extension cords or obstacles that could make it difficult to walk to and from your home.
  • Keep unsupervised points of entry locked up tight: Many homeowners believe that they won’t fall victim to theft or burglary because they are sitting on their front porch. Don’t neglect other openings an opportunistic thief might take advantage of.
  • Leave valuables out of plain sight: Don’t leave easy targets in plain view of any visitors or mischievous opportunists.
  • Make your house seem occupied, even if it’s not: If you plan to take your little ones out scouring for candy, leave your lights on inside (and maybe a TV) to make it seem like someone is home. Also, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of neighbors who will be home to keep an eye on your property.
  • Hand out candy from your driveway or garage: Setting up camp in a well-lit garage reduces the amount of obstacles a trick-or-treater needs to overcome to reach candy. As an added bonus, welcoming visitors from the garage gives you a wide view of all who come searching for goodies.

Caring For Your Costumed Kiddos

The trick: Malicious mischief (and other types of vandalism) jump 19% on Halloween
The treat: Ensuring your kids have a spooky, but safe, Halloween experience

If you are leading the charge of carting the kiddos around for candy, you’ll want to prepare for personal safety. These Halloween tips can help you hone your protective parent skills:

  • As with cars and homes—light em up!: Find creative ways to integrate lighting, glow bracelets or reflective jewelry into your child’s costume.
  • Design costumes with care: Make sure your child has comfortable footwear and free movement to avoid falls. This also includes face paint instead of masks to promote visibility.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings: Avoid distractions when driving and keep your eye out for any suspicious people or situations.
  • Travel in packs: Traveling in groups makes you more visible and less likely to be targeted by pranksters.
  • Avoid walking on roads: Stick to sidewalks and paths when making your way from house to house.
  • Don’t go inside anyone’s home to retrieve your goodies: Stick to the front stoop, rather than stepping inside someone’s home.
  • Trust your instincts: Yes, Halloween is supposed to have an air of spookiness, but don’t go to any homes that give you the creeps. Stick to trusted, well-lit houses.

Staying safe means you can gather more goodies. Practice our smart Halloween tips to help protect those things that matter the most.

From all of us at Boyd & Associates, have a safe and happy Halloween!

 

 

 

Small Business Security Checklist

Most small businesses work with a tight budget and profit margin. This makes it even more important for small businesses to protect their company. Here is a quick checklist to make sure your small business is protected and to help prevent unnecessary losses.

PHYSICAL SECURITY

It is not always obvious what you can do to improve building security. That is why a building security checklist should be part of every small business, to make sure your store is protected from all angles.

Here are a few things you should consider as part of your security checklist. Depending on your store’s location and layout, you should add more to this list:

EXTERIOR DOORS AND WINDOWS

  • Exterior doors are locked and are made of solid hardwood or metal.
  • All entry points have a sturdy deadbolt lock and the keys to the lock are with a trusted manager or employee, not stored under a doormat or in a mailbox.
  • Consider using keyless entry. Not only is it a secure way to keep your business safe it also helps you identify who is opening or closing the store.
  • If there is any glass close to or near your doors, it is reinforced so it cannot be shattered.
  • Every window that can be opened has a lock or is securely pinned.

OUTDOOR SECURITY

  • Shrubs or bushes near your business are trimmed so there is no place for someone to hide.
  • Back or side entrances are well lit with bright working lights. Floodlights are used appropriately to ensure effective illumination around your building.
  • Outdoor lights are enabled using a timer or a motion sensor, no matter if the business is open or not.
  • The building or office number is clearly displayed and viewable from the street so first responders can easily locate your company if anything does happen.

INTERIOR SECURITY

  • Exit signs are properly lit.
  • Fire extinguishers are inspected and charged.
  • Emergency exits are accessible and not blocked.

SECURITY MONITORING

  • Surveillance cameras are operating properly and there are no dead zones (areas that are not being recorded) in your store.
  • Footage is recorded and stored properly offsite and archived at least once a month.

CYBER SECURITY

Your physical security checklist keeps your office or storefront safe, but if you are like most companies, the most valuable things you have are stored on your computers and shared networks. Customer’s personal information, billing details, and private information are just as important to protect as your physical store, and they deserve their own cyber security checklist:

MULTI-LEVEL SECURITY

  • A firewall is installed on your network.
  • Antivirus software is set up on all devices connected to the network and a password is required for access.

NETWORK OPERATIONS

  • All firewalls, virus protection, or other forms of computer security software are updated at least once a week.
  • Operating system updates are installed as soon as they are available.
  • Key programs and applications, like web browsers or content management systems, are updated weekly.
  • A record including users and their network permissions is updated at least once a month.
  • Use separate guest and corporate networks.

MOBILE DEVICES

  • Identify all devices that touch your network, and who the owners of those devices are.
  • Clarify security elements with devices that have access to your network.

PASSWORDS

  • Change passwords at least once a month and never reuse them.
  • Require passwords to be strong with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols, rather than weak passwords that are easily guessable or short.
  • Implement multi-factor authentication to allow extra account protection.
  • Require password changes when data breaches occur.
  • Require different passwords for every account and program, even if used by the same employee.

BOYD & ASSOCIATES HELPS SMALL BUSINESSES

Small business security does not need to be complicated. At Boyd & Associates, we offer automation options to make securing your business a breeze. We even offer services such as video verification with live operators standing by to notify police the moment any suspicious activity occurs and, smart business automation that sends notifications right to your phone.

Tackling small business security by yourself should not have to feel overwhelming. Secure your business with Boyd & Associates and find out how we can help your business be safe from both physical and cyber threats.

How Smart Security Systems Can Help Homeowners and Businesses To Deal With The COVID-19 Crisis


It seems like the world changed overnight with the Coronavirus disease outbreak. People are worried about the health concerns that come with the COVID-19 virus. Governments are issuing stay-at-home orders and businesses are closing their doors as we try to mitigate the damage that the outbreak can have.


Right here in California, we see considerable changes to everyday life, and people are doing their best to adjust. For many of us, the Coronavirus and the measures taken to fight it have given rise to issues that we never even considered.


How to Keep Homes and Businesses Safe During COVID-19 Pandemic?

 


While a smart home security system might not be an answer to all of your problems, we are starting to see some of the ways home alarm systems and automation technology can make it easier for people to deal with some of these problems caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19).


Being one of the leading alarm companies in California, the team from Boyd & Associates would like to take a moment to look at some of the ways smart security systems can make your life easier and help you to stay safe and protect yourself from Coronavirus outbreak.


1. Protecting Your Home When You Work Long Hours


While many people are staying home from work as a result of government restrictions, some people are finding that they are working more hours to help the country and local communities deal with the crisis. This includes healthcare workers and those who work in logistics, among others.


Working long hours under high-stress conditions is hard enough, but the problem is complicated when you have to worry about home security.  However, a smart home security system can protect your home while you are at work. With 24/7 monitoring, you know that someone is always there to watch the signals and dispatch emergency services if there is a problem. Many of these systems even have smartphone apps that can send you alerts if there are any troubles.


2. Keeping an Eye on Your Pets


One of the biggest worries for many of these healthcare workers is that they have pets, and they can’t be there to care for them and to watch out for them. With a smart home security system, you can integrate home security cameras that will allow you to watch your pets to make sure they are ok. All you have to do is open the smartphone app, and you can use the cameras to check on your pets whenever you need to.


Your home alarm system can also protect your pets in the event of a fire or a carbon monoxide leak. With integrated devices like smoke detectors and CO detectors, you can rest assured that the fire department will come in the event of a fire. If your CO detector goes off, you can contact a friend or neighbor to take care of your pets and make sure they are safe.


3. Make it Easy to Work With Pet Care Professionals


With so many hours on the job, there is a good chance that you may not be available to feed your pet or to take your dog for a walk when it is needed. Maybe you can get a family member to help you out and take care of your pets, but you might need to hire a pet sitter or a dog walker.


With a smart security system for home, it is easier to provide access to your home so the pet sitter or walker can take care of your pet. You can give this person a temporary code to disarm the system when they come over. If you have smart locks, you don’t even need to provide the person with a physical key. You can provide them with a temporary access code that allows access at the scheduled time of the walk or feeding.


4. Protecting Businesses When They are Closed


A lot of businesses have to shut down as a result of orders from state and local governments for the Coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, your business location is still there and can even be subject to any number of crimes. This might lead some small business owners to want to go out every day to check on their businesses, but this could violate different restrictions, and it could increase your risk of Coronavirus infection.


If you have a business security camera systems installed, you can rest assured that your business is monitoring 24/7, and you can even keep an eye on things without having to leave the house. Just go to your laptop or open your phone, and you can check the wireless outdoor security cameras to see what is going on at your business location. You can even set up notifications to alert you to different types of alarm activity at your business.


5. Safer Home Deliveries


Many of us are staying home to avoid infection and to do our part to help flatten the COVID-19 infection rate curve. However, we still need food and other necessities. Going to the store is one option, but many of us are taking advantage of delivery services to get the things we need. While this does reduce our exposure to other people and public spaces, you do still have to deal with the delivery person.


This is another way your home security system can improve your safety. With a doorbell video camera, you can talk to the delivery person without having to open the door.


If you have already paid with your credit card, you can tell the delivery person to leave your goods by the door, and you will get them after they leave. If you have smart locks or a smart garage door opener, you could even provide the person with access that will allow them to drop the delivery off inside without you having to be at the door.


6. Helping Your Loved Ones


Many of us have loved ones who are in high-risk groups. With the continued spread of the Coronavirus in California, we worry about these people, and we want to go to see if they are ok. However, we know that it would increase the risk for you and for the person you are trying to protect.


If your loved one were to have a smart security system, you could get peace of mind knowing they are safe. As long as they allow you access to the system, you could check on them with the indoor home security cameras. You could also provide them with a wireless health emergency button. If they start to feel ill and need help, they need to push the button, and emergency medical services will dispatch.


Following CDC COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines


This is a difficult time for us all, but it is something we will get through. If you are concerned about the safety of your homes or businesses, contact Boyd & Associates today.


We are open and still providing alarm monitoring and security services to our Southern California homeowners and business clients, and we are following the recommendations of the CDC to maintain safe working practices for our staff and our clients. We look forward to continuing to support our communities in the safest way possible.

Helpful Tips For Protecting Your Small Business During A Mandated Shutdown


We’re facing an unprecedented situation that’s evolving hour by hour. To say the least, it’s a difficult time to own a business. Small or local business owners may be encountering particularly stressful and unique challenges.  We provide security to many small business owners, including those who are required by the government to shut down during this emergency. Investing in small business security is always the smart choice for many reasons, but we recognize that taking the necessary steps to protect your livelihood has never been more important.
As you continue to respond and adapt, we want to help you discover new and manageable ways to keep your business safe while the doors are closed.


Take action to help secure your small business


Our security experts at Boyd & Associates offer these 10 tips for securing your small business during this challenging time.


1. Secure valuable items and equipment out of sight or in an alternate location creating less temptation for a burglar.

2. If you have a company vehicle, park it in your store’s lot. Move it around daily to give the appearance that people are coming and going.

3. Suspend or forward mail, newspaper or package deliveries so they don’t pile up at your location.

4. Check in daily at your physical site (at different times) to ensure everything is secure.

5. Leave a few lights on in the building and remove anything that obstructs the view of your location from the street. This gives intruders fewer places to hide in the dark.

6. Team up with neighboring businesses to look out for each other. Start a Facebook group, a text chain, or a regularly scheduled Skype session to stay in touch and report any suspicious activity.

7. Keep up with your business’s social media and website presence. Continue to post information, updates, promotions, etc. to show you are still active and conducting business to the best of your ability.

8. If you have a security system, prominently display the signs and window decals to communicate that your business is professionally monitored.

9. Introduce yourself to local law enforcement and first responders who serve your area and provide your contact information.

10. Update your contact list and information with your security provider, landlord and neighboring businesses who may need to get in touch with you or another employee if something arises.


Do you already have Boyd & Associates Security?


If your small business has Boyd & Associates security, here are few additional steps we recommend taking as soon as possible:

1. Update your emergency contacts by calling (805) 650-3267.

2. Give us your updated schedule. Many businesses provide us with their regular operating schedules so we know when they are supposed to be open or closed. If Boyd & Associates monitors your schedule (open/close) call us with any changes to your hours. We can make adjustments right over the phone.

Learn more about what Boyd & Associates can do for you

Security isn’t something you have to tackle alone, and you don’t need a huge budget to help protect your investment. Whether you’re running a family owned shop, a restaurant or a professional office, we can tailor a system to meet your specific needs.

Learn more by visiting our website or calling us at (805) 650-3267 to find the right solution for you.

Stay safe!

Boyd Helps Homeowners Rebuild

The massive Hill and Woolsey fires, which are burning through Ventura and Los Angeles Counties for almost a week have unfortunately effected several of our alarm service customers, some have lost their homes in the recent destructive fires. Thankfully, to date, no one was hurt.

How We Can Help

To help in the recovery process, Boyd & Associates will respond immediately and at no cost install a workable security system in their temporary quarters.

When the owners decide to rebuild the cost of a new alarm system should figure into the insurance settlement. This is an opportune time to upgrade and take advantage of the many improvements now available for home security systems. Closed circuit television, remote access and home automation are just some of the improvements available. An expert from Boyd & Associates will assist you.