DOG THEFT – PROTECTION FOR YOU AND YOUR PET

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The new norm of working from home throughout the pandemic has caused an explosion in dog ownership over the past year. But the rise has been accompanied by a disturbing increase in dog thefts.

The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association reports that more than one in 10 UK households acquired a new pet in lockdown, and the Kennel Club website saw a 168% increase in people looking for puppies in just the first two months of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The increase in demand for dogs has pushed up prices and limited availability – but there are more sinister repercussions. Incidents of dog theft have multiplied at an alarming rate and criminals are using increasingly sophisticated methods to steal animals for lucrative breeding or sale.

The charity Dog Lost saw a three-fold increase in reports of missing dogs between 2019 and 2020 and police forces across the country have warned owners to be vigilant.

So what additional steps can you take to protect your beloved pet and ensure you’re not targeted by thieves?

Firstly, make sure your dog is microchipped and check your details are up to date with the chip company. Take plenty of good photos too in case your pet does go missing so it can be easily identified.

Data collated by the National Animal Welfare Trust shows that 50% of stolen dogs are taken from gardens and 19% from house break-ins so it’s important to protect your property too and put security measures in place to deter thieves.

The police recommend that dogs shouldn’t be left outside unsupervised, especially in the current climate. But installing security fencing and strong, lockable gates creates a visible deterrent and ensures dogs can’t escape on their own.

Outdoor security floodlights with motion sensors also make criminals think twice about targeting a property if they know they’ll be bathed in light as soon as they get close.

Security cameras that cover all external areas and are constantly filming give added protection and keep a permanent record of anyone who has approached your property. This is particularly important as thieves often do a dry run before stealing a pet and do surveillance to check when your dog is let out.

Most systems can be accessed remotely with a phone app too so you can keep an eye on your property if your dog is left home alone and quickly react to any suspicious activity.

Signage can also play a role in deterring thieves, drawing attention to security measures such as CCTV. And installing a highly visible alarm system provides another reason for thieves to go elsewhere.

But it’s not only outside where cameras can play a role…

Indoor pet cameras have become increasingly popular and manufacturers have even created models that dispense treats. Some have video screens so you can have a two-way chat with your dog while you’re away from home, and there’s even a robot dog camera that follows the animal round the house and provides a dog’s eye view.

The huge demand for dogs means criminals are targeting all breeds, not just pedigree or fashionable animals. Some owners have even had their dogs snatched while out walking so it’s worth considering putting extra security measures in place for peace of mind.

The Absolute Security Group can advise on all aspects of home security and can create bespoke systems tailored to your needs. If you’re worried about your pet’s safety, call for a no-obligation chat on 01622 437838.

DIY electrical work – is it worth the risk?

Whether to save time or money, many people attempt DIY electrical work in the home. But it’s important to understand the legal requirements and potential risks before embarking on any such projects.

Around one in 20 people will end up in A&E at some time in their life due to a DIY disaster, but accidents involving electricity can have devastating consequences including fire, electric shock, serious injury and even death.

Registered electricians are frequently called to fix issues caused by attempts at small electrical jobs in the home, with cutting through power leads and drilling through cables in walls just two of the most common incidents.

The availability of YouTube video tutorials and other online advice often tempts people to take on jobs outside their normal ability and expertise, but electrical work is an area where this should be avoided at all costs.

There are a few small jobs that it’s acceptable to tackle, such as wiring a plug or replacing like-for-like fittings such as light switches and sockets. But any bigger electrical work is covered by Part P of the Building Regulations and should be carried out by a qualified electrician, or at the very least checked and signed off by one.

Part P was introduced in 2005 to keep people safe from electrical hazards and ensure any works carried out meet a required standard. Failure to comply with the regulations, or to get work checked once completed, is not only dangerous but will also invalidate home insurance policies so it’s not worth the risk.

Some electrical work is notifiable, such as replacing a fuse board or rewiring a house. This means you must apply for permission from your local authority before carrying it out, unless you employ a qualified electrician who is registered with one of the Government-approved scheme providers and can sign off the work themselves. Otherwise, the work must be inspected on completion.

When carrying out even the simplest electrical tasks, it’s important to take your time and ensure you follow the safety rules every step of the way. NEVER do any electrical work until you are certain the power has been isolated at the fuse board.

Be certain the circuit you are working on is not live by switching the circuit breaker off and checking the lights or sockets in the room. If the circuits are not carefully labelled, switch off each breaker from left to right followed by the mains switch. You can then use a voltage detector to ensure there is no power flowing, preventing an electric shock.

By far the safest way to ensure your electrical work is done safely and to the required standard is to employ a qualified electrician. But people are often concerned they will end up with a huge bill or be hoodwinked by a rogue trader. So how can you ensure you’re making the right choice?

It’s important to check that they are registered with a government-approved scheme, which means they are qualified to carry out complex electrical work and their skills are regularly reviewed.

At Absolute Protection Group all our electricians are NICEIC and CHAS (Contractor’s Health and Safety Assessment Scheme) approved and their essential training is regularly refreshed.

They are also fully insured, checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and carry ID with them at all times. In addition, all our electrical installation work carries a two-year warranty.

For further details visit our website or call 01622 437838.

Put Safety First This Christmas

Christmas is a special time, and this year more than ever we’ll cherish sharing it with our loved ones and reflecting on a challenging few months. Who’d have thought back at the start of 2020 that most of the year would be spent in lockdown, wearing masks outside our homes and praying for a vaccine?

Celebrations are likely to be very different this year for many people and some have taken the opportunity to start the festivities early, putting up lights and decorating their homes. But while the twinkling fairy lights and sparkling decorations can lift spirits at a difficult time, it’s important to make sure safety is a priority to prevent a Christmas disaster.

Incidents of house fires can rise by up to 50% over the festive season, often caused by faulty Christmas lights or overloaded sockets, and exacerbated by an increase in flammable materials in the home. A dry Christmas tree surrounded by gifts wrapped in paper is a lethal combination if a fire starts.

So what can you do to protect your home and your loved ones?

Poor quality or old lights are the biggest risk, so consider investing in new ones from a reputable supplier and check they comply with British safety standards. If you need to replace bulbs, make sure they’re the same type and rating, and don’t use lights with a frayed cable or exposed wire.

Modern LED lights are cool to the touch and pose less of a risk than the traditional filament type because they operate at low voltage and don’t require as much power, but all lights should always be unplugged overnight or when you leave your home unattended.

There’s a temptation to overload sockets and use multiple extension leads to plug in all the fairy lights and illuminated decorations, but overheating can cause fires so limit what you’re plugging in and make sure everything has the correctly rated fuse.

When choosing an imitation tree, buy from a reputable source, ensuring it meets safety standards and is fire retardant. Real trees are less likely to catch fire as long as they’re not allowed to dry out, but be careful when watering your tree if you’re using electric lights – use a residual current device (RCD) to protect yourself from the risk of electric shock.

Never leave young children and pets alone with a Christmas tree. Pets can easily knock things over, especially where there’s limited space, and children can be tempted to touch hot bulbs, climb to reach treats or play with decorations. Extra vigilance is required to prevent an accident – and always check smoke alarms are working and batteries are fresh.

If you’re putting up lights outside your home, check they’re specially designed for outdoor use and make sure they’re plugged into an indoor socket. Always use an RCD – water and electricity don’t mix, and outdoor lights run more risk of becoming damaged.

It’s worth revisiting your family’s fire escape plan so everyone knows what to do if a fire does break out – it’s especially important if you have guests staying who aren’t familiar with your home.

A few simple precautions will ensure you keep your home and your family safe this Christmas. Taking chances just isn’t worth the risk.

Need a winter security check-up?

With winter just around the corner and daylight hours fading fast, it’s a good time to review home and commercial security to make sure you’re well protected.

Businesses are often left empty for longer periods over Christmas, but this year COVID restrictions mean staff are frequently working from home and more premises than ever are unoccupied.

Empty buildings pose many risks for businesses, including fire and burglary. Making sure you have carefully considered all the dangers and put plans in place to counteract them is crucial, taking into account your specific circumstances such as location, visibility and ease of access.

Pandemic restrictions mean fewer people may be passing or on the nearby streets, providing opportunities for criminal activity to go undetected.

Similarly, home security should be a priority over the winter months when darkness allows burglars to go unnoticed and the value of contents increases with Christmas buying.

People often believe burglary will never happen to them, but putting measures in place such as alarms and security cameras is a cost-effective way of protecting your property – and it can also have financial benefits such as lower insurance premiums.

With commercial buildings, there are so many options when exploring security systems that it’s difficult to know what you need, and you can end up spending money unnecessarily or buying something that isn’t fit for purpose. Technology changes rapidly and, unless you’re very savvy, it can be tricky to understand.

Taking expert advice at the very beginning ensures the system fulfils your requirements and takes into account your specific circumstances and any operational nuances.

Absolute Protection Group’s experts can provide a free site survey to carefully analyse your needs and come up with a plan that fits with your requirements and budget, whether you’re a small company with a single location or a multi-site business with complex demands.

Our extensive experience and knowledge, plus dedication to an exceptional level of service for all customers, means we’re perfectly placed to help you make the right choice.

We cover everything from design and installation to the monitoring and maintenance of your system – and we offer a two-year warranty on most new installations as well as maintenance contracts for peace of mind.

We can install intruder alarms, key fob and biometric entry systems, automatic gates and barriers and bespoke CCTV, using the latest app technology so you can remotely connect and monitor your business premises from any location at the touch of a button.

Our in-depth survey allows us to make bespoke recommendations for your premises, such as security lighting in dark areas or specialist movement-activated cameras to capture photo or video images when activity is detected.

We can design a system as unique as your business’s requirements and can adapt it to your budget, making sure you’re fully protected round the clock. Our engineers are on call 24/7 and will generally be on-site in around 45 minutes when called.

Domestic security requirements are usually less complex but no less important. A burglary at home can have long-lasting and devastating effects and victims often say they never feel safe again after a break-in.

Putting simple security measures in place can offer peace of mind and reassurance, especially if your home is often left unattended or you work night shifts or irregular hours.

We can offer an array of high tech solutions to keep your house and contents safe when you’re away from home, with simple-to-use controls that can be accessed from a phone or mobile device.

Our experts will assess your domestic needs in exactly the same way as our commercial site visits and will recommend the best solution for your property. Our visiting engineers are all DBS checked and will operate with the highest possible standards to ensure you and your family stay safe.

We prioritise safe working, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and comply with all the latest government regulations and restrictions. We are accredited to CHAS (the Contractor Health and Safety Assessment Scheme) and are insured for public liability and indemnity.

Once your system is installed, our service and maintenance packages are a cost-effective way to ensure it is working effectively, year-in, year-out. And we’ll happily review your requirements if things change and recommend any refinements or upgrades.

So whether you’re a business with site security concerns or a homeowner who wants to review household security, get in touch and we’ll give you a free assessment and offer bespoke recommendations. Click here for more information and to book a site survey.

Fire Safety – Protecting Your Business

A fire in a commercial premises can have devastating and long-lasting effects. The immediate trauma and destruction are harrowing, and the cost to your business is potentially catastrophic – and if you haven’t met your legal obligations, the consequences could be even more profound.

Every year there are around 20,000 commercial fires in the UK. Kent firefighters have battled big blazes in commercial buildings in recent months, including a tyre recycling plant in Ashford and a furniture warehouse in Crayford. Both of these fires completely destroyed the buildings and seriously impacted neighbouring businesses and homes.

Government data shows that three quarters of fires in business premises are started by accident. The most common causes are electrical faults, such as overloaded sockets and poorly-maintained equipment, smoking and misuse of equipment.

So how can you ensure you adequately protect yourself, your staff and premises against the risk of fire? And what does the law say you must do?

Every business has a legal requirement to do a fire risk assessment, which must be documented if there are five or more employees. This must be completed by a competent person, should identify fire risks and hazards, and be regularly reviewed and updated.

Many businesses never recover after a major fire, so diligent risk assessment and prevention make commercial sense. Plus business owners and those responsible for premises can be fined – or even imprisoned – if they don’t meet their legal obligations.

So once you’ve assessed the risks and drawn up your assessment, what else do you need to do?

Your staff are your eyes and ears when it comes to fire safety. Fire marshals should be appointed, with the number dependent on head count, building layout and risk. In an office environment, one warden per around 20 staff would be appropriate.

It’s important that marshals are professionally trained and fully briefed on their responsibilities, which may include checking fire extinguishers, organising fire drills and giving new staff training in fire safety awareness. All staff must receive regular training and be aware of your fire safety procedures – this not only protects themselves and their colleagues but also YOUR business.

Fire-fighting equipment must be provided, and it’s crucial that staff know how to use it. Extinguishers require an annual maintenance test and high-risk premises, such as those using flammable materials, may need a sprinkler system or special hose reels.

Fire safety signs are also important, signposting exits and locations of extinguishers and alarms. These are legal requirements so it’s crucial to know what’s needed – and where. Fire doors must be clearly marked with the appropriate signage and fire assembly points must be clearly identified.

Fire alarms are not compulsory in smaller premises, but for most businesses an alarm system is recommended. Emergency lighting should also be installed to guide staff to safety if the main lighting fails.

As you can see, fire safety is a complex issue that requires careful consideration and a bespoke approach depending on your commercial activities. For more advice, Absolute Protection Group has over 75 years’ experience and can help with compliance, fire training, fire alarms, testing of electrical equipment and more. Click here for further information.