As the 12 days of Christmas are approaching, many businesses will close, and employees may be away for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, that can prove to be an opportunistic time for ill-intentioned individuals.
To help keep your business safe and secure during the holiday season, follow these 12 security tips and best practices.
12 Business Security Tips and Best Practices for the Holiday Season
1. Test all of your security equipment.
If your business will be closed for an extended period of time and will have different operating hours during the holiday season, be sure to test your fire alarms, security cameras, access control system and more, so you know they’re working and reporting properly.
By doing this at the beginning of the holiday season, you’ll allow for ample time to make any needed adjustments or repairs, so you can leave your business with peace of mind that it’s protected. Also, make sure your monitoring provider is aware of your holiday hours and has an updated call list, should any alarms go off in your absence.
2. Don’t post your holiday hours.
Instead of posting your holiday hours on your facility’s doors or windows, consider posting a sign that says, “Call us for holiday hours.” Similarly, consider using an automated email response across the business that encourages the sender to call for holiday hours, then designate a member (or members) of your staff to respond to these calls.
3. Make sure your facility is properly locked and armed.
While it’s normal procedure to lock up when leaving, if you’ll be gone for an extended period of time, I recommend going around to every exterior door to make sure they’re locked and secured prior to departing.
If you have an access control system, be sure that any schedules set to automatically open doors on specific days and times are overridden during your absence, so the building is not unlocked and unattended during the holidays.
4. Pay close attention to how you dispose of trash.
During the holiday season, it’s common for businesses to receive an influx in deliveries – whether it’s for additional stock to sell or gifts to provide employees and customers.
After emptying the shipping boxes, don’t just throw away the boxes and shipping labels in your dumpster. Since many of these boxes are marked with the original contents, it’s like an advertisement to burglars, letting them know what you may have inside.
Instead, take all shipping and contents labels off the boxes and shred them, then cut the boxes and put them in trash bags before placing them in the dumpster.
5. Ensure decorations don’t obstruct security systems.
Many businesses put up decorations for the holidays. When doing so, it’s important to take into consideration where you put them, so they don’t obstruct your security systems.
Make sure your decorations aren’t hanging near security cameras, especially outside where the wind could cause them to move and potentially cover the cameras. Additionally, make sure that any hanging decorations inside your business aren’t in the view of a motion detector, as the decorations could cause a false alarm if they fell. Finally, make sure that larger decorations outside don’t create a hiding spot for intruders.
6. Conduct background checks on seasonal employees.
It’s possible that your business will still be open during the holidays – especially if you’re in retail. In this case, when you’re hiring any seasonal employees, take extra precautions.
First, be sure to do a thorough background check on these employees, so you’re not inadvertently inviting in a criminal. Second, provide them enough training to do their job, but don’t offer insights or access that will tempt them to steal from you. Finally, if your seasonal employees require passcodes to enter certain areas of your business, be sure to follow best practices for managing alarm panel passcodes. It’s critical that you disable these codes when they’re no longer employed.
7. Check more than the holiday lights.
It’s important that the inside and outside of your business are well-lit – especially when you’ll be gone for an extended period of time. This makes it harder for intruders to hide and go unseen and can also deter them from entering your business altogether. You may also consider using timers that turn lights inside your facility on and off at random – instead of scheduled intervals – so it gives the appearance that people are inside even when you’re closed.
8. Be aware of what can be seen through the windows of your business.
When you’re closed during the holidays, be cognizant of what can be seen inside your business from the street or sidewalk. Don’t show too much merchandise, equipment or other high-value items near the windows of your business. This not only tempts ill-intentioned individuals but can also make it easier for them to do a smash-and-grab.
9. Unplug all unnecessary devices.
Prior to leaving for the holidays, you should survey the interior of your business and unplug anything that isn’t required to be on or running while you’re closed. It’s not uncommon for employees to leave space heaters plugged in during the winter months, but these should always be unplugged after use, especially when left unattended.
Also consider unplugging electronics, such as computers, copiers, coffee makers and more, so that if an unexpected power outage/surge occurs, you’re not returning after the holiday break to electronics that are damaged or destroyed.
10. Ask neighboring businesses to be on the lookout.
Even though you’re closing during the holidays doesn’t mean that other local businesses will follow suit. If you have a good relationship with your neighboring businesses, consider telling them that your business will be closed, so they can keep an eye on your facility. You can also contact your local law enforcement to notify them of your holiday hours, so they may be more alert of any suspicious activity.
11. Don’t leave cash behind.
It seems obvious, but be sure to remove all cash from your business, so it’s not left unattended during the holiday break. Don’t believe that cash on-premises is secure in any way, even if it’s in a safe. Unanchored safes are easy targets for thieves.
12. Take precautions to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
With the cold weather upon us, the risk of pipes freezing and bursting increases. Burst pipes can cause thousands of dollars in damages to your business, so take precautions to prevent this from occurring.
Set your thermostat to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit while your business is closed. Also, depending on your facility and where your business is located, you may want to turn off your water.
You should also consider getting a low-temperature sensor that can notify you – possibly through your security system – when interior temperatures have dropped too low or installing a smart thermostat that you can adjust remotely while you’re away.
Following these 12 security tips will help you better secure your business, so you can enjoy all the fun of the holiday season.