2012 Winter Security Preparation

It's that time of year again.  Our customers are already calling about keys not turning in their locks.  The colder weather and lack of lubrication may stop your lock from working.

Check out our previous article Chicago Winter and Frozen Locks to learn how to keep this from happening to you.

Also, with the holidays fast approaching, you might be interested in our Holiday Security Tips.

Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season!

Chicago Winter and frozen locks


Freezing temperatures and freezing rain are here again. These conditions are perfect for frozen locks.

You may be able to prevent freezing by lubricating all of your outside locks before they freeze with WD-40, Tri-Flo or another spray recommended for lock lubrication. Use the straw that comes with the can and spray deep and long into the lock. Then put your key in and out a few times working the spray into the moving parts of the lock.

If your lock is frozen, you may or may not be able to insert your key. The key will not turn. At this point the moisture inside the lock has frozen and must be either warmed or evaporated with a de-icer.

If you can reach the lock with an extension cord and a hair dryer warming the lock is easy. Lubricate after opening.

Lock De-Icer is available at most hardware and locksmith stores. You must spray it all the way back into the lock where the key goes in. It usually takes a few minutes to work and you may have to do it more than once. The alcohol will evaporate the ice, but it also removes any lubrication in the locks. Make sure to lubricate your locks after you use a de-icer or your locks may be damaged.

Using a torch on a lock is NOT a good idea. If there is any lubrication in the lock, you will cook it and make it sticky. The lock will not work and probably have to be replaced.

Or you can call a locksmith who will have a good de-icer and lubricant or warming method to open your lock and get you going. However, if it is a good freeze there may be a waiting line.

Buy the right safe.

Do you have valuables or papers that need to be protected?  What kind of safe should you buy?  A safe intended to stop a burglar may not protect your documents in a fire.  Conversely, a safe that would protect your documents in a fire may serve as an easy to open box for a burglar to carry away.  Consider everything you plan to put in your safe and what you want to protect against.  Most safes are tested and labeled to help you choose the right product for your valuables.

Fire Boxes, plastic or metal, are cheap containers with poor quality locks.  Their only purpose is to keep papers from burning up in a fire.  Look for and read the fire rating sticker.  The higher the temperature and the longer the time on the rating the better.

Theft Prevention Boxes are metal boxes designed to discourage valuables from walking.  They do not provide fire protection.  Screwed to a shelf or drawer they are great for senior retirement apartments or student dorms.

Fire Safes are usually sheet metal with fire retardant material in the walls and door.  Some materials form a moisture barrier when heated.  If you have photos or stamp collections, you wouldn't want this.  Look for a dry fire clay filling instead.  Security in these safes improves with thicker sheet metal, better lock and bolt mechanism and temp/time rating.  Again, these are meant to protect from fire - not burglary.

Burglar Safes are rated for penetration only.  These safes are not for papers or items that would be harmed by heat or fire.  The walls and door are made of different thicknesses of steel and bolts.  The security improves with thicker steel, better lock and bolt mechanism. Ratings indicate the amount of time it took for professional safe crackers with the proper tools to penetrate and open the safe.

Burglar/Fire Safes are good all round safes.  RSC Burglary is the UL residential rating.  These safes pass a 1-hour or 2-hour fire test plus a test using professional burglary penetration tools.  The amount of time it takes a professional, with knowledge of the drill points, to penetrate the safe determines the strength and rating of the safe.