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Securing Your Vacation Home – 7 Tips

Summer isn’t over, yet. But before you jet back home, get back to business, and drop off the kids at school, remember to secure your vacation home first. While the number of burglaries has steadily decreased, down 37.1% compared to 2008, in 2017 there were an estimated 1.4 million burglaries in the US (according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program). 

Secure your vacation home so you don’t fall prey to property damage, theft, or burglary. Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.4 billion in property losses in 2017. The average dollar loss per burglary offense was $2,416. Burglaries of residential properties accounted for 67.2 percent of all burglary offenses. The impact of a home invasion isn’t just the financial loss. There’s the emotional loss of losing keepsakes and memorabilia. Here are 7 tips on securing your vacation home to help prevent burglaries and the like while you’re not on-site.

  1. Secure all points of ingress and egress before you leave. This means securing all windows, doors, sliding doors, mandoors, and all other openings before you leave. A simple trick for sliding doors and windows is to place a wooden dowel or pvc pipe in the door track. There are “security door bars” that you can buy for upwards of $50 but you can DIY with a PVC pipe that will get the job done too. 
  2. Make the property look lived in. Give the appearance that someone is home. Consider leaving some of the drapes open, leaving the kitchen range lamp on, and using programmable timers on lamps. Sun-light activated timers are a solid option that aren’t susceptible to power outages.
  3. Hire a caretaker. If your vacation property is far away, consider hiring someone to take care of the yard and pick up the mail. You can also install motion sensor lights near the doorways to spook anyone walking by. No one needs to know that the property is vacant! An unkempt and a dark home is a prime target for burglars. 
  4. Change the locks. After you’ve purchased your vacation home, it’s a smart idea to rekey your locks. Rekeying the locks ensures that all previous keys for the home won’t work anymore. You have no idea if the previous owners, tenants, and guests have kept copies of their keys. Read more about rekeying locks here
  5. Don’t leave your spare keys in an obvious spot. For example, the mailbox, welcome mat, or fake rocks are some of the more obvious places. The doormat is usually the first place anyone, including a burglar, would look. Where’s a non-obvious place to hide a key? With your neighbor! While this isn’t necessarily hiding the key, if you have a neighbor you can trust, this is also a solid option for protecting yourself against a lockout.
  6. Install a home security system. There’s so many affordable home security systems ranging from simple keyless entry locks and deadbolts to Bluetooth systems that will alert you via text or email if a door or glass is broken. You can also monitor your property with a camera system that will trigger a siren if anyone gets too close and alert local police if anything is broken into. Home security systems can help provide peace of mind and security for your vacation home or second home while you’re away.
  7. Befriend your neighbors. If some of your neighbors are year-round residents, ask them to check on your place occasionally and make sure they have a way to contact you. Also alert them if your having work done on your house.

Investing in strong locks, security systems, common sense, and video surveillance equipment are a priority when securing your vacation home. If you have questions about securing your vacation home, second home, or primary home, call us for recommendations on home security systems, hardware upgrades, and rekeying locks.

5 Questions to Ask to Ensure You Hire Trusted Locksmiths

There are many reasons that you may need to hire a locksmith for your home or business. It might be an emergency situation – you’re locked out and misplaced your key – or maybe you want to upgrade your building’s security. Whatever the reason, it’s important to have a trusted locksmith you can call on in times of need. 

In most areas, there are many options for you to choose from, so how do you select the right one? Choosing the right locksmith is crucial; after all, the security of your home or business depends on it.

Many people, unfortunately, select their locksmiths based solely on the factor of cost. However, if you always opt for the lowest-priced services you can find, chances are you will not end up with a locksmith you can really trust. While you certainly shouldn’t be overpaying, there are a lot of factors that are more important to consider when putting your safety and security into the hands of a professional.

Here are five questions to ask to ensure you hire trusted locksmiths:

1. What Services Do You Offer?

Before you start to dig too deep into what makes the perfect locksmith, you should first find out what services your potential candidates offer. After all, you’re trying to see if they are trustworthy and a big part of that is experience and versatility. 

There are plenty of locksmiths out there who can get you back into a locked business, but chances are, at some point you’ll require other services as well. For example, you will occasionally want to change the locks on your doors, especially if there has recently been a security breach in your area. 

Also, find out if your potential locksmith offers rekeying services. If you lose a key, you will have to have it replaced and a reputable locksmith will be able to do this. They will also be able to repair damaged locks, improve security, and install safes and commercial locks.

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2. Do You Belong to Any Professional Organizations? 

A trustworthy locksmith isn’t just someone who can come and unlock a door for you. The job is actually a very demanding one, requiring knowledge of mathematics, spatial perception, and excellent mechanical aptitude and hand-eye coordination. In addition to a great deal of technical proficiency, locksmiths must have a wide breadth of knowledge about the various types of locks and the latest technology and, perhaps most importantly, a commitment to the safety and security of clients. 

To ensure that any potential locksmith you might hire is committed to these things, check if they’re a member of any professional locksmith organizations. While it’s not an absolute necessity for trusted locksmiths to be members of organizations such as the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA), being held to the standards of such a group will go a long way toward demonstrating that your potential locksmith is highly trained and always committed to increasing their knowledge.

3. Do You Have Licenses and Insurance?

This one may seem obvious, but it is absolutely worth mentioning: always ask if your potential locksmith is insured. As locksmiths work with heavy equipment and specialized tools, it’s crucial that they take steps to protect your financial security if there is any sort of accident. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential locksmith any questions you can think of regarding their insurance. Make sure they’re covered in the case of injury or property damage. 

You’ll also want to verify that they have all the applicable licenses for your area; often, less-than-reputable locksmiths will attempt to operate without proper licensing and this should be an instant red flag. Proper licensing means that not only is your locksmith correctly trained, it also means this person will adhere to a stringent code of professional ethics. Check out our staff’s credentials and designations here.

4. How Will You Ensure My Security?

Your financial security is one thing, but you’ll also want to ask about your personal security. After all, locksmiths are in the business of safety, and you’ll want to make sure that they are absolutely committed. 

First, ask if they do background checks on their employees. It’s important that every member of their organization is trustworthy; needless to say, they should be properly screened before being hired and given access to your home and valuables. 

Check any references that the locksmith provides, as well. Don’t be afraid to call and ask past clients about the locksmith company. You’ll want to double check that previous clients have been satisfied, without any major issues pertaining to security. 

Lastly, you should ask what professional guarantees they offer. Trusted locksmiths will have no concerns about backing up their work with a guarantee, as they will be fully confident in the services they provide.

5. Where Are You Located?

After you’ve ensured that your potential locksmith is skilled, licensed, experienced, and committed to your security, you should start considering location. While it is, of course, better to choose a more trustworthy locksmith even if they’re farther away than a less reputable one, location is also important when it comes to key and lock services. After all, if you find yourself trapped outside late at night, the last thing you want is to wait an hour for your locksmith to arrive. 

Ideally, you’ll be able to select someone who is close enough that they can get to you quickly. For example, if you’re in the Greater Vancouver, Washington area or Portland Metro area, you’ll want to seek out the most highly trained professional locksmiths that serve that area. Harry’s Locksmith serves the Greater Vancouver area, Portland metro, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Washougal, Camas, Ridgefield, and more. Our service area extends throughout the Pacific Northwest’s I-5 Corridor. 

We offer residential, commercial, and automotive services, so all of your needs will be met without having to keep three different locksmiths on retainer for your home, business, and vehicle. We can assist you in a lockout, upgrade your building hardware to meet ADA standards, and provide any other security services you may need. Harry’s Locksmith is the pillar in the Vancouver community that you’ll want to find when looking for a trustworthy locksmith in your neighborhood.




Rekeying vs Changing your locks

What are the differences between rekeying vs changing your locks? Should you rekey or change your locks?

Do you know who has keys to your home or office building? Probably more people than you think. These are a few situations where you should rekey your locks:

  • Whenever a key has been lost
  • Whenever a key has been stolen
  • If you have moved recently into a new home or office space
  • If there’s been a staffing change in your organization
  • If a house member or roommate has moved out
rekeying vs changing your locks old door knob
What is a rekey?

All this means is that instead of buying new hardware like a knob or handle for your door, a locksmith will change the pins in the lock itself so that the previous keys won’t operate it. It is usually cheaper to rekey the existing hardware than to completely replace it. Rekeying your hardware is a simple solution to keeping your home and work place safe and secure. A full service locksmith shop like Harry’s Locksmith will have the knowledge and expertise to rekey homes, office buildings, car doors, and vaults and safes.

How much does Harry’s Locksmith charge to rekey locks? There’s three main factors: location, number of locks, and number of keys.

  1. Location. Our service area fees start at $49 in the Downtown Vancouver area.
  2. Number of locks. It’s approximately $12-15 per lock cylinder that we rekey.
  3. Keys. Standard residential keys are approximately $2.75.
In what circumstance do you need to change the locks?

For example, if you have had a break in or intruder recently and the locks were damaged, you want to replace the locks.  Another good reason to change your locks is worn out hardware or if you want to upgrade to a better security system. There are numerous benefits from transitioning to keyless entry or other alternative entry options.

If you’re thinking about rekeying or changing your locks, give us a call today for a free estimate and our team will help guide you through the process and pick out the best option for you. Our locksmiths are experts in their field with over 100 years of combined industry experience rekeying homes, offices, cars, filing cabinets, desks, mail boxes, and more.


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What Services Are Included in Key Repair Near Me

You’ve probably envisioned this nightmare many times: It’s a cold winter day and you’re freezing your hands off. You are bundled up in three layers of clothes and struggle to make it to your front door, your car, or your office. You’re simply desperate to get out of the cold and into the heat, so you reach for your keys and lunge toward the door. But just as you get your keys out of your pocket, you realize something: the key you need is broken or terribly damaged!

It could be a traditional key or a key fob, but either way, you are so cold that you’re losing the feeling in your hands and feet, and you now have no way to get out of the elements that are making your teeth chatter.

Simply put, this is not a situation you ever want to find yourself in, and if you do, you need to be ready to find a locksmith you know you can call to come help you immediately. You may be asking, “How do I find a locksmith this dependable?” or, “Who does the best key repair near me?”

If you are in the Vancouver, WA, area or the Portland metro area, the answer is Harry’s Locksmith, since we’ve been top experts in the area since 1949, and our range of experience and specialties is substantial. But what if you don’t live near Vancouver, WA?

There are a variety of problems that could cause your key issues, and you need to know what to look for in determining which locksmith near you has the skills and experience to fix your issue before you decide who to call for help.

Here are some of the common problems you might encounter.

Potential Issues

These are some of the potential broken key problems that will likely require repair. Know that while these problems may frustrate you or leave you temporarily out in the cold, a good locksmith company should be able to fix the issue.

  • Your key fob is destroyed or otherwise mangled.
  • The transponder chip in your key is destroyed or otherwise mangled.
  • Your key has snapped off or is broken.
  • Your key fob has been damaged or destroyed.
  • Your key is completely worn out.
  • Your key is stuck inside a lock or automobile ignition and cannot be turned or retrieved.
  • Your key has stopped opening a lock.
  • Your electronic key has dead batteries or damaged buttons.

Key Repair

Traditional Keys

If your key is merely worn out, a good locksmith should be able to take care of the issue by re-cutting the key back to its original dimensions. This should be a quick repair.

If your key has snapped or is horrifically damaged, this will also be a quick fix if the locksmith has the necessary part in stock. Otherwise, unfortunately, you may have to wait a while to get the key fixed. In this particular instance, it will likely result in the key being re-cut or re-made.

If the key is stuck in a lock, then it must be extracted before anything else. If it’s a building door lock, it should be just a matter of extracting the key. But if the key is stuck in a car ignition and will not turn, you’ll need to find out if the issue is with the key or the car’s ignition. The good news is that a locksmith company that knows what it’s doing should be able to determine whether the problem is due to the key or the ignition fairly easily.

Remote Key Fobs

These electronic keys will need to be repaired or replaced, and probably right away because it may be virtually impossible for you to operate your car or enter your home or office without your keyless entry fob. And while it’s not generally a complicated process, it can take some time, since, often, broken or damaged key fobs will also need to be reprogrammed. Which means it will also require the services of a locksmith specializing in key programming.

Remote key fobs may be used for any of the following: home and business doors, vans, motorcycles, motorbikes, motor scooters, caravans, trucks, boats, and mopeds.

Keys with Transponder Chips

If something has damaged the key or fob but the transponder chip is still intact, the chip should be able to be reused in a new key. As with remote key fobs, you’ll want to contact a locksmith right away because it may be nearly impossible to enter a building or start your motor vehicle without a working transponder key. And if you’re dealing with a situation that will require reprogramming, it is, unfortunately, going to take a fair amount of time to get fixed.

Keep in mind that, once again, you’ll want to search out the services of a locksmith that understands the complicated ins and outs of transponder keys and programming and that can do the work right. This isn’t the time to go with a less experienced service provider that “thinks” it can complete the repair.

You need a specialized locksmith for key cutting, but you need an even more specialized locksmith for remote key fobs and transponder keys. You likely use both in your daily life, so you should give strong consideration to a locksmith company that has staff who specialize in both.

Whether you’re locked out on a cold day or stranded with a car you can’t start, we know you’ll want to get the repair made as soon as possible. Instead of waiting for a problem to arise, search “key repair near me” now. Having a locksmith company you already trust and can rely on for any type of key repair should speed the repair process up because you can avoid taking extra time looking for somebody who specializes in your particular immediate need or emergency.

Lockout/Tagout Solutions for Facility Managers

What is lockout/tagout?
Lockout/Tagout (aka LOTO) is a system that outlines measures for controlling hazardous energies like electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, chemical, and thermal. Industrial production facilities use lockout/tagout products to first lock a switch or valve with a safety device and to indicate when a piece of machinery or equipment should not be turned on until completion of maintenance or servicing work.

Why is lockout/tagout important?
The lockout/tagout standard is designed to protect the 3 million plus employees who service or maintain machines or equipment that may be exposed to serious harm or death if hazardous energy isn’t properly controlled. Non-compliance with this standard routinely results in worker related injuries and sometimes even deaths. According to the OSHA, compliance with the lockout/tagout standard prevents and estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year.

How do you protect your building and workers?
Employers are responsible for protecting employees from hazardous energy sources on machines and equipment during service and maintenance. Use only lockout/tagout devices authorized for the equipment and ensure that the lockout/tagout devices identify the individual users. Most importantly, make sure to have a documented and enforced energy control procedure for your building and its employees.

Where do you buy lockout/tagout supplies?
Harry’s Locksmith is a one-stop security shop for property managers in Vancouver and the Portland metro area. From padlocks to lockout kits and labels, we carry in stock Abus safety lockout/tagout solutions.

Harry’s Locksmith provides the products and services you need to help keep your building secure and OSHA compliant. The OSHA LOTO standard has 5 requirements that all safety products and devices must meet:
1) Durable
2) Substantial
3) Standardized
4) Identifiable
5) Exclusive for safety

Click here to read the full OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations.

For more information on LOTO products or to purchase LOTO supplies, give us a call at 360-696-4901.


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5 Reasons to Choose a Company that Offers Complete Lock and Key Service

Whether you’re a business owner trying to protect some of your company’s most valuable resources or simply looking for a little extra security for your home, it’s important to understand the value of a good locksmith.

Many people only give consideration to lock and key services when they’re locked outside or if they need to have their locks changed. The reality, however, is that your locksmith provides far more than just occasional emergency services; they’re also responsible for the security of your home or business.

With that at stake, having access to a good locksmith is at least as important as having the number for a good plumber, electrician, or auto mechanic. It’s not as simple as summoning the first locksmith that your internet search turns up; you need to search carefully for a well-rounded key and lock company that can do a vast array of jobs.

It’s important to look for a company that offers complete lock and key service. Here are five reasons why:

1. Complete Residential Services Available

Many people only think about contacting their locksmith when they’re locked out of their homes. And while being stuck outside on a freezing-cold night can certainly have you wishing and hoping you’ve contacted a good—and fast—locksmith, there’s a lot more to the residential services offered by a good complete lock and key service.

For example, did you know that the locks in your home need to be regularly maintained? Just as with any other mechanical system, it’s a good idea to have your locks checked regularly to ensure they’re still structurally sound; repairs and replacements will occasionally need to be made.

Chances are, you also have plenty of other locks in your home beside the one on the front door. For example, locks on garage man doors, antique cabinets, desk drawers, and safes and vaults. A good key and lock service can help you with the maintenance, rekeying, and other requirements of any of these locks. If you find the right locksmith, they can even help you with old, antique locks. You might want to access your 100-year-old cabinet without damaging it, and a good key and lock service can help you do just that.

2. Complete Commercial Services Available

Of course, if you’re running a business, your lock and key requirements will likely be completely different—and probably more complex—than a simple residential locksmith can provide. Regardless of what type of business you’re trying to protect—be it a bank, restaurant, laboratory, or anything in between—you’ll want a skilled commercial locksmith to handle your security. Don’t rely on basic key replacement service for your business, click here to find out why.

Commercial locks are very different from residential ones; they need to be built stronger, not just for security reasons, but also because the doors on businesses are subject to a lot more wear and tear. After all, the doors on most homes only get used a few times a day, but at a business, hundreds or thousands of people could walk through the door on any given day!

You’ll want a locksmith that specializes in commercial locks, and one that is adept at installing deadbolts and working with automatic doors and that is capable of ensuring your doors are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

3. Automobile Services by the Same Company You Already Trust

Of course, you’re looking for a complete lock and key service, and that means you’re not just thinking about your home and business. You’re thinking about your car or truck as well. Whether it’s a commercial vehicle or a personal one, chances are you’ll need a locksmith for it at some point.

Everyone’s had to deal with the inconvenience of being locked out of a car, and everyone has dealt with the aggravation of losing their car keys. If the key and lock service you’ve found is truly complete, they’ll be able to help you in any scenario.

If you need to get into your locked car, they will be able to do it. If you need a brand-new key made for your ignition, they’ll be able to do that too. They’ll even be able to repair or replace damaged locks in your car or truck doors.

4. Access to Modern Technology

In addition to the broad spectrum of services for homes, businesses, and vehicles, a complete lock and key service will also have an eye toward modern technology.

Locks these days can be vastly more complex than the mechanical tumbler locks most doors still utilize. There are electronic door locks—some of which even sport a Wi-Fi connection—that have been designed to automate the whole process of entering a building. In many cases, you’ll simply need to punch in a code to open the lock. However, there are also biometric locks you can access with a simple fingerprint and of course locks you can open simply by having the key in your pocket.

Technology is advancing all the time and it’s critical that your security advances along with it. It’s extremely important to look for a lock and key service that is up to date on the latest technology. They’ll be able to assist you should you wish to install or access locks that make use of the advanced technology that is now found in buildings everywhere.

5. Commitment to Your Safety and Security

Choosing the right key and lock company is every bit as important as selecting the right auto mechanic, plumber, or electrician. That’s why you want a company that offers many different services—commercial, residential, and automotive—but it’s not enough to simply look for talent. After all, the safety and security of your home, workplace, and automobile are all entrusted to your locksmith. That’s why it’s crucial to do a little homework and vet any key and lock company you are considering.

You’ll want to analyze their commitment to security. Find out if previous customers have been satisfied. Learn if the company runs background checks on their employees. See if the company is a member of important organizations such as the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA). These memberships are important when checking the credibility of a company and when verifying a locksmiths credentials. You’ll also want to find out how long a company has been in business. Often, if a key and lock business has been around for a long time, it can be a hint they’re doing something right.

Harry’s Locksmith provides complete key and lock services that meet all these requirements in the Vancouver, Washington area. In business since 1949, we keep up with the latest security technology and are an excellent choice for your home, business, and vehicle needs.