Locks & Bagels
One of my favorite security stories concerns a bagel manufacturer in a southern city that doesn’t need to be named (yes, there are bagels made – and eaten – in the south). This Best bagels was a small-scale manufacturer who began as simply a local baker and gradually began selling his bagels, pies, and other baked goods to specialty grocers.
At first he had a fairly standard industrial refrigerator in which to keep his dough chilled. Later, as his business expanded, he built a new facility for more large-scale production, and included in the design a well insulated cold-room, where he kept not only batches of dough but also fresh fruit that he used for tarts and pies. The cold-room was essential to counter the heat of the baking room bleeding through the building.
A very precise and careful man, Mr. – let’s call him Mr. Reed, for want of a better name – always made sure that doors were kept closed, windows locked, and everything as organized as could be. He also had a morbid fear of being locked in the cold-room unable to get out; I suppose he’d watched The Shining a few times too many. So the door had no lock or automatic closing mechanism, just a stiff, heavy chrome latch with handles inside and out. It was deliberately hung slightly askew, so that when unlatched it would swing open rather than closed.
It came to pass that Mrs. Reed nagged her husband into taking a summer vacation, their first in twenty years or so, and he left his assistant in charge during one of the hottest weeks of the year. The assistant – let’s call him Andrew – had a date (hot in a different way than the weather) and rushed out of the bakery as soon as the day’s work was done. He turned out the lights and the air conditioners and locked the front door, but not being as mindful of details as his boss, he neglected to latch the cold-room door.
When Andrew and the other employees arrived at three the next morning to start the day’s baking, they found that the heat from the baking facility had permeated the cold room. The fruits were spoiled and smelly and the dough ruined. So there were no bagels for Mr. Reed’s customers that morning. Andrew didn’t lose his job, but there was a lot of “dough” taken out of his paycheck over the next few months.
Despite the awful puns, this story always brings a smile to my face, even as I shake my head in wonder at Andrew’s carelessness. But I also think, now, that Mr. Reed was at fault. He could have averted the disaster – and for a small manufacturer the loss of a couple of days’ orders is a disaster – by installing a magnetic lock, an automatic closer, and a panic bar.
The point is that even when a building is completely secure from unauthorized access, there are often indoor rooms that need to be locked or securely shut. In business offices, for example, storage closets, record rooms, duplicating and copy rooms, and computer server rooms often have warning signs to “Keep door closed.” Whether for climate control, as in the case of a computer server system (or dough storage), for safety (to avoid having open doors blocking a hallway), or for security (keeping people out of storage or record rooms), there are valid reasons for making sure that they are kept closed.
One of the easiest ways to do so is with an automatic door closer and/or a magnet lock. Nearly everyone is familiar with the closing mechanisms on the storm doors of private homes, designed for doors to the outside and useful mainly for climate control (and most often at shin height). But interior door closers, generally top-mounted, are equally effective, with models designed for light, intermediate, or heavy doors and in a wide range of styles and prices. Door closers are especially useful in homes with children who, like Andrew, tend to be forgetful of rules.
Magnet locks can be locks or simple latching mechanisms. Miniature versions are familiar on closet doors in hotel rooms, among other places, and equally convenient in homes; larger, heavy-duty magnet locks are a must for many businesses. Carrying a holding force of 600 to 1,650 pounds or more, Emlock single and double door locks and Securitron’s sliding door locks are easy to install and highly effective. They can also be an effective means of keeping children out of an off-limits room or garage, while permitting an adult to operate them with ease (by releasing the electromagnet that keeps them closed).
Panic bars are a safety valve; they allow egress from a closed room or building without prior knowledge of how the unlocking mechanism operates (do you turn a handle left or right, push it up or down, is a key needed?). A panic bar makes it very clear what to do: push against it, the lock or latch is immediately released, and the door opens.
All these products are affordable essentials for businesses and valuable additions to home security and safety. If only Mr. Reed had used them, he could have provided his customers with a delicious meal of lox and bagels instead of losing the bagels for want of a lock!