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Home Security – Protect Your Family
Your home is the biggest investment you will likely ever make. Home security is vital. Once you buy a home, there is one more serious investment you will have to make – home security. If you take certain precautions and make some investment, you can make your home a comfortable and safe place – when you and your family are home, when you are away but the kids are home, or when the entire family is away from home.
The FBI reports that 65% of all burglaries are residential. The Washington Post tells us that the average loss per burglary is $1,725. When attempting to make your home secure, consider these basic issues:
Secure The Perimeter
There is an old saying: “Good fences make good neighbors”. A secure fence, hedge or wall must completely surround your property. No-one should be able to walk onto your property unhindered. If you keep your gate open during the day, close it at night. An open gate is an invitation to enter your property.
Check All Your Doors
All doors must be securely fastened on their hinges, must have a strong, secure, dead-bolt locked from the inside, and a strong, secure lock on the outside. A peep-hole is a good idea, so you can see who is knocking. An audio intercom is also good so you can talk to your visitor before admitting them. If you have a surveillance system (see below) you should have one camera trained on the door so you can also see your visitor before admitting them.
Check All Windows
All windows must be lockable from the inside. If a window pane breaks, repair it immediately. Never leave downstairs windows open when no-one is home. Hang net curtains in front of windows to prevent people from seeing into the house during the day, heavy drapes are necessary to prevent anyone from seeing in at night. Always draw the drapes at night, whether you will be home or not.
Install a Burglar Alarm System
A burglar alarm is a very good idea. Engage a company that provides armed response or whose alarm signal goes directly to the police. Use only reputable companies: check the signs on your neighbors’ fences and ask neighbors or friends for a recommendation.
Lighting Reduces Crime
Light every area of your property. A well-lit yard deters intruders. Install motion detectors to activate lights automatically when someone enters the area. Attach night sensors so lights come on automatically when it gets dark, even (especially) if you are not home. Interior lights can also be set to come on at sunset or at a certain, predetermined time. Always make it look like there is someone home.
Install Surveillance Cameras
These are increasingly becoming a necessary part of home security. A good system will be able to capture video even in very low light, and you can keep an eye on your home from anywhere over the internet. DVR systems can record up to three months’ of video. If you want to use your surveillance video to prosecute somebody, you must place signs on your property to the effect that the property is under video surveillance. If you do not intend to use the video to prosecute anyone, you do not need to post any warning signs.
When you are away for the evening: If you are going out for the evening, or you know you will not be home by dark, follow some basic procedures and you will be OK. Turn on strategic interior and exterior lights (or set them to come on with timers or motion detection), lock downstairs windows, draw curtains, leave TV or radio on and ALWAYS make it look like there is someone home. And remember to lock the door before you leave. If you are leaving kids with a babysitter, make sure everyone knows where you are going, when you will be back, and how to reach you. These days with cell phones it’s easy.
Hide Your Valuables
Most people store valuables in their home. The most common hiding places are the bedroom dresser drawer, the closet, and the freezer. Guess what? According to the FBI, these are the first places that burglars look for valuables. These valuables can be easily stolen by an intruder. It is important to hide your valuables in places where they will be harder to find. A safe is the best place to store your valuables. Another good place is a safety deposit box at your local bank.
When You Are Out of Town
When you leave town: if you go out of town for more than one night, have a neighbor, relative or friend remove your mail and newspapers. Nothing screams “Empty Home” like piles of mail and newspapers by the front door or in the driveway. Ask this same person to check up on the place a couple times a day if possible. Some communities provide police drive-by inspections of unoccupied properties, so inform your local police before you go away. Also, make sure you inform your alarm company that you will be out of town – many alarm response services provide a patrol option: for a fee, they’ll come by several times a day and check that everything is okay and there have been no attempts at breaking or entering. Forward your home phone to your cell phone or someplace else where it can be answered. One of the best ways for a burglar to check if anyone is home is to call the home phone a number of times: if there is no answer, chances are there is nobody home.
Use Common Sense:
There are other things you can do to make your property more secure. Avoid leaving valuables lying where they can be seen from a window. Lock your car and park it in the garage. Never leave the front door key under the mat: if you leave a key for someone, tell them where you hide it and put it somewhere where it cannot be seen from the street. Leaving a key with a trusted naighbor is also a good idea. If you keep your wits about you and take these precautions, your home should be a safe and secure place.
Unless you have a Black Belt in the martial arts, everyone needs some sort of personal security protection today, especially if you live in a large city or travel through lonely parts of the countryside. One can choose from a variety of personal security devices which can help keep you safe, and there are a also many basic safety precautions one should always be keeping in mind when thinking about your personal safety and protection.
First there are the protection devices. A very effective deterrent against attackers and muggers is the personal safety alarm — the “screamer” — a device which emits a piercing scream when activated by the user. The loud noise immediately attracts the attention of everyone in sight and immediately deters a potential attacker. Even if there is no-one in sight, the attacker backs off because he knows this will attract attention.
Another effective protection device is the pepper spray or mace canister. These devices will stop almost any attacker. Pepper spray may be bought over the counter in most states. There is even a pepper spray device that looks like a pen. You will need a certificate to carry mace, which also means that you will require some basic training in the handling of mace.
Concealed weapons — guns and knives — are a very effective deterrent against personal attack. But concealed weapons are also illegal to carry. Remember Bernard Goetz? He shot three muggers on the New York subway and ended up sentenced to six months in jail for carrying a concealed weapon. You have to weigh the cost between saving your life in an emergency and breaking the law. No-one can decide this for you.
Besides the basic personal security devices, there are several things you can do on an ongoing basis to make yourself a less-likely target. The bottom line is vigilance: always be alert. Lock doors securely before leaving your home or place of business. Make sure you have your keys with you — it’s amazing how many times people leave their keys in their door. Vary your route to work — don’t take exactly the same route every day. If anyone is watching you, this should throw them off.
Keep your car doors locked while you are driving. Look in your rear-view mirror often when driving. If you think someone is following you, try and lose them like in the movies. If this doesnâ€™t work, try driving to a police or Highway Patrol station. Unless you are being tailed by law enforcement, this usually sends them away. When you get home, park in the garage and lock the garage door. Make sure your garage is always well-lit.
If you find yourself alone in a dark and lonely part of town, a smart thing to do is get on your cell phone (or pretend you’re on your cell phone) and make like you are having a conversation with someone. Somehow, an attacker is less likely to attack someone who is actually talking to someone on the phone. If you don’t have your cell phone with you, and you think the situation is getting serious, start acting completely crazy — sing, dance, make weird noises — do anything to make a potential mugger think you are crazy. No-one wants to start anything with a crazy person. This works every time.
Always let family and close friends know where you are. If you are leaving the office for a friend’s house, call and let them know you are leaving now, and maybe even what route you are taking. If you don’t show up after a certain reasonable time, they can immediately begin to do something about it. A relative or friend should always know where you are at all times. If you live alone, make sure you check in with someone every day: if you don’t check in one day, they will know something is wrong. If you have a serious medical condition or other reason that requires it, you should be fitted with an emergency medical alert device that will alert paramedics in a medical emergency. More and people today are installing video surveillance systems to keep an eye on loved ones, particularly elderly or bedridden family members.
If you are famous or are in the public eye for any reason, you may need personal security protection beyond which you can provide on your own. Many people in the public eye cannot go out without a personal security guard, even if it’s just to prevent being mobbed by the public. A driver or chauffeur is often the choice of people who desire a higher level of personal security. People today often choose to be driven in a nondescript, regular automobile rather than a flashy limousine. Corporate executives and foreign diplomats may have their car fitted with bulletproof windows, armor-plating, and other protection against terrorist attacks or kidnapping attempts. The average person need not be concerned about these issues: only famous people get assassinated, and only rich people get kidnapped — you need to make sure you don’t get mugged behind the Safeway.