Saturday, September 20, 2008

Security in your Home

This is part one of a series.

We’re going to discuss using a layered approach to improving the security of your home. Using a layered approach provides two primary benefits. First, it makes your home too much work for the “casual” burglar. Most burglars will take the path of least resistance. Multiple layers of security remove your home from that path. Second, each layer adds to your reaction time, either by warning you of an intrusion, or slowing down your intruder. This gives you time to get your family to safety and call 911. Every second counts.

Before we get into the options for home security, I want to define layers, in the context of security. A security layer is anything that provides notice of intrusion, or anything that slows or prevents said intrusion. In plain English, if it slows down an intruder, or convinces an intruder to go elsewhere, or alerts you to an intruder's presence, we’ll consider it a security layer. These layers can be anything from the streetlight on the corner eliminating shadows in our yards, to the monitored alarm systems with sensors on every possible entrance to our houses, to the family dog. Our goal is to convince the intruder to seek easier prey, or failing that, to slow them down enough that we can get to safety and wait for the police without fearing for our lives. We’ll be approaching the layers in the same manner as an intruder, from the outside in.

The first layer an intruder will encounter is an intangible that will never be noticed. This is the most important element in any security system. I’m talking about planning and awareness. The best security system in the world will accomplish nothing if you don’t get it installed before there is an incident or if you don’t know what to do when it is activated. The loudest alarm won’t help if you’re not paying attention when is shrieks.

Plan ahead. Get the alarm installed before you need it. Trim your bushes back, reinforce your front door, and most importantly, develop a plan of action for you and your family. Have a plan of action for your family in the case of a home invasion/hot burglary, much like you would for a fire. Conduct “Invasion Drills” as often as you would conduct Fire Drills. Everybody in the family should know what to do and where to go in the event of a home invasion.

Be alert. If your dog barks, investigate the bark. That’s why you have a dog. If your security lights turn on, look out the window and find out what caused it. Lock your doors and windows if you know you’re going to be less aware for a time. That means lock the door when you take a nap or a shower, or when you will be listening to loud music. Many people let down their guard at home, assuming nothing bad can happen there, that nothing bad can happen during the day. This is simply not true. If you are aware of what is going on around you, you are much less likely to be victimized. I’m not suggesting constant hyper-vigilance 24 hours per day. People need downtime to relax. I am, however, strongly suggesting you take basic precautions before you unwind.

Next time, we will discuss lighting.

Cross-posted here and here.

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