Security Tips for Your Family, Home, Business and Community
The world has grown safer over the past few hundred years as murder rates and number of full scale wars have declined. However, that does not mean that we can relax and stop being vigilant. Implementing these tips will improve the security of your home, your family and your home business if you have one.
Securing Your Home
- Close the garage door when you leave the house. An open garage without any cars is an easy entry point for thieves while it gives a clear sign that you are not home.
- Put a lock on your shed. Tool thefts are increasingly common. Even the gas in the gas cans has street value.
- Maintain a low (home) profile. Don't place high end electronics where they are clearly visible from the outside. Reconsider keeping up with the Jonses, spending money to impress others, since it also attracts the attention of thieves.
- Cut down vegetation that makes it hard for you to see someone who could be hiding beside a door or window of your home.
- Install motion sensors that turn on flood lights around your home. You gain the benefit of lighting that deters criminals without using as much electricity as permanent flood lights.
- Install glass-break detectors on first floor windows and glass doors.
- Purchase a door kit that will turn an indoor room into a safe room.
- Housing divisions and apartment buildings that are controlled by an access controlled gates are not always safer. When everyone who has worked as a pizza deliverer, florist or package service knows the access code, access is almost unlimited. If your apartment building or neighborhood uses access code controlled gates, change the codes periodically to retain control over access to the area.
- Owning a dog can deter criminals. However, your dog will do a better job protecting you if it has been trained as a guard dog. Barking at kids riding past on bikes could lull you into failing to react in time to an intruder.
- Lock your car doors as soon as you get in, even if it is in your driveway. Do not dawdle, searching for check books or counting money. Someone could walk up while you are distracted and take your purse or force you out of the car with the engine still running and steal the car.
- If someone appears to be stranded, call roadside assistance or 911 for help. Be careful about getting involved yourself since this is a tactic used by criminals and kidnappers around the world.
- Street safety refers to your ability to stay safe on the street, whether you are on foot or inside of a vehicle. In either situation, it is essential that you remain aware of your surroundings and all potential threats. Criminals will target someone who is busy playing with the radio, texting on a cell phone or otherwise distracted.
Behaviors for Improved Safety and Greater Personal Security
- One of the faults of popular stranger danger training is that kids think “strangers” are evil people dressed in black, generally old and ugly. Teach your children that they should not go anywhere with a stranger, not even another parent. Nor should they leave the home without a parent's clear approval first.
- If there is a threat, such as an approaching mob or gang fight, do not get out of your car. Keep the doors locked, even if your car is stopped. Try to back the car up and get away from the trouble. If you are close to home, do not go home - go to a local police station or fire station instead for greater security.
- The same is true if you are being followed. Do not go home, but go to a police station or fire station instead. If that is too far, go to a well-lit public area, especially businesses that you know have security personnel.
- Do not give out information as to who is home and is not home when answering the phone. Simply take a message and state that the requested person will call back when available.
- Tell your children that they should always tell you when another adult asks them questions. Teach them that any adult who says that whatever is said to the child or ordered of the child and is then to be secret is to be reported to a parent or relative immediately. Safe adults will not ask questions, give instructions or do anything that is secret from the child's parents.
- School safety includes getting to school and back. Review the routes to and from school with your children. Ensure that they know at least two routes that they can take going to school and back so that they do not get lost if their primary route is not available.
- If your child attends school, list on the personal file the individuals you specifically permit to pick up the child and indicate that no one else has this permission. This reduces the risk of abduction.
- Request that the school inform you if your child does not arrive at school or misses classes. While child abductions are rare, parents should still want to know this information since it could be a sign of truancy.
- Verify that your school runs background checks on chaperones as well as its employees.
- Require that the school have your explicit permission before your child is taken off campus, whether it is for a field trip or extracurricular activities.
- Take time to watch your children get off the bus, supervising the children as they exit and watching for bullying behavior of other kids. Report issues to both the school and the other child's parents.
- Take schools to task when they treat violence as an internal disciplinary matter instead of something to be handled by police, such as students who routinely threaten others with knives or bodily harm. Conversely, they shouldn't be taking kindergarteners to jail for tantrums. There is a balance that has been lost between "zero tolerance" that has kids punished for paring knives left in lunch boxes and 5 year olds punished for sexual harassment for kissing a female friend.
- If your child's school is truly unsafe, due to unchecked gang violence in the surrounding area or principals who will not act for fear of lawsuits and accusations of racism, move your child to private school or home school them.
- Join your local community watch or neighborhood watch. If there is not one in your neighborhood, work with others to start one. If you cannot patrol the streets, provide snacks or water for those who do.
- If you start seeing gang activity, start reporting it to police. Do not wait for a drive-by shooting to care.
- If you see someone suspicious wandering around, such as a young person walking around homes and peering in windows, take his or her picture while calling the authorities. Get the license plate number of cars that drive slowly around the neighborhood, looking at all the homes. Ask your neighbors to do the same.
- Run a criminal check on any service provider who regularly comes to your home or business. If the service provider uses multiple employees, only hire services that run criminal checks before hiring employees. If your condo association or home owner’s association hires the grounds keeping crews, demand that they require background checks of all contractors.
Security Cameras and Security Systems
- Do you have a security camera? Can you still see the areas you want to see through the security camera? Check the view periodically to ensure that growing vegetation doesn't impede the view.
- If you have security cameras in your home or around it, you can save the files to your home computer but should have the data routed to an offsite backup or security system as well. A wireless security system does no good if the video it recorded is lost along with the computer the thief took.
- Install a dummy security camera where it is clearly visible while hiding a real security camera nearby. Enterprising criminals will look for the cameras and destroy the dummy camera while you capture them on video.
Home Office Safety
- If you run a business out of your home, deposit all cash at the bank regularly to minimize the losses if your home is invaded.
- You could use a drop box at a business center to send and receive packages to prevent valuables from being stolen off of your front porch.
- Meet potential contractors and employees at a neutral, third party location instead of bringing them into your home office.
- Set up your business to accept credit cards and debit cards as well as cash. Require large purchases or transactions to be done with plastic instead of cash. This is a secure form of payment that cannot be stolen from you, nor will it attract potential thieves who have heard that you do several thousand dollar transactions in cash.