Residential security is a critical component of any personal security program. The following guidelines should be used in reviewing your residential security.
All entrances, including service doors and gates, should have quality locks--preferably deadbolt. Check your:
►Sliding Glass Door
►Swimming Pool Gate
►Guest House Door(s).
►Don't leave keys "hidden" outside the home. Leave an extra key with a trusted neighbor or colleague.
►Keep doors locked even when you or family members are at home.
►Keep tight control of house keys. Change locks if keys are lost or stolen and when moving into a previously occupied residence. If you use a key-less lock with passcode, make sure you do not give the pass code out to domestic workers or repairmen. If you did, change the code immediately afterwards.
►Have window locks installed on all windows. Use them.
►Lock louvered windows--especially on the ground floor.
►Have locks installed on your fuse boxes and external power sources.
If you have window grilles and bars, review fire safety. Don't block bedroom windows with permanent grilles if the windows may be used for emergency egress.
♦ If you have burglar or intrusion alarms, check and use them.
♦ Keep at least one fire extinguisher on each floor, and be sure to keep one in the kitchen. Show family members and household help how to use them.
♦ Periodically check smoke detectors and replace batteries when necessary.
♦ Keep flashlights in several areas in the house. Check the batteries often, especially if you have children in your home. (They love to play with flashlights!).
♦ A family dog can be a deterrent to criminals. But remember, even the best watch-dog can be defeated by food or poison. An attack on your dog may be a precursor to a home intrusion. Do not install separate "doggy doors" or entrances. They also can admit small intruders.
♦ Choose a location that offers the most security. The less remote, the safer your home will be, particularly in a neighborhood close to police and fire protection.
♦ Know your neighbors. Develop a rapport with them and offer to keep an eye on each other's homes, especially during trips.
♦ If you observe any unusual activity, report it immediately to local law enforcement and alert your neighbors if appropriate.
♦ Destroy all envelopes or other items that show your name or other personal information, don’t just throw these items away
♦ Do not answer your telephone with your name. Educate family members and domestic help in the proper way to answer the telephone at home.
♦Establish safe family living patterns. If you understand the importance of your contribution to the family's overall security, the entire household will be safer.
♦ While at home, you and your family should rehearse safety drills and be aware of procedures to escape danger and get help.
♦ Be cautious about salesmen, opinion poll takers, and strangers. Do not open the door for them. Write down license numbers of suspicious vehicles; note descriptions of occupants.
♦ Vary daily routines; avoid predictable patterns.
♦ Know where all family members are at all times.
♦ Use these same guidelines while on vacation or business travel.
♦ Report suspicious or threatening activity to police.
Establishing a Safehaven
Follow three basic steps in setting up a safehaven in your home:
♦ Designate an internal room that all family members can easily retreat to in an emergency
♦ Harden the room to keep intruders out and protect you from gunfire (cover not just concealment)
♦ Install a two-way communications system or telephone; and
♦ Furnish the safehaven with an emergency kit.
It is highly unlikely you would spend more than a few hours in a safehaven; however, the supplies listed below are suggested for your maximum safety. You can research more about how to select and secure your safehaven.
The following is a checklist of possible safehaven supplies:
♦ Some self defense weapons should the intruder breach the safehaven
♦ Fire extinguisher
♦ Fresh water and some food
♦ Candles, matches, flashlight
♦ Extra batteries
♦ Toilet facilities
♦ Sterno stove, fuel
♦ Mobile or hard-line phone
♦ Shortwave or other radio
♦ Medical/first aid kit
♦ Other items for your comfort and leisure--a change of clothing, books, games
Home Security While You Are Away
►Notify a trusted person of your departure and return dates but don't otherwise publicize your travel or vacation plans. Leave contact numbers with the appropriate people.
►Arrange to have a friend or colleague pick up your newspapers, mail, or other deliveries daily. Alternatively, you can notify the post office to put a hold on mail and package deliveries until a specified date after your return.
►Secure your home. Close and lock all windows and doors. Don't forget to lock garage or gate doors. Do not hide keys outside the house.
►Consider purchasing timers to turn on outside and inside lights automatically at various times throughout the night.
►Check outside lighting and replace older light bulbs. You don't want a light burning out while you are away.
►Ask a friend or colleague to check your residence periodically, ensuring your furnace or air conditioning is functioning and that timers and lights are working.
►The decision to set the automated alarm system may vary depending on your location. Power outages and brownouts may trip alarm systems.
►Unplug all unnecessary appliances such as televisions, stereos, and personal computers.
►Mow your lawn just before leaving; make arrangements to have someone mow it again if you will be gone for an extended period of time. Also arrange for watering, if that is likely to be needed.
►In the winter, make arrangements to have someone shovel walkways if it snows. At a minimum, have a neighbor walk from the street to your door several times.
►If possible, ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway (if you are taking yours).
►If you use a telephone answering machine, turn off the ringer on the telephone. If you don't have an answering machine, unplug or turn off ringers on all telephones.
►Lock all jewelry, important papers, currency, and other valuable portables in a safe place such as a safe deposit box or home safe.
►Ensure all personal and home insurance policies are up-to-date and that your coverage is adequate.
♦ Conduct a background check with local police, neighbors, and friends.
♦ Inform employees about security responsibilities.
♦ Instruct them about phone or other emergency procedures.
♦ Do not discuss travel plans or sensitive topics within earshot of domestic employees.
♦ Discuss duties in friendly, firm manner.
♦ Give presents or gratuities according to local customs.
Security Do's for Children
♦ Teach children never to admit strangers into the home.
♦ Teach children local emergency phone numbers, and how to use any two-way radios you may have.
♦ Make sure younger children know their name, address, and phone number.
♦ Caution teenagers about "blind dates" or meeting anyone they do not know.
♦ Teach younger members of your family not to open mail or packages.
♦ Teach young children how to answer the telephone so that they do not give out personal information, such as home address, absence of adults, etc.
♦ Teach children how to say no to strangers.
♦ Teach children how to exit the house in case of emergency.
Fire Safety at Home
Statistics about fire are frightening. In America, about 30,000 people are injured and nearly 4,800 die from fire each year. This rate is lower than in most other countries. Differences in fire codes, building and electrical standards, and even firefighting capabilities can increase or decrease your threat from fire depending on local capabilities. Your risk can be significantly amplified if you are overseas in underdeveloped areas.
Three vital facts you should know about fire:
♦ It isn't usually fire that kills; it is the products of combustion--smoke, toxic gases, or superheated air.
♦ Fire travels at lightning speed – up to 19 feet per second.
♦ The critical hours for a house fire are 11 PM to 6 AM when most people are asleep.
This means you need to detect fire early, and you must move quickly when you do. You and your family can avoid becoming a statistic if you:
♦ Install smoke detectors in your home.
♦ Create and practice a fire escape plan.
♦ Take fire preventive measures such as those listed on the next page.
A smoke detector can mean the difference between life and death. They are inexpensive and are battery operated; they are not at the mercy of sporadic electrical service. You should have one on every level of your home, particularly in the hallway outside bedrooms. Test your detectors regularly, and replace the batteries as needed--usually twice a year.
You and your family should create a fire exit plan together. Learn how to escape the house from every room. Locate two exits from each bedroom. Designate a meeting place outside the house. Most importantly--especially if you have children--PRACTICE YOUR PLAN!
Carelessness with cigarettes is the most frequent cause of house fires. Never smoke in bed!
Open flames and the resulting sparks are dangerous. Don't place barbecue grills or other open flames on the balcony or near the house.
Check for: faulty electrical wiring; overloaded circuits; faulty equipment, including cooking and heating appliances; leaking propane tanks; overloaded or frayed extension cords; dirty chimneys and vents; and flammable liquids.
Keep a fire extinguisher in the house, preferably one on every level but particularly in the kitchen. Consider having one in each bedroom. Teach older children and household help how to use the extinguisher. The fire extinguisher at a minimum should enable you to exit the building, if the fire cannot be completely extinguished, get out and call 911.