Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bugging In: Security

So, you've acquired quite a collection of supplies by now, and you've even found a way to keep the lights on. However, if you don't have a way to protect all of your stuff, you don't really own it. As a friend of mine is known to say "If you have 10,000 gallons of potable water, and I have an AK-47, then I have 10,000 gallons of potable water and an AK-47."

Security is a matter of compromises and trade-offs, all with a single goal in mind: buying time. Whether you use this time to get help, get positioned, or get out is entirely dependent on the situation at the time, but any action you take will need that time.

The two easiest ways to buy time are being alerted to danger earlier and slowing that danger down. Early alert is the realm of security systems, alarms, and other devices, while slowing threats down falls to "hardening" your home and property. These take place at a couple areas of your property and buildings.

Perimeter Security
Good fences are said to make good neighbors. They also help to keep the less neighborly out of your property and out of threat range. A fence designed for security purposes needs to be tall enough to be hard to climb, and stout enough to prevent forced access. Eight foot tall chain link works well, as does 6-8' wood or vinyl slat fencing on smaller properties. Use strong, lockable gates at any access points.

Motion sensors are handy for providing advance notice. They can be placed on any access point and can provide several methods of alert. Alerts can be as basic as a simple doorbell chime, or as advanced as activating a camera and beyond. The doorbell chime alert is actually not uncommon in rural farm areas, and is quite inexpensive and easy to set up.

Homes and Outbuildings
This side of the equation is more about hardening and less about notice. Door and window alarms still play a vital role, but when intruders are that close, alerts can only buy you so much time. Hardening doors, windows, and other weak points will grant you time that you would otherwise not have, and may entirely deter a less-determined intruder.

Where possible, exterior doors should be metal or solid wood. Large glass panes are very pretty, but present a security nightmare. A small peep hole in the door allows you to see folks while maintaining a hardened door between you. 

Good locks are key to keeping the uninvited out, but locks are only as good as the jamb they're securing. Step one is to get a good deadbolt, and step two is to reinforce the jamb itself. A deadbolt is a mighty latch, but if your jamb is soft enough that it can be kicked in, the bolt does you no good.

Windows should have latches or other stops, and factory installed spring-loaded catches are a nice feature on many new window installations. If your windows are older, a simple piece of doweling -- cut roughly to the length of the track your window slides along -- works wonders to keep the pane from being forced open. This same method is ideal for sliding glass doors.

Solid, all-metal padlocks are the tried-and-true method of securing outbuildings, and for good reason: they're inexpensive and they're moderately difficult to defeat. Unless someone is a rather determined or motivated thief, your things will still be there in the morning.

As stated above, alarms on the house or outbuildings are still a useful thing. This is a good starting point, and is expandable to cover all your doors, windows, and other access points. It's also compatible with a siren, if you desire that feature.

A Note on Security "Systems"
A fully integrated, monitored security system (ADT, etc.) is a very nice thing to have, and provides many benefits. However, they can be very expensive, both in initial cost and monitoring fees. Many of the same benefits can be derived from a user-installed system and at a far lower cost. None of the security system references in this piece call for a monitored system, and honestly would likely not draw much benefit from the added expense.

Be aware, be warned, and be safe.


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