Safety and Security

Your home is your safe haven and the place where you hold most of your valued and hard-earned possessions. Unfortunately, manmade and natural disasters are likely to threaten those valuables at some point or another. That is why maintaining your personal safety during times of crisis is a priority. But you shouldn’t stop there— protecting and safeguarding your house and finances are also essential. In this section, we’ll offer you some tips on personal safety, and home, property, and financial security.

Personal safety

The topic of personal safety is far too extensive, so I will only share a few basic tips with you here. If you’re interested in internet safety, ATM safety, parking lot safety, personal security when using ATM’s, not getting scammed over the phone, or traveler safety, and the many other tangents you can go on, there is a lot of information you can find online.

  • Develop situational awareness. Observing what is happening around you, rather than being absorbed by your phone, will help you act quickly if an attack or disaster unexpectedly unfolds.

  • Obey your gut feelings. When something doesn’t feel right, your body is the first to tell you. If you feel uncomfortable in a certain place, listen to that still small voice and go where it feels safe. 

  • Learn martial arts, such as Krav Maga or karate. Martial arts teach you punches, kicks, and many other techniques to be able to respond quickly to an attack and prevent becoming a victim.

  • Know the self-defense laws in your county, state, and country. What is legal in terms of personal self-defense in one state may be illegal in a neighboring state. Research your state and county’s laws.

  • Carry a weapon. Check your state or country’s laws to determine which weapons are or aren’t legal to have in your possession.
      • Knives: Knives are great for survival, bushcraft, and self-defense. Just like any other weapon, however, each state has its own laws as to what can be carried and what can’t. Learn the laws prior to carrying any type of weapon with you. If you’re planning to use knives for personal protection, be sure to get trained so you don’t hurt yourself or end up becoming the victim.

      • Guns: It’s crucial that you know your county and state’s gun laws if you intend on owning one! Owning a weapon comes with the responsibility that you know how and under which circumstances to properly use it. If you lack any training or knowledge of weapon safety, do not consider this as an option.

      • Pepper spray: Pepper spray causes irritation of the eyes and breathing pathways. It’s not legal in all states and many places prohibit you enter their premises with it, but if you’re walking home or are going for a jog alone, you may want to carry it. Pepper spray expires, so replace it prior to its expiration date.

      • Tasers: Some states prohibit the public’s use of a taser, so check the laws first. If a taser is legal, get trained on how to properly use it. They can be highly effective.

      • Stun guns: Stun guns come in low and high voltage. They are similar to tasers except they cannot be used at a distance and will only work when they come into direct contact with a person. Like tasers, these are not legal in all states.

      • Protection tools for survival: If you find yourself going into the wilderness, you should consider taking some supplies in case you get lost or end up meeting some wild animals. Signal flares, tools to build a fire, spray paint to mark the letters ‘SOS’, and bear spray should go in your kit. Make sure you know how to use those tools.
  • Get a feel for your neighborhood’s safety. It’s important to learn who your neighbors are. Sex offenders have to register online, and that information is public and accessible to you. Find that info here!

  • Keep your social media accounts private. The internet is a tricky place and there’s always someone lurking. When you expose too much of your life on the web, you’re giving strangers access into your private life matters, whether you like it or not. Limit what you share on your social media profiles, and switch your accounts to ‘private’.

Action Step

Based on the tips mentioned above, take note of the ones that you feel you need to work or improve on.

Add those to your short or long-term goals and schedule them into your calendar.

Securing your home and property

The goal of your home security plan is essentially to prevent an attacker or thief from entering beyond the boundaries of your property. If they get past that, your second line of defense should prevent them from gaining entry into your home. If they are still able to get past that, you should have a method or plan in place to prevent them from accessing your personal belongings.

This makes it all the more difficult if you spend significant amounts of time away from home, or have to evacuate during a disaster. Securing your home and property from intruders is a significant part of your preparedness plan that may entail employing some of the following tips.

Protecting your belongings

  • Review and update your insurance policies. Make sure you understand what is included under your current policy and notify the company when you make renovations to your home. Consider getting insurance that is specific to the disasters your home is prone to, such as floods.

  • Take inventory of your possessions, especially your most valuable and expensive belongings like jewelry. Take color photos of these items as well.

  • Take color photos and videos of every room in your house and receipts of expensive purchases you’ve made. You can show this to your insurance company as proof of what you owned or what was stolen.

  • Label large and expensive items you own, such as your computer and furniture, with an ultraviolet marker. If these items get found after they’re stolen, you can identify them with a blacklight.

  • Be careful how you handle your trash. Many people make the innocent mistake of throwing away the packaging of expensive items in their recycle bin. What they don’t realize, is that anyone driving near your house may catch a glimpse of what’s in your trash and realize that you have some nice equipment. If they are ill-intentioned, you may expect a forceful visit in the near future. Think about this especially during the holidays. To prevent getting broken into, take those type of boxes and recyclables to a public disposal site.

  • Protect your phone. If your phone gets stolen, you may find yourself in a predicament. A lot of people keep their credit cards and a lot of other sensitive information on their smart phone. Enable the setting that allows you to wipe or reset your phone remotely. Also, enable the “find my device” feature in the settings. Then, change your home address on your phone to a random address near you, preferably an empty lot or park. This way, if the thief tries to look up your address, he will not find it.

    Protecting the inside of your home

    • Always lock all windows and doors before you leave the house. I know people that never lock their doors. I don’t care how safe your neighborhood is, but realistically, this is just an open invitation for a burglar to have easy entry and access to your stuff.

    • Get a qualified security entry door lock or a high-quality keyless lock. Thanks to YouTube and other video streaming services, you can learn how to pick any lock within seconds. In order to protect your entry doors, a keyless lock or a lock protection or reinforcer might be a good investment.

    • Install a security alarm system in your home. Some alarm systems will alert the police and fire department if they’re activated. This is great if you spend a lot of time away from home.

    • Invest in a smart outdoor surveillance camera. These provide you with camera access on your smart phone so you can see who’s at your door at any given time.  There are countless videos of these devices capturing people on camera when they’re trying to steal packages off of doorsteps or trying to break into homes. Some options include Google Nest and Ring, but there are multiple options that are affordable but know that the Wifi must be connected for them to work.

    • Install a vibration sensor alarm to warn you when your screen doors are touched.

    • Install a security door brace that withstands a significant amount of force, such as the OnGuard security brace. A wedge door stop is a cheaper alternative that may give you a few extra seconds to get to safety or grab your phone and call 911, but in comparison to a door brace, they’re much less effective.

    • Get door security bars to use on all exterior doors as well as the door that connects your garage to your house.

    • Secure your garage door by threading a plastic zip tie through the security release latch. On YouTube you can find video tutorials on how to do this.

    • Get wooden dowels to fit each window and sliding glass doors in your house. When your doors and windows are closed, place them in the window slate.

    • Reinforce your window glass with security film. This is a slightly more expensive approach, but window film has more benefits than just security features, so it’s something to consider if your budget allows for it.

    • Install security screens on doors and windows. Security screens are engineered specifically to keep intruders out. 

    • Get window bars or grilles with hinges. If your home is located in a questionable neighborhood, getting window bars might be a great way to discourage unwanted visitors.

    • Turn a small room in your home into a safe room. This room is not just beneficial for protecting you and your loved ones from home invaders, but is also an option for sheltering at home during certain disasters. The ideal safe room should have no outside-facing windows and be enclosed by a steel door, making it difficult or impossible for someone to kick it through. This room can act like a home-style bunker, where you can keep food and water, as well as a first aid kit and other emergency supplies. Be sure there’s phone reception in case you need to call 911 for help.

      Security within the boundaries of your property

      • Deter burglars by making some adjustments to your property’s landscape.
          • Clear out any large bushes (which can be used as hiding places).
          • Plant thorny bushes or vines on the outside of any windows.
      • Consider getting a fence. A fence is a visual deterrent.

      • Consider getting a large breed dog and get him trained for protection. If you don’t want to get a dog, get a sign that says “Beware of Dog” or “this home is protected by Security Services Inc” to deter people.

      • Install fake (or real) security cameras above entry doors, whichever one you prefer depending on your circumstances and budget. Fake cameras are used as deterrents.

      • Install Motion sensor LED lights or floodlights at any entry or access point in your home. Solar powered LED’s are inexpensive and cost-efficient.

      • Install motion sensor alarms of a barking dog. No one wants to fight a dog. This will certainly deter some people.

      Action Step

      Do a walk-through of your property. Identify vulnerable areas that can be hardened and which of the methods mentioned above (or other methods) will work best for deterring or preventing break-ins.

      Then, pick a room in your home that could be used as a safe room.

      Mitigating property damage from natural disasters

      People are not the only ones that wreak havoc on our homes. In fact, disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes oftentimes show no mercy whatsoever. Although there’s no sure-way method to completely prevent damage from nature’s wrath, there are ways to strengthen your home and protect your belongings. These are some ideas:

      Before an evacuation:

      • Keep your yard clean and clear.
          • Remove any leaves and debris that are stuck in the gutters and roof valleys.
          • Cut overhanging branches that may be touching your roof.
          • Cut down dead trees in your property.
          • Properly dispose of any tree trimmings so they don’t become flying debris.
      • Repair doors and frames to ensure a tight seal on all exterior doors.

      • Replace any windows with cracks. Broken windows are more likely to implode during gusts of forceful winds. Caulk the perimeter of your windows to make sure they are properly sealed to keep water and air out.

      • Install tempered glass windows if you live in an area with a high risk of wildfires.

      • Install metal or wooden shutters with permanent anchors on all windows and garage doors.

      • Upgrade the ridge and attic vents and ensure they meet the requirements for water intrusion resistance.

      • Purchase plywood and cut them to fit your windows. Keep the necessary tools on hand to cover your windows in the event of a hurricane, tornado, or severe windstorm warning.

      • Install burglar-deterrent technology (such as the types mentioned above) to prevent break-ins while you’re evacuated.

        At the time of an evacuation:

        • Secure patio furniture and toys, such as your trampoline. Instead of disassembling the trampoline, turn it upside down and weigh it down with sand bags.

        • Bring in small yard furniture, including grills, decorations, bird feeders, hanging plants, and flower pots.

        • Securely shut all exterior doors and windows. Then, board up the windows.

        • Cover the gable end vents on the roof and the vents in the foundation to prevent water from entering.

        • Shut off all utility mains. Drain the water pipes.

        • Pray for your personal and property’s safety. Many people have experienced miracles after praying for protection— try it!

        Action Step

        Of all the tips I just mentioned, mark the ones that you believe are relevant to you, based on your home and your risk of disasters.

        Below you’ll find a list where you can check off what you’ve already completed.

        At the time of an evacuation, use the checklist on the right column as a reminder of what needs to be done.

        Mitigating property damageClick to download checklist

        Financial security

        The financial world is a volatile one. One day the market is up, another day it’s down. There are many factors that influence the flow of money, and disasters are certainly some of them.

        I realize this is a very touchy subject, no matter which way you choose to look at it— and therefore one that I prefer not to give my personal opinion on. Still, it’s something that should be discussed, at least among you and your family.

        Action Step

        Discuss your finances with your spouse, a trusted friend, relative, or a professional.

        Determine and implement ways to secure your finances for the future.

        Next up: Evacuation plan

        Continue >>