Is your home secure?

Posted on Monday, August 17, 2015

Crime is a reality for all South Africans. While we cannot live in fear, we must do what we can to keep our homes and our families safe. Have you done everything you can to protect your family?

According to the experts, there is no one thing that will make our homes completely safe. The golden rule is to ensure that your home is not a soft target and that you have put as many deterrents in place as you possibly can.  

We have divided the security requirements into four lines of defence.

Your first line of defence refers to the physical barriers preventing access to your property and should ideally include the following:

  • Your perimeter wall or fence that runs around the property. A good height for your wall or fence is at least six feet high but don't get caught out by choosing something decorative that has indentations in it & actually aids a would-be intruder to climb over.
  • Installing electric fencing on top of your wall or fence and having it connected to an alarm system and reputable security company will also make the wall more difficult to climb and your home less of a target.
  • In accessing your own property; electric gates that can be opened via remote control saves you having to exit your vehicle while still in the street.

Once you have looked at the external barriers that protect your property, it's time to move inside the perimeter wall & have a look at the area that runs from the wall to the house. This area is known as your second line of defence. In this area you want to consider the following:

  • Ensure that outdoor areas are well-lit and well-kept. Overgrown bushes provide hiding-places for would-be attackers. When choosing lighting, opt for sensor lights that come on when there is movement in that area which could alert you if you notice the lights come on. It also saves on electricity and acts as a deterrent to unwanted visitors.
  • Placing external passives outside will provide an early warning system informing you that someone is outside your house. Even if these are only active when you are off the property; the alarm is set-off when the would-be intruders are in your garden & not only when they are already in your house. This will have them under pressure if the clock is already ticking for the arrival of armed response.
  • Dogs can also act as an early warning system but there is always the risk of poisoning. Dogs inside the house where they are safe from poisoning work better than dogs outside.

After taking care of your property, you need to concentrate on the house itself and how you would go about preventing access to it. This is your third line of defence. It is important that you have the following in place:

  • We live in a time where burglar bars are no longer an option but an absolute necessity. Installing burglar bars inside your windows as opposed to outside makes it harder to get through this barrier.
  • Security gates on all doors are also a must. Choose a slam-lock version if you can afford to. They're easier and faster to close should you need to do so in a hurry.
  • A Safety zone when you're asleep. You need to know that when you are sound asleep and despite all the external measures you have put in place; so that if someone still manages to gain access to your home that you are separated from the rest of the house by a physical barrier such as a security gate. The gate should be installed in such a place that it separates the bedrooms from the rest of the house.  
  • The security gate should be covered by a passive & connected to the alarm system.

And lastly; your final line of defence comes in the form of a safe room inside your house. This would be a room within your third line of defence where all family members can congregate should attackers be trying to breach your security gate that separates you from the rest of the house.

  • You need to select an area where the family can gather. The master bedroom is usually most suited.
  • This area needs access to your panic button if you have one and a telephone so that you can call for help.
  • A physical barrier like a security gate must separate this room from the rest of the house.
  • If you have made the personal decision to have a defensive weapon like pepper spray or a licensed firearm these should be kept in the safe room and used only if all other lines of defence have been breached.

Experts recommend that you put an emergency plan in place to prepare you and your family should an intruder ever gain access to your home. Things you should consider when putting this plan in place:

  • Who are you going to call in the case of a security emergency?
  • Which reputable Security Company are you linked to and what is its estimated response time?
  • Is there an active Community Policing Forum in your area and would it be worthwhile belonging to it?

Think about what a criminal is looking for:  Easy access and a fast getaway. Your goal should be to make your home as difficult to get into and out of as you possibly can.

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