How to ensure personal security at home? Important things which everyone must consider doing

Introduction

The most serious obstacle to personal safety is an attitude of complacency or fatalism. “It can’t happen to me” and “if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen” is dangerous thinking.

Recent political events throughout the world have changed–but not necessarily diminished–the threats you face. Today, the most prevalent threat you face overseas is crime.

A criminal attack against you or your family can take place at any post, as can a fire or other disaster. However, you can influence what happens to you by assuming more responsibility for your own security.

 

Residential Security

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:
  • Front Door
  • Rear Door
  • Garage Door(s)
  • Service Door(s)
  • Patio Door
  • Sliding Glass Door
  • Gate
  • 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. 
  • 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!). Ask your neighbours to get alarmed of the emergency situation and act when they see the fashlight scorching.
  • A family dog can be a deterrent to criminals. But remember, even the best watch-dog can be controlled by food or poison. 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 your relatives and if case arises to the nearest police station. Police is for our help so consider them your friend. 
  • 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. 
  • Educate family members and domestic help in the proper way to answer the telephone at home. 
  • Vary daily routines; avoid predictable patterns. 
  • Know where all family members are at all times. 
  • Use these same guidelines while on leave or in travel status.

 

Establishing a Safehaven(mostly applicable if you are in a threat-prone area)

Follow three basic steps in setting up a safe-haven in your home:

  • Designate an internal room; 
  • 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. Your security officer can tell you more about how to select and secure your safehaven.

The following is a checklist of possible safehaven supplies.

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Fresh water
  • 5-day supply of food
  • Candles, matches, flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Bedding
  • Toilet facilities
  • Sterno stove, fuel
  • Shortwave or other radio
  • Medical/first aid kit
  • Other items for your comfort and leisure–a change of clothing, books, games

 

Fire Safety at Home

Statistics about fire are frightening. In India fire accidents killed 113,961 people between 2010 and 2014.That means 54 people die every day from fire accidents

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 your threat from fire if you live overseas.

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.

 

Smoke Detectors

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.

 

Exit Drills

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!

 

Preventive Measures

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. Teach older children and household help how to use the extinguisher.

 

 

Courtesy: Bureau of Diplomatic Security, US Dept of State

Image: Pixabay

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