Jan 282015

Once more the realm of movies and novels, it seems more and more often we’re hearing news reports about people being taken hostage for one reason or another. While thankfully the odds of it happening to you are likely fairly low, if you do find yourself in that situation there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Hostage Situation Survival Tips

First, avoid doing anything that calls attention to yourself. Stay calm, keep quiet, and do what you’re told. You want to blend into the crowd as much as possible. This may not always be possible, of course, particularly if there are only a few of you taken hostage. Avoid making eye contact with the attackers. What you want to avoid is becoming the target of the hostage taker’s anger.

If you are armed, I would caution you against taking offensive action against the attackers. Unless you are absolutely certain you know what you’re doing, such as you’ve trained in SWAT or Delta Force tactics, you will likely end up making a bad situation far worse. Forget about the Hollywood nonsense.

That said, if an opportunity to escape presents itself and you are certain you can pull it off safely, it is an option worth considering. I would caution you, though, to be aware of the possibility of danger coming not just from the attackers but the authorities outside who might not be expecting you to come running outside.

Pay attention to your surroundings and to what’s happening. Make a mental note of how many attackers there are, where they are situated, what they look like, things they say, all that good stuff. It might turn out that you’re able to escape or perhaps you end up released. In either case, the authorities will want and need as much information as you’re able to provide.

Should a team be sent in to rescue you and the other hostages, I doubt you’ll have any warning. If/when it happens, hit the floor, shut your eyes, and cover your ears. Whatever you do, don’t jump up and start hollering. That just makes you a target for the attackers as well as a potential victim of friendly fire. Get down and stay there. Soon, you’ll likely be grabbed by one of the rescuers and dragged away.

If the situation becomes prolonged, you may notice some of the hostages, perhaps even yourself, sympathizing with the attackers. This is called Stockholm Syndrome and is rather common in situations like that. Watch for it and fight against it as best you can.

Being taken hostage isn’t a very common threat, even today. But, these situations are happening more and more often. Keep the above tips in mind should you become a victim.

Jan 192015

Ideally, every dog should be loved and cared for by its owner, and that includes vaccinations, spaying and neutering, proper nutrition, walking them regularly on a leash, etc.

However, many dogs are abused, abandoned and become strays due to irresponsible dog ownership. In some locations, the situation has become a growing concern.

Stray dogs are a reality, and some of these dogs can be dangerous, no matter the breed. Furthermore, in some states there are no leash laws. Dogs are free to roam without any repercussions to the owners.

Millions of adults and children are bitten or mauled by dangerous dogs every year. Dog pepper spray is one defense humans have against threat or injury from a dog attack.

Dog Pepper SpraysDog pepper sprays contains a pepper mist. More specifically, an ingredient such as OC (oleoresin capsicum) is typically used. Reputable makers produce products that are considered safe and humane for use as a dog repellent.

The spray can shoot for a number of feet, up to as much as 10 feet with some products, and is shot in quick bursts. This means that a person does not have to be up-close-and-personal with a dog, risking even more danger, in order to use the spray. Often these products come with belt clips or keychain attachments for easy access.

Despite its intended target – a dangerous dog – humans must be careful when using the product. If you are forced to use pepper spray on a windy day, it’s important that you take care.

It is possible for the spray to hit the user if the weather is windy. Just as when the spray hits a dog, you will experience similar effects if you accidentally get pepper spray into your eyes, nose, etc.

There are a variety of reasons to use a dog pepper spray:

1. Professionals, such mail carriers, carry them for protection.

Although postal carriers will not randomly spray dogs for no good reason, they carry pepper spray for their safety. If a dog owner has failed to secure their dog, and a mail carrier is reasonably feeling he or she is about to be attacked, they have a right to use the spray. Other professionals, who risk dog injury or attack, will proceed in the same fashion.

2. Runners and walkers, who travel through areas inhabited by stray dogs, may choose dog pepper spray.

People who use running outside as their form of exercise face a number of dangers. One of them is traffic. But another one is a stray dog, particularly if the person chooses to run at night.

A runner can stop running, or they can shout at the dog to make it go away. They can also climb a tree if they are faced with a very vicious dog.

However, a runner can feel safer by clipping a small can of dog pepper spray to their running clothes in case it’s needed. A person should not have to give up running due to the number of stray dogs in a neighborhood. The use of the spray gives a runner the freedom to continue to enjoy the activity.

Another example of a person who may choose to carry the spray is people who frequently walk rather than drive or ride a bike. For example, if you walk home from work every day, but you are forced to walk through an area that is frequented by a stray dog or dogs, the spray would be a handy tool for you to carry with you.

There have been complaints about the use of these sprays. Although the makers assure that the products are not harmful to dogs, they do have an effect on dogs that some people oppose.

When a canine pepper spray is used on an animal, the mist enters the eyes and mucous membranes. There is pain and swelling as a result of the contact. However, these effects only last for about an hour. Nevertheless, an hour of pain for a dog is too much for those who oppose these products.

Dog pepper spray can be found here.

Jan 152015

Extreme weather conditions can cause a world of problems for those who aren’t prepared to cope with what it brings. Severe cold weather can strip our homes of their ability to keep us warm and safe from the elements, especially when it isn’t properly weatherized and equipped with plenty of supplies and insulation. But subzero temperatures aren’t only effective in dropping the mercury in your thermometer – it can also severely reduce how effective you can defend your home against burglars and predators.

How the Winter Can Expose Your Household

Winterproof Prep for Home SecurityWhile it might not be obvious at first, freezing temperatures can alter our daily routines in ways that drastically reduces our safety. For example:

  • Broken windows or weathered doors due to the elements can provide easier ways to trespass into your home
  • Accumulating snow and frost can provide an inconvenient footprint for criminals to determine when a home is absent
  • In the event of frozen pipes, acquiring water can be a daily struggle that leaves members of your household vulnerable
  • Damage to gardens and crops means a less sustainable house, resulting in more frequent supply runs which expose your property
  • Excessive and long periods of cold can cause home security equipment to malfunction either due to power failure or by obscuring their ability to detect criminals if not prepared and maintained

Given these problems, how can we reduce the probability that winter will get in the way of being able to defend ourselves from those who’d rather prey than prep?

Home Modifications for Your Winter Preps

To nip the most obvious way that winter weather can expose your home, which is due to broken or damaged windows and doors, applying some minor upgrades and putting on the elbow grease can go a long way.

Technologies such as home security equipment can help you realize when an entry to your home is compromised whether by a burglar or mother nature - but for when physical resistance is more important than mere detection, these improvements are fundamental ways to limit how your home can be accessed for when you’re not available to defend it yourself.

While windows can be boarded for a quick and foolproof solution, this also reduces sunlight exposure and natural lighting – both of which are commodities in freezing temperatures and power outage situations. Instead, apply shatterproof window films to windows (or install more sturdy theft-proof varieties if your budget allows it.) However, applying films in advance of the winter season is crucial since window films installed within three days of freezing temperatures can cause the adhesive in it to crystallize.

Doors are even more problematic than windows during cold weather. Cold weather can interfere with the function of electronic locks (such as garage doors). It makes more standard locking mechanisms brittle and weaker to brute force entry. In fact, many burglars use compressed air in warmer seasons to make these locks easier to smash open. It can also freeze your doors shut, especially given that we tend to insulate our doors extra tight during these seasons. Without airflow from outside, doors tend to freeze over more readily.

To take care of freezing doors and locks, apply WD-40 along the edges of these entrances to discourage moisture from developing and freezing up throughout the day. Taking care to apply WD-40 to any locks on your doors and gates which are susceptible to breakage will also make them more reliable against lock picking or bumping since finding a grip becomes far harder.

Fortifying Your Premises

One of the greatest risks presented by long-term blizzard conditions is that power outages can render many of your security measures – such as electrical equipment – useless when not equipped with an auxiliary generator. If you have the funds and means to support this kind of system during long conditions, the following steps can still assist your home safety precautions. Of course, it is pertinent to use some traditional methods in case of electrical issues. Storing documents, jewelry, and other valuables in a safe is highly recommended.

Focus first on your fencing and gated entrances. Fortunately, winter can make this first barrier to your house more difficult to scale depending on the materials and construction of your home. Metal, vinyl, and PVC-treated wood fences become slicker with freezing temperatures, though be warned that they can also crack and become brittle if you don’t apply protective coatings. If your fence stands several feet high and is gated with a locking mechanism, your property instantly becomes less tantalizing to predators.

The next way you can deter crooks from your property is by maintaining it and keeping it well lit. A house which is buried in snow appears more viable to criminals, since this either indicates your home is unoccupied or inadequately geared (and therefore more vulnerable.) While spending the effort to plow your yard might seem trivial as warmth becomes scarce, attempt to at least clear paths, windows, and entrances during peak hours of warmth to provide your property a presence.

If you have a renewable auxiliary generator for your outdoor lighting, motion sensing floodlights can be your solution for keeping your home lit, it can be easy to program your lighting to an automatic schedule.

But if a power source is not available, this can be far more difficult to sustain – but an effort should be made when possible. Oil lanterns, rechargeable flashlights, and campfire locations are all great ways to keep your property lit. However, always take caution with fire safety and know the risks of dangerous gasses that fire can create in enclosed spaces.

Cassandra Stevens is interested in making home security look stylish, she loves dogs and winter sports.

Jan 132015

The security of your home or household should at no time be compromised. This particularly refers to the front door. For the ultimate well-being of our families, security should be a top priority consideration. With the alarming rate at which crime is growing, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Investing in door security is one of the ways in which you are not only assured of your house’s security but also that of your family members. With an extra door lock or any other security element, door security can easily be enforced. Mechanical protection is offered by fitting a basic door lock. However, without a sufficiently strong door, the locks can just be rendered useless.

Security for your Doors

One way to ensure door security is through the installation of door bars. Basically, these are metallic components that are made of carbon steel and are reinforced with a heavy tempered gauge. The length of these bars can vary depending on the door’s width and height. For optimal security, the door bars can be integrated with the home alarm system. Through this, slight tampering with the bar can trigger an alarm to notify the homeowner of a possibly unwanted intruder. When not in use, the heavy duty brackets can be allowed to swing behind the door. To put the bar in place, you just have to swing it forward to put it in place.

Door Security

Door security can also be enhanced with the installation of door chains. Door chains usually come in very diverse models but most of them are fixed to the door frame and door using several screws. These kind of security enhancing equipment are not meant to completely deter people from accessing your house. They give an individual the opportunity to open the door ajar and view the visitor. This means that you do not have to struggle trying to look through your upstairs window to see the person at your door. If the chain is not strengthened with the right material, it can be easily broken.

Door security can also be enhanced with the installation of door viewers. Before letting a visitor into your house, there is always the urge to confirm his or her identity. This can be easily achieved with door viewers. They can compose high definition cameras or large convex mirrors that make it possible for you to view your doorstep from inside your house. A door viewer should be installed where it can only be viewed by the homeowner.

Electric door openers can also be used to achieve optimal door security. These are equipment that have been the pinnacle of door security technology. Unlike other cases where you have to open a door manually, these gadgets provide an automated system to open your door. With a press of a button, you can open or close the door. Unlike other door security enforcement equipment that are installed in the inside, electric door openers are installed on the outside. They are a very common in large commercial and apartment buildings.

Jan 072015

Like many people, I enjoy traveling but I don’t. I like getting away for a while, visiting new places and such. But, I don’t like being away from home and I for darn sure don’t like exposing myself to possible theft and such when staying in hotels.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to stack the odds in your favor when staying at a hotel. First, whenever possible, do some homework ahead of time and choose a hotel that is part of a well known chain or, at the least, has several great reviews. While they might be a little pricier than the smaller outfits, you can usually get a decent rate using one or another of the popular travel websites. Sticking with well known hotels can go a long way toward avoiding potential trouble.

Staying Safe when Traveling

Once you get to your room, keep the door closed and locked at all times. Engage the deadbolt as well as the little lever deal toward the top of the door. Obviously, you can’t use these locks when you leave the room but they’ll help protect you from intruders when you’re inside.

Never open the door unless you know for certain who is on the other side. If you called for room service or something, the person knocking on the door should have on a name tag. If you don’t know who the person is or why they’d be knocking on the door, leave it locked and call the front desk.

Door Wedge AlarmThere are a few different types of alarms you can bring with you as well, if you’d like. One of the simplest consists of a device you place on the floor up against the door. If the door is opened, it slides across the alarm, activating it. There are also alarms that can be hung from the door knob and are activated by motion.

Personally, if I’m staying multiple nights at a hotel, I avoid having housekeeping come in and make the beds and such. I’m fine making my own bed and I typically have plenty of towels already. The fewer the number of people accessing my room, the better. While that door hanger informing housekeeping to keep moving won’t prevent them from coming inside when you’re not there, it can’t hurt.

Try to keep all valuables out of sight. Don’t lay out all of your jewelry on the dresser top, for example. Personally, I rarely ever use dresser drawers and such in a hotel room. Doing so just increases the chances I’m going to forget and leave something behind. When I’m traveling, I truly live out of my suitcase. Everything gets stored in it, with the exception of dirty laundry. All of that goes into a plastic bag that will get packed just before I leave.

Any time you leave your room, make sure you have your key card with you, of course. Don’t flash it around when you’re out and about. What I do is keep it in my wallet, which lessens the chance I’m going to accidentally drop it somewhere in my travels. If you do find you’ve lost your card, notify the hotel immediately so they can reprogram the system, rendering that card useless.

Using just a little common sense along with some basic security tactics will ensure you have a great vacation.

Dec 262014

With somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million burglaries happening in the United States each year, you likely want to take some measures to prevent it from happening to you. Fortunately, there are a number of things that are cheap and easy that can put the odds in your favor. See, the thing is, burglars are lazy. They don’t want to screw around with alarm systems, heavy duty locks, and other such preventative measures. They want to get in and get out as quickly as they can. Any obstacles you can put in their way will increase the chances they’ll just move on to an easier target.

Easy Ways to Prevent a Burglary

Home Security SystemIf you don’t have an alarm system, fake it. Purchase or even print up on your computer at home stickers you can place on windows, advertising one or another alarm company. This simple measure might be all it takes to keep someone from wanting to risk a break in at your home.

Install good locks on all doors and windows. Deadbolts should extend at least one full inch into the door frame when they are locked. Generally speaking, the cheaper the lock’s price, the lower the quality. In other words, don’t just buy what’s on sale but spend a few bucks more to get something that is going to do some good.

While you’re at the store looking at door locks, pick up a small package of 3 inch long wood screws. When you get home, open your front door and examine the hinges. You’ll see three screws going into the door and three screws going into the door frame, right? Typically, these screws are rather short and don’t dig into the frame very far. Replace them one at a time with the longer wood screws. If you go one by one, you won’t have to deal with completely rehanging the door. The longer screws will go past the thin door frame and dig into the studs, making for a much more secure entry point to your home.

Dogs as a deterrentWhether you have a dog or not, place an empty food dish somewhere easily seen from the back door to your home. Why the back door? Well, burglars tend to favor entry points that are away from prying eyes. By placing the dog dish near the door that is away from the street, you increase the odds it will be seen by the burglar. Over and over, studies have shown that crooks tend to avoid homes where they believe one or more dogs may be present.

Signs that say things like, “My home is protected by Smith & Wesson” are cute and all but really, all they accomplish is informing the burglar you likely have firearms in the home. Firearms are highly prized among burglars as they often can be sold quickly and for decent amounts of cash. Rather than encouraging a burglar to go elsewhere, all you’ve done is increase the temptation to see if your gun safe is unlocked.

Install motion sensor lights above or very near each and every entry point to your home. Again, crooks don’t want to be seen. Test these lights regularly to ensure they are working properly and that the bulbs haven’t burnt out.

Clear bushes and shrubs away from doors and windows. They can provide concealment for thieves. If you simply must have some greenery, choose thorny plants such as Hawthorne. If you’ve ever encountered that plant before, you know well just how nasty it can be.

Take a walk around your home and look at it from an outsider’s point of view. Imagine if you were tasked with breaking into the house. What vulnerabilities do you see and how can you overcome them?

Dec 192014

December is a wonderful time of year! Lots of different holidays are being celebrated, families move around the country so that they can get together, and the cash registers ring merrily with the sounds of all those booming sales. The downside of December? Well, that would be the increase in crime rates. From crimes of opportunity, to thieves targeting the increase of new goods in homes, December can be destroyed forever if you become a victim of crime at this time of year.

Females who are living alone, or who are moving around alone at night are more likely to be targeted by those criminals who are opportunitsts. But, if you live in one of the 42 states where a disguised stun gun is legal, then you can take a stand to fight back and protect yourself.

Disguised stun guns are not considered to be a firearm in 84% of the United States. You can purchase one as protection for yourself provided that you have no recorded felonies, you are over 18 years old, and you only intend to use it for self defense. Some states have legalized the use of stun guns, but they can only be kept in the home. Others regulate that you must obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon before you can take the stun gun out with you. Your first step before buying one is to find out exactly what your state requirements are.

A disguised stun gunOnce you know the legalities of purchasing this device for your protection, you need to decide on which design would suit you best. One of the best things about the disguised stun gun is that you can carry it on you, or in your handbag (provided your home state allows this), and it is not immediately obvious to a criminal that you have a weapon on you. Your design options include a replica smartphone, a pen, a small flashlight, a lipstick, or a perfume atomizer. Looking into your bag, none of these items are going to raise any suspicion at all.

If you’ve not seen a stun gun in action before, rest assured they provide quite the punch that can get you out of a sticky situation. Because it is so small, you can carry it safely in your hand while you are walking back to your car alone at night. Anyone who is silly enough to attack you? Well, slip the safety switches and press the gun against your attacker for up to five seconds.

The voltage that will then bite into the skin of the criminal will incapacitate them for up to ten minutes. While they will not be permanently harmed, they will experience confusion, disorientation, and a loss of muscle control. This gives you the opportunity to get away to safety, and then to ring for police help. Additionally, some stun guns come with an inbuilt flashlight which can be used to further upset your attacker as you use that to temporarily blind them.

In every self-defense class you are taught that if you can fight back using an element of surprise, it is possible to get away from your attacker unharmed. This stun gun will help to give you the element of surprise that you need, and you can feel confident that even when you are moving around on your own at night, that you will not become a victim of crime.

One final note of warning, if you do decide to keep this protection in your bag 24/7, do remember to remove it before you get on the plane for your next travel adventure. Otherwise, you could have some explaining to do with the TSA.

Dec 152014

While we hope it never happens, at some point in your life you may become the victim of a burglary. You come home from a long day at work and find your front door has been jimmied open. Your blood runs cold and a chill goes down your spine. As your heart thumps madly in your chest, you wonder, “What do I do?”

Fight the urge to immediately rush inside and see what’s been taken or damaged. If the burglar is still inside, he or she might become violent in their own panic to escape. Instead, get back in your vehicle and drive a bit up the road. It would be great if you are still within eyeshot of your home, so you can see if someone leaves.

Call 911 and provide the dispatcher with the following information.

–Your name
–Your address
–That you came home and discovered a possible break in.

Speak clearly and remain calm. The dispatcher may ask you for your description as well as a description of your vehicle. This is so the responding officer will hopefully recognize you as the caller, rather than a potential burglary suspect. Follow any instructions the dispatcher gives you and wait for the police to arrive.

Once the police are on site, they will want to walk through the home and search to ensure the burglars have left. You will remain outside until they give you the all clear. This is for your own safety, as well as the safety of the officers. If during their search they hear a noise or see an indication someone is in the home, you don’t want to be caught in the middle.

Upon entering your home, you will want to go into each room and try to determine what, if anything, is missing. Some things may be obvious, such as a TV. Others, though, you might not discover until later. You’re obviously going to be very upset and distressed and it is easy to overlook things when in that state of mind. Make a list of everything you find to be missing, with as much detail for each item as possible.

Something I’d encourage you to do today is to take photographs of your more valuable possessions – electronics, computers, jewelry, firearms, that sort of stuff. When there is one present, take a photo of the serial number of the item. Keep all of these photos on a flash drive so you can easily pull them up, even if your main computer was one of the items taken.

Submit the list of taken items, complete with photos if available, to the police and your insurance agent. I’m sorry to tell you this but the odds of recovering much or even any of the stolen property are probably going to be rather slim. Thieves don’t tend to hold on to stolen goods for very long. They typically don’’t want the TV, they want the cash from someone who will buy the TV from them. Hopefully, though, your insurance agent can process the claim quickly and you’ll be able to replace the goods soon.

Dec 102014

Remember those old movies you watched when you were growing up and how many times you saw those really hollow book safes? Man, it seems like they were seen in so many thrillers and mysteries back then. I wanted one so bad when I was a kid but had no clue where I’d find one. This was WAY before the Internet, of course, back when Google was the library card catalog.

Diversion Safes - The Book SafePerhaps not surprisingly, I later learned there was an actual term for these types of hidden security solutions – diversion safes. Diversion safes are, quite simply, safes that are disguised as something else.

They come in a wide range of options, from cans of beer and soda to household cleansers, clocks, and yes, even hollow books. The idea behind a diversion safe is that you can hide your goodies sort of in plain view, providing easy access to them as necessary.

The best disguised safes will not only look identical to their real-life counterparts, they’ll feel normal as well, such as having the same weight.

A possible downside to using hidden safes is if you have other people in your home. You’ll need to clue them in that the can of shaving foam at the back of the linen closet isn’t suitable for use in the shower.

Sink Cleanser Hidden SafeAs for what to store in one of these, you are really only limited by the space constraints of the safe itself. Obviously, you aren’t going to be able to squirrel away a loaded handgun and extra ammo in a can of hair spray. But, these safes work great for things like coins, paper money, ammo, and other small valuables.

While diversion safes aren’t exactly unknown to criminals, few burglars are going to root through your laundry room and make off with your sink cleansers and such. They want to get in and get out as quickly as possible. Therefore, they tend to concentrate on the visible valuables as well as what they might find in an unlocked gun cabinet.

Personally, I love diversion safes. They’re not only incredibly useful but they’re just pretty darn cool to have around.

Dec 022014

I’ve worked in the security and investigation fields for about two decades now. Time and again, one of the areas that I’ve seen given the least amount of attention in security planning is adequate lighting. Often, the problem isn’t that lights aren’t installed but rather they aren’t nearly powerful enough. Another common issue is lights that aren’t maintained properly.

Criminals and such avoid light like vampires avoid the sun. They don’t want to be seen when they’re engaging in their chosen profession. If they are working at jimmying open a window at 2AM, if a light comes on they scatter like the cockroaches they usually are.

Motion activated lights should be present on all sides of the home. You want these lights to be as bright as possible. The ideal would be bright enough that you could read a newspaper dozens of feet away from the spotlight. Position the motion sensor so movement at any entry point will be detected. If the range of your unit won’t extend far enough to reach all of the ground level windows and doors along the side of the house, consider adding another unit.

If money is tight and you can only afford one or two motion activated lights, install them over or very near the front and back doors of the home. These are the most common entry points, not only for you but for intruders as well.

While there have been great strides in bulb technology, as they last much longer today than they did years ago, you still need to check them regularly to ensure none are burnt out. Test them monthly by taking a walk around the perimeter of your home. Any lights that don’t operate as expected should be checked as soon as possible. Could be a bulb has burned out or perhaps the motion sensor is obstructed by something. Bear in mind that many motion activated lights on the market today only turn on at night, so as to conserve energy. So, your testing may need to be done after sundown.

Of course, while these lights may help with deterring crime, they only do so passively. It is up to you to get out of your chair, possibly missing part of Dancing with the Stars, and check to see what it was that activated the light. While it is most likely going to be a critter of some sort, the time you don’t look will be the time it turns out to be Joe Burglar.

Security lighting shouldn’t be limited to the perimeter of your home, either. Each and every room of your home should have at least one working flashlight in it. In a sudden power outage, those flashlights will help prevent you from stumbling over something and getting hurt. If you have small children, I suggest investing in a few dynamo (crank) powered flashlights for their rooms. Reason being, you know they are going to play with any flashlights you put in their rooms. Using the crank powered ones will prevent the possibility of learning, at the worst possible time, that the batteries are either dead or missing from the light.