One SHTF Prep Item I’ll Bet Almost Nobody Has

top-secretI’ll cut right to the chase: I’ve been pondering wireless alarm systems lately. Ever since my 99 capacities post on Detect, Deter, and Deny Intruders a few weeks back I’ve been thinking that an alarm system is a potential prep item that I’ve overlooked. Sure, we talk about alarm systems as being something you can and should use when times are “normal,” but I don’t see anyone discussing them in a SHTF scenario.

Maybe that’s because it’s a usless prep but maybe not. And, yes, I recognize there are more primitive alarm systems we might utilize such as the beer can tripwire alarm but I say we should utilize technology whenever and wherever we can… it’s kind of like one of those force multipliers Rawles talks so fondly of.

The thing is, my general experience with alarm systems is a throw-back to when I was a latchkey kid and everything was hard wired and needed to be professionally installed. Apparently, the times they are a changin’ and now they have DIY wireless alarm systems that might rival what you can pay to have installed. To be clear, I haven’t yet purchased a wireless alarm system and I’m still not sure if it’s a brilliant idea or not, but let me throw a few things at you…

It’s DIY

First, it’s supposed to be a DIY project. Reading some of the various wireless alarm system reviews suggest it’s not that difficult to install but there are a few things to pay attention to; the bottom line is to read the manual thoroughly–for whatever system you purchase–and follow the instructions… yes, guys, that means you. 😉

Low Price

Second, they’re relatively inexpensive. It seems I can purchase a complete system for around $200, such as the following. Per the description, the system includes 10 door/windows sensors, 3 motion sensors, a siren, 3 remote controllers and more:

That said, there are some systems out there that are quite a bit less expensive but only include a few sensors which I doubt would do much good for any typical home. As for the above reference system, I’m really only interested in the door/window sensors and motion sensors.

No Grid Power

Third, because it’s wireless, that means it runs on batteries–at least the sensors do–which means you don’t need grid power to work the alarm system. Unfortunately, the sensors use an A23 battery (which is about 1/2 the size of a AAA battery) so you would need to stock up on them if you intend to use the system for REALLY long periods of time. Of course, I’m willing to be the batteries last for a long time as it is, since I doubt the manufacturer expects people to be changing batteries every month or two.

The only major problem I see is that you would also need to power the siren and main unit using a small off-grid system. A bit of research on the PiSector website indicates that the base unit draws very little current but needs 220 volts–maybe just for the siren?–so I’m not entirely sure how all that would work for an off-grid setup. I’m sure someone with some electrical knowledge could enlighten me.

Benefits for “Normal” Times

Well, you could use this just like any other alarm system. In fact, these systems can be programmed to call your cell phone (or other numbers) in the event a sensor gets triggered.

Now, What Can You do With The System in a SHTF Scenario?

Well, the fact that most people’s homes are way too large to be watched at all times makes utilizing an alarm system such as this one plausible. Think about your house. How many exterior doors and windows are there? Probably dozens. It might stand to reason that, in a true SHTF scenario, you would cordon off most of the house and choose to occupy one or two main rooms to conserve resources and maybe for defense. That being the case, you would then want to be able to “keep watch” on the unused parts of the house.

For example, let’s say you have a house with a basement. You choose to occupy the basement and leave the upstairs un-guarded. In this case you could use an alarm system to alert you to intruders. You could use the door/window sensors to monitor the upstairs windows and doors and even place the motion sensors strategically upstairs as additional early-warning devices.

I briefly considered placing the motion sensors strategically outside but I feared too many false alarms. If they were adjustable then maybe this would be a viable option but nothing I’ve read says these sensors can be adjusted to be more or less sensitive to motion. If they were, I would probably attempt to use them outside as even earlier warning devices.

Of course, you could also use the alarm as intended to better secure the area you’re actually inhabiting. In addition, you might be able to use it to secure other structures on your property such as a shed or RV.

I’m also thinking that perhaps you could use the alarm system without connecting the siren. Though I can’t tell for sure, it seems like the unit will indicate if a “zone” or alarm has been triggered. If so, you could then have someone designated to monitor the base unit at night while others are sleeping and be able to respond to a perceived threat without an intruder being aware that they’ve been detected. Sure, it might only be a few to several seconds warning but I’d rather have that than no warning at all.

Now, perhaps an alarm system wouldn’t matter if you’ve properly boarded up windows with plywood or security bars and done something similar to your doors. But, I would suspect you could find good use for it in some manner.

So, what do you think? Useful or not?

Guest Post: Surviving a Home Invasion

Home invasion is on the increase and for many people there are few things more terrifying than the thought of someone forcing their way into your home, especially when it occurs at night when your family are tucked up in bed. Few people have any idea of how they would react if they woke to the unmistakable sound of someone entering your home uninvited. This type of situation is becoming all too common and it can happen to anyone and in any neighborhood. According to the FBI statistics on burglary (not all states count home invasion as a separate crime) there is an American household burgled every 12 seconds.

Planning And Preparation

No-one wants to believe that they are at risk from a home invasion, but the truth is that it could happen to you and your family at any time, so how do you deal with it? The key thing to remember is that home invasion often occurs when you least expect it. The majority of reported cases occur when the household is sleeping.

In a situation like a home invasion you will all be likely to panic and that makes it more difficult to make smart decisions. The best option is to be prepared ahead of time, so sit the family down and discuss the possibility of a home invasion. Talk through escape routes, hiding places and reactions. The key is not to scare the kids into thinking that a home invasion will happen, but to prepare them if it ever does. It is far better to have a plan and never need it than to find yourself facing this situation without any idea of what to do.

Keep Your Alarm System Armed

There are a few practical tips that you can keep in mind which can also help you to survive a home invasion. The first is to have a monitored alarm system fitted in your home and to keep it armed at all times. There is a common misconception that alarms should only be set when you leave the property, but this is not true. At the very least you need to arm the alarm system before going to bed at night, but the best option is to have it armed at all times. Your monitoring company can be made aware of when you are likely to be at home so that they have a better idea of when there will be people coming and going in your property.

The Importance Of A Phone

In the event of a home invasion, one of the best pieces of security equipment you can have on hand is a phone. The best thing you can do is keep a fully charged cell phone within your reach at all times, especially when you go to bed. This could prove to be a life saver if you cannot reach your land line in the event of a home invasion.

The moment you hear someone entering your home unexpectedly you need to dial 911 – do not wait to see if it is someone that has a right to be there. If for example, your partner arrives home in the middle of the night from a business trip earlier than expected, it is easy enough to cancel the police once you know you are safe, but if you wait to identify the intruder you could be leaving it too late and putting yourself at unnecessary risk.

If You Can’t Escape – Hide!

Although you may have a planned escape route, on some occasions you will find that getting out is not possible for whatever reason. In this case it is important to have a hiding place. Few people have a panic room in their own home, but it is a good idea to have identified a room which has a very sturdy door and make sure it can be locked from inside. If you cannot get out of the house then the next best option is to barricade yourself in the room until help arrives.

When a criminal attacks you in your own home they are expecting you to be defenseless, so the biggest strength you have is to be prepared. If you know what to do in this situation you have a greater chance of surviving and of making sure the criminal is brought to justice. The main thing to keep in mind regarding home invasion is to be prepared.  Having a good home security system, an escape plan and a hiding place if escape is not possible will allow you to survive any home invasion.

Jim Dalton is a security and safety expert. He has published articles on various blogs and online publications covering a number of security related topics, although he specializes in home alarm systems.

Guest Post: Creating Burglar-Proof Front Door

These days, you can’t be too sure about your safety even if you’re inside your home. With crime rate increasing in recent years, you need to make sure your house is safe from intruders. One way of doing this is by making sure you have a secure door.

Aside from the obvious solution of locking your doors, there are several other means of turning your door burglar-proof. Most home burglars would try to kick your door or pick the locks to force entry. After reading this article, you’ll learn more about how to protect yourself and your family from harm.

Reinforcing Doors, Locks, and Doorframes

The primary thing you should look at is the type and quality of front door your house has. If you want something that can withstand any strong force, you can go with a reinforced metal door. Note that it should be reinforced or else it can be easily bent off the door frame using specific tools. However, these are prone to rusting so extensive maintenance is needed. Another good option is fiberglass doors. They’re strong and durable so you don’t have to worry too much about taking care of it. Then there’s the ever reliable solid wood door. Not only do they provide a classic look to your house, wooden doors can also last for years especially with proper maintenance.

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http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8357/8369638811_35c1f86aca.jpg

It would be best to pick doors without glass panels, sidelights, or windows installed. These can be used by burglars by breaking them so they could reach for the locks of your door. If your door was just recently purchased or if it is still in good condition but it has these features, you should use laminated glass as they don’t easily break.

You should also make sure your doors are properly installed. Even if you have sturdy front doors, it won’t make a difference if it isn’t hung properly. Tightly screw the hinges in the inside to attach it securely. Some doors will require you to place the hinges on the outside. For this type of doors you should add locking pins to the hinges.

Making Sure Locks Are Secure

Front doors should have deadbolts that are at least one inch long into your doorjamb. If the bolt is short, burglars can easily pry apart the jamb using a screwdriver. To ensure security, you may also install a second deadbolt which locks from the inside leaving a blank faceplate outside.

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First class deadbolts cost about $150 each. You should look for the BHMA (Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association) seal as this certifies that the lock has a high standard. Medeco is a well-known brand when it comes to providing maximum security. It is said that even the Pentagon and White House make use of Medeco for their doors. Medeco locks are hard to duplicate and can withstand the common methods of forced entry such as picking, prying, drilling, and bumping. Bumping is the newest trick used by lock pickers where a universal key is used.

Fortify the Door Frame

You shouldn’t forget about making the jamb and frame of your front door stronger as well. If an intruder kicks your door, it’s usually these parts of the door which gives in and not the door itself. The easiest way of fortifying the door frame is by replacing the existing screws that hold the strike plate in the doorjamb with longer screws. If the screws used are shorter than one inch, the doorjambs can be easily broken during a kick-in attack. The ideal length of screws should be at least 3 ½ inches long. It’s still possible for the door jamb to be broken but it will take a lot of time, energy, and effort to do so.

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There are some brands who sell strike plates which are specifically designed to enhance the security of your door. These are usually made of reinforced metal and have a wrap-around design which can take heavy force.

As for the door frames, wooden door frames are popular among home owners as they are inexpensive. The downside to this choice is that it is susceptible to termites and rotting. Wooden door frames also require a lot of attention to keep it from weakening. Experts advise the use of steel frames or high-heat composite frames instead. You can also apply the Door Jamb Armor to make your steel door jamb even stronger. The manufacturer even claims this can take the power of a battering ram. The Door Jamb armor adds a strip of galvanized steel around the entire door to make it sturdier.

Jove Arthur is dedicated to his work as online sales manager for Door Emporium, which sells a variety of beautiful solid wood interior doors as well as mahogany doors, knotty alder doors and wood French doors. He loves to do a lot of research first before starting a certain project as he is very meticulous about his work.

2-DISC “HOW TO KILL WITH YOUR HANDS” DVD IS READY TO SHIP!

Looks like my friend, Coach David Alexander, has chosen to offer his 2-disc set “How to Kill With Your Hands” to us normal people. I had a chance to review it (he briefly offered it on YouTube). Fortunately, he’s now offering it in a variety of formats but the biggest point is that he’s selling it at a good discount here: http://coachdavidalexander.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/2-disc-how-to-kill-with-your-hands-dvd-is-ready-to-ship/. I’ve ordered mine already and I suggest that YOU do so as well. Your ability to truly defend yourself and your family cannot be overstated!

Outdoor Condensor Microphone Plans and Trip Wire Alarm System

The more I think about prepping for the long term the more I realize how important early warning can be. I should point out that I have no experience whatsoever with such concepts as I never served in the military or brewed up a batch of moonshine–I just watched the last episode of Moonshiners. 🙂

Anyway, two interesting things were recently brought to my attention that may prove useful to you:

  1. An article on Outdoor surveillance with condenser microphones – for those with some electronics background this project is probably a breeze. The purpose is to build your own microphone to monitor your property. I like the idea but only wish it didn’t seem to require a amplifier to work… maybe there’s something else that can be done?
  2. A Trip Wire Alarm system – placed strategically around natural points of egress (that’s nerdy talk for places like walkways) this alarm system will not only alert you to a problem but quite possible cause the bad guy to run the other way since it fires off a .22 blank when tripped! The price might seem a little prohibitive at first glance but maybe it suits your particular situation.

 

If you have any experience with these products or something similar, I would enjoy learning what you know.

HOW TO KILL WITH YOUR HANDS DVD…to survive a violent attack

I have no idea how long the link below will continue to be active, but Coach David has just told me that he is making Disc 1 of his B.E.T. system FREELY available for a limited time on YouTube. I had an opportunity to review it a few weeks ago and was getting excited about (hopefully) offering it to you for a good price in the near future, but free wasn’t exactly what I was thinking about. 😉

Anyway, I thought the content was very useful and maybe, as Coach David says, it will save a life. Here’s what he sent…

Watch now before YouTube bans it!

I believe in the non-aggression principle until someone breaks it…

Watch for a limited time.  Send to your friends before I take it down or YouTube bans it!

(HD) HOW TO KILL WITH YOUR HANDS DVD…to survive a violent attack (Disc 1 of 2)

Think Twice Before Bringing Your Gun to Bed

cat-sleepThis post is neither meant to ruffle any feathers with regards to a person’s gun-toting rights nor does it have anything to do with the recent school shooting tragedy. I’m all for a person’s second amendment rights and my heart definitely goes out to all those affected by such a senseless act.

Rather, it’s meant to get you to re-consider your actions and assumptions with respect to firearms safety when you lay your head down at night. While I strongly believe in proper firearms safety for those families that have young children (like me) that’s not what this post is about either.

Instead, it’s about something I hadn’t fully contemplated until I began to wonder about the unlikely probability that I could actually get my hands on my firearms in the middle of the night if/when I really needed to, considering that they are currently in a gun safe (check out these top gun safes under $1000). In fact, it would likely take me a minute or more to get to my weapons if I really had to. Certainly, in a life or death situation that’s an eternity, but that’s my current reality considering my children are still young enough to see weapons as toys. I know I need to educate them and will begin doing so when I see fit.

Anyway, I understand that many people choose to keep handguns, in particular, outside of a safe, perhaps in an end table, behind the headboard, or for the more paranoid among us… right under the pillow. Really anywhere that is readily accessible at your bedside and not in a gun safe is what I’m talking about. You know, ready to point and shoot! Now, with the expectation that many of us have not been in the military and are not police officers, my assumption is that we may not have been fully trained to function with a firearm in split-second situations. Certainly, appropriate training is in order.

So, my question to you is this: would you be competent, awake, and cognizant enough to be able to function properly enough to make a split-second life or death decision in the middle of the night? Not when you just laid down but literally in the middle of the night when you’re fast asleep and in Never Never land? And let’s not forget that many people either consume a few adult beverages before bed or may be on any number of prescription medications that can affect or impair their judgement… I assume all those medication warning labels mean something.

Think about that last paragraph for a brief moment. Can you answer “yes” to your abilities with certainty? If you truly can, then great!

Still not sure?…

Take me for example. I’m a very light sleeper. You would think this quirk about me would be a good thing if you expect to be able to defend your family and home from something like a home invasion or robbery. Personally, I think it’s a bad thing because, although I wake up at the slightest of noise, it’s a restless sleep at best. And, as a result, I’m often quite groggy and not very with it whenever I have to get up in the middle of the night to deal with something out of the ordinary, such as a sick child or funny noise I may have to check out. In other words, it takes me some time to get going and figure out what I’m doing!

My wife, on the other hand, can wake up at a moment’s notice and be ready to function for hours on end without even flinching (part of being a midwife, I guess). I have no idea how she does it. But that’s a glaring different between us that shows how different a person can be with respect to being able to function when they otherwise wouldn’t anticipate doing so.

I can hear you saying “ok, just put the gun on her side of the bed.” That might be a good plan but (1) she has zero interest in firearms which means it’s up to me or nothing and (2) I like to keep obviously deadly weapons away from her side of the bed lest I not wake up in the morning. Really, I’m just kidding here. Honestly, she’s a saint and wouldn’t hurt a fly… I’ve got nothing to worry about… I’m almost positive, anyway. 😉

Really, what I’m trying to ask you is what kind of person are you, really, in the middle of the night? Do you (not *can* you) function with a clear mind at a moment’s notice like my wife can? Or, are you more like me and need some time to clear your head?

You might think that a pure rush of adrenaline would be enough to overcome any grogginess but I’m not so sure about that. You are who you are and without significant training I would find it difficult to believe that you can be anything else, even when you most need to be. Remember, it’s the middle of the night, perhaps pitch black, your head may not be in the game, and you want to bet that you’ll make the correct decision? Hmmm… I wouldn’t be my family’s lives on it… who knows, I might have thought my kid standing at the doorway is a burglar or worse.

As for me, I’m thinking that the time it takes for me to physically retrieve a handgun from my gun safe is the best thing for our situation right now. It gives me time to clear my head and figure out what’s going on. That said, I certainly understand that in a situation where seconds count, fumbling to retrieve a weapon from a safe may very well be too late. Unfortunately, that’s a chance I’ll have to take considering my quirks and knowing myself. After all, the last thing I want is to be wrong and end up shooting my kids because my head wasn’t in it… my dog… he’d better duck. 😉