Showing posts with label situational awareness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label situational awareness. Show all posts

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Know Who's Knocking Before Unlocking

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In my last blog post I talked about keeping your family safe and I provided a 10-point list of things you can do to help in that mission. Today, I'd like to discuss the means whereby you can fulfill some of those points, specifically items 1 through 4.

There are many types of intercoms to choose from. Working our way down from the top two categories we're looking at:

  1. Professionally Installed, and
  2. Do It Yourself

First, allow me to say that professionally-installed intercoms are usually of better quality and they usually look better and work more proficiently than their do-it-yourself counterparts. For example, where the former will involve the routing of wires into the basement through the walls, the latter will usually not. In other words, unless you're a pro, it's unlikely you'll be able to hide your wires.

The next decision that you will have to make involves the following:

  1. Hardwired, or
  2. Wireless

Do-it-yourself intercoms are available that are hardwired as well as wireless, the latter using batteries for their method of power. The cost of this type of system is relatively high by comparison, but you will save on hiring a pro by installing them yourself. The drawback to this, however, relates to the on-going need to replace batteries and the eventual risk of corrosion and the destruction of the metallic elements inside the battery compartments.

Another possible choice is video, in addition to an intercom. Cameras come in all shapes and sizes and they offer you a unique service--they allow you to view the person(s) at the door without their knowledge. Obviously, if the caller is brandishing a gun, if there are several people and you don't know any of them, you might not want to answer the door at all. Instead, you may want to dial 911 in order to get ahead of an event that may still occur. Cameras can be installed anywhere on the house in order to watch from various approaches.

Cameras are available that contain infrared LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) that light an area in front of the camera. There are cameras available that can see 30 feet ahead while there are others rated for 100 feet. The farther the distance, the more the camera will cost. If you're looking at the doorways, a 30-foot model will usually do the job quite fine.

Another choice is that of a video intercom where both intercom and camera are contained in the same system. The fact that both are contained in the same unit makes it easier for you to look and talk. It also means less muss and fuss on installation because instead of a camera mounted on the overhang, now it's in the outdoor intercom unit next to the door. Instead of two sets of cable to install, one of them through the attic, now there's only one.

The outdoor video intercom unit looks like a common intercom, with the exception that there's a large black section behind which there's a camera. Some criminals will know that there's a camera there, but many won't.

No matter which way you decide to go, having a means of communicating and viewing the caller is critical to your safety. Even having a simple through-the-door lens/viewer will give you a leg-up on who's standing on the other side BEFORE you unlock and open the door.

All products shown are made by Aiphone and Samsung

For the serious researcher:

Copyright©2014/Allan B. Colombo /
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Crime Prevention Begins at the Front Door

I have always been big on crime prevention, especially since my father's home was broken into back in the early 1970s. That prompted he and I to install a home-brew alarm system consisting of relays, surface magnetic door switches, foil tape on his windows with butterfly transition devices, and Amprite delay devices to provide an entry/exit delay (that sure took me back a ways).

Here's the deal, crime prevention should be part of everyone's life. Every single day good people are victimized by bad guys. In most cases the victim was not aware of things going on around him/her. Because they did not practice situational awareness, they failed to see it coming.

One of the most common areas where victimization occurs is in the home. More and more we're hearing in the news of home invasions where the homeowner(s) is there when a criminal act take place. In a good number of them the homeowner him/herself unlocked and opened the door, thus allowing a bad guy to push his way into the home.

The lives of two children, ages 4 and 7, were threatened Tuesday night when four people entered a man’s apartment and told him they would shoot his children if he didn’t give them money. (read more)

You can greatly reduce your risk by simply NOT unlocking and opening the door to a caller. Instead, verify who they are and what they want before incurring a risk. One way to do this is to install a through-the-door peephole lens through which you can see people on the other side.

In most instances you can talk back and forth through the door to find out what they want. If this is not efficient, then have a small two-station, battery-operated intercom installed. They can actually be installed back to back when they are surfaced on the outside and inside walls. If feedback is an issue, install a thin piece of foam or rubber insulation on the backside of each unit to minimize the problem.

Not all home invasions happen as a due course of unlocking and opening a door.

Berndt Anderson, 63, was awakened around midnight by a man rummaging in his bedroom at 130 Arbor Drive, according to a police report. Anderson told police that he chased the man out, but was confronted by two other men in the house -- one who appeared to have a gun.(read more)

In this case it's wise to install a burglar alarm system covering at least your doors. If you are concerned enough and you have the money, include the windows. This will help to frighten off would-be criminals once the alarm sounds. You might also consider installing a single-cylinder deadbolt lock on your bedroom door so if someone does proceed to enter once the alarm sounds, you can minimize your risk and maximize your chances of successful police response by locking your door.

Although there is no sure way to stop a determined criminal from getting into your home, you can slow him down and maximize your chances of survival in an assortment of ways.

About the Author

Al Colombo is a former trade journalist in the physical security and life safety markets. His 28-year career includes the title of Associate Editor with Security Distributing & Marketing Magazine and Technical Editor with Security Sales & Integration. His freelance work has also appeared in Security Dealer & Integrator, Locksmith Ledger, National Locksmith, Security & Life Safety, Alarm Installing Dealer, Electrical Contractor Magazine, and The Electrical Distributor, in addition to writing promotional copy for Honeywell Life Safety, Digital Monitoring Products, Home Automation Inc., Camden Door Controls, and numerous websites throughout cyberspace. To contact Al Colombo, click here.