My wife was out last night so that gave me a chance to watch "Dirk Gently' Anyone familiar with Douglas Adams will know exactly what I mean when I refer to a Holistic Approach. Although Dirk's approach to the whole Holistic arena was verging more on taking advantage of opportunities, there was a mention of a break-in or two during the episode. Not really the reason for this article, nor am I attempting at promoting myself as some new-age healer of security concerns in your home. I guess I just wanted to be a little creative in my writing this beautiful sunny Sunday morning in Vancouver.
In Medicine, Holistic (or Holism) is defined as "relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts." For the purpose of this article and the tie in to KeepSafe Systems as Security Alarm Systems, I like that definition as it relates to what I like to do when I look at a clients' home or business for the first time.
When looking at protecting your home or business, it is important to look at all the factors involved in protecting you, your loved ones, your possessions and the building/property.
When it comes to protecting yourself, it is important to ensure the security alarm system you purchase is sufficient to make you feel comfortable. I have mentioned this in the past, a Security Alarm System is not only intended to protect your belongings, it also provides a certain level of comfort in knowing there is a level of defense helping to keep the criminal element out of your home or business.
Protecting your loved ones is not all that different from protecting yourself. In addition to humans, it is also important to consider the non-human companions. In my case, I take great care to ensure our pet Chinchilla's are healthy and happy. When it came to the security alarm, I made sure not to put the siren anywhere near their room (Yes, the KeepSafe Mascots have their own bedroom.) The reason being, they are nocturnal creatures and therefore very sensitive to sound.
In addition, life safety detectors such as Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors are an important addition to any home. With a hardwired security alarm system, it is easy to connect pretty much any brand of hardwired Carbon Monoxide or Smoke Detector to the system, providing the detector has the ability to trigger a separate alarm system. This feature is typically not available in over the counter hardware store models.
When it comes to life safety, electronic detection of life threatening occurrences only goes so far. You need to ensure there is a number of minimally impeded exits from your home in case of emergency. Window bars, although effective at keeping the criminal element out, are equally as effective at keeping you in. When installing security bars in your home, you need to be careful to ensure they give even the smallest member of your household (Children) the ability to escape in case of a fire. There have been instances where family members have died as a result of being locked into a home.
Now onto the protection of your belongings. Keeping the criminal element out of your home is very important, it is also equally important to consider both removing the temptation to break into your home or business as well as making it difficult for would be intruders to find and remove your valuables.
Deterring a break-in is something I covered in Protection 101, an article I wrote for a local paper back in 1997 to 1998. This topic is often referred to as "Target Hardening" which basically alludes to making your home or business less appealing to the criminal element. Removing temptation is a big part of this. If you leave the box of a recently purchased TV with your curbside recycling or station your computer in front of your living room window, you might as well stand at the end of a driveway with a sign telling potential burglars to please visit your house because you really don't like having belongings..
For the most part, break-in's are crimes of opportunity. Just like an empty box on your curb announces your most recent purchases, a laptop or computer monitor in front of any easily accessible window increases the viability of your home or business being broken into. Yes, a properly installed alarm system with a glassbreak detector will notify you of the break-in and reduce the chance of the criminal entering your home any further, your computer will already be in the pawn shop storage room by the time the Police arrive. This is not intended to scare you or deter you from installing a security alarm, just to illustrate how a complete, or Holistic, approach is required when looking at protecting your Home or Business.
In addition to hardening the exterior of your home or business, it is also important to consider valuable items within your home. Take a look throughout your home or business and think about what is valuable. I am not talking just in a pecuniary manner, also look at valuable keepsakes. In the instance of Jewelry and electronics, making these items either difficult to find or remove will go a long way to ensuring they do not end up being delivered to the local pawn shop by the local crack-head.
Antique wooden dressers with Skeleton key locks are NOT a secure place to store your valuables. These locks are about as effective at protecting your valuables as leaving them in a pillow case on your bed with a note thanking the criminal from saving you the hassle of spending the money yourself. When it comes to valuables such as money and Jewelry, a securely mounted fireproof safe is a great option. Some clients opt for hidden cabinets or safe rooms to keep their valuables out of view.
When it comes to electronics such as computers, flat screen TV's, stereo equipment and other items equally unfeasible or inconvenient to hide, physical protection is a great way to reduce the chances of them leaving your home in an untimely manner. With the reduced size and weight of flat screen TV's theft of these items has risen. When mounting your TV, try to secure it to the wall as tightly as possible. Use of long screws, security cables, locks and steel brackets can often reduce the ease of removal. Some clients have opted to build their TV into the actual wall. If done properly, the TV can be removed, however this would require several time consuming steps.
When Securing any electronics, it is also important to remember these electonics need airspace to cool down. While securing your flat screen TV or computer is an airtight steel and plexi-glass box may be the most secure method of keeping it from being stolen, you might as well leave it on your front porch because you will have to buy a new one once it overheats and burns out.
As for the role of your Security Alarm System in protecting the building and property, Smoke detectors can be installed to alert the fire department of a fire; Gas sensors can detect gas leaks which could result in a total loss; Water sensors can notify you of a pipe leak, flood, or burst hot water tank. Aside from that, keeping flammable items away from sources of heat such as furnaces, hot water tanks, stoves and fireplaces go a long way to ensuring the safety of the structure.
In addition, there are certain criminal elements who take some sort of sick joy in destroying property. A properly designed security plan will help to limit an intruders' stay therefore mitigating potential damage. In recent years, theft of copper has been on the rise, there have been instances where homeowners have come back from vacation to find their walls stripped of all the copper wiring and piping. In one case, I even remember a client having a very long decorative copper drain pipe stolen from the outside of their commercial building. A little bit of physical protection combined with an inexpensive recessed door contact could have reduced the chance of this loss.
At the end of the day, Securing your Home or Business is more than having a regular average alarm company install the typical packaged alarm system consisting of 2 door contacts and 1 motion detector.
The KeepSafe Systems service area includes but is not limited to North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Richmond, Delta, Tsawassen, Ladner, Surrey, Cloverdale, Abbotsford, Mission, Aldergrove, Maple Ridge, Haney, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Burnaby, New Westminster, Kamloops, Kelowna, Courtney, Comox, Nanaimo, Lions Bay, Squamish and pretty much everywhere in between.