Home Alarm‏ System

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Hi Fernando,

Congratulations on completing your new book – I just received my copy from Amazon.

I was wondering if you have any recommendations on home alarms – what should one look for in a good alarm system?

Regards,

-Cody

 

Hello Cody,

Thanks!

Hope you enjoy my new book, “Bugging Out and Relocating”.

An alarm system is the most important step you can take towards improving your home security. Sometimes people focus too much on guns. Guns are great, but its what you end up using when everything else fails in a worst case scenario. For passive defense nothing beats a good alarm. It’s the first thing burglars look for when selecting a potential target. 1) Alarm

2) type of doors and lock

3) if there’s a dog

Generally in that order. Before anything else, an alarm is a deterrent on its own. If your house is one of the few in the neighborhood with an alarm, guess which house criminals will skip? And if your house is the only one without an alarm, guess which one criminals will go for? Bottom line, you just need one.

What to get

Security systems such as ADT that require a monthly payment can be very expensive and are generally not recommended. A security system such as Simplisafe2 Home Secuirty System is also monitored and much cheaper than ADT, and they end up outsourcing to the same call centers when the alarm goes off. In general, a monitored alarm is the best way to go but even a small monthly payment does add up as times goes by. Having said that, if you can afford it, it’s worth it. This is particularly true for properties that are left unoccupied most of the time and are likely to be targeted by more dedicated criminals.

The second best option is installing a security system that while not monitored by a company, has an alarm that will call you to your cell phone. You can even install surveillance cameras so as to check your property through your cell phone. Wireless security systems are easy to install and if done so properly provide a good level of security. The disadvantage is that you will need to replace batteries on sensors, alarm and panel about once a year for most models.

When installing the system keep the following in mind:

1)Cover the main corridors and stairways with motion sensors. Sensors should be placed facing the main entry points, sweeping as much of the room as possible and minding blind spots.

2)All exterior doors on the floor level should have contact sensors installed.

3)The main panel should be close to the main entrance and fairly accessible, but placed in a location that isn’t too obvious whenever possible.

4)Burglars can get inside through windows as well, so buy additional motion sensors for rooms where valuables are kept if necessary.

5)Be very careful who you tell your alarm code to and remember that the alarm only works when you actually turn it on. Alarms with Key Fobs are more suited for people that don’t want to be bothered punching in codes every time they leave or enter the house.

Fortress Security Store (TM)S02-A Wireless Home Security Alarm System DIY Kit Auto Dial $129.99

This would be a good basic system for the price. It includes the main console, 5 door contacts, 2 motion detectors, 2 key fobs, panic button and one interior siren. You can program it to call you to your cell phone. You can even listen to what’s going on inside the house and play a pre-recorded message (something like, you are being filmed, the police has been notified)

 

Fortress Security Store (TM)GSM-B Wireless Cellular GSM Home Security Alarm System Auto Dial System $269.99

This one includes main console, 10 door contacts, 3 motion detectors, 3 key fobs, interior siren, exterior siren, one panic button and uses both land line and GSM dialer and will call you if the land line is forcibly cut. You can call and talk to anyone close to the main console.

FerFAL


Home Invasion and Murder in upscale Neighborhood outside Philadelphia

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Swartley Road neighborhood in Hilltown TownshipHilltown home invasion

Fernando

1) Here is a Philadelphia news report about a home robbery/murder occurring about 35 miles outside the
city.   Some interesting points:
a) Home is in an upscale, low crime suburban area.   Large Home is on 10 acres of land and worth roughly $900,000.
b) Killers were in home for several hours –tied up victim’s girlfriend and 12 year old son.
c) Victim , however, was a businessman who filed bankruptcy to evade $1.8 Million in debts.
Don Williams
Hi Don, thanks the link.
This is another good example of the difference between wishful thinking and how events turn out in the real world.
Three big points here people:
1)We’ve said it time and again here in the blog: Seclusion and isolation doesn’t equal security. If anything, criminals have to worry about less eyes on them, there’s a smaller chance of someone noticing them and calling the police and they have all the time in the world to do what they want with their victims. You know why all these survival retreats have worked so well so far in terms of security? Because there still isn’t a serious crime problem in America!
2)They entered through a window. Notice how vulnerable most homes are. The window was probably opened, they just stepped inside through it. How many of you lock your front door but keep the back door opened? Doors and windows should be locked, and you should keep an eye on them when opening them for ventilation and fresh air. The reality is that most people don’t have barred windows and armored doors, and that means most people are pretty vulnerable in their homes.
3)The home owner had guns. Still, guns are a last line of defense, they are not an alarm, they don’t replace locked doors and windows and competent home security habits. Maybe if the window had been crashed to enter and the home owner had reacted fast enough or if he had been carrying his gun, he would have had a chance to defend himself. If you can carry in your State, serious gun owners carry at all times, when on the street or their living room. Especially if your home isn’t hardened for security, your reaction time gap is measured in the seconds it takes to shatter a sliding glass door with the butt or slide of the handgun and stepping inside. It’s a matter of few seconds, not few minutes.
FerFAL

Survival in a Condominium?

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Hi Ferfal,
I bought your book and then decided not to buy a home as a backup plan that was about 9 miles outside of Tehachapi, California, USA and 1 mile from the nearest neighbor.
I could consider a home in a gated community, in the town of Tehachapi.  The town has a hospital, about 13,000 people and is 40 miles from a town of 350,000 people.
But, I am starting to wonder how much different it would be from where I am now.  I live in Los Angeles now on the second floor of 3-story condominium building.  I thought about how you said order is restored first in the city and that’s where the food and work are.  I would of course, get food, safes, gun, secure door, windows, security cam., etc.  Any thoughts?
Also, do you know how condominiums fared after the collapse?  I am worried about others not being able to pay their dues.
Thanks again,
Tim
Hi Tim, from a purely practical point of view, if you’re in a good condo on a somewhat safe neighborhood, and you add an alarm and a good security door, your home will be pretty safe. A condo can be safer and easier to secure than a place in the suburbs or an isolated home in the sticks. If you have security in your building even more so, it will be pretty safe in comparison to anything other than a closed gated community with good security. While you do want to avoid the big mayor cities like LA and New York, generally speaking, living outside a city isn’t that much about a practical choice, but more about quality of life regarding having more room and open green spaces, grass for the kids to play and such.
As you correctly note, resources both during disasters and financial crisis are generally focused on major population areas where it benefits the most people. Granted, not the best place to be during a flu pandemic, war (where your location may be close to a strategic target, or be one itself!) or an earthquake, but in general the benefits are greater than the disadvantages from a purely practical perspective. Then again, most of us just don’t like living in big cities, and life’s just too short for not doing what we like. As said before, I find that living in the suburbs of a medium size town or small city presents the best compromise.
For some time I found myself living in a condo in Buenos Aires. In spite of the huge crime problems in the city and the fact that I didn’t like living in it, I must admit it was the safest place I had been in while living in Argentina. There was a bank on the ground floor and a cop posted right in front of our door all day long. The windows that I had were secured with sturdy burglar bars, and I had the door replaced with a security armored one that locked on all 4 sides of the steel frame. Walls were brick and mortar construction.
One of the biggest problems in a condo is the lack of space for storage and also the issue of waste disposal if the waste collection service stops or becomes inefficient. As you note, your neighbors can be a problem as well. While some can be an asset, others may be slackers or downright criminals. You just never know who’s moving into the building next. A nicer middle class or higher end type of building does help, but keep in mind that even those can deteriorate along with the rest of society.
 Your planning should also include a bug out location outside the city you already reside in, and its not a bad idea to pre-position some of your supplies there.
Other tan that, don’t beat yourself too much about it!
FerFAL

Improving your Home Security Part II

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Improving your Home Security

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Housing after the Collapse: Country vs. Urban

4 comments

Thanks so much for your wonderful blog.  I’ve seen a lot written about the pros / cons of debt going into an economic collapse.  You’re recent blog post about contracting brought up this topic.

We’re in the opposite position however,  I’d like your thoughts on the dangers of being debt free during/after a collapse because I see risks with this decision as well.  We own two houses with no debt or mortgage.  One is a large nice home near downtown Houston in a walled gated community, not in the suburbs; we use this house part-time.  The other is a small place with 15 acres just outside the city which is our full time home.

We think the US is headed for a dollar collapse.  We are considering selling the house in the city because much of our savings is in this home.  If we sold now, we could invest this money in precious metals.  However, we’d take a significant loss on the home.  So do we hold or sell?

Reasons to sell:

If we hold the home, we’re concerned about being able to pay property tax and insurance during a collapse

We’re concerned about rioting and crime in the city during/after a collapse, further driving down the value of this property

Finding buyers may become very difficult after the collapse

Reasons to keep the property

We could use it as a rental property for income.  (However, I’m concerned about the downward pressure on rents during a collapse b/c people will be so focused on having enough money to pay for food.)

If people migrate from the suburbs to the city b/c transportation costs skyrocket, it might be a good investment

We really like this house and enjoy the property

Your thoughts on this would be much appreciated.  If you post on your blog, please keep me anonymous.

Thanks,

K

 

Hi K, I think that right now isn’t the best time to sell given the overall low prices. I also believe you can profit nicely when renting it because of the reasons I’ll explain.

Regarding your two properties, they represent opposing views in terms of what works or not in a post-collapse society. Fiction survival literature would have you believe that a house in a rural setting is the best option. Stay as far from rioting cities as you can, avoid criminals by living far away. This is repeated over and over until people take it for a fact, but ironically the truth is that living in such conditions is possible only in very safe, functioning societies. The further away and more isolated you are, the more vulnerable you are. With higher gas prices commuting back and forth or driving into town puts a dent into your finances. As the system and infrastructure starts failing, roads, reliable power and proper medical care becomes unreliable the further away you are.

After a decade of studying different crisis and disaster scenarios in different countries all over the world I believe that the idea of retreating to rural areas as a way of rationally preparing for hard times has no foundation on empirical facts but is instead rooted on American survival fantasy concepts. In what seems to be a vicious circle, people keep regurgitating what others have said and take it for a fact rather than checking how things actually turn out when serious social crisis have occurred. You only have to study South Africa’s recent history, most third world countries or the post communism western union nations to understand that what is taken as a fact in the American survival culture isn’t quite so. Keeping it short, if you live well today in an isolated homestead without 24hs security, its precisely because society has not collapsed. You wont be able to do so afterwards.

Because of this, a house in a walled gated community is highly desirable and it will be even more so after a serious crisis or collapse. In most Latin American countries, gated communities such as those are the only way in which you can live with a degree of peace of mind while you sleep. Your two properties are basically giving you those two options.

As crime gets worse in USA, demand for such properties will go up. With a gated community you have options such as all neighbors paying more so as to have added security.

I wouldn’t sell it. If you like the other place more then I´d just rent it so as to make some money, always good to have another source of income, and at the same time you keep it as a plan B in case things go South Africa or Latinamerica way and you have to move into the gated community yourself.

FerFAL


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