Are Alarm Systems Worth It?

Dear Fellow survivalist;

Most of us think of defending ourselves and our families from the viewpoint of active defenses. We expect to be able to defend ourselves and our families from any danger that might present itself. That’s a good ability to have. Even so, I’ve long held that the best defense is one in which you don’t have to take up arms to defend yourself or your family. No matter how good you are, there’s always a risk that you might end up fighting someone who is either better or just plain lucky.

While we are likely to be the type whose nature is to play hero, that’s really not our job. Our job is to take care of our family. Being a hero is dangerous; so, it might get in the way of doing our primary job. If we can, we’re better off doing whatever we can to avoid being forced into an active confrontation. That might mean avoiding dangerous places; it might mean running from a fight; and it might mean making sure our passive defenses are strong enough, so that we don’t need to resort to active measures.

Passive defenses usually refer to the locks that we put on our doors and windows, keeping people from breaking in. But in reality, it is not hard to break into most locked homes. What keeps criminals from doing so is that they don’t want to be caught. Breaking a locked window or door is noisy, attracting attention which could lead to someone calling the police.

Because of this, criminals look for unlocked windows and doors, or those with easily defeated security measures. Sliding glass doors, of the type which are commonly used to gain access to the back patio, are one of the easiest doors to defeat and being in the backyard, they are usually screened from the neighbor’s view. While not the prime point of entrance for most criminals, it is great for the determined ones, as they can usually get the door open, without making any noise.

But locks aren’t the only passive method of security we have available to us; there are alarms as well. A home which is properly set up with perimeter alarms (doors and windows) is hard to get into, without letting someone know. Not only that, but they’re a great deterrent, as they usually come with a yard sign, letting everyone know that the house has an alarm.

The question is, with the high costs of these systems, is it worth paying to get one put in?

I’m pretty sure the equipment cost for alarm systems installed by one of the major alarm companies are inflated. If we could buy equivalent equipment on the open market and install it ourselves, we’d surely save a bundle. The only problem with that though, is that the major alarm companies probably wouldn’t be willing to monitor our equipment. We’d probably need to find an independent monitoring service or have our alarm go right to the police department.

Just as a note; if you do install an independent alarm and go directly to the police department for monitoring, you will need to get a permit and probably pay the police department for monitoring your alarm. If you get too many false alarms, you might lose their willingness to monitor your home.

Okay, so we’ve established that home security systems are expensive. Just how expensive depends a lot on the company you choose, the size of your house, and the complexity of the system. There are a lot of options to choose from in today’s systems, including video monitoring and the ability to lock or unlock your doors through your phone.

But what will it really do for you; and is that worth what it costs?

The answer to that breaks down into two different categories; both of which can occur in any home.

Of the two, the more common use of a home alarm is protection for your home and its contents, whenever you are away from home. How valuable that is to you depends a lot on how much you’ve spent on the things in your home, how hard they would be to replace, and how much time you spend away from home. Burglars today are most likely to break in during the day, when they know that everyone in the family is away at work and school. With nobody in the home, they can get in, grab whatever they can find and get out in a matter of minutes.

A home security system is clearly advantageous in this case, both as a deterrent and to catch the criminal. Not only will the police be called to the scene, but most systems have video capture in them, giving the police and district attorney valuable evidence to use in prosecution.

That home security system can also be valuable in a second role, when your family is in the home. Many systems today allow you to arm the perimeter of the home, while not arming any motion sensors inside the home. That prevents the family from setting off the alarm, while still giving you a “perimeter guard” around your home.

The big advantage of this perimeter guard is that it makes it easier for you to react to any home invasion, especially if you have a large home. While it may only offer you a few seconds notice that someone has broken into your home, that few seconds is critical, allowing you to switch from condition white to condition red. You will be able to meet the criminal on equal ground, rather than being taken by surprise. That’s a valuable difference.

So, it’s up to you whether a home alarm system fits within your defensive strategy and your budget; but if you can, especially if you live in an area with high crime, I’d make the investment. It’s just one more way to be prepared, like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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