Security on a budget

Most people who need security solutions experience sticker shock when they check into having a home security system installed.  Recently, I was told about a situation where several neighbors on one street were surprised by a man going from back yard to back yard.  When one resident came face to face with the individual, the back yard interloper simply walked away down the street, nonchalantly.  It was 10am.

All the neighbors had called each other down the street.  It appeared to them that the individual was checking back doors/yards for houses that were unoccupied, unlocked.

The hindrance was that everyone was home, mostly retirees.  This incident was scary, and fortunately nothing happened.  There were too many witnesses, and the police were called.  There had also recently been daytime break-ins.

When this type of thing happens there are many things that can be done to discourage a break-in, day or night.

First, get to know your neighbors.  There’s nothing better than a nosy neighbor, or a trusted one that you know will watch out for you.

Secondly, do not make it easy for them.  Lock your doors.  Get motion sensor lights for outdoors.  You can buy fixtures and sensors at most of your local hardware stores, Lowe’s, Home Depot and the like.  Most are easy enough to install yourself.  If not hire an electrician to do it.  This should not cost a lot (shop around).  Burglars do not like light or noise.

Set a large dog bowl by the back door that says “Brutus”, or a very large pair of men’s boots will also deter someone (make sure they look used, dirty!).  If you are worried and can not afford to put in an expensive security system…there are some inexpensive things you can do.

There are a lot of personal alarms that come in many shapes and sizes that can be used in a variety of ways.   You can find these at Radio Shack, some hardware stores, and online at Amazon, Overstock and other places.  Just search for “Personal Alarms”.

Here are a few examples…

a personal alarm/pull pin type a personal alarm/pull pin/door A door alarm

You can use them “as is” or you can adapt them.  I adapted one for a screen door alarm.

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I took the alarm, removed the long rope, added some loop key rings, and some double stick tape on the back.

Here’s how it worked…“>Click here for Video

Things to think about.  If you live in a cold area of the country you may need to periodically test it (batteries run down in cold environments) and make sure you use good strong double sided tape!



Social Media-Love it or Hate it?

Social Media.  Some people love it and some people hate it.  I love it, but have to be careful that it does not consume too much of my time when I should be doing something else.  I use WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, YouTube, and Pinterest and am exploring other social media platforms.

I use social media to promote me and to advertise our family business. I have used it for investigative purposes (Yes, this happens). It’s free, convenient, mobile, and fairly easy to use.  If I am not sure how to use a social media platform, it is easy to find tutorials on YouTube.  Social media can be used for informing the public, emergency preparedness and response, personal preparedness education as well as publicizing disaster preparedness tips.

These days almost everyone has a smart phone.  Even if power goes out if you have a charge on your phone you can get real time information through social media.  “According to a recent study by the American Red Cross, citizens are now seeking out and utilizing social media to send and receive information” (Crowe, 2010, pp 416).  Emergency management officials can also monitor social media to gather information (Fema and crowdsourcing) to narrow down areas needing response more quickly among other things.

Social media has also become a two-way communication tool for informational and public relations purposes.  Jonathan Walters discusses social media as a public relations tool: “One agency that’s been held up as a national model for using social media in a sophisticated way is the Palo Alto, Calif., Police Department—not for crisis response, although it’s ready to use if necessary—but for day-to-day community relations and general citizen goodwill building” (2014, p.46).  YouTube has become not only a vehicle for entertainment but for learning (through tutorials), advertising, and public service messages.  One of my favorites public service announcement is by the American Heart Association, is of Ken Jeong demonstrating AHA Hands-Only CPR.

There are many benefits and positive applications for the use of various social media platforms, but there can be problems with misuse. According to Bill Keller, “The most obvious drawback of social media is that they are aggressive distractions” (2011). There have also been many instances of bullying, harassing, and malicious uses of social media.

Children and teenagers are by nature impulsive and should be supervised, educated and their social media use monitored, or followed by parents.  Parents need to watch to be sure their children are being responsible, to see if they are sharing too much information.  If a parent finds hurtful or malicious messages are being exchanged, intervention by an adult should be immediate and is crucial!  In fact, I believe that parents as well as schools need to do a better job educating kids about bullying, responsibility, and self-control.  Some of this is already happening due to suicides of children who have been bullied and the concern over personal information or pictures being posted resulting in criminal charges.

In conclusion, social media is here to stay, love it or hate it.  If you choose to use it, it would be wise to re-read what you are about to post and think about how someone else could perceive the message.  If you do not like drama, you can choose who to follow and who can appear in your feed.  Make sure you review your privacy settings, and realize once it is posted you cannot take it back. When it comes to intent, teasing and sarcasm can sometimes be lost in translation due to lack of social cues (or body language and expression).  If you can self-edit, and explore the many benefits of social media you can find there are so many possibilities for its use now and in the future.


Crowe, A. (2010). The social media manifesto: A comprehensive review of the impact of social media on emergency management. Journal of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning, 5(1), 409-420. Retrieved from

Keller, B. (2011, May 22). THE TWITTER TRAP.  New York Times Magazine, 11-12. Retrieved from

Walters, J. (2014, July). Lost in translation: governments are still struggling to get social media right. Governing, 27(10), 46+. Retrieved from