I've had people try to break into my computer. I've had people break into my home.
Take it from me, it's much worse when they break into your home.
We spend a lot of time talking about protecting your computer. And that's a good thing. But today we'll talk about
using technology to protect your home. That's a great thing.
If you don't have a home-alarm system, start there. Get a professionally installed system and use it. Many companies
offer a system free in return for a monitoring contract. While there are install-it-yourself systems on the market, home-alarm systems are too important for that.
The flaw with alarm systems is that they are designed to let you know if someone kicks in your door or breaks a
window. I can tell you from personal experience that things move very quickly after that. Even if the alarm company
calls the police, it's extremely unlikely help will arrive in time to protect you.
So let's get a little advance warning. If nothing else, the additional time will let you get family members to a safe
place and plan your next moves. I use an outdoor sensor system that alerts me when the prowler is in my yard.
Wireless sensors - like those used by outdoor lights that turn on when movement is detected - send a signal to a
small monitoring device in my bedroom if movement is detected. The system will wake me up if someone is in the yard
while I sleep.
The system I own seems to be out of production. But here is one that seems to operate in the same basic manner:
Do a Google search like this - "wireless alert yard" - and you'll find similar systems.
My big fear when I installed mine was of false alarms from small animals, leaves blowing in the wind, or even flaws
in the system itself. While the occasional bird does set the system off, false alarms haven't been very common at all
- maybe two a year. I sleep better for having the system.
I've already mentioned outdoor lights that turn on when movement is detected. Lights like this are available at
home-supply stores and add to the safety of your home. Most homeowners can install these lights as long as the
circuit breakers that control the electricity to your existing outdoor lights are turned off. Double check to make
sure the power is off before starting the job.
Small video cameras - wireless or wired - can be handy, too. That way, if the doorbell rings at an unlikely hour
(after all, the Girl Scouts are not selling cookies at 2 a.m.) you can use the video camera to see who is out there
before going to the door. I've had better luck with wired camera systems.
Some video cameras can see in the dark. While I haven't tried one, they get favorable reviews. Here's an example:
While these cameras can be helpful, keep in mind that when a threat seems real you should call 911 rather than spend
precious seconds fiddling with a video system.
Those are a few security measures within my topic area. To read about others, try this site: http://home.howstuff
Be safe. Protect your computer by all means, but your most important job is protecting your home and family.
Bill Husted writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.