Family Security -
Protect Your Family

Family security becomes even more important to military families facing a deployment. We know you want to do everything possible to protect your family, especially while you're deployed.

Your family security plan may include a monitored home security alarm system that alerts local police or fire departments when the alarm is triggered, in addition to sounding a piercing alarm at the home. Some feel that a monitored system is the best home security system.

Adding cameras to a home monitoring system will make the best home security system even better.

For many military families, a family pet can serve as part of a cheap home security system. A barking dog will deter many would-be "bad guys." If it's also a large dog, the deterrence value increases, even if the dog is not trained as a protection dog. Fear of a biting dog will often make someone with criminal intentions choose a different target. So don't forget Fido can be an important part of family security.

Besides installing a home monitoring alarm system, there are a number of other steps you can take to provide better family security for your military family. We discuss some of them below.

As a military wife, I always attended command-sponsored pre-deployment briefs before my husband's ship left for a deployment. And as a military lawyer, I usually spoke at pre-deployment briefings about legal matters that needed to be attended to before the deployment.

There was usually a member of the local police department there presenting information about how military families could stay safer while their "man-of-the-house" was gone. Many of their family security tips seemed like common sense to me, but it's amazing how many people seem to be lacking in their self-protective instincts. So if you have tips to enhance your family security, please share them here so that other military families can benefit from them.

One of the great things about being part of the larger military family is that its members help protect each other. We invite you to continue that tradition by scrolling down and sharing your family security tips with other military families. These can be tips you've used yourself, or just something you've heard about that others might use.

You'll find family security tips contributed by other military families at the bottom of the page.

Know Your Neighbors

It's always a good idea to know who your neighbors are, and what cars they drive. It sure makes it easier to keep an eye out for each other, and to notice strange people or activities in the neighborhood. It's amazing how much that one simple thing can do to boost your family security.

If you don't know who your neighbors are, how will you know whether the people or cars you see in the neighborhood belong there? And if they don't know you, how will they know if the person they see going into your home or back yard actually belongs there?

This seems like basic common sense to us, but we've been surprised at the number of people who don't know their neighbors, and don't care to. And we have to admit that we don't know all the neighbors on our own street, which is very unusual for us.

In the neighborhood we moved from, we knew almost all of the neighbors on our street and some of the ones on the next street. And we got together on a regular basis. One of the two retired couples across the street from us would come out in the late afternoon, about time for people to get home from work, and set up a half-dozen or so chairs in their driveway. Most folks brought their own refreshments, and we sat around and visited for a while. And if there was a Phoenix Suns game on TV, they brought out a small TV, too! Once a year, we got permission from the city to close off the street for a neighborhood block party.

It was great! We knew who our neighbors were, they knew who we were, and it was easy to say, "We're going to be out of town next week. If you see anyone at our house, call the police. And if you hear strange noises from the pool equipment, please check it out for us."

We miss visiting with our neighbors. In our current neighborhood, even though several of us are usually home during the day (which gives us a more secure feeling all by itself), we rarely see each other. Everyone seems too busy to visit with neighbors. We even built a courtyard by our front entrance, and put 2 sets of patio chairs out there, but it's very rare that anyone stops to join us. They just wave as they drive by. I guess they're all too busy. And lately, we've been too busy to sit out there ourselves.

Now that I think about it, in the group of neighbors who got together in our previous neighborhood, more than half the regulars were retired, so maybe they had more time to sit and visit.

Registered Sex Offenders

Here's another aspect of "knowing your neighbors" that's very important to your safety, and especially that of your children. A web site called Family Watchdog will show you locations for all registered sex offenders living or working near your home. In addition to giving their address, and the crime(s) of which they've been convicted, it also has a photo, so you can teach your children to recognize them.

When you enter your address into the form, it displays a map. There's an icon of a home, which represents your home, in the center of the map, and you can have the map show you the locations of nearby schools and parks as well. The homes or work locations of registered offenders are marked with boxes that are color-coded, depending on the type of offense. When you click on an individual box, a screen will pop up with a photo of the offender, his or her name and address, and another tab will list the offense. For some, it will give the date of offense (others may say date of offense not available), and may give the age of the victim at the time of offense if it was an offense against children.

This could be very useful information, so we encourage you to check it out. And we'd suggest you check out the address before you buy a new house, too!

Car Key Alarm Adds Peace of Mind

For those who feel they can't afford to install a security system in their home, here's a tip that will help protect your family and give you some added security and peace of mind.

You know the key fob that holds your car keys and unlocks the car doors? Most newer cars use them. You can also use it as an alarm to protect your family when you're at home! Here's how:

Put your car keys beside your bed at night. If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.

Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this: It's a security alarm system that you probably already have and it requires no installation.

Test it. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain. It works if you park in your driveway or garage.

If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar or rapist won't stick around.... After a few seconds all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and the would-be criminal won't want to be seen.

And, always remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work to protect you and your family the same way there.

This little tip should give an extra sense of security to those of you whose spouses are deployed, and to those deployed service members who worry about their loved ones at home.

GPS Security

Don't make this mistake with your portable GPS tracking devices.

GPS tracking systems, increasingly used for vehicle navigation, are posing a new home security risk you probably never even considered.

Clever thieves are . . . more.

Cell Phone Security Tips

Cell Phone Security -- think about the sensitive information you may have stored in your cell phone. If your phone is stolen, what information will the thief have? Make sure your minimize your risk by . . . more.

Have A Security Tip to Share?

Do you have a great security tip? Share it with other military families!

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