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Perimeter Alarms

by Brant McGee

Perimeter alarm on a steel table

One of our biggest concerns in this community is personal and homestead security. We go online and purchase all sorts of electronic gizmos and dump untold amounts of money into anything that looks cool and is sold to be a “one stop shop” for perimeter alarms. Most are electronic, either by AC power or battery and work on or over an internet connection to alert us of an intruder. So, what happens when the power grid is down? As prepared citizens, we must keep in mind of not just why someone would be sneaking onto our property, but how are they going to access it, what is their intentions, what is their level of trade-craft to counter the measures, and how much time to react will my security provide.

Monitored Alarms

Monitored alarms are fire and forget weapons in the battle to keep us informed of who is lurking about. You set them up, test the function, and hope they work.  The most common utilize discrete sensors that emit infrared or laser that will send an audible or digital alert whenever the beam is broken. They require batteries or AC power and can work well, long as you don’t live in a location where critters are about at night or your dogs don’t roam the yard all day and night. Doorbell, motion cameras, and motion lights fall into this category too. I like being on the other side of the planet and being able to have a chat with the UPS deliveryman through my doorbell but whenever the internet drops off or the router resets, I’m in the dark. The motion lights are on and off all night due to my dogs, deer, coyotes, as well as every other zoo animal that frequents my yard of the evening, so I become easily complacent of triggered alarms such as this. You must weigh all of these concerns when setting up a monitored alarm, but for the most part, they do well. For a situation where you need a system that doesn’t require electrical power, trip wires with a spring-loaded primer charge or pyrotechnics are great, but only if you can hear the report of the device if it is tripped. This is not the best solution for everyday use but will come in handy if you are in a high threat posture. Another monitored alarm solution that can be useful are game cameras. Easy to install and designed to be hidden, you can get video or capture stills of anything or anybody that passes in front of them. The only drawback is that unless you have a high end one with real time video feed, you’ll have to physically run out and remove the data card and download to a computer to view. These are good for after the fact and can give you good intelligence about if and when someone is probing the wood line around your crib so that you can increase your security with a more expansive monitoring system.

The last types of perimeter alarms I will talk about are animals. Dogs make a great deterrent, but require food, water, shelter, and maybe some training. My dogs are the sweetest creatures to ever walk the Earth and would probably never kill and eat an invader. Hopefully, the invader doesn’t know that and the curious bark at zero dark thirty will keep anyone lurking at bay. Dogs that are properly trained or by breed are naturally aggressive are good for some folks. Their gains vs. weaknesses must be measured in everything from liability to safety for your family. As with any dogs, if you don’t have a fence or restraining device to keep them close, they can wander off, be lured away, or be neutralized by some nefarious means.

As you build your perimeter security, it is important to be educated in all the various solutions available as well as be mindful of situations that will cause your systems to not operate the way you intend them to. Being open-minded to having multiple types of systems that can operate independently and without much interaction is always going to be the difference in first contact being a kicked in door or minimum safe distance for an interrogation and response.

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