Security Threat Level Orange

By Mark Goldwich

If there is one thing in the news lately, it is security. Security threats, security risks, security leaks, heightened security, cyber security, security vetting procedures…you get the point.
While I’m not going to get into a discussion of international security or terrorism here, I thought this might be a good time to offer some basic tips and suggestions on personal and business security, whether at the home, at the office, or online.

Here are some helpful tips for personal and residential security from the US Department of State (

Residential security is a critical component of any personal security program. The following guidelines should be used in reviewing your residential security. 

   All entrances, including service doors and gates, should have quality locks--preferably deadbolt. Check your:
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·         Front Door                                               
·         Rear Door
·         Garage Door(s)
·         Service Door(s)
·         Patio Door
·         Sliding Glass Door
·         Gate
·         Swimming Pool Gate
·         Guest House Door(s). 
·         Don't leave keys "hidden" outside the home. Leave an extra key with a trusted neighbor or colleague. 
·         Keep doors locked even when you or family members are at home. 
·         Have window locks installed on all windows. Use them. 
·         Lock louvered windows--especially on the ground floor. 
·         Have locks installed on your fuse boxes and external power sources. 
·         If you have window grilles and bars, review fire safety. Don't block bedroom windows with permanent grilles if the windows may be used for emergency egress. 
·         If you have burglar or intrusion alarms, check and use them. 
·         Keep at least one fire extinguisher on each floor, and be sure to keep one in the kitchen. Show family members and household help how to use them. 
·         Periodically check smoke detectors and replace batteries when necessary. 
·         Keep flashlights in several areas in the house. Check the batteries often, especially if you have children in your home. (They love to play with flashlights!) 
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A family dog can be a deterrent to criminals. But remember, even the best watch-dog can be controlled by food or poison. Do not install separate "doggy doors" or entrances. They also can admit small intruders. 
·         Choose a location that offers the most security. The less remote, the safer your home will be, particularly in a neighborhood close to police and fire protection. 
·         Know your neighbors. Develop a rapport with them and offer to keep an eye on each other's homes, especially during trips. 
·         If you observe any unusual activity, report it immediately (family, neighbors, police). 
·         Establish safe family living patterns. If you understand the importance of your contribution to the family's overall security, the entire household will be safer. 
·         While at home, you and your family should rehearse safety drills and be aware of procedures to escape danger and get help. 
·         Educate family members and domestic help in the proper way to answer the telephone at home. 
·         Vary daily routines; avoid predictable patterns. 
·         Know where all family members are at all times. 
·         Use these same guidelines while on [vacation].

Here are some more personal safety tips from a personal security and identity theft expert,
  1. Fundamentals: Body language is 55 percent of communications. That’s your walk, posture, facial expressions and eye contact. Awareness is being alert to your surroundings at all times. Intuition is when the hair on the back of your neck stands on end. Voice tone and pitch equal 35 percent of communications. The way a person communicates physically and verbally can determine whether or not a predator deems them a good target.
  2. Prevent Abductions: When returning to a parked car, scan the area around your car and be alert to suspicious activity. Be aware of vans. Abductors and rapist open up the side doors and pull in their victims.
  3. Never Use Your Keys As A Weapon: Contrary to popular belief, your keys are not a good weapon. Using your keys as a weapon can injure your hand, the keys can break, you lose your “key to safety” and you lose access to your car and home, which are safe havens. Unless it’s a LARGE key. Then it’s a good weapon.
  4. Prevent Home Invasions: You tell your children not to talk to strangers, so why do you open the door to a total stranger? Home-invaders pose as delivery people, public workers, or people in distress. Install peepholes, talk through the door. Under no circumstances do you open the door unless you get phone numbers to call their superiors. If someone is in distress tell him or her you will call the police for them.
  5. Safety On The Street: One dollar bills and change in an easily accessible pocket. Then if someone tries to rob you, you can throw the “chump change” several feet away. The robber will draw his attention to it, giving you time to escape. Do not fight over material items.
  6. What To Do If Attacked By A Date Rapist: If he won’t let you go, gouge his eyes out! Fight as hard and as determinedly as you would if he was a stranger. By assaulting you, he has crossed the line, and now he is a stranger. Remember: you are worth fighting for! If all else fails, you can always let him kiss you, then bite down on his lip till your teeth meet.
  7. Safety In Your Car: In the event of a minor accident, stop only in a well-lit area. Carjackers often provoke such “accidents” just to get a victim to stop. Do NOT stop on a deserted, dark street. Drive to a police station or a gas station. Use a cell phone and call 911.
  8. Home Safe Home: Consider a second line or a cell phone in your bedroom. That’s because burglars often remove a telephone from the receiver when they enter a home. Of course, an alarm system activated while you are sleeping will prevent a burglar from getting this far. Newer alarms have cellular options, a safeguard even if the phone lines are cut.
  9. Vacation/Business Traveler Safety: Be suspicious of a call from the hotel desk just after checking in requesting verification of your credit card number “because the imprint was unreadable.” A thief may have watched you enter the hotel room and called from the guest phone in the lobby. Never open your hotel room to anyone.
  10. Social Media Security: What you say and post could lead an attacker right to you or a family member. Just because other people post information about themselves and whereabouts, doesn't mean you should. Plus, you should never post travel plans online telling a burglar you aren't home.
Most of the above tips could easily be applied to your workplace. And although so many of these seem to be common sense, the more you review this list, especially with younger family members that may not fully appreciate the concepts, the more second nature your actions become under high pressure situations. The reason athletes, first responders, and others practice the same drills over and over again, even long after they are quite skilled, is so they don’t have to think about the skills in the heat of the moment.

And finally, cyber tips are everywhere, especially (oddly enough) online. My friends at have several blog posts that can help, and I found a very detailed Cyber Security Planning Guide at, and a “top ten” list of safe computing tips at  The lists of tips are too plentiful to detail here, but please take a few moments to check these out. These cyber tips are not common sense to most of us, which is all the more reason to try to become familiar with safe computing practices. 

Mark Goldwich is president of Gold Star Adjusters, a group of public insurance adjusters dedicated to helping citizens get the maximum settlement for any insurance claim.  


  1. In this day and age you can't be TOO safe. Especially online. Beware of holiday spam scams where you receive an email claiming that you have a package stuck in transit.

  2. Great reminders.... So many of us think we can handle any situation but in reality fear sets in and we forget! We have started to role play with our family what to do in different situations so if ever needed we may be able to respond based on what we were trained....

  3. Much needed advice and reminders now that we're headed into the holiday season.

  4. Better safe than sorry. Especially during the holiday season.