Home Security 1/30/21

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

There’s a stranger in my house, and here I am blogging about it. While he’s still here. Of course, it’s by invitation. He is installing a home security service; sensors for when the door is open, smoke/carbon monoxide detector (I’ll buy supplemental detectors), indoor security camera, things like that. This is a monitored service, so if an alarm is tripped, I will be getting a call. As will my friend. Won’t SHE be surprised??? I’m not even going to say her name, so if you are a female friend of mine…IT COULD BE YOU!

Security is a misnomer. If somebody really wants to do you harm, it’ll probably happen. And if somebody wants to break in, they’ll find a way. All you can do is make it difficult. Part of the deterrence here is just having people see that I am taking steps to protect my home. That doesn’t mean it will stop them, but it does mean that I’m making it more difficult for them to break in and taking steps to catch anybody who does. It’s just deterrence.

It’s a funny thing, really. When I talk about things like this with my friends, more than once I’ve had the retort “if they really want to break in, it won’t stop them.” Gee whiz, thanks, Mr. Security. I have an attack cat who, ironically, ran right up to this gentleman installing the system and insisted on scratches behind her ears. Some attack kitty SHE turned out to be.

Telling me that this system won’t prevent break-ins, as if it’s somehow supposed to surprise me, is the equivalent of when people tell me (knowing that I’m perhaps the last surviving Beatlemaniac) that the Beatles were on drugs. No…really? I’m shocked! Wait a minute, let me show you my shocked face.

With the system, I am also getting an indoor security camera. This can be relocated (as long as there is a place to plug it in), and I might put it where it can keep an eye on the cars. I do have video doorbells with motion sensors, but the one “blind spot”, because of the design of the house, is my driveway. I can put this camera in the spare bedroom and that will cover the blind spot. And why am I telling you this? Please don’t use this information for nefarious purposes to do mean nasty ugly things to me.

One of the biggest mistakes people make with indoor (or outdoor) security cameras is placement. Often the cameras are placed high and out of reach so they cannot be tampered with, but high cameras often have a very poor perspective. I see this frequently; my video doorbell system has network sharing to other people with similar products and every now and again there will be a video of somebody stealing a package off of a porch and they’ll share the video. In the video, though, you get a great view of the top of the thief’s head, but you can’t really make out the facial features. For a security camera system, ideally you want the cameras set to cover entry points so you can see the face straight on, or, if you only have one such camera, it should probably be in a central point of the home so when somebody turns a corner there is suddenly a camera recording their face. Now, full disclosure; I’m not a trained professional, so take this as my personal recommendation and not professional advice.

The carbon monoxide detector bothers me. I’ll have to get additional ones, but the recommendation is to put it high in the house because smoke (and carbon monoxide which is produced in every combustion process such as my gas furnace and stove) rises. This is very true, but it also diffuses, so in a house this large, by the time the smoke (or carbon monoxide) reaches the detector it will probably already be too far gone for me to do anything about it. With luck I will be able to get out of the house. So, yes, I need more. But if there is a major fire, the service will alert the fire department.

I wonder if anybody makes a 1,5-diaminopentane detector. Colloquially known as “cadaverine”, this is the chemical that gives rotting bodies their characteristic odor. If they made these, somebody could come and feed my cat when my corpse starts rotting after I die alone in my house.

And isn’t that a lovely way to end this blog?


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