Rick’s the Handy One

Now that Rick is retired from his military career, he has a lot more time at home. It’s a good thing he is the handy one in our duo. I have tried my luck with various projects with only modest success. Some people just have the gift. He is a true “jack of all trades.” Have a look at his garage and you will see. He converted it into a combo workspace and man cave. I am more than envious. He has everything in there to entertain himself and/or his buds for hours. Of course, a giant plasma TV screen dominates the “room.” It is strategically placed in front of a couple of movable club chairs. Comfort is of the essence when it comes to a home entertainment center. He installed this one entirely himself so it has a bit of this and that. If he found a bargain on a speaker for his sound system, it would find its place even if it was an off brand.

What would a man cave be without a mini-fridge or wine cooler—or both? My ideal space would have a place for both beer and wine. Storage would be adequate but not overwhelming because I would need a shelf for my video collection and assorted books. Yes, I am one of those who still reads tangible paperbacks. E-books are a second choice. Nonetheless, I have my particular requirements. Rick has his. He has sports memorabilia decorating his walls. A big football trophy sits on the countertop of the makeshift kitchen. It is not to show off but for himself. We all treasure our memories of years gone by—even those of us who are still young. Speaking of age, we are still in our prime and enjoy working out at home. My man cave has a stationary bicycle while Rick’s has a treadmill in one corner with a clear view of the movable TV screen. He still goes to the gym with me, but there are times when it is best to stay at home, close to the fridge and cupboard of snacks.

Last but not least, Rick installed a large ceiling fan from here to keep the man cave cool. The circulating air also helps the air to remain reasonably fresh so that on very hot or cold days, he doesn’t have to open the garage door. Privacy is of the essence in one’s personal domain. Handy man that he is, it was an easy job to place the fan in the center of the ceiling. It operates on a remote control that includes a speed regulator and a dimmer for the central light fixture. When it is on low, it gives a quiet evening ambiance to the space. It is great for a contemplative mood. When Rick and his friends are rowdy, the light goes on full force. Maybe I can talk him into coming over and installing a similar fan for my man cave. Mmmmm….

As personal security guards and consultants, our motto is safety first, and it should be yours. If you have a family, especially with young children, your role in life is to protect your wife and kids. Parents often forget to do essential things around the house and property that can cause accidents. I have known them to leave pool gates open or not tether patio furniture to a wall (because on windy days they can fall right over on an innocent child enjoying a game of cards on the ground). You have to think ahead and place barrier removable gates where it matters such as the top of the staircase in your house.

If you have a balcony nears the kids’ rooms, make sure the bottom area is sealed off if it consists of open columns. If you have a basement door and dangerous liquids stored in the cool depths, you must keep it locked at all times. A gun safe is not safe if you leave it open. Don’t even think about cleaning guns in front of offspring. A child’s car seat never gets the attention it deserves. If the strap is broken, the child may fall forward after a sudden stop. If this scares you, it is meant to. Perhaps fear will make parents come alive and address danger in their midst.

I remember a sad day when a neighboring family trampoline came loose and the jumping child was injured. He had to go to the emergency room, all because the device had not been properly anchored to the ground. You may install it securely when you first buy it, but over time, it can break. Fortunately, the child was not seriously hurt, but it was a painful and bloody sight. Mom was in a panic and dad was ridden with guilt. Save yourself a lot of grief and make the rounds of your house and yard. Don’t forget the backyard shed and the adjacent garage. Don’t keep ladders to the roof within reach of errant little feet. Kids like to explore and don’t realize the risk involved. Maybe they envision tossing a ball over the edge to the ground. Remove any and all household temptations.

We often consult with new parents about child-proofing their homes, but we find that experienced couples are just as much at fault when it comes to overlooking danger situations. They may have done some preliminary groundwork when their first child was born, but over time things change and they need to update. They forget to put screens on windows or keep upstairs openings locked. They keep toxic cleansers in the bathroom and under the kitchen sink. It doesn’t matter if you think they have safety caps. They can come loose with use. If your child shows interest in playing chef, now is the time to give a lesson on keeping away from the stove. Last but not least, protecting pets is important and should be considered when contemplating a safety check of your home.

I know when someone has been in a car that I am investigating. There is a telltale odor – cigarette smoke. It can last for days. You can profile a car thief this way.  I have a friend with a teenage son who insists on smoking secreting in the car as if no one can detect it. He needs to wise up if he wants to avoid a confrontation with his parents. Because smoke lingers, I detest it when someone indulges in their habit while in my own vehicle. I have to resort to a scented deodorizer and the smell is often as bad as the original smoke. They are kind of sickly sweet and really all I want is No More Smoke Smell in my car. It is better to spray the inside of the car with a simple dose of Febreze or similar product. You will have to do this regularly if you are driving around with a smoking crowd.

I bring up this issue because I often have clients in my car when on duty as a personal security guard. After a few of them started smoking up a storm, I had to lay down some rules. In fact, I post them on a card centered on the dashboard for all to see. It is annoying when people pretend not to see them. I must find other ways to set boundaries. Why are people so resistant? Don’t they know that smoking is harmful to the health? Haven’t they heard of second hand smoke. It can be a killer. Lung cancer is painful. There is enough media attention on the subject that there is no excuse for laxity.

If I get really miffed, I ask the culprit to get out for as long as it takes to finish one cigarette. But then they are annoyed and we are a grumpy pair. I am going to tell clients in advance so there is no argument later. One time, a young man of means was in the car. He was heir to a fortune and felt he needed protection against a potential kidnapping. Most of my clients are older and I was not ready for his sass. When he balked about the ban on smoking, he raised his fists. This set my automatic reaction into fast forward. He saw me scowl and realized that I was a trained fighter. It is part of what I advertise as my security skills.

The young are brazen and don’t have the same sense of danger as older folk. He had met his match, however, and backed off. I immediately stopped the job and took him home. He apologized profusely all along the way but once my temper has been released, it is hard to put the genie back in the bottle. To end the story, I accepted to return to service a week later after I got a very humble email. I believed that he had learned his lesson and was worthy of a second chance.

Safety is the watchword of the day for this blog. We have tips to keep you safe at work. It is basic common sense, but it helps to see them in print to remind you of potential danger and how to deal with it. Many people ask me about carrying a weapon when they find out that I am a security guard. I don’t jump on this right away. This is a huge decision that must be discussed with your spouse and family. It is a major commitment to keep a gun in the house. I doubt if any companies allow employees to possess one on the job, on their person or in a locked drawer. If you feel that threatened, you should work for a business that employs a security guard like banks do as a rule.

When at work, you should first assess the situation before assuming that weapon is the choice of protection. It will deter attackers and thieves for sure, but it may cause deadly accidents. Only very experienced people should ever carry a gun. It requires special training including classes in safety tactics. You never want to see a trigger-happy individual toting a weapon of any type.

Next to a gun for self-protection, there are other things you can do. I have narrowed them down to six:

  1. Take a course in self-defense and learn about basic tactics in common situations. At the very least look up material online and imitate the moves. Confidence comes with practice. Just taking a position of self-defense will deter many assailants. If you become particularly adept, by all means use what you know.
  2. While office invasions are not as common as home invasions, anything can happen. It may come from within your building. A disgruntled employee toting a rifle is not unheard of. Find out if there is a designated safe room on your floor or where you could hide if a shooter is on premises.
  3. If you suspect someone is following you into the parking lot, seek help first. Do not enter an unlocked car as a mugger or hijacker could lurk in the back seat. There is safety in numbers so gravitate toward people you know. Attackers don’t like groups.
  4. When traveling for work, prepare your backpack, briefcase or other bag with the right items and consider these tips to keep it secure: https://www.businessbagreview.com/6-safety-tips-keeping-business-bag-safe/. Consider mace or pepper spray as the first line of defense. Again, do not store a loaded weapon. If you carry an unloaded gun as a deterrent, it may backfire on you and force the attacker to use deadly force.
  5. Create a company “neighborhood watch” so that you know what to do in an emergency. Know where the back staircases are and if there are hidden elevators to use for escape purposes. Encourager members of the watch team to be observant. They may be able to text others as a warning.
  6. When confronting a threatening person, do not aggravate him with aggressive actions or hostile language. Don’t provoke him as you may make matters worse.

As security guards, you are in tune with methods to defend yourself and to ward off intruders as well. You know what conks someone out and how to do it safely to avoid permanent injury. I am interested not only in precarious situations, but in everyday life as well. Recently a friend who plays soccer got a concussion which prompted me to research how to properly perform a header with the ball, when I found an article in Top Corner Magazine. It was meant to help him, but I thought I would pass the information on. We have all seen those incredible head butts in movies, and the stand-in stunt man knows how to do it realistically even during an action fight scene, but with care. You can imagine the damage you could do in a game like soccer which employs the technique of a header.

The issue of concussions and contusions has caused some rule changes in soccer and some banning of these moves. I can understand the concern behind these decisions. I read on Twitter that players who head a lot of balls, say more than 124 in two weeks, were three times more likely to get injured than those who rarely practice headers. If you are going to do it, it pays to understand this fundamental game skill. It is a dynamic way to score, but is it worth the price of headaches, confusion, and perhaps unconsciousness? Sometimes you can’t avoid collisions making any player that much more vulnerable around head-happy team members. A big security issue in the athletic world is traumatic brain injury and soccer is not exempt. It is known for a high rate of concussions. It is not just the intense impact of a few headers but also the smaller frequent ones that slip under the radar.

It is said to be critical to reduce player-to-player contact. Even slight, but repeated low-level head impact can affect the brain. You can simply limit heading in a league or learn how to do it more safely. There is some debate on whether it can be done. Would soccer be the same without headers? Perhaps not. Players are not asking themselves about the risks. Sure, not every soccer player has health problems, but the statistics tell a different tale. So new rules and bans are happening around the globe for youth teams. The question is how much it will affect the experience of playing and watching the game. People enjoy the aerial challenges that include heat to head, head to ground, or elbow to head. Not all of them involve contact with the ball, and this may be the key to the future safety of the game. It may be that concussions are not caused for the most part by the actual heading, but even the attempt to head the ball.

I have not yet drawn final conclusions and I am weighting the pros and cons. I want to know whether performing a header can be done in a protective manner, or if that is a fantasy sports professionals want to believe to leave the technique in the game.

We are security guards and maybe because of the uniform, people treat us like EMTs or the police and ask all kinds of questions related to safety, self-protection, and health. Recently, we even fielded a question about sleep. What is enough to improve one’s energy level and keep the body in tip-top shape? We thought the concern it wasn’t off the mark since a good night’s rest can increase reaction time in an emergency. We encounter tough situation all the time. We follow our own advice and get eight hours every night. So should you. Not only will it help fight off an assailant or allow you to think clearly in a pinch, but it will boost productivity at work or playing sports.

We can’t emphasize good sleep enough to our readers, although most people we encounter have some degree of insomnia. They toss and turn and clock only four or five hours at best. In discussing the problem, we find that everyone is on their mobile phone reading Twitter right before bed answering texts and emails. This will rev up your brain for sure. They don’t know about turning out lights immediately. Bathroom and hall lights will distract you from falling off. Eating before bed, or drinking a lot of alcohol, will impair your rest. Exercise is fine early in the evening as it will help tire you out; but running on your treadmill is a big no-no. These are just some tips to consider and we are sure there are plenty more. An important point is to avoid sleeping pills as they may interfere with normal sleep cycles and you can get dependent upon them. Melatonin is a safe over-the-counter alternative if you don’t take it forever. It is a short-term solution when you have had a hectic day and can’t let go.

People who take pills, even if they are prescribed by your doctor, find that they make more mistakes the next day. It takes a long time to clear a cloudy head. If this happens to you, the least you can do is cut your dose in half. If you suffer from regular tension and anxiety, I know you need help. Reading a bit before bed relaxes some people (or bores them) while it wakes up others. Try not to start an intense chat with your partner or spouse. Reciting affirmations or a mantra, while not true meditation, can trigger a relaxation response. You can learn to program yourself to fall asleep by doing the same action every night. You probably know that retiring at the same time is essential to quality sleep and is part of this automatic response I am talking about.

If nothing works, I wouldn’t scoff at a hot cup of milk or herbal tea. No caffeine allowed! This means soft drinks, too. While heavy drinking impairs sleep, a glass of wine at dinner will work wonders by eleven pm.

No one deserves to experience a break-in, but it has happened to many of us. When it does, it is emotionally devastating. You feel threatened and personally violated. You can take precautions and set up a security system, but thieves often find their way around them. It is wise to check out the robberies that have occurred in your area and how they have taken place. There may be no perfect way to stave off home invasions, but you can add to your arsenal of steps that will ensure a minimum of damage or vandalism. Cameras are the latest devices to be installed along with movement trackers and alarms. Every system is customized for the homeowner and neighborhood. A professional company that specializes in security will help you form a preventative neighborhood watch.

Once the inevitable happens, you shouldn’t panic. You call the police and hopefully your alarm company has been notified as well. They will come and scrutinize the entry point and itemize your missing valuables. Most insurance companies want a police report before making payment. Your security professional will come out and look for weaknesses in your chosen system. Perhaps you have a glass door that is easily broken or windows that are not secure.

I always advise clients to keep a shop vac on hand. You can bring it out after the police have inspected the entire area. They will tell you that it is now time for cleanup since they have all the evidence they need such as fingerprints or telltale clues. If the thieves have been particularly destructive, the shop vac can clean up most of the mess. You can sweep with a broom if there are large broken pieces and follow up with a thorough vacuuming of the smaller particles. This is a very handy, and often necessary, household tool. They come in different sizes from basic and lightweight to large and professional. If there is a remaining residue, I would hire a cleaning service to touch up. The shop vac can at least clear away broken glass or ceramic that could cut children’s tender feet or pet’s vulnerable paws.

Surviving a break-in is a psychological process. Talk to other victims if you feel you need support. You want to restore a feeling of privacy and safety in your home. Adding or upgrading an alarm system makes the most sense. The expenditure is worth its weight in gold in terms of safeguarding your belongings. If you keep your living room drapes open, potential robbers can see in just by walking by your home. If you have a fence around the yard, you will deter onlookers and thieves. While they like the fact that they won’t be seen breaking in, they also know that they can be trapped by a barrier.

If you are home during a break-in (called a home invasion), other tactics are warranted. Some people are registered to own a hand gun. This is a big decision that will depend on the nature of your assets and the likelihood of robbery.

A high-tech alarm system will obviously make you feel very secure. And if people would just turn them on like they are supposed to, it actually would make them safer. But what if you can’t afford a state of the art home alarm system? We’ve got a few tips and tricks to help you feel like your home is your fortress:

  • If you can, spend the money to get quality doors for your home. Sadly, all that pretty glass makes it both easier to see into your house and is easily broken, giving people faster access to your home. If you can’t install a heavy door, you can still shore up the door you have with some simple DIY work. Hardware and security stores sell both door and jamb reinforcement kits. These metal plates will make it harder to kick in or otherwise break the door to gain entry.
  • Some people think that if they are renting, they can’t have a security system.They are concerned with the damage done to the walls when running wires during installation, and that they might not be able to live out the life of the contract in that residence. However, some companies are now offering wireless options or no-contract service agreements. These can be self-install, or the company may come out to do it. Some come with monitoring services and others simply trigger audible alarms. It depends on what you are willing to pay and what your needs are. Many of these sensors are either battery operated (similar to a smoke detector) or plug into an outlet and have battery backup. It can be a viable option if you don’t have huge security needs, can’t make a long-term commitment to an alarm company, or can’t afford a large system.
  • Going low tech is another option. You can purchase a “door stopper,” a bar that you wedge between any doorknob you want to secure and the floor. It prevents the door from opening, and some have an audible alarm that will activate when the doorknob moves as well. There are also magnetic sensors that you can attach to doors or windows. You secure one magnet to the frame and the other to the door or window. If the connection between the two magnets is broken, an audible alarm will sound. Systems like these are best used when you are already in the home, as simply coming in the door would either be impossible or immediately set off an alarm.
  • Video cameras have also gotten less expensive and are now a reliable way to see who is at the door and protect your home. They have gotten smaller and easier to install; some are even in doorbells or the door lock. Many can send video wirelessly to your computer or an app on your phone, allowing you to always see what is going on at your house.

Besides making you, your family, and your valuables more secure in your home, an alarm system can also lower your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Talk to your insurance carrier to find out the details. The money you save may pay for the alarm system, and will give you priceless piece of mind.

When we were younger, our house was robbed. While our parents suffered the loss more acutely from a property and valuables perspective, our sense of safety and security was irreparably damaged. We were not the ones on the phone with the insurance company or the police day in and day out, but we were victims just the same as our parents. Our rooms were not spared by the thieves’ desperate search, and those prized possessions—our toys and games—were strewn everywhere. Many either were unsalvageable or did not provide the same joy and comfort, so they were lost to us either way. A home invasion is traumatic for anyone, but for a child with a limited understanding of the world, it can be earth-shattering.

While we both decided that we were never going to be victims like that again, we chose different paths. Rick endeared himself to the police officers assigned to help our parents, and through them, he grew to love the idea of serving the public. When he was old enough, he enlisted in the military and was assigned to a military police unit. I decided that instead of going after the bad guys, I was going to try to beat them at their own game. Build a better mousetrap, if you will. I would develop my own anti-theft systems and alarms. It was a little too Home Alone for my parents at times, but they understood where my need for protection came from. As I got older, my devices became more elaborate and effective, and less hazardous to my mom’s rugs.

Before Rick and I knew it, we were adults with careers in the security business. If there was ever a silver lining to something difficult, that would have to be it. As awful as the situation was, we know that it gives us a better perspective for our clients and what they are going through. We both still remember that awful feeling when we opened the front door and saw the mess the burglars had left behind. I don’t think I will ever be able to get my mother’s horrified expression or my father’s anger out of my head. It is the reason I had an alarm system installed in my home before I even moved in. It’s why we offer our clients the same services we would want for our own families.

The police never did catch whoever robbed our parents’ house when we were young, although it was not for lack of trying. Unfortunately, that’s the way things are sometimes. They were able to recover one of my mother’s rings, which was likely dropped when the perpetrators were fleeing from our house, but it was the only thing we ever got back. We want to be able to put a happier ending and the end of stories like these for our clients.

That’s why we take this so seriously.

One thing you learn early on in the personal security field is to be alert to your surroundings. When you are in the military, that might mean scanning for unoccupied vehicles or suspicious packages, but it can look very different in your hometown. Here are some general tips to help you stay safe as you go about your day:

  1. Trust your instincts. Your subconscious mind may pick up on danger before your brain can process where the threat is actually coming from. Do not discount this feeling. If you get a “weird vibe” from someone, be wary of spending time alone with them. Listen to that voice in your head telling you to get away from someone instead of feeling socially obligated to be polite. If you are uncomfortable walking alone somewhere, find the closest public place to duck into and call a friend or travel with someone else whenever possible. Stick to well-lit areas when you are walking at night. If nothing happens, do not think you were being paranoid. The threat may have moved on to another target or opportunity. Just because something didn’t happen does not mean that it might not have.
  2. Plan escape routes. This is true for emergencies like fires in your own home or place of work, or if you are somewhere new and feeling uncomfortable. Knowing how to get out in any scenario will put your mind more at ease, and can help you if it is necessary to leave abruptly for any reason.
  3. Be aware of the people around you in public places. Does anyone stand out? Why? There are big red flags, like someone wearing a winter coat in a mall in the middle of the summer; and much smaller red flags, such as people sweating excessively and constantly looking at their watch. It could be easily explained, or it could be a threat. Note any security in the area and notify them if you have any suspicions. They can determine the severity level of the threat and act accordingly. They can also keep a closer eye on someone that is acting suspiciously.
  4. Many people wear headphones or chat on their cellphones when they are in public places. You make yourself a potential target when you openly advertise that you are not paying attention to your surroundings and cannot hear someone coming up behind you. If you must use headphones, keep the volume as low as possible so that you can still keep an ear tuned to your surroundings. When talking on your phone, move against a wall and stay stationary so that people have to approach you from the front.
  5. Be smart with valuables. Don’t flash a lot of cash around or leave any valuables unattended. This includes purses or briefcases that are left visible and/or in an unlocked vehicle. Don’t leave the engine running or the keys inside your car and walk away. The same goes for leaving your purse or valuables in a shopping cart and stepping away from it. You want to make it harder to become a target, not easier. Don’t put the temptation out there.

Remember, it is better to err on the side of caution than to put yourself in a dangerous situation!

Most of the time, when you tell someone that you are in personal security or that you are a bodyguard, they imagine that you have an action-packed job filled with car chases and flying bullets. Hollywood has definitely had a hand in making the field look exciting and dramatic. Thankfully,though, that is not usually the case. Most days are uneventful and even surprisingly routine, depending on your clientele. While it is not necessarily the safest profession, most days usually are pretty safe.

In the military, other than being a police officer, you might be an escort for political officials, high-ranking military personnel, or contractors who either do not or cannot carry their own weapons. It’s not the easiest job but it’s a necessary one. In the civilian world, your tasks will likely be more routine. For example, if you are a bodyguard, your job might consist mostly of walking someone from the door to their car and driving them to and from any place they may need to go. Other than that, it is probably a lot of waiting for your client to be done with whatever they are doing so you can take them to the next location or waiting until your relief shows. There will rarely be a need to jump in front of someone to take a bullet unless maybe you work for the secret service, and even then it doesn’t happen often. If you are a security guard at a venue, you may spend all of your time on your feet with your back to concerts and sporting events, watching crowds of people. Occasionally something will happen, but mostly you are watching other people have a good time. Some larger venues have a “jail” to put perps in until law enforcement arrives and can remove them from the premises. Small amusement park security guards deal mostly with petty theft and ejecting line cutters.  Everything else usually revolves around the parking lot—cars either parked illegally, breaking down or getting flats, broken into, or stolen. There is usually that one guy who swears his car was stolen but actually just did not remember where he parked. The same usually goes for stores or malls—mostly thefts and problems in the parking lots. A bank security guard can spend his whole career without having to thwart a single robbery.Sincethat kind of thing is not newsworthy, you would never hear about it.

Then there are the shifts that most people think you don’t want: the late night hours. The lack of activity there can work for you, especially if you have any ambitions. Many of our friends have put themselves through college by doing their coursework or projects while sitting through graveyard shifts as either a security guard or body guard. Some stay after receiving their degrees, and others move on. When you face an uneventful eight hours nearly every night, you need to occupy yourself when you aren’t watching monitors or doing rounds. What you do with that time is completely up to you as long as it is in the confines of your employee guidelines.


It can be hard to determine whether you need to enlist the help of the police or if you would have more success using a private security company.On further examination, the decision can be fairly simple. The two needs can be broken down this way: the job of most police officers is to respond to criminal activity, to find and arrest those responsible, and to preserve law and order. The job of personal security, on the other hand, is to protect a location or individual(s) and to prevent–or stop–crimes from happening in the first place.

Police officers can’t, and shouldn’t, be everywhere at once. So their job is more after-the-fact. If you don’t know who committed said crime, the police have access to databases and tools that will hopefully help them find the person or persons responsible and help you receive justice. Security guards have no access to the judicial system the same way police officers do and would need their assistance once a criminal has been apprehended. Police training is usually in-depth and standardized in an area, which may not be the case with a personal security agency. On the other hand, they may be limited by financial resources or politics. On the whole, though, most of their duties can only be performed once a crime has occurred because their job is to enforce the law. Their crime deterrent methods are typically only their physical presence somewhere (note we are talking about a typical police officer here and not someone in a specialized unit) but their real power comes after the fact.

Private security, on the other hand, is paid to maintain safety and to deter crime based on their presence. Whether the job is to protect someone or specific property, it is much easier to stop or prevent a crime when you are already physically at the location. While they cannot arrest or charge anyone with a crime, they can hold someone until law enforcement arrives as well as testify to that person’s crimes in court. Also, because private security is not under the same scrutiny as police officers, their hours and techniques can be more flexible. Since they also run as for-profit companies, they can also invest in state of the art equipment to help them better perform their duties. Likewise, they can also offer their employees incentive and performance bonuses that a police force simply cannot. In addition, since they tend to be smaller and lacking in bureaucracy, private security companies can more easily modify their training and continuing education programs for their staff.

The police do their best to keep people safe and help them once a crime has been committed. For the average person, that is usually more than they will ever need. However, if you or your company’s needs fall outside the duties of law enforcement and more in the realm of crime prevention, you should definitely sit down with a private security firm to discuss your concerns.

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