According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), violent crime is on the rise. The FBI estimated that over 1.4 million violent crimes occurred in 2006 (the last year for which complete data are available), an increase of almost two percent over the previous year. The Bureau found that aggravated assault topped the list of violent crimes, followed by robbery (31.6 percent) and rape (6.5 percent).
While these statistics are startling, those who have been victimized by violent crime and those who have had brushes with crime but managed to escape know that it's critical to protect yourself and your family from attack or intruders. According to experts, there are two primary ways to do so:
Home Alarm Systems
Home alarms are one of the best and easiest ways to both deter and detect crime. Even if you don't have the money to install a full system, there are products you can buy to help protect your home. Wireless home security systems, for example, can monitor windows and doors. Typically, if the system is activated and then breached, an alarm goes off, and the system's base unit will consecutively call phone numbers on your programmed list. When someone answers, he or she can choose between listening to the activity in the room, speaking through the base unit so anyone in the room can hear, or disarming the system.
Similarly, motion alarms can be set to protect certain areas. You can set one up so that it covers the area near your front door, and another that covers the area near your back door. If the system picks up movement, a loud alarm goes off and it calls a series of phone numbers that you pre-set. Most of these motion alarms use infrared technology to detect intruders.
Personal Security Devices
There are two primary ways of defending yourself against attack: mace pepper spray and personal alarm systems. Mace pepper spray is a self defense product that is made from what are, essentially, chili peppers. The pepper is suspended in fluid and then aerosolized into a spray. You can buy pepper spray in small, easy-to-carry containers that can easily be put on a keychain or tucked into a handbag. Some states in the U.S. have restrictions regarding the legality of pepper spray, either in terms of who is authorized to buy it or the strength of the spray, so you should check your state's laws before you buy.
Personal alarm systems are in some ways similar to home alarms, except they're small and easy to carry. These devices' features vary by model, but can incorporate a high-decibel alarm and a flashing light. They are usually activated by either pulling a pin or pushing a button and are effective because they draw the attention of passersby, and hopefully cause the criminal to run.
Of course, there are a number of other steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from attack or intruders. For example, you should regularly review and practice the steps you will take if you are confronted by a criminal in a variety of scenarios. Experts often say that those who survive attacks are people who have trusted their intuition, planned possible escapes ahead of time, and kept a clear head throughout the crisis.