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Lesson 2-5 Home Physical Security

Criminals remain the most likely threat in your home. However, terrorists have conducted operations at the homes of servicemen overseas. The following section provides some basic information to make your home a hard target. Develop a security plan that includes the following:

  • Operations Security. Donít provide information to potential terrorists or criminals via the mail, phone, computer or trashcan.
  • Outer Security. Use available assets (local shop owners, neighbors, domestic employees, guards, family etc.) to detect potential surveillance.
  • Inner Security. Establish a warning system with pets, alarms, and motion sensors.
  • Barriers. Fences, walls, locked doors and windows, secure rooms to go to in an emergency.
  • Communications. Phone, cell phones, megaphones, intercoms, radios, audible alarms, linked security systems.
  • Deterrent/Response Systems. Guards, pets, weapons (if authorized), and fire extinguishers.


  • Change or re-key locks when you move in or when a key is lost by a family member. Maintain strict control of all keys. Change the security code in the garage door opener. Never leave house or trunk key with your ignition key while your car is being serviced or parked by an attendant.
  • Donít open doors to strangers. Observe them through a peephole viewer. Establish procedures for accepting deliveries such as: verifying identities of delivery person, checking the identity of the deliverer with the appropriate dispatcher, refusing all unexpected packages.
  • Allow maintenance work only on a scheduled basis. Unless a clear emergency exists. Be alert to people disguised as public utility crews, road workers, vendors etc., who might station themselves near the house to observe activities and gather information.
  • Note parked or abandoned vehicles near the entrance or walls of the residence.
  • Make residence appear occupied while you are away by using timers to control lights, TVs, and radios.
  • Ask neighbors to adjust blinds and draperies and pick up newspapers and mail.
  • Schedule regular lawn work.
  • Notify local law enforcement or military police if you will be away for an extended period.

Residential Physical Security

  • Routinely keep all doors, skylights, roof doors, and windows locked. Keep all window curtains and blinds tightly closed after sundown.
  • Install lighting all around the house and yard; link to timers and sensors.
  • Ensure door frames, doors, locks, and bolts are of solid construction. Ensure door hinges exposed to outside of house are pinned or spot-welded to prevent removal of the hinge bolt.
  • Ensure fuse boxes are secure from tampering.
  • Remove all trees, poles, ladders, etc., that might help an intruder scale fences, walls or gain access to second floor windows. Remove dense foliage or shrubbery near gates, garages, windows or doors that might conceal an intruder.
  • Install intrusion detection, smoke, and fire alarms. Ensure intrusion detection alarms covers both the perimeter (doors and windows) and interior (motion and/or glass break sensors). Have the alarms monitored through a reputable security service or police. Train family members to use and test alarms regularly.
  • If possible, select and prepare an interior safe room for use in case of emergencies. The safe room should have a sturdy door with a lock and an emergency exit, if possible. Bathrooms on upper floors are generally good, safe rooms.
  • Store emergency and first aid supplies in the saferoom. Bars or grillwork on saferoom windows should be locked from the inside to expedite escape.
  • Keep keys to locks, a rope or chain ladder to ease escape, and a means of communication (e.g., cellular phone and radio transmitter.


  • Donít place your name in a public local phone directory.
  • If you receive obscene, threatening or annoying phone calls or an unusual number of wrong or silent callers, report this to the police. Use caller-ID or call block, if available.
  • Answer the phone without providing any personal information. Be especially cautious when sending personal information over computer on-line services.
  • Report any interruption or unusual interference with phone, electrical or computer service. This could be the first indication of ďbuggingĒ your phone line.
  • Keep a cellular phone charged and available, particularly at night.

Letter Bombs and Biological Mailings

Heightened personal security involves treating any suspicious-looking mail (letter or package) as a bomb or a potential biological threat. If you think any mail is suspicious, contact the military police or appropriate security officials and let them investigate. Do not attempt to handle the mail yourself. You should examine your mail for the following suspicious features:

  • It is from a stranger or an unknown place?
  • Is the return address missing?
  • Is there an excessive amount of postage?
  • Is the size excessive or unusual?
  • Does it have external wires or strings that protrude?
  • Is the spelling correct?
  • Does the return address and place of postmark match?
  • Does the handwriting appear to be foreign?
  • Does it smell peculiar?
  • Is it unusually heavy or light?
  • Is it unbalanced (lopsided)?
  • Are there any oily, sticky or powdery substances on the outside of the letter or package?
  • Does it have springiness on the top, bottom or sides?

You should use the following guidelines if you suspect that a piece of mail contains a bomb or biological agent:

  • Donít panic.
  • Do not shake the empty contents of any suspicious envelope or package. If any powder or substance leaks out, do not attempt to clean it up.
  • Place the envelope or package in a plastic bag or some other type of container to prevent leakage of the contents. (If you do not have a container, cover the mail and do not remove the cover. If powder or any other substance has already leaked out, cover that also. You can cover the mail with clothing, paper, trash cans, etc.)
  • Leave the room and close the door. Secure the area to prevent others from entering.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water to prevent spreading any biological agent to your skin or respiratory system.
  • Report the incident to authorities. If at home, dial 911 and report the incident to your local law enforcement agency. If at work, report the incident to the governing law enforcement agency and notify your building security official or an available supervisor.
  • List all of the people who were in the room or area when the suspicious mail was recognized. Give this list to both the local health authorities and law enforcement officials.

All mail that is sent overseas should be delivered via Army/Fleet Post Offices or through the U.S. Embassy to allow for proper bomb detection and inspection by trained mail handlers.

Vehicle Bomb Search

A large number of terrorist attacks take place in or around a vehicle, typically by some sort of explosive device. This occurs because bombs are relatively easy to make and plant on exposed and unattended vehicles. You need to learn how to search a vehicle for tampering and to recognize danger signs. By routinely inspecting your vehicle, you give the impression of being a hard target.


David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015