The Benefits of a DIY Home Security System

This week’s mailbag addresses the pros and cons of a DIY home security system, how to browse the internet without being tracked, the best way to secure firearms in your home — and more.

Let’s get started.

I am investigating home security systems since I am not at home constantly. What are some things I should look for in a good home security system? Do you have any recommendations? 

— Ken R. 

First, decide whether you want to install a “do-it-yourself” home security system or have a professional company come to your home and install it for you. Before making this decision, check with your local police department and ask if they respond to residential alarms. In most larger cities, they won’t — but the company providing your home security usually has private guards who will respond.

If you live in a small town like I do where the police department does respond to intrusion alarms, you might want to go with an alarm company. If you live in a big city, it might make more sense to use a DIY system. That way if you get an alert, you can have someone check it out since the police probably won’t send someone out.

Another factor to consider is that most DIY systems are far cheaper than most professional companies. Plus, they usually don’t require a long contract. If you decide to use a DIY company, I recommend checking out SimpliSafe. I have used this company and was pleased with the service and products.

If you want to use a major alarm company, I recommend ADT since they are one of the biggest companies in the market. They will install and provide monitoring for your system, but they typically require a three-year contract.

Are walkie-talkies useful survival gear? What kind do you recommend?

— Jeany M. 

Walkie-talkies and two-way radios are essentially the same thing. Whichever one you go with, they are absolutely useful in a survival situation. Not only can you use them to stay in contact with family or friends who are in range but they are also a great way to listen for emergency alerts in your area.

The two-way radios I use are Baofeng UV-5R+s. These sell for around $35 on Amazon. Plus, they come with a charging dock to keep the large-capacity lithium-ion battery juiced and ready to use.

Is there a place online or in Los Angeles, California, where I can get a body camera that is not very expensive or other equipment that is comparable?

— Mario S. 

I recommend the Transcend DrivePro 30 1080p HD Body Camera. Now, these aren’t cheap — but when it comes to investing in a body camera, a quality device will cost a few hundred dollars.

You can buy one of these cameras online at a few different places such as Amazon or B&H Photo for around $300. This camera comes with a 12-hour battery, 64GB of internal storage and a built-in microphone and records in 1080p. Plus, it’s rated for outdoor use, so you can travel with it anywhere.

How do you carry a firearm through California sans a permit? I am permitted for all the surrounding states and have to visit there en route home from Arizona to Washington state. I hear it’s difficult to get a permit for California.

— Shar S. 

It’s very difficult to get a concealed carry permit in California. One of the many requirements to obtain one is that you must be a resident of the state. In addition, California does not recognize permits from any other state; therefore, your other permits are worthless when traveling in California.

When driving through California, your handguns must be stored unloaded in the trunk, vehicle storage compartment or a locked gun case. Unfortunately, California makes it nearly impossible for anyone (even residents) to get a concealed firearm permit, which is why many gun enthusiasts refer to it as “Commiefornia.”

How can I search the web without being tracked?

— Ray M. 

I recommend using a virtual private network (VPN), which encrypts your data for a more secure browsing experience. The VPN I use is called TunnelBear. Once you subscribe to their service, you can download TunnelBear to use on your computer, tablet and smartphone.

Most VPNs charge a similar fee, but it’s well worth the cost to keep your data safe. No matter which VPN you go with, make sure it’s from a reputable company and doesn’t track your history.

How do I keep my firearm quickly available for a home invasion or similar situation and yet not easily found by thieves that break in when no one is home?

— Paul B. 

I use a small rapid-access safe that sits on my nightstand with a cable that runs down the back of the nightstand and is secured to a large piece of furniture. Even if a criminal goes straight to my nightstand, they won’t be able to take the safe with them because the safe is secured and the cable can’t be cut.

Another option is to install a wall safe you can hide behind a picture or something else you hang near your bed (a mirror, maybe). Either way, your firearms should be stored in some type of safe so a criminal can’t walk off with them.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

Chris Campbell

Written By Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson is a former CIA officer and security specialist. He’s appeared on numerous television shows, including ABC’s Shark Tank and NBC’s Today show. To get free survival tips from Jason, click here.