Better Safe

Home alone? When you're working and living in the same place, you need to take home security seriously., October 1999

It's no Fort Knox, but Jane Scheid's home office and its surrounding property provide plenty of protection-and peace of mind.

If the entry gate to Scheid's property doesn't dissuade unwelcome guests, then the alarm company's warning sign might. Lush foliage obstructs the glimpses of casual passersby, while allowing Scheid a clear view outside. At night, motion detectors guarantee that if someone creeps through the yard, the entire property and her office/cottage will be flooded with bright light.

When she's out of the office, Scheid draws the window blinds so people can't peer in at her equipment. When she's in the office, the deadbolt is often turned, and her cellular phone and a can of Mace are always close at hand.

Plus, Scheid has an added insurance "policy": Trip Moore, her husband-and his black belt in karate. He often checks in during the day and calls her when she's working late. "He'll call from the [main] house," she says, "even though it's just 30 feet away."

She may be running her marketing communications company, Jane Scheid Communications, from her home alone, yet she rarely feels unsafe. "Maybe I'm just a paranoid person," Scheid says. "But I take these precautions, and I haven't had anything alarming happen to me yet."

Scheid isn't paranoid-she's just plain smart, says Bob Worthy, president of alarm company Secur Technologies, and president of the Alarm Association of Florida. "[Homebased] business owners let some of these things go by the wayside. They think they just can't afford it. But you can't ignore safety and protection."

Worthy recommends alarm systems with handheld panic or duress buttons, fire extinguishers for the home and home office, even fireproof safes for backup data files. Duplicates of important documents or files also should be kept off-site, in case a fire destroys the originals. In fact, for both personal security and property protection, you must assess your vulnerabilities and set up defenses . . . today. We'll show you how.

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