As professional risk management consultants, we are often tasked with estate security for clients. This can range from providing a risk assessment and recommendations to providing comprehensive solutions for the property and those residing there. This can be both a daunting and thankless job for those new to residential security. It is quite different from the mobile assignments we all love, but just as important to the protection of a Principal and their family.
When conducting assessments, some Executive Protection personnel immediately focus in on preventing outside threats such as intruders, stalkers, paparazzi and the like. While this is important (it might be the compelling reason we were retained), it is not the limit of our concerns. We must take a holistic approach to security and “all-hazards management”. Our charge as protection specialists is, well, to protect….from anything that could affect the wellbeing of our client.
In addition to physical security, passive measures such as CCTV or remote monitoring, consider the following vulnerabilities when assessing a residential environment:
A home fire is a very dangerous and costly incident that can be mitigated to an extent, with the proper planning and resources. Does the home have active and serviceable fire detectors? Are the fire detectors merely to alert residents of fire/smoke or are they tied in with the security system that is monitored for response?
Given the large size of some estates, some have opted to install automated water sprinkler systems. Depending on the materials the structure was built with and size, this might be an added value. Are other adequate fire suppression devices, like extinguishers in the home? Vulnerable areas such as garages, kitchens, workshops and basements should have quick access to a fire extinguisher.
Also take into consideration things in the home that can be a fire hazard. Are there fireplaces that need cleaning or maintained? Are there tapestries, drapes or other flammable items that pose a hazard?
Carbon monoxide is a scentless and tasteless gas that prevents oxygen from being retained in red blood cells, causing tissue and brain damage as well as leading to death if not properly treated.
Broken items in the home such as a furnace can leak carbon monoxide and lead to tragedies. Some fire detectors come equipped with carbon monoxide detectors as well. This is something to think about while addressing fire mitigation solutions.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is undetectable by human senses. Radon poisoning does not cause the same harmful, obvious symptoms as other radioactive substances.
Instead, radon exposure can lead to the development of lung cancer after a period of time. Having a radon (or several) detector in the home is a low cost and often overlooked part of providing for the security of the residents.
While not typically at the forefront of a protection specialists mind, the overall maintenance of the property and structures on it are of concern to us. Has a recent storm caused damage to the roof, security gates or backup generators? Is the home older, requiring renovation or eradication of a mold problem. Does the property have sufficient lighting during hours of darkness? Don’t be afraid to ask these questions to the Estate Manager or other responsible party. Large residences require significant upkeep and maintenance. Just like with any home, small issues can grow into larger ones as time progresses.
We are typically tasked with driving a Principal, possibly in their vehicle. Have we determined that maintenance is up to par?
Are there potential recalls that could affect the safety of the vehicle(s) in question?
More in line with typical physical security concerns, locks (door, gate, garage, etc) pose a significant challenge to ensuring the security of the residence. Do all locks and keys work correctly? Do any lock mechanisms jam or have they been damaged by weather or other means?
An estate requires different people and staff to run effectively. When personnel resign or are terminated from their positions (security personnel included), are locks and gate combinations changed? Any combination should be changed at regular intervals to enhance security. While inconvenient at times, it can be a powerful means of keeping the good guys in and the bad guys out.
When the power goes out, typically security measures such as alarms and CCTV are affected in some capacity if not totally rendered useless. Restoration of power is not only important for physical security measures but also the wellbeing of inhabitants for things such as climate control.
If the residence is in a colder climate, would it be feasible to go three days to a week with no means of warmth (if heater requires electricity). The same goes for warmer climates requiring adequate air conditioning. Are small children or those with health concerns (requiring special medical equipment) in the residence? There are multiple solutions available that provide standby and as needed power, should the need arise. Bring it up while consulting. Ask the question.
Children pose special challenges and hazards. The “baby-proofing” of a home can be an article on its own. Consider items in the residence that could be dangerous to a child. Cords, electrical outlets, access to chemicals and unrestricted access to staircases and choking hazards. Use the precautions implemented in your own home as a guide to help your client keep their family safe as well.
These are only a few examples of things to consider in a residential security environment. As a professional risk manager, it is important to think inside the box as well as out when it comes to providing comprehensive protection strategies for clients. Our job is to think about the things they haven’t, offer relevant and practical solutions and be a subject of knowledge for our clients to lean on. Don’t be afraid to bring up a potential issue or ask a question for clarification. Often you will be working hand in hand with an Estate Manager, Nanny, Butler or other trusted member of staff. Use the knowledge you have and build on it for the future.