Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tip of the Day: Wrap-up on Expat Residential Security, Email Me with Questions

Although residential security is only one important component of many aspects (office security, school security, vehicular security, emergency communications, contingency planning and family security), there are several precepts that are critically important when it comes to residential security:

Gated communities that are protected with competent guard services 24/7 and appropriate intrusion alarms are far more important than the challenging and costly task of protecting a single-family structure that has no wall or fence 360 degrees in circumference; and

Particularly in developing countries with high rates of crime, expat residences should have a "safe-haven" of sufficient size to accommodate all family members constructed near a barred, lockable window that swings out to afford emergency exit from the building if assailants attempt to break into the "safe-haven" from inside the residence. 

“Safe-Havens” continued;

1. All “Safe-Havens” should ideally be no higher than the second-level of the residence from a safety standpoint in terms of escape from the “safe-haven” if deemed necessary;

2. A cellular phone on full charge should be kept in the “safe-haven” 24/7 at all times;  

3. In high-threat countries, expat families should seriously consider the use of firearms (providing local laws permit possession of such weapons and maximum calibers under local law) in repelling assailants from a “safe-haven,” as few police agencies in such countries respond in hours, if at all in a life-and-death situation; and

4. The expat family should have a personal intercom unit available when at home with the base station located in the “safe-haven" on a 24/7 charger.  

Today’s wrap-up on expatriate residential security will include both a summary and recap of concepts discussed.

Additionally, if any of our readers have expanded questions or desire a country-specific solution to residential security requirements, please email me at:

Any responses longer than 75 words will be billed @ $70 per hour broken down in quarter-hour segments depending on the complexity of the question. 


First and foremost, any embassy staff member, member of the armed forces, privately employed expat, member of an international organization, humanitarian non-governmental organization, should be provided a copy of a country-level SECURITY POLICIES AND PROCEDURES MANUAL.

This manual should be drafted by a competent security professional experienced in international security support, crime prevention, contingency planning, threat assessments and management, emergency voice  communications, incident response and counter-terrorism.

Additionally, this manual should include an emergency notification system on how to reach ALL employees during office hours as well as after-hours via: phone, emergency radio, email or in person, with no single person being responsible for contacting no more than eight persons.

Included in the MANUAL, will be a series of contingency plans of sufficient content to enable all managers and employees to implement such plans with little direction.

All such plans will be “tested” by staff at least once every six months. 

Police agencies in developing countries are almost generally slow to respond to an expat residence;

Police agencies in developed nations are almost invariably responsive to a residential threat within 15 minutes;

In high-crime countries, single-family homes, particularly those in developing countries, are strongly discouraged, largely because of the extensive costs to bring them up to corporate security or embassy security standards;

Definition of a “developed nation”: A sovereign state that has a highly developed economy and advanced technological infrastructure relative to other less industrialized nations. The criteria for evaluating the degree of economic development are gdp per capita income, level of industrialization, amount of widespread infrastructure and general standard of living. Developed countries have post-industrial economies, meaning the service sector provides more wealth than the industrial sector. They are contrasted with developing countries, which are in the process of industrialization, or undeveloped countries, which are pre-industrial and almost entirely agrarian. In 2011, the nine largest advanced economies by gdp include the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Canada, Spain and South Korea. 

In high-crime nations, “gated communities, condominiums and apartment complexes” are almost always preferable to single-family homes considering that they almost always have 24/7 security monitoring (intrusion alarms and patrols), access control, visitor screening and secure parking;

In high-crime nations, particularly those in developing nations, where police response is poor, if they show up at all, a “safe-haven” of sufficient size to accommodate all family members is mandatory;

Single-family homes, in those countries where gated communities, condominiums and apartment complexes are sparsely available, are acceptable from a security standpoint only if they are protected 360 degrees by a fence or wall (preferably the latter) that is at least nine feet in height;

Regardless of the type of housing situation (single-family home, condominium, gated community, apartment complex, etc.) available, no expat vehicle should be permitted to park on a public street, given the risk of theft, sabotage, improvised explosive devices, etc.;

In the case of condominiums, gated communities and apartment complexes, no employee should be permitted to occupy a unit below the third floor or above the sixth floor due largely to criminal access and fire safety considerations;

Any local maid, cook, nanny, gardener or other local staff employed by a expat household should be interviewed by an experienced investigator who speaks the local language as a first language who has the skills to obtain a written release from the prospective employee that their background will be examined, including fingerprint checks through local police to ensure that they do not have a history theft, child molestation, sexual assault, rape, sexual harassment or crimes of moral turpitude;

Additionally, key managers of the organization will be required to meet every three months for the purpose of gathering to discuss broad-based security matters relative to the organization. This gathering unit will be called the Emergency Action Committee; 

Finally, all employees should be provided a comprehensive Incident Report Form designed to enable all staff to report any security vulnerability, hazard, observance or risk to the designated Security Representative who should be identified by name including all possible ways of reaching her/him;

If any of our readers believes that drafting of an in-country security manual is a prudent step toward emergency preparedness, I would be happy to assist our readers in drafting such a country plan on the basis of a fixed-price fee; and

Not knowing the specific security questions our readers may have or how detailed they may be, please contact me via email at: