Tips for Staying Safe When Living Alone
If allowed by your landlord...get a dog (or a cat).
Having a pet around will naturally ease some of your worries when living alone. Pets can serve as ideal living companions and are often the best kind of security system to invest in-- due to their acute senses and natural instincts, your pet's reaction is sometimes the earliest sign of danger.
Become familiar with the everyday habits of your neighborhood.
Pay attention to detail. Get a general feel for your neighborhood during the day and at night. Questions to ask yourself:
- When are most people out and walking about during the day and at night?
- What types of businesses are accessible in your area?
- How late are the businesses usually open until?
- Does your area attract a lot of outside traffic or mainly residents?
Meet the Smiths.
You do not have to become best friends with your neighbors, but at least get a general feel for who they are. You never know when you may need their help in case of an emergency. Even nosey neighbors can be helpful in spotting loiterers and other potential threats to your safety. It is also good when living alone to have a friend familiar with your day to day habits.
Always change locks when you move into a new apartment or house. And be sure to keep track of how many copies are made and who is in possession of them-Your safety depends on it. Most importantly, NEVER hide your keys outside your apartment or house.
Get into a habit of keeping your doors and windows locked when you are not in the process of using them. Most reported break-ins are actually walk-ins due to the relaxed attitude of the resident. A high percentage of break-ins occur during warmer weather when residents frequently go outside, so if this scenario pertains to you then consider getting a screen door and keeping it locked! This allows you access to fresh air without the risk.
Inspect to protect yourself.
It is a good idea to have your apartment or house inspected by a police officer who can identify the areas in your home vulnerable to criminal activity. Things to keep in mind are entry points into your home as well as lighting and visibility during the day and night.
DOORS- 4 Things to Look For
- Get rid of key hole locks too easy to be forced open
- Check and eliminate rotting frames
- Metal or Wood Core doors only
- Hinges should be located on the inside of the door
- Dead bolt locks are most secure either a 1 inch throw bolt or a heavy duty drop bolt lock
- For heavy duty security choose a pick-resistant cylinder with a protective guard plate
WINDOWS- Methods for securing certain window types
- Basement = Grilles or Bars
- Sliding /Patio Doors= Self- Tapping Screws or Wooden Plank
In case of an emergency it is important to designate ahead of time a place where you can hide out until help arrives. This room should include a telephone, a flashlight, and means for exiting if necessary. 911 should be programmed into your telephone along with two other numbers of close friends and family who live nearby.
- Park your car in at least one if not all of the following 3 places (well-lit area, near an elevator, high traffic area)
- Use your keys as a potential weapon by walking with them in your hand at all times
- Keep your car uncluttered and remove items from your car- it is even advised by some to leave your glove compartment open if possible so thieves won't be tempted
- Trust your instincts and never enter an elevator if the occupant makes you uncomfortable
- Before stepping into an elevator alone - you should clear the elevator to make sure is does not mysteriously send you to the basement
- to clear an elevator: step inside and press the basement button then step out, wait until it moves and then press the up button
- Only list your last name and first initial on the directory- so that a stranger does not pretend to know you and convince another tenant to let them in
- Secure all a/c units so that they cannot be opened easily
- Top floor occupants should always check that the roof door is locked
- Remove all signs of wealth and opulence - expensive items should not be left in plain sight on your lawn or in view in windows
- DO NOT aid a burglar in breaking into your own home by leaving helpful tools around such as screwdrivers, hammers, and ladders
- Be mindful of blind spots and hiding places produced by your landscaping - such as overgrown shrubs and hedges
- Your house number should be easily visible from the street (6 inch tall lettering) and illuminated at night so that help can respond quickly to the right location
- Light your way: Visibility is important to your safety
- Light doorways
- Porch lights
- Motion detector lights
- Your privacy is important; however to some extent you should allow your home to be visible to neighbors and patrol cars, so that people can spot suspicious behavior.
Remember! The key to preventing a dangerous situation is to be proACTIVE. So be smart about your safety ahead of time, not after you've learned your lesson.