Cheryl Fleming, GRI, ABR's Blog
Whether you live in a huge mansion or a modest cottage, your home is your castle, and you're entitled to be safe and secure at all times!
Unfortunately, there is a criminal element in society which can pose a potential threat to homeowners (and renters) who fail to take precautions.
While each individual has to decide for themselves what security measures are necessary for their own safety and that of their family, everyone can benefit from developing a sense of heightened awareness. This is not a difficult thing to do; it simply requires you to focus extra attention on the need to keep your home and family secure. As an old song lyric by Kenny Rogers reminds us, "Trust in God, but lock your door."
By nature, we are all "creatures of habit." It's easy to lose sight of the big picture and allow ourselves to be lulled into a sense of false security. No matter how safe you think your neighborhood is, you're inviting trouble if you habitually leave your doors unlocked. In the same way you may be conscientious about turning off the stove when you're finished using it, getting in the habit of locking your doors (and windows) before you leave the house or go to bed is also a good safety practice. Just that simple thing done on a consistent basis can drastically reduce your chances of becoming a crime statistic.
Shedding light on the subject
Another easy and inexpensive way to fortify home security is with lighting. Your house and property should never be pitch black at night because it makes your home look more vulnerable and unprotected. Creating the impression that someone is home -- whether they are or not -- can be as simple as turning on a couple lights before you leave the house, connecting your lights to a timer that will automatically turn on and off at designated times, or installing a system that enables you to control your home's security remotely. Motion-activated outdoor spotlights can also be an effective deterrent.
One of the many advantages of having a high-tech home control system is that you never have to worry about forgetting to lock your doors, turn on the lights, or adjust your thermostat; you can do it from virtually any location. If you're not technically inclined, you can have a system installed and monitored by a home security company (Make sure to compare prices, services offered, and customer reviews first, though.)
Some homeowners even opt for a video surveillance system, which is one of the most effective ways to keep tabs on your property. Implementing that sort of security system doesn't fit everyone's comfort zone or household budget, but home automation, in general, is an option worth considering and learning more about.
Whether you decide to stick with old-fashioned techniques or try the latest high-tech methods of keeping your home secure, your most important resources are awareness, alertness, and a good set of locks on your doors and windows.
Although it's an old-fashioned concept, its value and importance will never go out of style.
For homeowners, growing families, and senior citizens, having a small group of people you can consistently turn to for support can make problems smaller and challenges a lot easier to glide through. Not only that, but having a solid connection with a few good friends, family members, and neighbors can help keep your spirits up, through both good times and bad.
When it comes to being a homeowner, raising a family, and growing older, here are some specific reasons why staying in touch with your social contacts can make life easier, less expensive, and safer:
- Getting recommendations: Whether you need a new dentist, dog groomer, or plumber, your chances of finding someone who's dependable and reasonably priced are much greater when you ask a friend, relative, or trusted neighbor. When you're just left to you're own devices to sift through Internet listings, online reviews, and advertisements, it can be pretty time consuming and frustrating. All things being equal, you're more likely to have a successful experience with a service provider who's been recommended to you, as opposed to going through the vetting process completely on your own.
- Taking care of your house while your away: When you're on vacation or away from home for a long weekend, it's nice to have someone you can rely on to water your plants, take care of your pets, and check to see if your house is secure. They can also make sure you don't have newspaper deliveries, packages, or mail piling up in front of your house.
- Knowing a neighbor you can trust: Having someone nearby who can help you in an emergency, take care of your kids if you can't get home on time, or keep on eye on your house while you're away is a vital resource.
- Senior citizens need a support network: As we age and become less able to get around like we used to, a helping hand can make a big difference in our lives. The psychological benefits of having a social life at an older age have also been well documented. Social contact enhances the quality of life for senior citizens and can even contribute to longevity.
- Make a habit of locking your doors and windows. While this piece of advice may sound like a "no-brainer," many reports of home break-ins mention an unlocked window or door as the point of entry for burglars. The first thing you can do to tighten up security and feel safer in your own home is to increase your awareness of potential threats, and emphasize to your family the importance of taking precautions. The ideal scenario involves reinforcing positive habits, without instilling a sense of fear. After all, your home should be a peaceful place where your family always feels safe and comfortable.
- Shine a light on the problem. You would think that everyone would leave lights on when they're not home at night, but -- for one reason or another -- many don't. Keeping your home well lit, both inside and out, is a good strategy for thwarting crime. To save money on energy bills and to avoid the appearance of always having your lights on, you can purchase inexpensive lighting timers. Leaving a radio or TV on when you're not home, or connecting it to a timer, is another way to create the illusion that someone is home.
- Barking dogs are a known burglar deterrent, as are "Beware of Dog" signs. The actual dogs are obviously more effective than the warning signs, but many people bring their pets to a boarding facility when they're away on vacation. One solution is to arrange for a house sitter or an on-site pet care service to stop by. If you have a trusted neighbor or family member who can feed and walk your dog while you're away (maybe, water your plants, too!), then your canine security guard can remain on duty in your absence. Many communities also have licensed and bonded pet care services that can stop by and take care of your dogs, every day, eliminating the need for your pets to be away from home.
- Landscaping features can be a risk factor. Be aware that high bushes and hedges can make it easier for burglars to hide while breaking into windows. Keep shrubs and branches trimmed back as much as possible to eliminate this chink in your security plan. If you're still concerned about the effect of bushes on home security, then make sure your window locks are sturdy and fully functional. Inexpensive battery-operated window and door alarms are also an option.
- Leaving a house key under the front door mat: Although it may seem like a convenient and somewhat discreet place to "hide" a key, it's one of the first places a resourceful burglar is going to look. Not only that, but every time a friend or member of the family accesses that key, they could easily be observed by someone passing by. The longer it's there, the more people are going to see it.
- Forgetting to suspend mail or newspaper delivery: When you go on vacation or visit relatives for more than a few days, your mind is already cluttered with travel plans and other arrangements. It's easy to forget about details like mail delivery and newspapers accumulating in the driveway. However, if either of those items start piling up in front of your house, it's equivalent to placing a flashing neon sign in your window, saying "Nobody's home!" Rather than contacting the post office and newspaper circulation department, an easier method is to have a trusted neighbor or friend gather your deliveries and store them in a safe place -- possibly inside your home. (If they're a really good friend, they can also water your plants, feed your tropical fish, take care of your pets, and turn on a couple lights at night -- but, maybe you don't want to test the limits of your friendship that much!)
- Leaving lampposts and outdoor floodlights on continuously: Again, it's like an advertisement that the house is unoccupied.
- Allowing the grass to get too long: It's amazing how a little sunshine and rain, while you're away, can cause an unexpected growth spurt in your lawn. Although it's not as obvious as the previous items, it can be a tip off that the family is on vacation, blissfully unaware of the security breaches that are occurring. The overgrown grass problem can be prevented by either hiring a regular lawn mowing service or recruiting an enterprising teenager in the neighborhood to keep your property looking well tended while you're away.