Security and safety can be particularly more stressful for women who find themselves home alone when their partners are out of town. This is because it leaves them more vulnerable than usual. To help you feel more secure, and increase your safety during these times, Steve Pearce, MD of LockLatch, has put together 12 easy-to-follow home alone security tips.
1 Change it up!
One of the easiest safety precautions to follow is to change up your routine regularly. This will not only make it less noticeable that your partner has left to the watchful eyes of criminals who may be casing your home, but will keep them guessing as to when the home is occupied or not. Mixing up times when you leave or arrive home, and rearranging schedules are effective crime deterrents.
Being home alone can seem a little scary, especially if it’s something you’re not used to. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy that summer breeze or views to the garden when home alone. There are two ways to secure your patio or deck sliding doors. The first is to add a LockLatch which allows you to securely keep the door slightly open when at home. The second is to use a metal pole or handle from a broom or mop that can be wedged into the door track, which prevents criminals from being able to jostle the door open without breaking the glass. This is a great preventative measure at night, increasing security while you sleep and eliminating the chance of being surprised.
3 Light it up!
Outdoor lights are a big security threat deterrent. This includes motion-sensor floodlights at the front of the house, the side alleys leading around the house to areas such as where dustbins are kept and the back garden. Lighting up outside areas eliminates the ability for would-be criminals to hide unseen and getting these installed before your partner leaves for a business trip will increase your safety, and your peace of mind when home alone!
There are a lot of deterrents that you can use to fake the amount of security you do have to increase safety when home alone. One of the easiest and cheapest ways is to buy a beware-of-the-dog-sign, regardless of whether you have a dog or not. Adding dog water bowls to your backyard and hanging dog leads will help you keep up the facade. Another is a dog motion alarm that barks when people approach the door or fake security cameras that give criminals the impression that you have TV monitoring systems set up.
5 Have a buddy system
Before you find yourself home alone, set up a buddy system. This may include meeting neighbours, joining the neighbourhood watch, and creating a check-in system with friends and family to ensure you have a supportive buddy system. A particularly helpful tool is to create a closed, private Facebook, Whatsapp or Twitter group that you are able to check-in regularly and keep your buddies up-to-date with safety checks. This buddy system will ensure they are able to follow your movements, and creating a social or phone groups with your neighbours who you can trust can be very helpful.
6 Social media friend or foe?
Although the buddy system suggests using social media to highlight close friends and family on your movements, the wrong update to unprotected audiences can alert criminals to the fact that you find yourself home alone or to any changes in your routine. Be aware that Facebook statuses that are liked by friends may show up in newsfeeds of the friends of your friends, which means if you are telling social media that you find yourself alone, you might be making yourself more vulnerable.
Self-defence classes not only help you prevent attacks, but are a great form of fitness. Strength is a great deterrent and will make you feel safer when home alone. Self-defence classes give you the right skills and practice to thwart away attackers while you learn to recognise additional safety risks and the techniques needed to get away.
8 The alarm you didn’t know you had!
For additional security, unknown to many, your car alarm can be a helpful security aid, especially if you have not as yet had a panic button installed. Key fobs that unlock car doors are a very efficient alternative or added noise deterrent. By sleeping with the keys next to the bed, and pushing the alarm to deter an intruder, the added noise will irritate and awaken neighbours and therefore alert them that you may be in need of assistance.
9 Be best friends with your private security company
A lot of private home security companies offer the added customer service of additional drive-bys of your property, as well as making their security cars available to park outside your property for woman coming home alone at night. This will boost safety and give you much more peace of mind. Altering your security company to the fact that you will be home alone and asking if they offer this service is highly recommended. An added measure is to set up a security alert word with your company that is escorting you home; that way if there is a security risk they can be discreetly notified and react accordingly to keep you safe.
10 Go old-school
For added security when left home alone, invest in a good quality pepper spray. This can be hidden around the home, such as in the nightstand, or hidden in your car or handbag and used to gain valuable time to run from an attacker or burglar. Be sure to practice using it before your partner goes away.
When using taxis, opt for a reputable car service that you can trust. If you are coming home alone from a late-night work function and using services such as Uber, make sure they drop you right at your front door. Cutting corners like getting them to drop you around the corner to save a few rand can leave you very vulnerable.
12 It’s in the details
It’s easy to get distracted and forget the little safety measures a partner may normally handle, like setting the alarm and locking up the shed or garage. Don’t get complacent and take extra care with locking up when you are home alone. Make a safety check-list to include all these little details for when you come home or when leaving the house to ensure no small safety measure is overlooked.
Who is Steve Pearce?
Steve Pearce is the MD of Lock Latch Retail SA and Lock Latch International.