Hands up if this has never happened to you: Rushing out of the house, late for work and minutes later sitting in traffic not quite sure if you’ve locked your back door after letting the dogs out; did you close the bedroom window?
It’s easy to forget these things, especially over weekends when you might be running late for birthday parties or sports events, or even excited to get out of the house for a weekend away.
That’s why it’s so important to remind yourself of the South African Police Service’s tips for safety awareness at home; especially when it comes to the basics of at-home safety and access and key control measures.
- Under no circumstance should you allow strangers onto your premises or into your home. In fact, always ensure that all visitors are properly identified before granting access.
- Implement proper key control measures and ensure that the rest of the home’s occupants know and follow these measures.
Stop identifying keys with labels indicating which door or gate each particular key grants access to. Rather use a code that is only known to you and the rest of your family.
- If applicable try and keep the key to your safe on your person. If you are uncomfortable with this consider one of these solutions.
- Do not use old and traditional spots such as pot plants or under the doormat to hide your keys.
- Never allow strangers to handle your keys or look at key numbers. Alternatively you risk your keys being reproduced.
- If you lose your keys your locks must be changed immediately.
- Insert barring devices in your door locks.
- Do not leave keys in doors when leaving your home.
- If you do need to leave keys in the keyhole on the inside ensure that the key is turned. This makes it harder to remove.
- While large dogs act as a deterrent it is also a good idea to have one dog trained to sleep inside with you and your family.
- Never leave tools such as axes, spades, picks out in the open where it can be easily accessed when you are not using it. This could be a significant attack risk for you and your family.
Try to add variation to your daily routine, the same routine constantly will make you an easier target.
- Get into the habit of not immediately falling asleep when you turn the lights off, try to stay awake a little longer.
- None of the family members should be visible from the outside while sleeping in their bedrooms.
- Always keep a torch nearby your bed for emergency use at night, but be sure not to give away your position if you have to use it.
- Identify a relatively safe space to act as safe room in the case of an invasion. The bathroom, toilet or storerooms are all good options. The fewer doors and windows your chosen space has the better.
- Ensure that your whole family knows the procedure of retreating to the safe room when required. This includes any employees you might have working in the home.
- In terms of employees; make sure that your employees know the security requirements of the household and that they are as responsible as you are for maintaining these standards. Never employ casual workers without a reference and ensure that you have an ID copy and recent photograph of all of your permanent employees.
- Consider remunerating employees if they provide unusual information that prevents crime.
If, when returning home late you are unsure of the status of your home do not enter. Red flags should be your dogs not coming to the gate to greet you.
- Clear the areas around your gates of bushes and other hiding places.
- Maintain a good relationship with your neighbours so that you can form a support network for each other in case of emergency.
These are all just guidelines and of course you should still invest in upgrading the security of your home with an efficient alarm system and electric fence. After all, if you forget to lock your door or let a potential criminal in by your own free will, there’s not much your alarm system can do to keep you safe.