Living alone can be fabulous, but it does raise your vulnerability to home invasion. Below are ways to help maximize home security when you’re single, widowed or otherwise on your own. First we suggest simple ways to physically protect your home. Next we share social tips that can improve security.
Part I: Strengthen Your Fort to Prevent Crime
A monitored home alarm system from a company with quick response times can dramatically improve your safety and peace of mind. Still, sirens and emergency dispatching should be the last line of defense. Here are ways to help prevent crime with and without a monitored alarm system.
Rekey Your Door Locks
Do strangers have keys to your home? It might be impossible to know! When you move to a new residence, rekey the door locks immediately. Taking this security precaution is quick and inexpensive; rekeying requires about 10 minutes and $10 to $30 per lock. Consider upgrading to electronic locks with keypads. These deadbolt locks are especially difficult to defeat, and being keyless they’re more convenient for owners. In addition to having a personal PIN, you can assign temporary entry codes to trusted house guests and service providers. Electronic locks can be expensive (more than $100 each) but are sometimes made very affordable in packages through home security companies.
Reinforce Sliding Doors
Sliding glass doors look terribly inviting to criminals. For one thing, criminals know that they’re often installed backwards! When a sliding door is installed backwards, obviously the lock is easily accessible, plus the door can easily be popped off its track! First things first, make sure that your door is properly installed. Next, seriously note that sliding glass doors tend to have weak locks and are easily smashed. Use a door jamb to help prevent home invasions. You can buy a door jamb or do-it-yourself with a wooden board or similar object. Just be sure your system works; it might appear effective but should be tested for proper alignment. For comprehensive protection use a glass break sensor. A glass break sensor can respond to the sound of breaking glass with a high-decibel alarm. It can also be connected to a security company’s monitoring center.
Install Lights with Motion Detection
Bright light can discourage nighttime prowlers. Solar-powered security lights are easiest to install and maintain because they involve no wiring or battery replacement. Choose solar lights that are activated by motion. A change in lighting can draw attention to prowlers whereas constant lighting might not. An added benefit of this home security investment is the convenience to you when arriving home; nobody likes to fumble in the dark.
If you can care for dogs, let them care for you! Dogs can be excellent home security allies. Big teeth aren’t required; a tiny Pomeranian can be helpful with its warning bark. Visit a pet charity website or your local humane society.
Post “Beware of Dog” signs to advertise a canine presence. And remember, it’s OK to lie to criminals. Your Pomeranian won’t mind if you post an “I Love My Doberman” sign.
For more tips about preventing home invasions, see our article “10 Ways to Stop Criminals From Choosing Your Home.”
Part II: Use Emergency Gadgets
What if preventive measures fail? Whether or not you install a home security system, you can have emergency devices on-hand.
Use Your Car Alarm
A car alarm with remote control can enhance home security. Keep the car keyfob near you at night. If needed, press the alarm button to scare off a prowler. At the same time, shout to neighbors and dial 911. For even better security, choose a professional alarm system with a keyfob panic button. Whenever you press your keychain button, the security monitoring company will send emergency responders. The leading home security companies also monitor panic buttons that the owner wears or has installed in the home.
Use Pepper Spray
Pepper spray can disable a would-be attacker, giving you time to escape to safety. A typical pepper spray canister fits on a keychain. It works from at least 10 feet away and only costs about $10. This device should be tested for adequate pressure every six months.
Part III: Socialize Carefully
“Social security” can improve safety for single adults. Here are a few security tips about socializing with real and imaginary people.
Meet Your Neighbors
Introduce yourself to neighbors. When neighbors know each other, they’re more likely to be helpful in emergencies. They’re also more likely to share information that could help prevent crime. For example, “Do you know a guy in a white GMC? He stopped by your house today.” Pay attention to your neighborhood too. Know which people and vehicles are local so that a stranger stands out.
Invent a Housemate
Intruders consider single-person households to be relatively easy targets. They might especially target women who obviously live alone. Here are simple ways to make your home seem more populated.
- Relabel your mailbox. Mark up your mailbox to suggest that two or more adults are present. For example, instead of “C. Bradshaw” try “The Bradshaws” or “C. Bradshaw & M. Big.”
- Add shoes. Create the effect of a second resident — a large second resident — by adding more shoes to your doorstep. For example, a small woman could set a pair of XL men’s boots next to her own footwear.
- Be overheard. It might feel silly but talking to an imaginary housemate can improve home security. If a stranger rings your doorbell, call out “I’ll get it!” And when you’re locking the front door to leave, say a loud farewell to your imaginary backup.
Hide Your Location Online
Social media encourages us to “check in.” Lots of apps want to know our location. Resist the request! Your safety is more important than immediately showing friends where you are.
And if you use dating apps:
- Keep your name secret. This home security tip especially applies to women who are dating men, but it’s wise for every online dating situation. If a potential suitor truly cares about your well-being, then he or she will understand that you use only a first name or nickname in early communications.
Don’t let anyone know that you live alone! If an imaginary roommate would cramp your online dating style, then invent a large downstairs neighbor… preferably one who’s a cop! Maybe mention that it’s noisy when they hit a punching bag.
- Hide your location. Set your dating profile to show that you live in a slightly different area. Change the suburb or ZIP code.
- Use unique pics. Only show profile photos that aren’t used elsewhere online. With reverse image search from Google and other search engines, your identity could easily be discovered.
More Home Security Tips
As suggested above, the best home security involves layering. One layer is street smarts: You can protect yourself by maintaining online privacy and knowing your neighborhood. Additional layers of home security involve everything from thorny landscaping to door jambs and alarm systems with entry sensors, motion sensors, cameras and on-call emergency dispatchers. Learn more by contacting a BSG Expert 855-MYSMARTHOME