The country is currently very divided on the issue of firearms. Some citizens insist on their right to arm themselves, others refuse to have a gun in the house, while some are considering purchasing a firearm for protection but are concerned about safety.
If you’re looking to make your home safer from criminals but don’t want one around your kids there are other ways to protect your family without getting a gun.
If you live 20 miles from the nearest town down a lonely dirt road where the cops couldn’t find you even with GPS, maybe you should get a gun. On the other hand, if you’re sitting in your basement surrounded by five semi-automatic weapons, a Colt .45 and 1000 rounds of ammo, maybe you’re a bit over protected.
More likely, you’re disturbed by reports of car thefts, daytime robberies and other incidents in your neighborhood and want to take some steps to make your home safer without turning it into a bunker.
Install an alarm system.
The first thing to consider is having an alarm system installed in your home. This is easier and less expensive than you might expect. Do your neighbors have those little stickers on their windows saying, “protected by?” Ask them if they’ve been satisfied with their security companies and call the best prospects for more information.
Get a dog.
But only if you’re ready to love one and make it a member of the family. The right dog can become your early warning system as well as scaring off potential intruders when you’re not home. Just don’t even consider chaining a pit bull up in the yard, because you’re sure to arouse the ire of your homeowners’ association.
Get to know your neighbors.
If your neighborhood doesn’t have a crime watch group, start one. Your neighbors could be the first line of defense when it comes to fighting crime. That old lady who stays home all day watching TV and peeking out the front window every time a car drives by could be just the person who spots the perps carrying your HDTV out the back door.
Awhile back, there was a news story about a guy who went on vacation after planting hidden cameras at strategic locations in his house. While several hundred miles away from home, he checked in with his iPhone and saw strangers hauling stuff out of his house. He called the local cops, who apprehended the thieves in the act.
A few years ago, this would have sounded like James Bond stuff, but modern technology has made it feasible for average folks to spy on their cribs. A visit to your local electronics store should be able to fix you up with hidden cameras and how to access them from your smartphone.
Just don’t use it to keep tabs on the wife and kids, OK? You’re supposed to be protecting their safety, not spying on them.
Have a family meeting on safety.
Get the whole gang together and have a sit-down on the subject of home protection. Toddlers are a bit too young to be included, but it’s never too early to start teaching them good habits—like not opening the front door to strangers.
Older kids need to take an active part, so convince them that it’s for their own good to take precautions, because it’s their laptop, HDTV or iPad that could get stolen. Discuss recent crimes in the area and what you can do as a family to avoid having the same thing happen to you. Stress to teens not to bring home strangers and or leave friends alone in the house where they could “case the joint” for a future robbery.
Program all the pertinent numbers into your cellphone.
One of the main arguments in favor of keeping a gun is the possibility of waking up in the middle of the night to hear a stranger breaking into your home. Obviously, the first thing you should do in this case is call the police, and do it as quickly as possible.
This won’t be easy if you’re stumbling around in the dark trying to find the phone you left in your purse or the pants you wore that day. Plan ahead and keep the cellphone nearby where you can grab it as soon as you hear anything suspicious. You can make sure it doesn’t get lost under the bed by plugging it into the nearest outlet to charge it overnight.
Most importantly, program the numbers of your local law enforcement as well as your neighbors into the phone so you can call in seconds, or message if you’re afraid to speak up.
Even if that scary robber never shows up, you could need to call for help quickly in case of an accident, illness or natural disaster. Hopefully, if you find yourself lying in the rubble of your home, you can at least call someone to dig you out.
There are several reasons to empty your mailbox every day instead of letting the bills and catalogs pile up. First, your bills have all the info a crook needs to steal your identity. Also, your mail may contain information like a travel itinerary that could tell potential thieves when you’re going on vacation and the house will be empty.
Even it’s just junk mail, clean the box daily. You can also get those bills out of your mailbox by arranging to pay them online through your bank.
Lock your car.
This is a good habit for several reasons. Obviously, it makes it more difficult for thieves to break in a steal what’s inside, but also locking up makes it less likely that your garage door opener could be swiped. Anyone who has your “clicker” can use it to get into your garage and from there into your home, or to gain access to your building’s underground garage.
If you’re worried about locking yourself out, make spare keys and keep them in secure places. Give a spare to a neighbor you trust, just in case.
Unfortunately, nothing will stop a professional car thief. A few years ago, I had a car stolen after leaving it parked right in front of my home, under a streetlight, locked and with a club clamped onto the steering wheel. Maybe an alarm system would have helped, but a pro can disable that, too.
Let there be light.
A dark yard is not only an invitation for crooks, it’s a dangerous place for your family, too. Your neighbors may not be happy if you install bright lights that stay on all night long, but motion sensor lights will enhance the safety of your home and the surrounding area. These are especially helpful if you come home after dark and have trouble unlocking your door.
Plus, if thugs are slinking around your hood after dark, looking for a ripe place to rob, they may be deterred by being suddenly bathed in light when they step into your yard.
Don’t make it easy for crooks.
There’s no way to absolutely prevent any and all criminals from breaking into your home, but you can make it more difficult so they move on to an easier target. If thieves peek into your windows, don’t have valuables visible from the outside. Don’t make it easy for thieves to take inventory of your stuff through the windows. Position high-end items like big-screen TVs and other electronics where they can’t be seen. Keep jewelry in drawers rather than boxes on the dresser. If a crook can’t see anything worth stealing, maybe he’ll figure your house isn’t worth breaking into.
|Written on 6/20/2013 by Linda F. Cauthen.|
Photo Credit: Paulina B