If someone asks you what your thoughts are about the topic of ‘safety in your home’ what would you say? Does the name of a big alarm company or home monitoring system come to mind? Actually, that’s only the icing on the cake; there’s a lot more to the topic. Safety in your home is about you and yours. It’s the ins and outs of anything devoted to the well-being of you, your family, friends, and pets while gathered safely inside the castle walls. This is a catch-all category representing your first aid cabinet at the same time as a blueprint and estimate for a safe room.
This isn’t a new concept on people’s minds. In fact, back in the day it was a safe bet that you wouldn’t just have a drawbridge at the entrance to your castle; you’d also have a deep, dark moat and at least one gnarly crocodile to scare off any ne’er-do-wells who might want to take a swim.
That’s what all Kings of Their Castles did. What better way to encourage a roaming gang of bandits to move on to the unsecured palace down the road? Of course, times have radically changed since medieval times, but the idea hasn’t. So on that note: what is it that you do to buttress your modern version of a castle? Got moat?
Have you sat down and had a frank discussion with yourself and your family about home safety? Do you have a safety plan?
Hollywood movies portray the topic in morbidly scary scenarios like those played out in titles like Panic Room and Law Abiding Citizen. They make it seem like there is a lot to be feared when things go bad inside the home.
Hollywood doesn’t discriminate; they attack the topic with no holds barred. Look at the Home Alone series; did that not bring the topic into the sanctity of our homes and put our children front and center on the issue? I personally think it absolutely did. Therefore, I also think that it is very important to include the family in the safety discussion. It’s a team effort, so no one should get benched!
The process of looking at home safety doesn’t require a major strategic planning consortium. However, having a realistic idea of what your needs currently are, or might become, is the A+ way to tackle the problem. Let’s stop here for a moment. Take a second to really think about the things that are the biggest concern to you when looking at the topic of home safety. You might even make a list before reading on. It could come in handy down the road.
If you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed, try breaking down the broad topic into smaller chunks. This strategy will help you hone in on some of the specifics and particulars. Your goal should be to make it your own: this is a very personal issue. So as you read on, go at the business of home safety with only your needs in mind. What is best for you and yours?
To get started let’s take a look at a few starter categories that are a great place to begin your home safety and security journey. By breaking the material into specific groupings you can concentrate on the nuances that are specific to each distinct situation. Take a look at these scenarios:
For most people, the home is where we automatically assume we are the safest. So, ask yourself: are you sure that your ducks are all in a row? You might be surprised at how many things have the potential to tip the safety scales towards the less-safety-than-you’d-like-to-admit sector. Think about these questions:
- Have you advertised your security intentions?
- Have you unwittingly and unknowingly broadcast your lack of security intentions?
- Are there things you don’t even know, things that may be marketing your home as a great place to stop of on during a crime spree; we think you should consider that thought for a moment.
- Not sure?
- Does your teenager prance around in front of the window taking selfies with the curtains open while the adults are snoozing?
- Or, by geez, does Grandma pose for selfies in front of her window at night?
- Is the dog slipping in and out of that giant doggie door all night long; does he like to bring ‘friends’ back for a nightcap?
- We certainly hope that Little Johnny isn’t surfing around at night creating a raucous on the internet. Though it is an important thing to think about.
Sure, some of the questions seem like the kind of stuff that makes for good police drama. Though I challenge you to ask yourself, where do the writers of those shows get their ideas? Having dealt with some of the craziest cases, I can say for certain that anything is possible. Knowing what’s what when you and your family are in the home, being aware of what is common in your community, and then controlling the home environment is one way to keep all of your chickadees safe.
On the flip side, when the house is empty, most people defer to a strategy of either ‘the alarm company will protect my house when I’m not there’ or ‘the locks will protect my house when I’m not there’ (or even ‘the dog will scare away any potential miscreants from my house when I’m not there’.) In a lot of cases this is an accurate assumption. However, rule of thumb is: if a bad guy wants something in your house, he’s going to find a way to get in there and get it. Now, if you are on the more laid back approach to home safety, then the rule of thumb for you is: if a bad guy wants in, he can get in; if a foolish prankster wants to take out their woes on someone then your house may become the target because it’s easier than Mr. Cyclone Fence next door.
- Thought to consider: does it LOOK easy to breach?
- Have you advertised your security intentions?
- Does your teenager forget to latch the lock or leave the light on and curtains ajar….creating the ultimate experience for window shopping peepers?
- Or, to keep it all fair, does Grandma faithfully place all of her cardboard recycling out on the curb for all to see?
- What’s the harm in that you ask? Well, if Recycle Granny puts out boxes that have the contents labeled on the front, side, or just the entire box sitting on the curb; then the local burglary cruising circuit is definitely going to take note of the good looking loot potential at your house.
- This will ring true especially if your neighbors all take care to breakdown, cut, and portion all electronics ‘cartonage’ into 4 by 4 squares that are tied into a bundle. The burglary reconnaissance team isn’t going to risk taking the time to see if there is a broken down 70” plasma box tied into the mix.
- And why should they when Recycle Granny just put out her stash of expensive new gadgetry boxes for the night. She will be fast asleep when the team rolls through at 10:00 PM to pin point their future hits.
Like the bullet points before, this category might seem like a bunch of silly banter. However, the list is actually like peeking into a marketing plan for how to make your house desirable to potential threats. Make no mistake about it, that list is only the tip of the iceberg. I will return to this later in the series.
Not only is there a drastic change in visibility and light between night and day, there is also a perception that crimes are more or less violent between the two. Of course, the difference between reality and fiction on this topic is also like night and day. Mentioning that is also a great way to slip in a silly joke. In all seriousness, the dissimilarities between daylight hours and the hours of darkness are what make it worthy of being a category of its own.
- It is a fact that the cover of darkness makes it easier for people to skulk around.
- People who peer into windows can be spotted during the day hours.
- There is a level of vulnerability at night that isn’t matched during the daylight hours.
- This is one reason why the crime of burglary of a residence at night is ranked more seriously than the same offense during daylight hours. When people put on their jammies and go to bed they are more vulnerable. Getting popped for a residential burglary pulled under the cover of darkness is the quickest way to get charged with First Degree Burglary. Nobody wants to wake up to that.
- Considering what we mentioned earlier about what could go on in the house while people are sleeping, we aren’t confining this to just external sources of strife. Sneaky kids and house members can ratchet up the nighttime vulnerability when most of the world is asleep. Make sure to include that factoid in the equation when the security planning stage commences.
Ensuring that you make special precautions for the evening hours may seem like common sense, but I feel it is important to point out some of the reasons why you should double check your safety strategy for the nighttime.
Along with the other considerations I’ve already mentioned, things can change depending on who is home or who isn’t at home.
- Do you need to make any special considerations regarding the people who normally join the household encampment?
- This branches out beyond just the traditional safety and security topic of criminally related things. If you have young children, elderly, people with health considerations, special needs situations, or any other imaginable thing, your household will have all sorts of different facets regularly at play in your home.
- Take for example, a minor house fire breaking out at midnight. If you have an elderly person, two adults, one teenager, a toddler, infant twins, 3 cats, and a blind dog, your exit and safety strategy needs to be in place long before a real event happens. Unless all parties mentioned cavort and sleep in one room, chances are someone or something is going to get lost in the shuffle of getting out of the house in a hurry. No one wants poor Rover to get lost bumping into the walls and sadly get left behind.
- What if the emergency happens at 2 AM, its freezing cold, there is a foot of snow on the ground, and you aren’t prepared? This is where a simple plan, one I refer to as a Pre-paid Package Plan could make the difference between having to deal with 6 sets of frost-bitten finger and toes, or waiting out the emergency with everyone snugly tucked into their coats and sweaters, and you having your car keys, cell phone, and a flashlight at hand when you need it. Not to mention an extra blanket for Fido or Rover.
It’s as simple as taking time just to think about this stuff. That is the easiest way for you to make your own Pre-Paid Package Plan. Think of is as you paying yourself forward for that just-in-case-moment nobody wants to wake up and discover. I will delve into this more, however for now I am sure you understand the point I am trying to make. Be prepared.
These four categories are not the be-all end-all list for home safety planning. As a matter of fact, they are really just an introduction to what will lie ahead for you on your safety journey. In the following series of articles I will delve into the categories more in depth, as well as introduce tips, strategies, resources, and some thought provoking discussions for how you can stay safe in your home.
Be aware & Stay safe!