Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.
The world has grown safer over the past few hundred years as murder rates and the number of full-scale wars have declined. However, that does not mean that we can relax and stop being vigilant. Implementing these tips will improve the security of your home, your family and your home business if you have one.
How to Secure Your Home
- Close the garage door when you leave the house. An open garage without any cars is an easy entry point for thieves while it gives a clear sign that you are not home.
- Put a lock on your shed. Tool thefts are increasingly common. Even the gas in the gas cans has street value.
- Maintain a low (home) profile. Don't place high-end electronics where they are clearly visible from the outside. Reconsider keeping up with the Joneses, spending money to impress others, since it also attracts the attention of thieves.
- Cut down vegetation that makes it hard for you to see someone who could be hiding beside a door or window of your home.
- Install motion sensors that turn on floodlights around your home. You gain the benefit of lighting that deters criminals without using as much electricity as permanent floodlights.
- Install glass-break detectors on first-floor windows and glass doors.
- Purchase a door kit that will turn an indoor room into a safe room.
- Housing divisions and apartment buildings that are controlled by an access controlled gates are not always safer. When everyone who has worked as a pizza deliverer, florist or package service knows the access code, access is almost unlimited. If your apartment building or neighborhood uses access code controlled gates, change the codes periodically to retain control over access to the area.
- Owning a dog can deter criminals. However, your dog will do a better job protecting you if it has been trained as a guard dog. Barking at kids riding past on bikes could lull you into failing to react in time to an intruder.
- Lock your car doors as soon as you get in, even if it is in your driveway. Do not dawdle, searching for checkbooks or counting money. Someone could walk up while you are distracted and take your purse or force you out of the car with the engine still running and steal the car.
- If someone appears to be stranded, call roadside assistance or 911 for help. Be careful about getting involved yourself since this is a tactic used by criminals and kidnappers around the world.
- Street safety refers to your ability to stay safe on the street, whether you are on foot or inside of a vehicle. In either situation, it is essential that you remain aware of your surroundings and all potential threats. Criminals will target someone who is busy playing with the radio, texting on a cell phone or otherwise distracted.
Behaviors for Improved Safety and Greater Personal Security
- One of the faults of popular stranger danger training is that kids think “strangers” are evil people dressed in black, generally old and ugly. Teach your children that they should not go anywhere with a stranger, not even another parent. Nor should they leave the home without a parent's clear approval first.
- If there is a threat, such as an approaching mob or gang fight, do not get out of your car. Keep the doors locked, even if your car is stopped. Try to back the car up and get away from the trouble. If you are close to home, do not go home— go to a local police station or fire station instead for greater security.
- The same is true if you are being followed. Do not go home, but go to a police station or fire station instead. If that is too far, go to a well-lit public area, especially businesses that you know have security personnel.
- Do not give out information as to who is home and is not home when answering the phone. Simply take a message and state that the requested person will call back when available.
- Tell your children that they should always tell you when another adult asks them questions. Teach them that any adult who says that whatever is said to the child or ordered of the child and is then to be secret is to be reported to a parent or relative immediately. Safe adults will not ask questions, give instructions or do anything that is secret from the child's parents.
- School safety includes getting to school and back. Review the routes to and from school with your children. Ensure that they know at least two routes that they can take going to school and back so that they do not get lost if their primary route is not available.
- If your child attends school, list on the personal file the individuals you specifically permit to pick up the child and indicate that no one else has this permission. This reduces the risk of abduction.
- Request that the school inform you if your child does not arrive at school or misses classes. While child abductions are rare, parents should still want to know this information since it could be a sign of truancy.
- Verify that your school runs background checks on chaperones as well as its employees.
- Require that the school have your explicit permission before your child is taken off campus, whether it is for a field trip or extracurricular activities.
- Take time to watch your children get off the bus, supervising the children as they exit and watching for bullying behavior of other kids. Report issues to both the school and the other child's parents.
- Take schools to task when they treat violence as an internal disciplinary matter instead of something to be handled by police, such as students who routinely threaten others with knives or bodily harm. Conversely, they shouldn't be taking kindergarteners to jail for tantrums. There is a balance that has been lost between "zero tolerance" that has kids punished for paring knives left in lunch boxes and 5 year olds punished for sexual harassment for kissing a female friend.
- If your child's school is truly unsafe, due to unchecked gang violence in the surrounding area or principals who will not act for fear of lawsuits and accusations of racism, move your child to private school or home school them.
- Join your local community watch or neighborhood watch. If there is not one in your neighborhood, work with others to start one. If you cannot patrol the streets, provide snacks or water for those who do.
- If you start seeing gang activity, start reporting it to police. Do not wait for a drive-by shooting to care.
- If you see someone suspicious wandering around, such as a young person walking around homes and peering in windows, take his or her picture while calling the authorities. Get the license plate number of cars that drive slowly around the neighborhood, looking at all the homes. Ask your neighbors to do the same.
- Run a criminal check on any service provider who regularly comes to your home or business. If the service provider uses multiple employees, only hire services that run criminal checks before hiring employees. If your condo association or home owner’s association hires the grounds keeping crews, demand that they require background checks of all contractors.
Security Cameras and Security Systems
- Do you have a security camera? Can you still see the areas you want to see through the security camera? Check the view periodically to ensure that growing vegetation doesn't impede the view.
- If you have security cameras in your home or around it, you can save the files to your home computer but should have the data routed to an offsite backup or security system as well. A wireless security system does no good if the video it recorded is lost along with the computer the thief took.
- Install a dummy security camera where it is clearly visible while hiding a real security camera nearby. Enterprising criminals will look for the cameras and destroy the dummy camera while you capture them on video.
Home Office Safety
- If you run a business out of your home, deposit all cash at the bank regularly to minimize the losses if your home is invaded.
- You could use a drop box at a business center to send and receive packages to prevent valuables from being stolen off of your front porch.
- Meet potential contractors and employees at a neutral, third party location instead of bringing them into your home office.
- Set up your business to accept credit cards and debit cards as well as cash. Require large purchases or transactions to be done with plastic instead of cash. This is a secure form of payment that cannot be stolen from you, nor will it attract potential thieves who have heard that you do several thousand dollar transactions in cash.
Tamara Wilhite (author) from Fort Worth, Texas on June 28, 2019:
I hope you can make use of them.
Louise89 on June 27, 2019:
Thanks for the tips!
Tamara Wilhite (author) from Fort Worth, Texas on October 20, 2017:
furniturez Thank you for the compliment.
furniturez from Washington on August 08, 2012:
This is perfect... you can never be too safe!
Mommiegee from Alabama on August 08, 2012:
Great tips! Thumbs up and very useful
Film Fanatic 603 on August 07, 2012:
Your tips and advice are great. However I disagree with what you said in the first paragraph that the world has grown safer. This world is full of plenty of lunatics and scum in general. You look at what happened at the Dark Knight Rises premiere in Colorado, when a 24 year old scumbag opened fire on a theater full of innocent people and you shouldn't feel safe. Not to mention all of the terrorist attacks on wealthier nations which in my opinion are by trash who blame our countries for doing somewhat well when theirs do not (try blaming your own idiotic leadership for that). Again, great advice but this world was a lot safer 50 or 60 years ago despite the wars.
Madeleine Salin from Finland on August 06, 2012:
Congrats on HOTD! This hub is very informative. I live in an area where nothing ever happens, but we have a dummy camera. Maybe it can scare someone who is uninvited. :)
Tamara Wilhite (author) from Fort Worth, Texas on August 06, 2012:
Thank you very much for sharing.
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on August 06, 2012:
There are some great tips here, and some I never really thought about...like the open garage door. A very helpful and well-deserved HOTD!
TheAtHomeMom on August 06, 2012:
Such an informative hub. A lot of this I already knew but there were some things that I never really thought about. I'll admit when I saw the picture, at first I just wanted to see what it was about but as soon as I saw it I was hooked. Great writing and and great information. Shared it on Facebook because I think more people could use the friendly reminder to be vigilant.
Tamara Wilhite (author) from Fort Worth, Texas on August 06, 2012:
The individual in the photo with my son is not my husband - he is a police officer who had been discussing gun safety with a group of first graders, including my child.
Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on August 06, 2012:
Here in Mississauga, our police advises us that regular maintenance of house premises also adds to home security. Piled up newspaper and mailers at the door, grown up grass on the lawn, uncleared snow on the driveway and the front lawn, etc. are indications that the owners are absent for a long duration.
Another thing, a dog will certainly deter burglary, but when the owners go on vacations, the dog is also gone, which is noticeable, adding to the risk.
SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on August 06, 2012:
This are some good tips, but I think we need to be careful about the reporting a suspicious person walking around bit. There have been some cases recently that ended in not so good ways because someone thought a person looked suspicious in a neighborhood. Also, the deciding something might be gang activity, that needs to be taken in context as well. We do not want scared senior citizens thinking a whole bunch of teens walking around are going to vandalize houses, when they might just be socializing and hanging out with their friends. We really need to be cautious, and maybe at times draw the line when it comes to judging others way too harshly.
Joshua Patrick from Texas on August 06, 2012:
Congrats on Hub of the Day - great hub full of valuable information! Voted up, useful, interesting, shared!
Curiad on August 06, 2012:
These are some good basic tips. Thanks for sharing.
Steel Engineer from Kiev, Ukraine on August 06, 2012:
I lived in Philadelphia. One of the popular scams was to knock on a door where criminals believed no one was home. If you answered, they made a great effort to see past you. This is a recon to locate homes with valuable electronics or other easy to sell items. Keep the area behind the door simple, and only crack open doors for strangers.
One of the hallmarks of this technique is to ask for someone by a very unusual name, like "Sharonda". This happened to be in California last month, the name used was "Laniqua". The girl who knocked wore shorts and had tattoos all down one leg (and yes, tattoos are correlated with reduced morals and criminal history, not just heuristically, but statistically).
Another big tip: If you travel, have a neighbor pick up your newspapers. A pile of newspapers signals your absence.
Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on August 06, 2012:
Tamara, this is great advice for everyone. Even in safe communities we must be vigilant. Thanks for the tips.
Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on August 06, 2012:
On seeing the child with a gun, I just had to check this out, and I was greatly relieved to find a very well written informative sensible article on safety. I guess the image grabs the attention.
Night Magic from Canada on August 06, 2012:
You Hub is totally amazing. I voted it useful and interesting. I even tweeted it and did a review on stumble. The tip on driving to the police station really works. I've done it a couple of times. Once I even got out of my car and walked in. I didn't think of the one about putting up a dummy camera, Thanks. There's a few others I didn't think of either so thanks for this Hub.
Craig Hartranft from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 06, 2012:
To the street safety, you may want to add carrying a small canister of pepper spray. I walk quite a bit for exercise, sometimes during low light times. I always have a cell phone and pepper spray handy at all times.
whonunuwho from United States on August 06, 2012:
Thanks for this timely hub and the useful info. It is a very good idea for all to prepare for the "just in case" scenario.
Riverfish24 from United States on August 06, 2012:
Congrats on HOTD. Extremely useful and informative hub.
Nicoli Clause from United States of America on August 06, 2012:
These are all great tips and it was very well written. One thing I would contribute to this article is that drug addicts are targeting homes with handicap accessibility because they know they have perscription drugs. In other words, if you are handicap, you should consider buying a firearm for protection.
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 06, 2012:
These are important tips for all of us to remember. I think we know them but often overlook doing these things. This is a helpful list to double check to make certain we have all of our bases covered. I have a shed which houses my washer and dryer which are new. So the first thing I did was buy a lock. That was good advice you gave. Thanks for sharing this with us. And, congrats on hub of the day.
Mary Hyatt from Florida on August 06, 2012:
Your Hub is very informative and interesting; however, what does the photo of the child holding a gun have to do with security? Just wondering.....
Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on August 06, 2012:
Thanks for these great tips for staying safe in and outside the home. And congrats on the HOTD award!
healthylife2 on August 06, 2012:
Very helpful advice. Installing two cameras is a great idea! Congratulations on Hub of the Day!! Voted up!
danielabram on August 06, 2012:
In 7 years, I have never locked my car, my bike, or my back door, yet I have never experienced a robbery. That is the power of community.
rannt from Slovenia on August 06, 2012:
Great hub, a lot of useful information!
DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on August 06, 2012:
Very useful information
JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on August 06, 2012:
This is very useful. Security should always be part of the household's priority. It only takes a few minutes or even seconds to get robbed.
Linda Chechar from Arizona on July 30, 2012:
These tips are so important for all households. Thanks for the reminders!
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on July 26, 2012:
This is excellent advice- and I feel pretty good about myself for adhering to most of it. Safety first, right? :D