2010 22/09

How safe are you at home?

This is actually a topic I think about a lot, probably more than I should, since I’m typically at home all day by myself with my girls and since my husband has been traveling out of town more and more.  So, how safe do you feel in your home?  Do you keep your home locked up like a fortress when you’re home and when you’re away or are all of your windows and doors left unlocked?

Generally we keep things pretty locked up (not always the windows) when we are away but everything tends to be wide open when we are home.  Especially in the summer!  Without air conditioning I really have no other choice than to keep the house open as much as possible to catch a breeze!  We even slept with most of our windows left open this summer to beat the heat. Except when Tim was gone for the night, then I opted for sweating all night over leaving the windows open.

Why does all of this matter? Well, Tim came home the other night and told me the story his cousin had told him.  Apparently some door-to-door salesmen were escorted out of town by the police after they were acting unprofessional and leaving some homeowners feeling uneasy.  These were the same salesmen who I turned away this summer when they showed up at my door and I turned them away due to one kid getting eating dinner and the other throwing a temper tantrum.

That got me thinking about how trusting I can be.  I don’t keep my doors locked when we are home, even when everyone is napping our front door is wide open and the screen door is left unlocked.  I also don’t always shut our garage door.  If someone wanted to they could easily walk right into my house. Scary, I know!!!

So, I’ve decided to become a little more proactive with my safety.  No, I’m not going to lock my house up tighter than Fort Knox but I am going to be more aware of the opportunities I’m leaving open for anyone walking by my house.  Quick disclaimer — I do not live in a big city.  I actually live in the country!  But weird, sick, demented criminals do not just walk the streets of our cities!

Steps to safety at home:

Lock your doors – There is no reason to leave your doors unlocked.  If you’re worried about locking yourself out of the house, find a creative (I emphasize creative) place outside to hide a spare key or give a spare key to a friend or family member.

  • Why give strangers or dangerous people easy access to your house?  And just because you are home does not mean that someone is going to be afraid to just walk through your front door.
  • Don’t forget to lock sliders, even if they just lead to a second story deck, and the doors leading from your house to your garage, even if it is an attached garage.
  • Keep the doors locked in your garage.  If your garage has a door leading to the outside, keep that locked.

Lock your windows – I’m amazed at how often we don’t lock our windows!  How easy it would be for someone to just remove the screen and slide open our windows to get in!

  • When I do leave the windows open at night or when we leave, I only leave them open a few inches and then I flip the little safety latch.  This little latch makes it so the window cannot be opened any more than a few inches.

No salespeople – I really don’t care if they think I am the meanest person on the street, but I do not let salespeople or any other uninvited stranger into my house anymore.  I don’t care if you are trying to save me from carpet cleaning hell or want to tell me about the local church potluck.  Here’s how I handle it…

  • Sometimes I just avoid answering the door, especially if we are playing in my daughter’s bedroom and I see a car pull into the driveway.
  • Through a locked door I tell the person at the door that it is not a good time.  Often I will tell them that my husband is home sick.  Yes, it’s a lie but I find security in that strange person at my door thinking that I am not alone.  Never, NEVER do I tell them that my husband is not home.  As far as they are concerned, he is sick/unemployed/sleeping, I don’t care what they think as long as they think he is home!
  • I ask them to leave whatever advertising/marketing materials they want to leave on the front porch or in the mailbox and “I’ll look it over later”.

The dog – I really have no idea of our boxer would ever hurt a person, but I have a crazy suspicion that he would if someone was threatening me or the girls.  He just seems protective in those manners.  Either way, the stranger at the door has no idea the temperament of the dog sitting next to me.

Have a plan – I’m not sure why, but one of the nights that I was sitting home alone, I began formulating this “plan” in my head.  It is my plan for escape.  If someone was trying to enter my house, I need a way to get myself and my girls out safely.  Or I need a place to safely hide us while I call 911.  Either way, I have the plan in my head.  I go over it every time Tim is out of town.

Self defender – But what happens if someone actually did get into my  house while we were here?  This is where I wish I had taken a self-defense class or two!

  • Take a self-defense class or at least know the good spots to hit an attacker.  Self-defense training is great because they often teach you how to get out of a variety of holds someone might use on you.  You also get practice in trying out those methods on real people.  I will definitely be looking into some sort of self-defense class after this pregnancy.
  • Arm yourself.  I’m not necessarily talking about guns, although I’ll get to that in a minute.  Just know how to use the items you do have around you.  Maybe keep a baseball bat behind your bedroom door or a can of mace in your nightstand or on a keyring near your front door.  Of course you can use a variety of objects to distract an attacker!
  • Now, on to guns. Yes, we have a gun in our house.  It is locked away in a safe that only my husband or I have regular access to.  The kids do not know it is there.  They do not know how to access the safe.  But we also talk frequently about gun safety with our kids.  Yes, I know how to shoot the gun.  I grew up with guns in our house.  Guns that were never locked up.  I have a healthy respect for guns and would never take that gun out unless it were absolutely necessary.  It is amazing the peace of mind I have knowing that I have access to it if need be.  Do I think that everyone should have a gun in their home? NO! I believe with guns comes a great responsibility and if you’re not comfortable with that responsibility, then you shouldn’t have one.

I’m sure most of you are wondering why I’m even writing this.  The truth is, we spend so much time ensuring our safety and the safety of our loved ones with life insurance policies, health insurance, putting on our seat belts as we drive, teaching our kids about stranger-danger while we leave ourselves and our families in harms way right in our very own home.  I feel like we need to be more aware of and willing to take care of our selves and those simple steps above are great ways to do so.

Phew!  Now I’m jumping off my soap box or going to take a break from the public service announcement or whatever!

But I’d love to hear your thoughts about personal safety in the home.  What steps do you take to make sure you and your family are safe at home?

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