Don’t run with scissors. Don’t lick a frozen signpost. There are lots of safety tips you’ve known since you were young (and maybe you learned the hard way. We get it. You’re the learn-by-experience type.) But as an adult, did you know there are a few things you can do around the house to keep you, your family and your stuff safer?
Whether you live in a single-family home, townhouse, or condo, Rümi Home Solutions expert, Brendan Graham has crime prevention tips for everyone. Here’s what he suggests:
Establish a home safety protocol
A home safety protocol can be as fancy or as basic as you need. It’s really about sitting down alone or with your family, roommates or kids to create a plan for emergencies. Think middle school fire drill, but for your home! This is a great time to organize emergency contacts, spare keys and security codes, and to set household expectations for basic practices such as locking doors or sharing passcodes.
Install a home security system (and make sure it’s working for you)
Home security systems can protect more than just your peace of mind. From touch screen deadbolts to doorbell cameras, you have lots of smart security options to choose from. But no matter how smart your tech is, you need to use your noggin too: update your code regularly, and only share with essential people in your close circle and people you trust, like cleaners, dog walkers, and that neighbour who always shares fresh-baked pies. This can ensure long-term safety, especially if these codes are being shared.
Pro tip: When your security system is installed, proudly place your alarm company sign near the entry of your home. Having a security company sign is a major deterrent for intruders (if you don't have a security system, consider a “beware of dog” sign).
Shine some light
Another great home security addition is lighting. Motion sensor lights can be handy, particularly for dark or heavily-treed properties. Not only are they convenient for lighting the way when you come home at night, they improve your safety by increasing the visibility of your property and surroundings. You can also install motion sensor or smart lights inside your home. Having a light on inside your home gives the illusion that you're inside, even if you aren't.
Don’t forget those windows and doors
Unless you’re Santa Clause, doors and windows are the key access points to your home — make sure they’re in tip-top shape to provide maximum security. Whatever you do, never leave a spare key outside. (Your secret hiding spot probably isn’t as secret as you think it is!) Instead, ask a trustworthy neighbour, family member or close friend to store the spare inside their home. If you’d like additional security for a certain door or window, there are plenty of lock and security mechanisms that can be installed on your own or with help from a Rümi expert.
Pro Tip: Keep doors and windows locked, even when you’re home, so you keep up the routine. It’s also always a great idea to change the locks when you move into a new home, or if your keys are lost or stolen. This way you can guarantee that you are the only one with access.
Don’t advertise the goods
Have you ever heard the saying “out of sight, out of mind”? Install window and door coverings to provide more privacy for your home. If traditional coverings aren't your style, consider an adhesive privacy film. It’s easy to install on windows and doors and can be more cost-effective than the traditional blinds or drapes. Continue to keep your valuable items out of sight as much as possible. Consider tucking things like purses, wallets and car keys inside a closet or drawer. You may also want to think about a lock box or a safe for those bigger ticket items and family heirlooms.
Dude, where’s my car?
In the last five years, Alberta has averaged over 20,000 car thefts per year. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent automotive break-ins and outright theft. Avoid leaving valuables in your vehicle and lock it whenever unattended, even if it’s parked in a garage. Criminals commonly target unattended and unlocked cars. If you own an older vehicle, or you aren't confident in your car’s locking mechanisms, pick up a steering wheel club. This will make it much harder for your car to be stolen.
You should also never leave your car running unattended. Living in Alberta, we know that this can be tricky. If you're using a car starter in those cooler winter months, keep your vehicle locked and in sight while it warms up.
If you know you’re going to be away from your vehicle for a few days, remove your garage door opener, registration and insurance — this way, if your car is broken into, the thief won’t get their hands on them. Depending on your preferences, you may not want to store your registration and insurance in your car at all. Just be sure to have it on you whenever you're out for a drive.
Don’t be too welcoming
We know this advice goes again the Canadian grain, and we think it’s wonderful to be a friendly and engaged member of your community, but safety should always stay top of mind!
If you have children, discuss your home safety protocol with them so that they know not to answer the door for strangers or without permission.
If you live in a condo or apartment building, make sure that the door closes and locks behind you when entering or exiting. You should also avoid holding the door open for strangers or delivery personnel unless you can confirm that they have the authority to enter.
Protection while you’re away
If your traveling, or plan to leave your home unattended for an extended period of time, your insurance will likely require someone to check in on your property every couple of days, or a house-sitter for longer trips. We know vacations and family excursions can be exciting, but posting about them on social media can act as an invitation for burglars and potential targeted break-ins. Don’t forget about those additional privacy settings on your phone too. If you share your location on any public apps via your mobile device (commonly seen on Facebook or Snapchat) you may be sharing your whereabouts with more people than you think.
If you’d like to create the illusion that you are “tending to your property” while you're actually camping in the mountains for a weekend, consider hiring a Rümi service provider for lawn and yard care. Nothing says “I care about my curb appeal” like freshly cut grass.
A few bonus tips if you live alone…
- If you’re concerned about potential break-ins, consider leaving a couple pairs of shoes at or just outside your front door — this will give the signal that someone is home.
- Make checking in with friends and family part of your routine. Knowing that you have people looking out for you is a pretty great feeling.
- If you’re going to be travelling, or suspect suspicious behaviour in your neighbourhood, share that information with someone you trust.
- If you’re not steady on your feet, or if you know of any savvy seniors who live alone, you may want to discuss the benefits of a fall protection device. They are great for personal safety since they offer direct contact to emergency services, and can also be useful in the event of a break-in.
The takeaway? The more you can show that you care for your property, the less likely you are to be the victim of crime! And if you ever suspect suspicious activity or a break-in, call 9-1-1 and wait for law enforcement to arrive.
Your home should be your sanctuary. A little extra work upfront can keep you safe and feeling comfortable.