Precautions to Protect Yourself and Your Family
Our homes should be the place where we feel safe and secure, though that is getting increasingly more difficult in this day and age. We live in a crazy world where unexplained violence can erupt in places we least expect. While we can't ignore the dangers around us, we also can't live in mortal fear.
The answer is to find a place of comfort, somewhere between being overly cautious and totally oblivious. It is important to understand the potential risks, take as many precautions as possible and then live each day to the fullest.
Learning to let Go
Control is an issue for many of us. We like to think we're always in command of our lives and our surroundings. But control is only an illusion. The simple truth is that there are really very few things in life you can totally control, especially when you factor in the randomness of how life operates. In many ways, a great deal of life is up to powers beyond your control, so a little faith goes a long way.
To begin, you must learn more about your neighborhood. In California for example, there is a Web site that lists crimes by neighborhood. When you punch in your address and you can see what is happening in your town. If you can't find the equivalent Web site for your community, call the police and ask about your neighborhood. What sort of crime is prevalent? How often does it occur? Ask about the suggested level of protection from security gates on your windows and doors to adding a security and alarm system, to just making sure you have solid locks on your doors and windows.
Know thy Neighbor
The police may tell you that your best protection is living next door. Meet your neighbors and befriend them so that they're aware of what's going on at your house and, even more important, what shouldn't be happening while you're away. If you live in a neighborhood that is less than secure, your best protection may be to start a neighborhood watch group. This is a great way to meet your neighbors and to pull together a sense of community.
If it makes you feel more secure, have a security system installed in your house by a company that will outfit your house with sensors and a programming station. You can also be linked to the police station. In addition to the set-up cost, most security companies charge a monthly fee. In some states, the police charge an annual fee and a surcharge if they are called to your house more than twice. A more elaborate system with inconspicuous cameras can monitor everyone who comes near or into your house. If this will alleviate your fears and you have the budget, then go ahead and do it.
Make your House Visible
Barring those high tech measures, there are less expensive means that can help. Make sure your house is clearly visible from the street. Cut down tall hedges or shrubs that are traditional hiding spots for burglars. Install motion-detecting lights that automatically turn on to thwart intruders. Even better, get a dog.
Keep Keys Limited
Don't give out keys to your house to too many people. A family member and one trusted neighbor should suffice. Also, don't hide keys under the doormat, above the door, or in a flowerpot. Experienced burglars also know about those hide-a-key fake rocks. Keep your house keys and car keys on separate chains so that no one can duplicate your key when you valet park or leave your car for servicing or repairs.
Protect Personal Information
Be mindful of what you put in the trash. Once it is on the street, consider it public property. If you've just purchased some expensive electronic equipment, don't stack the boxes in front of your house for all to see that you have new and expensive toys in your house. (Instead, cut the boxes and stuff them in trash bags.) Also be conscious of identity theft and always shred any papers that have personal information such as your social security number or credit card information.
Don't allow strangers in your house and ask for photo identifications from service people or any other stranger who needs to come inside your home. Identify them first by looking through the peephole. Keep your doors and windows locked, at all times. Don't leave your valuables on display, in front of a window for example, or by the front door. Keep your garage doors closed. Try not to be predictable; avoid leaving the house at exactly the same time every day, just in case someone is watching. Be alert to your surroundings on a day-today basis, even in your own neighborhood. This is not to say you should be paranoid every time you are out on the street. It simply means you should keep your eyes open to suspicious activity and if you get a feeling that you are not safe, listen to it and do something—call for help or make a hasty retreat. Always trust your instincts especially when they are signaling danger.
Trust your Gut
Remember that a little bit of prevention goes a long way. Security is undeniably important, but so is being able to feel at ease in your own home. If you take all of the above precautions and still feel scared or if you are losing sleep at night, then talk to someone about what is bothering you. Perhaps sharing your fears will help you overcome them. No one should live in a state of fear or like they are living in lock-down. Take precautions but don't let caution consume you. Find that place where comfort and security coalesce. Trust your gut. Identify and then learn to cope with your fears. And enjoy your life.
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