A Dummy’s Guide to Apartment Security

So, you think your apartment is safe. Do you feel secure when you are at home? Most single women will admit their apprehension about living alone in an apartment complex. But if you follow some common sense practices, you can make your apartment home a safe and secure refuge to come home to after a busy day. These are some tips to increase your safety and help improve your comfort level.

You might think this is rather silly, but LOCK YOUR DOOR! Most burglars are looking for the easiest opportunity to invade someone’s home, and apartment dwellers are the worst offenders when it comes to leaving their doors unlocked. Just think about how many times have you left your apartment door unlocked because you were just going out to your car for a moment, or to visit a neighbor? It only takes a second for someone to sneak into your apartment while you are preoccupied, especially if your apartment entrance is not visible from outside. And remember, it is better to have to carry your keys with you than to re-enter your apartment while an intruder is there.

When you leave for an extended period of time, leave a light on. Even though it may be daylight when you leave, chances are likely it will be dark when you arrive home. Burglars don’t like lighted areas. A 60 watt light bulb uses only cents per day. If this still seems a bit much, invest in a compact fluorescent bulb. They use only about 1/6 the electricity of a standard incandescent bulb. The really good thing about leaving a light on is that it will be a lot more welcoming when you walk into your apartment.

One of the best security devices you can get for your apartment while you are away is a friendly, observant neighbor. Burglars don’t take afternoons off. Get to know your neighbors, and when you find one with whom you feel a good degree of trust, let them know your activity schedule. They can keep an “eye” on things while you are at work, on vacation, or just out “playing”. Try to play the “I’ll watch your back and you watch my back” game. That way you both will feel more secure.

Most apartment entrances are not very well lit and the entrance doors usually don’t have windows. How do you know who is outside your door when the bell rings? Peepholes are usually provided in entry doors for the protection of the tenant. USE THEM! Have you ever just popped open the door without even asking “Who’s there?”. That is not very smart from a security standpoint. An even better solution to peepholes is a surveillance camera with inside monitor. These devices have become relatively inexpensive lately and can offer a wide area view of your entryway. This makes it more difficult for someone to “hide” from the view of your peephole.

Do you like pets? If your apartment complex allows them, dogs make especially good security devices. Burglars just love having their presence announced by a barking dog. Any animal, even some birds, that make a lot of noise when disturbed, will usually alert you to the presence of a stranger. Even if the noise is not such that it scares them off, at least you will be prepared for their arrival.

Being away on vacation presents a few additional problems when it comes to securing your home. Since your apartment will be left empty for an extended period of time, it becomes more vulnerable. Tell tale signs will alert prospective thieves that your castle in undefended. I have listed here some of the most important steps to take prior to leaving your home unguarded:

  • The best protection for your apartment during your absence is to have a house sitter. A friend you trust staying at your house can take care of your pets and/or plants in addition to making sure the house is inhabited.
  • If you don’t have a house sitter, have a neighbor watch your apartment while you’re away. Give them a key so the can make sure things are secure inside also. If you have a security alarm, make sure they know your alarm code and how to use it.
  • Have your mail and newspaper deliveries stopped until your return. Nothing announces an empty apartment better than a stack of newspapers or an overflowing mailbox. If this isn’t possible, have a neighbor collect any newspapers, mail, or packages that might accumulate.
  • If you have a garden or plants on your balcony, make sure someone is watering the plants regularly or put the plants where they can’t be seen. Plants slowly dying due to lack of water could indicate no one is home to take care of them.
  • Check your lease. Many landlords require that you notify them if your apartment is going to be left empty for any period of time so they can enter your apartment in case of emergency.
  • Darkened windows advertise your absence to a potential burglar. Only partially close window shades. Close them fully only if it is possible to see directly into your apartment from outside. It is better to use a programmable timer for turning lights on and off at varying times. This will give your apartment a “lived in” appearance. You don’t want to appear as though you’re hiding something, like your absence.

Finally, there are many devices available to assist you in achieving a greater degree of security in your home. These include wireless security systems, motion detectors, door alarms, glass breakage alarms, “Barking Dog” alarms, and surveillance devices. In addition, personal defense products such as personal alarms, pepper spray, and stun guns are also available to suit almost anyone’s comfort level. All of these products are designed for ease of use and to provide you with an advantage against criminals.

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Handling Weather Emergencies: Part 2; Home Security, Evacuation, and Emergency Kits

Introduction

Part 1 of this article on preparing for weather emergencies discussed forming an emergency plan to reduce the stress and worry of facing a full blown weather crisis.

The focus was on safeguarding your family by planning well in advance of any threat.

This, the second half of the article, looks at two things.

  • Preparing your home to survive severe weather, and securing it in case you have to leave.
  • Coping with evacuation or temporary isolation, and assembling one or more emergency kits.

Home Security

Some forms of weather related emergency are capable of destroying your home no matter what you do – floods, tornadoes and Category 5 hurricanes come to mind.

But long term preparation and a clear plan for when severe weather is approaching can do a lot to protect your home from damage or destruction. Or to protect you if you are inside.

So put together a plan about securing your home and loading valuables and essential supplies into your vehicle in case you have to leave quickly.

Such tasks are made easier if you have been able to assemble suitable tools and equipment well before the problems arise.

Long term plans could include adding roof ties or even strapping down your house if strong winds are likely, or reinforcing an interior ground floor room to provide refuge from destructive winds.

Between a threat developing and dangerous weather arriving, there is usually some time to add protection to your home. Boarding up windows if faced with strong winds, or cutting back flammable vegetation and cleaning gutters if faced with a wildfire are worthwhile tasks if you have the time.

And as a last minute job, store outdoor furniture securely – apart from the probability of loss, a strong wind can turn them into effective missiles that could be directed at your home.

Finally, know how and where to turn off utilities – water, gas, power – and make sure other family members know it too.

Emergency Kits

An Emergency Kit is a pre-packed container which you can grab instantly if faced with a threatening situation. It should hold everything you will need if you are cut off from utilities and supplies, and should be kept separate from products and tools which you use everyday or for recreation.

It is also worth considering permanent kits for your car and workplace, but let’s focus on those kept at home.

Depending on the types of threats you may face, you could need two sorts – one if you have to leave and another if you are staying.

They should be designed to meet the particular needs of you and your family in the sorts of emergency you are most likely to face. For more information, visit the FEMA website, and check out their excellent manual at http://www.fema.gov/areyouready

Here are a few suggestions.

If you have to evacuate, your destination will probably provide food and shelter. Clothing and special needs – baby and infant needs, prescription and basic medical supplies – are the most important. Include extra warm clothes – heating may not be efficient. Food treats and special toys will make things easier for children. Some basic food and a couple of gallons of bottled water are always worth including just in case. A “keep your hands off” supply of emergency cash is also a great idea.

Alternatively, if you are likely to be isolated and unable to leave your home for a while, assemble a kit which will keep you supplied for at least three days. Assume you will have no power, heat, water or waste disposal.

The essentials are plenty of water – allow 1 gallon (4.5l) per person per day, of which half will be drinking water. Commercial bottled water is a good choice. Include non perishable food, preferably low salt, and don’t forget a manual can opener. You’ll need a battery powered radio and a flashlight, both with plenty of extra batteries, and a first aid kit.

A camp stove and gas bottles are a great addition, and you’ll need some cooking gear and some matches in a water proof container. Make sure you have enough infant or special needs, plus any necessary medication. And warm clothes should be included, plus strong shoes.

Now much of this gear will be in your house anyway, but the point of this kit is that it can double for an evacuation kit, and will be ideal if your destination is somewhere other than relatives or an emergency shelter.

And Finally…..

OK, you’ve given up some of your valuable time and made your plans for all likely eventualities. Chances are you’ll never have to use them, but things happen, and the hundred year flood may turn up next year. You can now relax and know you’ve done your best to protect your family and your home.

One more thing. Include in your plans some time in a year or so to review everything, to make sure everyone understands the plan, and to go through the emergency kits and replace anything that’s damaged or out of date. It won’t take long, and you’ll be ready for anything.

Why Do Homeowners Need Sturdy Home Security Doors?

Times are hard. Burglaries and intrusions have become more rampant. Those days when you can leave your doors unlocked and still sleep peacefully are gone. More families are putting in money for sophisticated alarm system despite the high costs. Warning devices serve as effective deterrents against thieves, trespassers and forced entries.

Another practical option for property owners are home security doors. Aside from unsecured windows, the front door is still the primary access of lawless elements in gaining access to residential units. Installing the security door is a viable method for reinforcing your safety and avoiding the exorbitant prices of purchasing and maintaining alarm systems or acquiring guard dogs. This barrier is an ideal but cost-effective solution that can provide absolute security for your abode and entire family.

The primary function of the security door is to fortify the front and back entrance of your house. It also projects the impression that your home cannot be breached easily. There are both physical and psychological benefits that households can obtain from this almost impenetrable barrier. It also adds value to your domicile.

One model of security door is like the traditional product made of fiberglass or wooden finish. The other category is pure steel or wrought iron with glass panel. This fixture comes in multiple styles although the colours are usually confined to black or white. There are also decorative designs that will make the house look more appealing. If you want to invest in this furnishing, consider all aspects carefully.

It may be advisable to order one that has the so-called strike box instead of simply a strike plate. These are more secured and hard to penetrate. Furthermore, the locks are secure so thieves cannot open it easily. See to it that a deadbolt is fitted so the thief cannot pick the lock. The combination lock should have a minimum length of one inch or even longer. This will guarantee safety even if the burglar tries to pry the door open or break it down. The high-quality security door can withstand a huge amount of pressure. These fixtures are equipped with high-tech deadbolts that cannot be breached even if the burglar uses heavy-duty tools.

The basic dimensions of security doors can be likened to the standard front or back door of your house. In case you have French doors or sliding glass varieties, there are appropriate steel or wooden security doors for you to choose from. You can even purchase sliding steel security doors with metal and glass support and add-ons. Ask a professional technician to take the measurements before ordering one to make sure that it fits exactly. This will spare you the trouble of making adjustments or ordering replacements.

Indeed, home security doors are practical alternatives for security. Apart from the safety features, this security implement is one way of saving money on your home insurance plan. There is no reason for you not to try this product.