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.

Apartment Block Security

Security in an apartment block is essential especially if there are children and elderly people residing in it. All the side entrances and emergency doors to the apartment building should have door bolts. Also, all entrance doors to every apartment should have effective locks such as deadbolt locks that cannot be opened with a penknife or ATM card. It can be useful to have a door lock that doesn’t need a key to open from the inside. This type of lock is very helpful in case of emergency such as fires and earthquakes. Aside from installing effective locks, it is also crucial that the doors be solid wood or metal to provide strength.

Reliable door entry buzzer systems should be installed in order to secure apartment buildings. Multi-dwelling entry door buzzers are available for any type of building requirement that are a cost effective solution. With the installation of door entry buzzer system with audio and video features, the apartment dwellers will have the facility to see visitors at the door, thus enhancing security. It is a good idea for the building administrator to keep a list of regular visitors for each apartment unit for reference in case of necessity.

However, even if the most effective security system is installed in a building, but some apartment owners are not cooperative in maintaining safety and security; the security system is useless. Therefore, it is very essential to work with other owners and tenants in an apartment block to make sure that all doors are kept locked and all visitors are monitored. Tenants should not open the door unless the visitor has identified themselves. Also, tenants should not hold the building entrance door open to let strangers enter behind them. If the entry buzzer system is maintained properly and tenants cooperate, there is no need for a security guard to watch the apartment block.

Security in an apartment block can also be provided by proper lighting. All walkways, entrances, and hallways should be well lighted in order to deter crimes. If a light bulb replacement is needed, make sure that you report immediately to the landlord, or you may replace it and report afterwards. It is also critical that a secure door at the parking garage is maintained. The garage parking area is a common target of thieves to enter the apartment building. Thieves usually sneak in behinds tenants who are entering the building. This area in the building should also be well lighted.

Moving Into Your First Apartment

You finally made it! For years you waited to be free, out on your own, and have your own space. Walking into your new apartment is a fulfilling moment when you see all the emptiness that you command. A couch there, a painting here. Above the door is an old saying you live by. This apartment is an extension of you and it’s completely yours.

Despite your euphoria, there is an unfortunate consequence of living alone. You are a young woman. Your newfound freedom has also blacklisted you as an easy victim for criminals. Think nothing ever happens or could happen to you? Think again. Statistically, the odds are not in your favor. You may be one in a million in your city, but you are still just one. This can weigh heavily on your mind and wreak havoc on your emotions.

Don’t give into the fear.

Peek outside your door. There is no neon sign blinking directing rapists to your new home. This doesn’t mean you aren’t vulnerable. Take control and follow these steps to create a safe, secure apartment that will always be your haven.

1. Request new locks:

You just got your keys to your first apartment, but you should double-check the locks are new, too. Most apartment complexes automatically change the locks as a safety precaution. Although it is unlikely the previous owner randomly returns, you don’t want to take any chances with your security.

2. Add interior security cameras or alarms:

Security cameras and alarms aren’t just for houses. This is your home. If someone were to get past your locks, you need a backup system to deter thieves. A little sticker in the window clearly visible to intruders will make them double think if it’s worth it.

3. Get a roommate:

The key word is “alone.” Sharing an apartment with a roommate immediately increases your safety. Rapists in particular are looking to victimize one person, not two. The more people, the more complicated, and he will just stalk away. If you are dead set on making it on your own, consider stopping by your local shelter and adopt a dog. The pet deposit is a small price to pay for a four-legged security guard.

4. Take a self-defense class:

In the end, if your apartment is invaded, so are you. Whether it is robber or rapist, if you are home when the unthinkable happens, you should know how to keep yourself from becoming a statistic on the news. Take a self-defense class at a local gym or just search for one online. Many local YMCA’s offer such classes at low costs. It’s a great way to meet other proactive women. Group encouragement and strategic tactical advantages will truly give you true peace that only self-awareness can bring.

Follow these steps to a safe and happy new home.

Congratulations on your new independent life!