Spring is here! Since the warmer weather has arrived, everyone is getting outside to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. This is a good time to review some basic safety guidelines with our families.
People feel safe where he or she lives, and when people feel safe they do not think twice about leaving their doors unlocked or their windows open while they follow their daily routines around the home. Every summer the news will report on thieves brazen enough to walk into and rob unlocked houses in broad daylight, while the homeowners are working or relaxing in their yards. Homeowners may not even realize they were robbed for hours.
Only In America do homeowners leave their expensive cars parked in their driveways, despite having a garage, which is usually, full of junk. People spend a great majority of time commuting in those same cars to and from work, and have a habit of leaving valuable personal items inside the car. Items like CD’s, a purse, money, laptops, PDA’s, and a garage door opener.
Leaving a garage door opener in a car is unsafe. In the news recently, a group of young men and women would go out at night looking for unlocked cars parked in driveways. When they found an unlocked car, they would take any valuables inside, and then use the garage door opener to enter the home, even if they know the homeowners are asleep inside. Once inside the home the group quickly and quietly steals money, and any other small valuables one can easily grab.
In several cases, homeowners have been home asleep while the group was in the home. Luckily, nothing has happened, yet when a homeowner hears someone in the home and yells out, and thankfully, the thieves have left. However, the potential for disaster was waiting to happen; who knows what would have happened had the homeowner confronted this group of men and women.
In reality, by leaving a door open and going out back or by leaving a car unlocked, the homeowner has invited a thief into their home. The scary part comes at the thought of the homeowner and thief meeting each other accidentally inside the home. Criminals are unpredictable, especially if cornered and may be carrying a weapon.
Never try to prevent anyone from leaving your home if you do happen to confront someone unexpectedly. After the person has left your home, call 911. Report in as much detail what you can about the intruder. Include height, hair color, race, clothes, and what direction the person headed in and if they headed on foot or in a car.
There is a safety lock available one can install on the home outside door that replaces a key lock and uses a combination to open the door. The door automatically locks every time it closes. This alone makes the home much more secure. Children can learn at an earlier age to remember and use the combination lock. An advantage to the combination lock is the ability to reset the combination quickly to allow people like a housekeeper, service technician, or out of town guest’s access.
This is a good time to remind children about the dangers of strangers. Make a rule no one goes anywhere without first telling a grown up. Although neighborhoods may feel safe, nowadays many people only know their immediate neighbor on each side of them. Tell children which neighbors are okay to go to in an emergency.
Be sure to practice safety fire and tornado drills with your children. Arrange a place to meet for each emergency. Have specific words that parents or grown-ups will say when it is a true emergency.
Remind kids never to answer the door without a grownup with them. Tell children if someone calls while they are home alone, to tell the caller their parent is in the shower and to take a message.
Finally be sure everyone knows how to call 911 and knows the home address and phone number. This is especially important now because some phone companies like Vonage, use the address you give them when you set up your account. If you move, they will not automatically change your address for 911.
This recently happened in St. Clair County Illinois when an air force couple transferred to Korea. The woman tried to call for help because her husband was abusing her. Vonage forwarded her call to St. Clair County instead of the local military police in Korea, causing a significant delay in her getting help.
Always post a list of important phone numbers by the kitchen phone or on the refrigerator. Be sure to include the home address, and the nearest cross street and the name of the subdivision on this list for emergency purposes. In cases of emergency, it is easy to get flustered and forget the simplest things like your home address, and children might not remember a subdivision name.
Personal and family safety needs some thought and practice so when an emergency happens everyone knows exactly what to do and how to do it. Yet, personal safety also needs common sense. Do not leave your car unlocked, or your garage door opener in your car. Better yet, park your car in your garage, where it belongs and will be safe.