Safety in and around your home is vital in protecting your family. There are simple things homeowners and parents should and should not do in and around the home when trying to keep everyone safe. Start by checking to see that your mailbox and house is clearly marked with your house number. This allows police, fire or ambulances to find your house quickly in an emergency.
Before calling 911 consider if you are using a phone system like Vonage. Be sure Vonage was set up properly for 911 or you might not get the timely help in an emergency. Vonage is not a land line so 911 will not automatically know what your location is when you call 911. This is the same concern if you move with Vonage to another town or state. Always verify that Vonage has acquired your new address for 911 emergencies.
When calling 911 tell the 911 dispatcher the major cross streets to your street and the name of your subdivision where your home resides. EMS is usually familiar with subdivision names and in an emergency that can head them in the right direction when dispatched. Also remember to turn on your outside lights if it is at night and unlock your front door.
Although it is important to clearly mark your mailbox and home with the house number do not place your last name on your mailbox or home. Like personalized items kids should not wear their name on backpacks, jewelry nor clothing, neither should you place your name on your home, car, or mailbox. TMI, too much information, is the phrase used in texting or by teenagers when someone tells them more then they need to know about something. A last name visible to everyone driving down the street is simply TMI, too much information.
Remember your automobile is an extension of your home. Many automobiles contain cutesy icons for the whole family including dad, mom, Dick, Jane and even Spot the family dog on the rear window. Underneath each cutesy icon are the names of each child and family pet. Again, you are offering too much information, especially if your automobile sits in the driveway and is visible from the street.
If you do park cars in your driveway rather than the garage, how do you secure your garage door opener? If your car is broken into or left unlocked you are essentially inviting thieves to enter your home Thieves look for ways to get into homes without having to break a window or force themselves inside. If front doors, windows or automobiles are left unlocked you are inviting this into your safe domain.
Thieves have been known to walk right in the front door while you are working outside in the back and leave without anyone being the wiser until something major is discovered to be missing. Lock your doors, windows and cars at all times.
GPS systems are a home hazard when you are out on the town. Thieves have been known to watch patrons enter a movie theatre or restaurant and then take the GPS system from the car. They can now push the home button and follow step by step directions to your house. They know you are in a movie for about 2 hours and that is plenty of time to take what they wish. Always set your home button for a public place within 1-3 miles from your home for safety.
One night go outside while your family is awake and doing their normal routine and look around and inside your home from the windows outside. What do you see? Can you see directly into the family room and your childrenís bedrooms? Everything you see now is clearly visible to other people who drive or walk by your home at night. Make sure curtains are on windows and teach everyone to close them as the sun goes down.
In my home, a one story ranch, I have placed decorative window film over the windows in my kidís rooms which face the street. Decorative window film allows natural day light to come through but complete privacy when curtains are open during the day or left open at night. This way no one can see directly into our home easily.
Finally one of the best deterrents is to lock windows and doors despite how safe you think your community is or is not. Most communities are relatively close to the interstates and that means anyone passing through may come down your street and if they will likely keep on driving by your home if it is well-lit and locked up tight. Make sure the doors and windows that are clearly visible from the street are not obscured by shrubs or trees.
Create a neighborhood watch program so neighbors get to know each other and watch out for each other. After all there is safety in numbers. The more people in the neighborhood watching everything happening, the more likely that when something is happening it will be noticed quickly and police will be called to investigate. If you spot something that happens in your neighborhood that is out of the normal call police and report what you saw so that they can check it out and follow up if necessary. Donít hesitate to get involved.
Finally keep a list next to your home phone and include your home address, cross streets, and the home phone number. In an emergency your child may not be able to recall all of the vital information 911 will ask, so having it posted near the phone at the childís height could be a life saver. Include your cell phone and work number, the number of one or more safe neighbors, the police non-emergency number, the family doctor and nearby family members.
My mother use to always say if you have the numbers you need you probably wonít need them but if you do you know where they are located in an emergency. So, know before you need them and be prepared. Preparation is the biggest part of the battle. Now go outside and look around your home Ė what needs to be changed to make your home safer and keep your children protected.