Living on your own for the first time is exciting. You can finally watch what you want on TV, decorate to reflect your personal style and come and go as you please. That said, there are a few potential downsides to solitary living, and personal security can be one of the most significant.
Whether you're an established professional woman transitioning into a house, or a recent college grad moving into your first apartment, here are nine simple ways to take charge of your personal security and enjoy living solo for the first time.
1. MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS.
No one says you need to become best friends with those who live in your apartment complex or neighborhood, but it never hurts to have an extra set of eyes watching out for you, especially when you live alone. Of course, it's a good idea to be cautious of giving out personal information until you know your neighbors well.
2. GET A MONITORED HOME SECURITY SYSTEM.
A home security system is a great deterrent to would-be burglars. In fact, the research out of the University of North Carolina, funded by the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation (AIREF), under the auspices of the Electronic Security Association (ESA), reveals 84 percent of burglars said if they were confronted with a home security system they would not attack the home. Even if you live in a low-crime area, you'll rest easier at night knowing your abode is protected by a monitored home security system.
Best yet, many professional home security providers offer affordable wireless security systems you can install yourself and take with you when you move.
3. GET POSSIBLE SECURITY RISKS FIXED.
Before you unpack the first moving box, walk around your new apartment or home and look for security risks. Does the deadbolt work? Are lights functioning in and outside of your apartment, especially in parking lots or garages? Do doors and windows shut and lock properly? If you discover a possible security problem, insist the landlord fix it immediately. If you're a first time homeowner, keep in mind that you no longer have a landlord to rely on; you have to take responsibility for your safety. Identify security threats and get them rectified immediately.
4. USE A PERSONAL SECURITY APP.
Whether you're headed out to meet girlfriends or simply walking from your apartment to your car, downloading a personal security app is a smart move for any woman who lives alone.
There are several personal security apps on the market, and a number of them are completely free. In addition to offering loud alarms you can quickly activate if you feel threatened, some apps also offer GPS tracking. Set the app to tracking mode and if you don't get to your predetermined destination, your emergency contacts are alerted immediately and notified of your location.
5. GET A DOG.
Dogs have a reputation as "man's best friend" but they also make the perfect companion for a woman living on her own. Dogs typically have remarkable intuition when it comes to detecting trouble, their bark may startle a potential intruder, and going for a run with Fido in tow can be comforting.
That said, a dog isn't a replacement for a home security system and be sure to get the okay from your landlord before you invite a furry friend into your apartment.
6. DON'T GIVE OUT CLUES YOU'RE OUT OF TOWN.
Living alone means you don't automatically have someone to care for your home when you're away, and an unoccupied home is eye candy to burglar. Burglars are known to drive through neighborhoods looking for signs that a house is unoccupied, such as an overstuffed mailbox, flyers on the front door, tall grass and garbage cans at the curb for days on end. If you're going out of town, ask a friend or neighbor to care for your home and consider putting interior lights on timers.
7. CLOSE THE CURTAINS!
Your friends and family may know you live alone, but the bad guy doesn't need to. Close your home's curtains so it's not obvious you're by yourself. Keeping curtains closed will also conceal goodies a burglar may want to get their hands on, such as your iPad, jewelry or purse.
8. REPORT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY.
Living by yourself means you must be especially aware of your surroundings and trust your gut. If a person makes you feel uncomfortable or you witness a suspicious situation, don't hesitate to call the police. You may also want to alert your neighbors and inform your landlord.
9. RESEARCH CRIME IN YOUR AREA.
One of the best ways to help protect yourself when living alone is by being aware of the types of crime happening in your neighborhood. Call your local law enforcement agency and ask about crime trends, or use a crime mapping website such as CrimeReports. This site, and similar ones, will tell you what type of crime is reported in your area, give you the option of signing up for crime alerts, and more.
Whether you're living solo in a city apartment complex or a house in the suburbs, use these smart tips to take a proactive approach to your personal security.
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