Here’s how to stay safe at home

If you’re an older Australian who is home alone, or with a spouse of a similar age, and your hearing or maybe your eyesight are not at their best, you may feel vulnerable.

You watch and listen to the news; and the regular items are home invasions, many targeting the elderly. What safety measures can you put in place so you can feel as safe as possible at home? Just don’t ignore the obvious.

At home

  • Never open your front door without asking ‘who’s there’. And if you need the response repeated several times, then ask several times. If you’re unsure of who it is and why they are there, ask them to leave a note in your mailbox.
  • It’s an unfortunate sign of the times, but keep front and back doors locked, as well as windows in any rooms that you’re not using. Also keep garage doors locked.
  • Know your neighbours. While many homes are empty during the day with families at work and school, great comfort can be had by at least saying hello to neighbours on a regular basis. If the relationship builds, you can even swap phone numbers.
  • Don’t leave a note for a delivery person on the front door or doormat when going out.
  • Don’t hide your keys under the mat or in other conspicuous places.
  • Leave lights on when going out at night – but not necessarily the light outside the front door, which sends a message that you are out. When you are gone for more than a day, make sure your home looks and sounds occupied. If you can, use a timer to turn lights on and off and leave a radio on.
  • Tell neighbours when going away on a trip and ask them to collect your mail. Cancel any regular deliveries, such as the newspaper, and consider whether you need to arrange for the lawn to be mown.
  • Ignore all unsolicited offers to repair your roof, paint the fence, fix the guttering. Deal only with reputable businesses when you believe repairs are required.
  • Keep an inventory with serial numbers and photographs of resaleable appliances, antiques and furniture that thieves favour. Put copies in a safe place.
  • Never give out information over the phone or via social media indicating you are alone or that you won’t be home at a certain time.
  • If you arrive home and suspect a stranger may be inside, don’t go in. Leave quietly and call the police.

Do you feel safe at home? What personal safety measures can you suggest?

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Written by Janelle Ward

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