Sensor lights, closed curtains can help improve home safety

Posted May 17, 2011, at 9:53 a.m.

We all want to feel safe at home but a few precautions can make that feeling stronger. I hear seniors say, “Oh, I never lock my door,” but that’s not the safest thing to do. I admit, I have done it myself on occasion, but always end up worrying about it while I’m away.

Here are some tips for safety, not only in the home but elsewhere:

• Consider motion-activated sensor lights that can make it almost impossible for someone to approach your home unseen. It stays lighter longer now, so it is easy to forget to turn on outside lights that illuminate your yard. There is no worry about turning sensor lights on and off. The sensor part does it for you. These lights are typically not expensive and are easy to install. If you need help, call Eastern Area Agency on Aging EZ Fix minor home repair program for assistance.

• Trim bushes away from windows and doors. These could be good hiding places for burglars.

• Keep your curtains closed at night. It is unbelievable how many people are going about their business at home, in clear view of passers-by because of their draperies being wide open.

• Report to police all strangers who may be lurking in the area. They may be harmless, but better safe than sorry.

• If you live alone, add dummy names to your mailbox.

• Never announce on your answering machine that you are away. Just say that you and the “dummy name” on your mailbox cannot come to the phone.

• Install peepholes in all outside doors that don’t have a window.

• If you have a garage door, keep it closed. An empty bay is a clear signal that you are not at home, not to mention that things in the garage could be stolen.

• Keep all windows locked, including basement windows. Sliding glass doors should be secured with something in the track, such as a stick, so the door can be opened only from the inside.

• Never talk openly about what medications you take, especially in a crowded public place.

• If you lose a house key, have the locks changed as a precaution.

There are also safety tips for your car.

• Whether you are in or out of your car, keep the doors locked at all times.

• Always check the floor and back seat of your car to make sure no one is hiding there.

• Use your cell phone to report the location if you see someone in trouble. It is tempting to stop and help, but don’t. Most people have cell phones anyway and can call for help themselves.

• Be sure you always have enough gas to get where you are going and back again.

• If you feel as though you are being followed, do not go home. Drive to the police station, or nearest busy restaurant or convenience store where other people will be around. If the person is persistent and still behind you, don’t get out of the car. Instead, blow the horn for attention.

While doing some of these things may make you feel a little paranoid, it sure beats the alternative.

And remember the Senior Expo, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, May 20, at Spectacular Event Center, 395 Griffin Road, Bangor. More than 70 vendors will participate. Features will include dozens of door prizes, screenings all day, the Penobscot County Drug Drop-Off box and refreshments.

Extra parking will be available behind the Airport Mall. Hop onto a free shuttle bus provided by Winterberry Heights or Sunbury Village that will bring you right to the Expo door. I hear there will be treats on the buses, as well.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. Email Higgins Taylor at chtaylor@eaaa.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, email info@eaaa.org or visit http://www.EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.

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