I heard an unidentified noise outside my house the other night that got me thinking about home safety. This thought morphed into contemplating some easy ways seniors, especially those living alone, can make their homes a little safer.
First off, lock the doors. It is amazing how many people do not make that a priority. For added safety, install strong deadbolt locks on all outside doors. And keep all windows locked, including basement windows. Sliding glass doors should be secured with something in the track so the door cannot be opened from the outside.
Make sure the outside of your home is well lit. Motion-activated sensor lights can make it almost impossible for someone to approach your home unseen. These lights are also very helpful if you come home after dark but forgot to leave the porch light on. We have all fumbled for keys in the dark. Sensor lights are typically not expensive and pretty easy to install.
While it is sad to say, times have changed, and gone are the days when you could help some poor soul who needs to use your phone. If a stranger comes to your door and asks, offer to make the call yourself, while the person waits outside. Then lock the door behind you.
Keep your curtains closed at night. This seems simple, but you wouldn’t believe how many people go about their business in their homes, in clear view of passersby, because the draperies are open. It is the perfect scenario for someone to case the place.
Don’t put your address on your key chain. If you lose your keys along with any information that lists your address, such as if a purse is stolen, be sure to change the locks immediately. Also, while very convenient, don’t leave keys under mats or flower pots outside your door.
We all do this, but don’t leave notes on your door for someone to retrieve while you are gone. It is a clear indication that you are not home.
Don’t be self-conscious about asking for identification from delivery persons or service people. The legitimate ones will not mind and will be happy to show you their credentials.
I still don’t know what made that noise, but at least it made me more aware of home safety.
Carol Higgins Taylor is director of community education at Eastern Area Agency on Aging.