Whether you are living on your own for the first time or a seasoned solo home-dweller, you can never be too cautious about home security. Being proactive about your personal security can do more than just bring you peace of mind — it can save your life. With more Americans living alone than ever before, it’s always a good time to educate yourself and those around you about how to stay secure when being alone. Here is a list of some easy, yet highly effective tips to keep you and your home secured:
1. Fake a full house
Leaving the lights on in a couple of rooms can indicate that other people are home. If you wanted to get fancy with this, you can use light timers or home automation technology to turn on and off lights automatically. This gives the indication someone is home, even if you’re out. Writing another name on the mailbox or having more shoes on the porch can also remove the impression of you living alone.
2. Get a guard dog
Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason. Having a furry friend will not only reduce the stress of living alone, but also prove to be a vital part of your security system. They are living, breathing alarm systems, especially when you are away or asleep. Barking dogs can scare-off criminals and burglars as they can easily alert you and the people living nearby.
Bonus tip: Put a “Beware of dog” sign in a visible place for an extra deterrent.
3. Befriend your neighbors
Creating a small community with your neighbors can definitely prove to be beneficial. Neighbors can be helpful in numerous ways. They can look out for suspicious strangers, check on you if they hear you calling for help and visit your place every so often to let people know you aren’t completely alone.
4. Be mindful of your keys
Don’t leave them under the mat or flowerpot. These places are the first to be checked by intruders. Make as few copies as possible and don’t hand them out to people that you aren’t familiar with. Bonus tip: If you are renting an apartment, make sure the locks have been changed since the prior tenant lived there. If past tenants have a copy of the key, they have full access to your home.
5. Motion sensor lights
If you have a yard or driveway, these areas can get extremely dark at night. Set some motion detectors outside with lights so every time someone comes near your house, they are warded off by the immediate flash of lights.
6. Get a safety partner
Check in regularly at the same time with someone, every day. Whether it’s a best friend or a family member, it’s always helpful to have a routine evening call with them. This way, when they do not hear from you, it can tip them off that something may not be right.
7. Keep a weapon nearby
Even with taking all the security measures you can from someone entering your home, you should still have some protection in case an intruder is able to gain entry. There are many options for a self-defense weapon. If you decide to own a gun for home defense, make sure to secure it in a safe. Having pepper spray, a knife or even a baseball bat near your bed will give you quick access to some protection if the need ever arises.
8. Don’t be alone when a stranger visits
You will inevitably have to invite someone you don’t know into your home. Whether it’s the electrician, plumber or the cable guy, you’ll want to take some precautions before letting them in. Try to have a friend or family member over at that time to avoid the impression of living alone. The more people around, the merrier.
Bonus tip: If you aren’t able to get a friend to stop by, review the ‘Fake a Full House’ tip above. Make the inside of your home appear to have more people living in it than just you.
Special considerations: Home security tips for seniors
While all of the above safety tips are also applicable to senior citizens living alone, there are some special considerations you may want to make if you or a loved one is a senior living alone.
- If you have a landline phone number, keep a phone in each living space so you can quickly call in case of emergency.
- Keep all emergency phone numbers next to all phones in your home as well as stored on your mobile phone.
- Consider wearing a personal security alarm device in case of intruders or you fall and cannot get up on your own.
- Don’t let strangers know that you live alone or give out personal information. If someone rings the bell, use the peephole on your door to check if they’re someone you know.
- Be aware of home security alarm system scammers. Only purchase a home security system from a reputable company and only accept repairs or updates when they’re scheduled in advance.
These tips are measures you can take on your own to improve home security when living alone. For extra support in keeping your home safe and secure, consider a home security provider. Many home security providers offer surveillance cameras, home automation and 24/7 home monitoring services to keep you safe.
Originally published 08/10/16. Last updated 03/25/19.