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 a good time to educate yourself and those around you about how to stay secure. Check out some easy, yet highly effective security tips for living alone.
1. Fake a full house
Remember the fake house party scene in Home Alone? Kevin had the right idea.
Leaving the lights on in a couple of rooms can indicate to watchful eyes that other people are home. Get even fancier by using timers or home automation technology to turn lights on and off automatically, even when you’re away. Writing an additional name on your mailbox or having extra shoes on the porch can also remove the impression that you live alone.
2. Get a guard dog
A dog is a man’s best friend for a reason. Having a furry friend will not only reduce the stress of living on your own 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 trespassers and easily alert you and neighbors nearby.
Bonus tip: Put a “Beware of dog” sign in a visible place as an extra deterrent.
3. Befriend your neighbors
Creating a small community with your neighbors can definitely prove to be beneficial when living on your own. Neighbors can look out for suspicious activity around your home and check on things or collect your mail when you’re away.
4. Be mindful of your house keys
Don’t leave keys under the mat or flowerpot. These are the first places checked by intruders. Also, try to make as few copies as possible and keep them close to you. Handing out spare keys to close friends and family could seem like a good idea until someone misplaces one.
Bonus tip: When renting an apartment, make sure the locks have been changed before you move in. If past tenants have a copy of the key, they (or those that they’ve given spare keys) may have full access to your home.
5. Invest in motion sensor lights
If you have a yard or driveway, these areas can get extremely dark at night. Set up some motion detectors outside that trigger lights so every time someone comes near your house, you can see who it is and they’re aware that you can see them.
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 someone to let them know you’re okay. This way, when they do not hear from you, it can tip them off that something may not be right.
7. Keep some protection nearby
If you’re able, have some form of defense in case an intruder is able to gain entry. 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. Should you decide to own a gun for self-defense, be sure to secure it in a safe.
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, try to have a friend or family member over at that time to avoid the impression of living on your own. 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 to make the inside of your home appear to have more people living in it.
Special considerations: Tips for seniors living on their own
While all of the above safety tips are also applicable to older adults living alone, there are some additional ideas you may want to consider if you or a loved one is a senior living independently.
- If you have a landline number, keep a phone in each living space so you can quickly call in case of an 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 readily 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 security tips for living alone are measures you can easily take. For extra support in keeping your home safe and secure, consider a monitored home security system and provider. Many home security providers offer surveillance cameras, home automation and 24/7 home monitoring services to help keep you safe.
Originally published 08/10/16. Last updated 08/14/19.