Every year, more and more women choose to live alone. Seasoned single-dwellers enjoy privacy, independence, the freedom to decorate (or not) as they choose and entertain whom (and when) they like, and the luxury of eating and drinking as much they want sans comments or criticisms. It’s certainly a great lifestyle, but is it safe?
Not every woman can afford the security of a gated community with 24-hour patrols and video cameras around every corner. But even if you live in a neighborhood your mom won’t visit, there are many simple, affordable ways to protect yourself from the ne’er-do-wells of the world.
Light Can Be Lifesaving
Most crimes are committed in darkness. Although you can’t stave off the night completely, you can make sure you only travel in well-lit places. Before you sign a lease, visit the apartment building at night to make sure there are lighted walkways from the street to the parking lot all the way up to the door of your unit. If there’s an elevator, make sure it’s dependable and that the emergency button works in case you get stuck. Carry a motion-sensor mini-flashlight in your purse or pocket so you don’t have to fumble in the dark for your keys or worry about having to retrieve a dropped item. Last but not least, don’t take shortcuts through unlit stairwells or pathways.
Invest in a Home Security System
New home security systems come on the market practically every day, which means there are already good ones in all price ranges. Studies show that up to 88 percent of burglars steer clear of homes with visible security cameras. Most can be monitored remotely via a smartphone or other portable device. Strategically place them on all doors and windows before having a friend roam through your apartment to make sure the angles are perfectly focused on the most vulnerable entrance points. Regularly replace batteries as needed and periodically check angles to make sure they haven’t drifted over time.
Lock and Double-Lock
If your apartment door only is only protected by a basic key lock, you should immediately install a deadbolt lock as a backup. Most basic locks can be easily opened with a credit card or jimmied with a lockpicking tool, but a good deadbolt is nearly impenetrable. Install locks on all your windows, and don’t forget to secure any sliding glass or screen doors with a 2 X 4 chunk of lumber, as these doors are especially hot entrance points for burglars and assailants. If possible, install an electronic system that sets off an alarm and/or alerts the local police department if it’s tripped. Always ask for your locks to be changed before moving in.
Be a Good Neighbor
Shortly after you move in, you’ll want to take the time to introduce yourself to the neighbors, especially those in the immediate vicinity of your unit. Nothing provides better apartment security than neighbors keeping an eye out for strangers, unfamiliar vehicles, and unusual activities, and you end up protecting each other, so everyone wins. It’s also nice to have a friend around for those times when you need help carrying oversized packages or get locked out of the house. If you’re more of a loner, just keep the relationships friendly and casual. You don’t have to be so chummy to watch out for each other. Maintain a good dynamic by offering to water their plants during vacations or picking up a few groceries for them when they’re under the weather.
Apps are Priceless
For pennies a day (or more often, for free), you can install a wide range of apps on your phone that make your life safer and more secure. Many alert you when any alarm in your apartment is tripped. Others tell you when someone rings your doorbell, send you an image of who it is, and let you speak to them from a remote location. Keep emergency and neighbors’ phone numbers on instant dial so you can reach someone immediately if you’re not home and catch any suspicious activity in the area.
The best person to rely on for personal safety is yourself. Free self-defense classes designed specifically for single women are widely available at police departments, YWCAs, and other local outreach centers. Commit to the training, and refresh your skills as needed. Always carry mace or pepper spray when navigating shady areas, and not in the bottom of your purse or tucked deep into your pocket. Have it in your hand with your button on the trigger so you can strike instantly if necessary.
Go online at least once a week and check out crime statistics in your neighborhood and in areas where you work and socialize. If you have any questions, ask the local police for tips on protecting yourself and specific areas to avoid. The expression “forewarned is forearmed” is popular because it’s rooted in common sense, and that’s one of the best pieces of apartment security equipment you could ever hope to have!