Living alone has its benefits. No race to the bathroom to get ready in the morning. Sole control of TV and takeout choices. A pants/no-pants policy, as you see fit. But there are also some drawbacks, security not least among them.
The number of people living alone is on the rise. “The most recent [census] reports show that around 14 percent of Americans live alone,” says Sarah Brown, a security expert at Safewise, “and it’s been increasing more each year.”
It’s mildly depressing and a tad unfair, but the fact is, when you’re living alone, you’re often seen as a more vulnerable target for home invasion. And it makes sense: when you’re solo, it’s you versus intruder(s), no best friend, roommate, or partner — who’s also incidentally a Jiu-Jitsu champ — to help defend your turf.
Most people don’t have the time to set up an elaborate “Home Alone”-style party every night in an attempt to deter criminal activity. But everyone should make time to gather expert security tips for living alone.
So whether you’re loving the freedom of solo domestic life or bunking with seven of your best friends, here are a dozen ways to make it safer.
Lighting is a huge safety factor — just get it right. “Outdoor lighting is a huge deterrent for intruders, or even just people snooping around,” says Brown. “But don’t leave your lights on for 24 hours a day. It can actually attract burglars to leave your lights on during daylight hours.”
The same goes for interior lighting. “It’s natural for people to have the lights off in the day and on at night. Anything else can be a signal that you aren’t home,” notes Brown.
Extra lights on when you’re alone at night can create the illusion someone else is there. (Just keep it to one or two rooms, because, you know … the environment.)
Motion sensors and timers are cheap ways to create the illusion of more occupants, but there are other gadgets you might not have heard of.
David Nance, a personal safety expert and CEO of SABRE, recommends something like a TV Light Simulator. “This is a little device about the size of a coffee cup, using the same amount of energy as a nightlight, that mimics screen and light changes produced by a real HDTV.”
Meaning if you’re upstairs taking a shower, you can create the illusion that someone else is downstairs watching TV.
The “Home Alone” idea actually isn’t ridiculous. Nobody needs to know you’re alone. Things like lighting and gadgets can help, but there are also some simple tricks.
For women especially, “an amazing psychological and simplistic deterrent is to take a pair of men’s size 13 or 14 work boots and leave them in front of the door,” says “Security Sensei” Jordan Frankel of GlobalSecurityExperts. Another simple deterrent: “a giant dog’s water bowl.”
The principle applies when you’re home with a stranger, too. “Whenever you’re having someone over to repair your home, you should invite at least one other person over,” says Brown.
Another nod to the power of the pooch: “Even having a dog with you can decrease the likelihood that you become a target,” she adds.