By Bill Primavera
Never will I forget that early morning when my wife and I woke up, and she said that she felt that someone had been in our bedroom, looking at us in bed.
At first, I thought that she had just had a weird dream. But when she went downstairs to the kitchen, she found that our back door had been removed from its hinges and that someone had entered our home.
Upon investigation, we found that nearly every book in our library had been handled, obviously in the search for inserted cash. Most horrible to us though was discovering that our two-year-old daughter’s piggy bank had been taken and realizing that the thief had been in her room. Obviously, the intruder had spent considerable time in our home, even helping himself to a snack of crackers in our kitchen!
Never had I felt so personally and helplessly violated. I did what I could by calling the police to investigate and later installing security gates over our windows and doors. Even though our loss was minimal, my feeling of well-being had been violated and I no longer felt safe in that home.
This incident was one of the reasons that we were happy to later have had the opportunity to move from New York City to Westchester, which we perceived as safer.
Feeling safe and being safe can be different, although they are intertwined. Though safety can never be fully guaranteed, there are ways to lower the possibility of crime. Here are some critical ways to feel safer at home, offered at www.safewise.com.
- Brighten your surroundings. Yes, we may associate fear of the dark with childhood, but it is probably the number one reason we feel unsafe. Brightening our surroundings can help us feel less vulnerable. This may mean installing outside lights and keeping them on whenever it’s dark. Outdoor lights with sensors are also very useful because they help you know if something outside is moving. Inside, you can keep low lights on even in the lesser-used parts of the house. At night, turn on nightlights, especially near windows, so your house doesn’t appear completely dark.
- Shut out the night. Before it gets dark outside, close your blinds and curtains. Even though you can’t see outside, people outside can see you very clearly at night if your windows are exposed.
- Avoid dark, overgrown corners in your landscaping. My first home in the suburbs was fronted by an overgrown hedge, which blocked the view of the rest of my property. Your own yard could be a source of fear if you see dark shadows outside. I first trimmed back those hedges which obscured the rest of my property and eventually removed them.
- Fix the creaks and groans. On an unusually windy day, you may hear a few extra sounds from your home and yard. You might have a back door that thumps with the wind or tree branches that scrape your siding or windows. Find the sources of these noises and take care of them so you can ease your nerves on those blustery days. I had a bit of a problem because I lived in a home that was built in the 18th century, and my young daughter complained of the squeaky noises the floorboards would make when she walked across them. I had to convince her that they were “friendly” noises and just the house’s way of saying hello.
- Play music or turn on the television at night. Blocking out the normal outside noises may help you feel less worried about your safety. However, this should be done only if you have a security system in place that will clearly notify you and the authorities when there really is a danger.
- Know your neighbors. It’s a good way to build community, make friends and get help when you feel unsafe. Exchange phone numbers so you can text or call to check in or ask for help.
- Use a security system. Definitely your best aid to feeling safe. A properly installed and functioning security system helps improve your actual safety, which then helps you feel safer. It can also help satisfy you both visually and aurally because you can have security cameras that allow you to see what is happening around your house, and you can have alarms that sound to alert you of intruders. I happen to live in a condo building where security is taken very seriously. There is a 24-hour doorman/security person and all hallways and public spaces are monitored electronically.
The best way to feel safe varies from person to person. It’s important that you identify what in your house causes you to feel insecure and frightened, and then do your best to resolve those issues.
Bill Primavera, while a writer and editor, is also a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com. To engage the talents and services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.