Listen up, ladies: there are simple and effective ways to protect yourself if you’re living alone.
Women pride themselves in being independent by fighting for what they want and believe in, as well as by recognizing what they can do on their own. In fact, a lot of women choose to live alone not just to be closer to their jobs, but also to have a sense of freedom. But with the perks of living alone also come disadvantages, with safety being the biggest concern.
In going with International Women’s Month, here are 15 guidelines you can follow to keep yourself alert and protected.
1. If you just moved into a new place, take the time to familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Recognizing the lay of the land can help you determine which places tend to be dark at certain hours of the day, as well as places where a person can crouch without being seen.
2. Always keep your doors locked. Yup, this goes without saying, but this is a tried and tested measure that we still keep forgetting. Many burglars have claimed they won’t enter a residence they can’t get into under a minute. Be sure to lock your windows as well, as these can also be entry points for any home invader.
3. If you don’t have a dog, get one. Dogs aren’t just loyal companions; they can also protect you from harm. They can either attack an intruder, or alert you if someone’s in your home that shouldn’t be there.
4. Set up a home alarm system. Your dog can wake you up and warn you of a break in, but neighbors will assume your dog’s just misbehaving and won't do anything. A home alarm will clue them in that something’s wrong and that they might need to call the police. Make sure you also put a sign outside your place saying you have an alarm system.
5. Did you choose to live in a house because you like the thought of tending to your own garden? Here’s another reason to exercise your green thumb: overgrown shrubs are the ideal hiding place for anyone who’s just waiting for an opportunity to get into your home. Don’t give them a hand; keep your trees and plants perfectly trimmed at all times.
6. If you live in an apartment or a condo, try not to walk through the parking garage to your car alone at night. If you see someone suspicious, ask the guard on duty to walk you to your car.
7. You may not have anyone living with you right now, but people outside don’t need to know that. Here’s a little trick you can do: leave a pair of masculine boots or a basketball on your porch to fool them into thinking there’s a man living with you. Also, leave a light on whenever you go out so you don’t reveal that no one’s home.
8. People are creatures of habit. We can’t help it; we do things over and over again once we find a groove we’re comfortable with. The downside to this is that stalkers can pick up on your daily routines if you do them at the same time and in the same way every day. Developing a pattern makes you an easy target so do your regular routines a different way as much as possible. For instance, collect your mail at different times of the day, or try to take different routes going to and from work once in a while.
9. Whether you’re getting dressed or just going about your daily tasks around the house, you might be putting on a show and not know it. Cover your windows with curtains to discourage thieves and peeping toms. Don’t leave them open when you leave your residence, and keep them closed at night. Even if you’re staying at home, make sure the curtains are closed every time you leave a room.
10. These days, you never know who's going to come knocking at your door. To be safe, install a peep hole to the door so you won't have to open it to find out who's on the other side.
11. Get a friend involved in your security routine. If your travel time from the office to your house is, say, an hour, have them call you at home an hour after you leave work to make sure you got there safely.
12. If you're renting the place, replace the locks and doorknobs. Aside from the landlord, you don't know who has a spare set of keys that open the locks and knobs currently installed around the property. Install deadbolts and chains for extra protection too.
13. When you get invited to a neighborhood mixer, don’t be too quick to dismiss them. Attend them and get to know your neighbors. Introducing yourself and making friends with them forms an unspoken bond where you agree to watch each other’s backs. Knowing them by face and name also helps you separate them from stranger who seems to be lurking around the neighborhood longer than usual.
14. Whenever you arrive at or leave your apartment or condo building and there’s someone there waiting to get in, don’t just open the door for them. Inform the guard about it. They’ll be able to tell if the person is a resident or a visitor.
15. Light is always your best friend, and not just when you're taking selfies. If there are any light posts with busted bulbs in your condo building's common areas, report it to management so they can replace it and keep the place well-lighted.
Living independently should let you feel free, not trapped. Empower yourself with these safety tips and you won't have to be fearful of being by yourself.