We all need the security of feeling safe in our own homes and neighborhoods, but sometimes it takes a little hard work to get to that point. In this guide, we will discuss how you can do your part to make your neighborhood safe. We will also talk about what can be done to create a secure home that is safe from intruders.
Staying Safe Outside and Around Your Neighborhood
Your neighborhood is the first defense against crime. A good area with neighbors who know and look out for each other can go a long way towards stopping and preventing vandalism, break-ins, theft, and violence.
When spending time outside, these tips can help:
- When possible, bring someone with you when taking a walk.
- Stay in well-lit areas and away from back roads or alleys.
- Carry a whistle or horn.
- Avoid wearing excessive accessories or easily grabbed items such as shoulder bags.
- Appear confident and sure of where you are going.
For more information and ideas, you can visit:
- Vision Aware: Staying Safe in Your Community
- Anne Arundel Community College: Crime Prevention Tips
- Clark County Prosecuting Attorney: Crime Prevention Tips for Seniors
Learning your Neighborhood
In addition to protecting yourself outside, improving the overall safety of the neighborhood can have a positive effect for all involved. The first step to a better neighborhood is getting to know it!
- Investigate and document areas and properties that are unkempt, physically dangerous, or abandoned. Often, cities will be able to offer solutions, or at least information on what they or you can do to improve conditions.
- Host or attend local activities and get to know the people in your area. Learn about their own hardships and concerns as well as their vision for the community.
- Look for the root causes of issues in the neighborhood. Are there problems due to a lack of youth activities in the area? Are there conditions that may be getting in the way of people enjoying life in the community?
- Have informal get-togethers, or more formal meetings, to discuss possible improvements for the benefit of local residents.
For more ideas and tips, visit:
- The Center for the Study of Social Policy: Learn About Your Neighborhood: Uncover the Strengths and Challenges
- The City of Bowling Green, Kentucky: Good Neighbors Make Good Neighborhood Organizations
- Safe Wise: Confirm the Safety of Your Neighborhood with These Online Tools
Neighborhood Watches and Crime
A strong Neighborhood Watch can be a solid deterrent for crime. The Neighbor Watch program has been in existence since 1972 and is sponsored by the National Sheriffs’ Association.
When taking full advantage of neighborhood motivation as well as the resources developed over the years, you will be able to:
- Work together with the police.
- Get training for helping crime victims.
- Get less-involved neighbors to participate as window watchers if they choose to stay to themselves and not participate in other ways.
- Get police reports and crime surveys for your area.
- Do repairs and cleanups of abandoned or rundown locations within the community.
- Make sure that everyone knows how and when to report a crime.
For more information, please visit:
- National Crime Prevention Council: Neighborhood Watch
- Crime Prevention: A Community Effort Neighborhood Watch: Take a Stand Against Crime
For even more information, consider visiting the following websites:
- The City of Fort Thomas, Kentucky offers some useful information in their Neighborhood Watch
- The police department in Bloomfield Hills, MI has provided a good guide with a long list of Neighborhood Safety Tips
- The National Neighborhood Watch, a Division of the National Sheriffs’ Association has additional information About Neighborhood Watch.
There is a lot that we can do around the home to make it more secure. Even small and inexpensive changes can make a big difference when it comes to preventing home invasions and other emergencies.
What to do:
- Look for the easiest ways for a burglar to enter the home and work on securing those entrances.
- Keep trees and shrubs trimmed to improve visibility.
- Install outdoor lighting with motion sensors.
- Use bars, bolts, window locks, and other simple hardware to secure doors and windows.
- Avoid leaving valuables in areas of the home where they can be spotted through the window.
- Invest in a security system.
- Do not publicize your vacation plans.
- Have someone you trust keep the house looking lived while you are away on trips.
- Do not open the door for anyone who cannot be adequately identified.
To learn more about what you can do around the home to ensure everyone’s safety, visit:
- Loyola University Chicago: Apartment and Home Security
- The Insurance Information Institute: Securing Your Home against Burglary
For even more resources, visit:
- The National Fire Protection Association has written an excellent article, Safety Tip Sheets.
- The Minneapolis Fire Department offers a great list of Home Safety Resources.
- The Seattle Police Department offers their expertise with their article, Home Security and Burglary Prevention.
Teaching Children How to be Safe
Do not forget about the youngest members of the household when looking for ways to create a sanctuary. Kids can play an active part in their own protection.
Here are some ways to help improve child safety:
- Have children walk to school in groups rather than alone.
- Teach children to use crosswalks and to avoid questionable or unknown routes.
- Teach children to yell for help as loudly as possible if they are in danger.
- Do not provide clothing with nametags nor other ways for a predator to learn their name.
- Let them know not to accept any gifts from strangers.
- Do not allow children to ride their bikes at night or in unknown areas.
- Offer advice on what to do if a stranger calls and asks for personal details.
- Make sure that children do not open the door without adult supervision.
- Teach them about 911 and any other local emergency numbers. Also, enter the numbers into the phone or write them down in a permanent location.
- Teach children to avoid giving out too much information on social media.
For more ideas, visit:
- A Platform for Good: Teaching Kids Effective Security Habits Around The Home
- University of Florida Police Department: Crime Prevention for Children
If you are interested in additional resources, you can also visit:
- Safe Kids Worldwide has an excellent resource that includes Home Safety for Educators.
- gov offers three Online Safety Games to teach kids about dangers lurking on the internet.
Additional Crime Prevention Tips and Resources
- The US Department of State has a section on Personal Security At Home, On the Street, and While Traveling.
- The Columbus Ohio Police Department has curated a list of resources related to crime prevention.
- The Los Angeles Police Department also offers More Crime Prevention Tips.
- Crime Prevention Tips Brochures courtesy of the City of Winston-Salem