Ensuring Personal Safety: Tips for the Security of Your Home

Our homes should be a sanctuary where we feel safe and secure, where our personal safety should never come into question. However, unexpected visitors ringing the doorbell late at night or knocking can create moments of uncertainty and concern. To ensure personal safety in these situations, it's important to be prepared and aware. Let’s discuss essential tips aimed at deterring potential burglars or intruders from singling out your residence, along with guidance for handling unforeseen encounters with unfamiliar late-night visitors at your doorstep. We will explore proactive measures to safeguard your home and address the appropriate actions to take when faced with unexpected nocturnal doorbell rings or knocks.

Let’s prepare!

A house well-lit inside and out

Keep Exterior Areas Well-Lit:

Good lighting is a powerful deterrent for potential intruders. According to ADT, because burglars prefer to operate in darkness, ensuring that the exterior of your home is well-lit increases the chances that they'll avoid your home. Install motion-sensor lights that activate when someone approaches. Adequate lighting not only helps you identify visitors but also creates a safer environment.

Install Cameras for Personal Safety:

Cameras and video doorbells can effectively discourage potential intruders, especially when placed "somewhere visible and in an area where there’s a lot of foot traffic toward entrances" (ADT). If possible, consider installing cameras around the perimeter of your home to gain comprehensive monitoring capabilities. The presence of cameras not only serves as a deterrent but also provides a sense of reassurance for your personal safety by allowing you to thoroughly evaluate the situation and capture evidence should it become necessary. According to Vivint.com, some insurance companies will even offer premium discounts to customers who have video doorbells and cameras installed.

Install a Security System:

If feasible, consider investing in a security system and diligently activate it when going to bed each night. According to SafeHome.org, "[h]omes without security systems are 300 percent more likely to experience a burglary". If you do have a security system, it's essential to display the window stickers or yard signs that come with it. Even if an actual security system isn't in place, displaying signs suggesting its presence can still work to your advantage. This simple act of installing these indicators can reinforce the notion that your house is protected by an alarm, acting as an additional deterrent for potential burglars. According to SafeHome.org, a "report by the Alarm Industry Research and Education Foundation found that 60 percent of convicted burglars said the presence of a security system would cause them to seek an alternative target".

Beware of dog sign

Install Beware of Dog Signage:

Incorporating signage that suggests the presence of dogs, even if you don't own one, can serve as a valuable deterrent against potential intruders. The perception of multiple or larger dogs within the premises creates an impression of heightened security, dissuading burglars from attempting a break-in. According to an article shared on Audacy.com, in an interview, a former burglar stated that “[t]argeting a house with a dog, or mention of a dog, isn't worth it.  I'd want to be in and out within 15 minutes maximum and having to possibly deal with a dog would put the job at risk”. This psychological tactic capitalizes on the general wariness intruders have towards encountering dogs, ultimately bolstering your home's safety by effectively deterring unauthorized access.

Parents and two children in front of their home

Practice Good Personal Safety Habits:

Make it a habit to promptly lock your exterior doors the moment you enter your home, regardless of the perceived safety of your neighborhood. Take extra precautions by ensuring that first-floor windows are securely closed and locked, particularly during nighttime.
Now that your home is best equipped to deter visitors with malicious intent, let’s talk about what to do if you get a late-night knock or doorbell ring at your door…

Do NOT Open The Door:

The first thing to remember is to NEVER open your door to an unfamiliar visitor. Unfortunately, there is an increasing prevalence of individuals who use deceptive tactics, such as pretending to be in distress or in need of assistance, to lure unsuspecting victims into opening their doors. These ploys are designed to gain easy access to your home for malicious purposes. Take a moment to verify the identity of the person at your door by using a peephole or a window adjacent to the door. If your home lacks these features, consider installing a video doorbell system. This extra step helps you assess the situation without compromising your personal safety.

Two parents and two children

Maintain Communication:

When someone knocks on your door, try to communicate through the closed door or window. Ask who they are and what they need. There is a common misconception that it's best to remain silent when hearing a knock on the door. However, the opposite is true. To indicate that the home is occupied and not vacant, it is recommended that you respond to the visitor. The mere presence of someone in the home can serve as an additional deterrent for potential burglars.

A simple conversation can provide valuable information, can help you make informed decisions, and can provide another deterring factor.

Dial 9-1-1 if Necessary:

Trust your instincts. If you genuinely believe that you or your family's personal safety is at risk, don't hesitate to call emergency services. They are trained to handle such situations and can dispatch assistance promptly. If the individual is claiming to be hurt or in need of assistance, emergency services should be relied on to address their concerns, not you. It is always better to be safe than sorry, and your personal safety should remain at the forefront of your concerns in this situation.

Personal safety monitor keyboard

Secure Your Home for Personal Safety:

While engaging with the visitor or waiting for help, ensure your home remains secure. According to SafeHome.org, "a study conducted by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte" determined that "[m]ost burglars reported entering open windows or doors or forcing windows or doors open". Close and lock all exterior doors and windows to prevent unauthorized entry. If you have a security system, activate it. Taking these steps will provide an added layer of protection and peace of mind.

Alert a Trusted Individual:

After informing emergency services, reach out to a trusted family member, neighbor, or friend about the situation if you feel uneasy or threatened by a late-night visitor. Share details such as the person's description and any concerning behavior. If you're able to access the live feed from your property's exterior cameras, consider capturing a screenshot and sending it to a reliable contact. This way, you provide them with photographic proof of the appearance of any unfamiliar visitors to your property. This precautionary measure ensures that someone is aware of the situation and can provide assistance if needed.

woman looking at personal security on cell phone

Maintaining personal safety should always be a priority, especially during late-night encounters with unknown visitors. By following these essential tips, you can better maintain you and your family’s personal safety. Remember, trust your instincts, establish communication, and take necessary precautions to ensure that your personal safety is never put in jeopardy. With a proactive approach and awareness, you can feel more secure in your own space, even when unexpected visitors come knocking late at night.

NOTE: Please take the time to research your state and local laws, as certain regions may have restrictions on displaying home alarm signage in the absence of an actual alarm or may prohibit the use of "Beware of Dog" signs altogether.

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