Staying safe for the holidays

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Staying safe for the holidays

home safety

With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, opportunists are always laying wait for unsuspecting people. Here are a few tips reduce your vulnerability and stay safe:

  • Make sure your house or flat is secure. Always secure outside doors. Fit barrel locks top and bottom. If you have to use a key, keep it in a safe place away from the door where you can find it quickly in an emergency – you may need to use the door in the event of fire.
  • If other people such as previous tenants could still have keys that fit, change the locks. Don’t give keys to workmen or others, as they can easily make copies.
  • If you wake to hear the sound of an intruder, only you can decide how best to handle the situation. You may want to lie quietly to avoid attracting attention to yourself, in the hope that they will leave. Or you may feel more confident if you switch on the lights and make a lot of noise by moving about. Even if you’re on your own, call out loudly to an imaginary companion – most burglars will flee empty-handed rather than risking a confrontation. Ring the Police on 911 as soon as it’s safe for you to do so. A telephone extension in your bedroom will make you feel more secure as it allows you to call 911 immediately, without alerting the intruder.
  • Draw your curtains after dark and if you think there is a prowler outside – dial 911.
  • Use only your surname and initials in the telephone directory and on the doorplate. That way a stranger won’t know if a man or a woman lives there.
  • If you see signs of a break-in at your home, like a smashed window or open door, don’t go in. Go to a neighbour and call the Police.
  • If you are selling your home, don’t show people around on your own. Ask your real estate agent to send a representative with anyone who wants to view your house.
  • When you answer the phone, simply say ‘hello’; don’t give your number. If the caller claims to have a wrong number, ask him or her to repeat the number required. Never reveal any information about yourself to a stranger and never say you are alone in the house.
  • If you receive an abusive or threatening phone call, put the receiver down beside the phone, and walk away. Come back a few minutes later and replace the receiver; don’t listen to see if the caller is still there. Don’t say anything – an emotional reaction is just what the caller wants. This allows the caller to say what he or she wants to say, without causing distress to you. If the calls continue, tell the Police and the operator and keep a record of the date, time and content of each phone call. This may help the authorities trace the caller.

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