While we may not like living behind burglar bars and two-metre high walls, preventing crime is a stark reality that South Africans face. According to the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) Crime Statistics Report, housebreakings and armed invasions increased by 0.8% between April 2018 and March 2019. We all need to take home safety and security seriously.
Here are some safety tips from the Automobile Association (AA) to help you look after yourself and your loved ones.
- Secure your outside perimeter – fences and walls
While you may aim to make access to your yard difficult with high, solid walls, rather look at building walls with some see-through portions (like lockable gates or other non-brick sections). They provide visibility to the outside and may help you see anything out of place easier, according to the SAPS.
- Secure your house perimeter – doors, safety gates and windows
According to the SAPS’ Crime Statistics Report, most robberies and invasions occur between 20:00 and 04:00, with weekends seeing a slight increase in criminal activity.
A safety gate of good quality is a necessity for all entries that are outside-facing in your home. While you are at home, ensure that they are always locked and that keys to these gates are not easily reachable.
Make sure that your windows are covered by burglar bars to restrict easy access. There are some attractive options available from security specialists, which won’t obstruct any scenic views from your home.
AA SECURITY TIP: Always ensure that you keep an eye on your surroundings when going outside, even more so at night where visibility is low.
- Install an alarm system
An alarm system might be the first thing you think about when increasing your home security. “Alarm systems can vary substantially in scope depending on the homeowner’s needs. What is most important however is that the system is connected to a security company you are comfortable with, that it is in good working order, and that it is serviced annually,” says Eugene Coetzee, EC Security CEO.
AA SECURITY TIP: If you have an alarm system, and you have informed your insurer that you have one, always ensure it is on when you’re not home. If anything happens and it was not turned on, they may dispute your claims.
- Add security lights
If you have some spots where you have low to no visibility, we recommend that you install bright security motion-sensor lights. This may serve as a deterrent to anyone who wants to stay unnoticed.
- General safety precautions you can take
Apart from keeping your perimeters secure and installing an alarm system and security lights, you can also do the following to stay safe at home:
- Ensure that you lock your doors and close your windows when you’re not home, even in the warm summer season.
- Always inform your security company when you will be away for a long time – such as on an annual vacation – and when you will be returning.
- Know thy neighbour. Let your neighbours know when you will be away as well as when you expect to return. They can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity and collect your post while you’re away. This is especially useful if you are going to be away for an extended period of time.
- Make sure that any items that can be used to enter your home forcefully are stored away. These include axes, picks, pitchforks, spades, bricks, ladders, pruning shears and more.
- Don’t follow the same routine every day – vary your route home, leave and come home at different times if possible.
- Identify safe places in your home to take refuge – a bathroom or storeroom, preferably with few or no windows.
- Install thumb locks in your doors that can open from the inside.
- If something looks amiss when you arrive home – like dogs not coming to greet you – contact your security service or the police.
- Clear out or trim possible hiding places like thick overgrowth or bushes.
- Do not employ casual workers without references.
AA SAFETY TIP: Make sure that you update your insurance company if you make any of these home security changes as this may affect your premium.
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