Living along at our housing cooperative can be very exciting. You get to style your home the way you want, dictate your own schedule and even walk around in undies with no judgement...lol.
But living alone also comes with its challenges -- primarily safety.
Staying safe does not need to be an all-consuming thought however, as preparation is always the key to success. Follow the below tips on staying safe while living alone and you can enjoy your carefree lifestyle as a single homeowner here at our co-op without worry!
1. Be Smart on Social Media!
Most of us do not realize how much personal information we unknowingly put on our social media accounts until we consciously look for it. One of the biggest problems is attaching addresses to locations we've been to and unintentionally pinning where we live to posts.
We also tend to post pictures that can indicate our routine -- say our morning workout photo -- with date and time attached. This is dangerous for you personally and also puts your home at risk. If someone wanted to break in, and happened to be following you on social media, they now have a time frame to do so.
Finally...vacations. Most of us have heard this tip, but how many times do we still see friends posting pics of their amazing beach-front views while on vacation?! Take the pictures while on vacation, then post them when you get back. This prevents others from knowing when your home is vacant and helps keep your personal belongings safe.
2. Meet Your Neighbors
When Cedarwood has their annual events, attend them! The pool parties and holiday parties are great ways to meet your neighbors and get acquainted with the whole community -- plus they are really fun! Another way to meet your neighbors is to introduce yourself in passing. If the greeting is warm and inviting, maybe you can go out for coffee sometime and enjoy a few more chats while coming and going from your vehicle.
After you've established a bit of a relationship, and you feel comfortable sharing this information, let them know you are living alone and ask them to keep an eye out for you. There are many retired couples living on the property that would be more than happy to watch out for you.
3. Keep Your Co-op Secure.
One of the most obvious ways to stay safe whether you are alone or with family is to keep your doors and windows locked. But don't overlook the importance of curtains as well. If you are like me, you love natural light pouring in throughout the day. Instead of keeping your light-blocking curtains for privacy, install sheers AND curtains. Keep your sheers closed during the day, allowing natural light to fill the room. Then, close your solid curtains BEFORE it gets dark outside to prevent those passing by, or intentionally watching, to see your home's interior.
Also, if your home has sliding glass doors or slide-open windows, purchase a wooden dowel from your nearest hobby store and put it in the window tracks. In the event that someone tries opening the door or window, even if you forget to lock them, you have a backup security feature. Of course, the best protection, however, is to keep all windows and doors locked at all times.
4. Carry Personal Protection.
Carrying protection at all times can help you feel more confident should a situation arise. Check your local laws to see what is legal for your to carry and what it not. Most states allow a simple can of pepper spray which is affordable, compact and easy to use. Another option may be a stun gun or a small baton.
Always be careful to keep any safety latches in tact as you wouldn't want a niece or nephew to dig in your purse or car and get hurt while playing with the device. Train yourself on how to use any form of protection you choose to carry.
Another great idea is to take self-defense classes. Many local law enforcement agencies offer these classes free of charge or for a small fee. In fact, Park Forest is just about to host their annual self-defense class very soon. Call the police department for details.
5. Have a safety buddy
It does not matter who this person is. It could be your little brother, your co-worker, your parent or a friend. Pre-arrange this buddy. If you work late or plan to have a late night out, let them know around what time you expect to get it. This way, if they don't hear from you, they can call the local authorities for assistance.
Another great time to keep them in the loop, is when you go out with someone new. Text your buddy in front of this person and casually let them know you did. Example, "Oh I was just texting my father to let him know where I'm going tonight". If this person had alternative motives, they will definitely think twice now.
6. Switch Up Your Routine
While this may not always be possible, switching up parts of your routine can throw off anyone who may be watching and help keep you safe. If you are a regular morning walker, vary the time you leave even by as little as 15 minutes. If you ride a bike every afternoon, vary the route you take so no one can guess where you'll be and when. If you tend to go out on Friday nights, come home at slightly different times and call your buddy when you get in the house safely!
7. Report Suspicious Activity
If you see strange behavior anywhere on the co-op grounds, call the non-emergency police department to let them know. Never assume your neighbor is doing it as it may never then be reported. New people hanging out late at night? A group of people being loud, rude or wild? A strange vehicle parked outside your home for days or with someone sitting in it for a long time? It's always better to be safe than sorry. Not comfortable calling the police? Call the office and let us know. Then, we can keep an eye out and address issues before they arise.
Do you have a safety tip not mentioned above? Email us and give us your thoughts. The more tips we can share with others living alone the more safe we all are.