My husband use to go out of town on an occasional business trip. Being young and not liking to be by myself, I took extra steps to feel safe. Let’s face it, we live in an unstable world! Of course, I relied on prayer first (then and now) but anything I could do to enhance the feeling of peace, I did it! “Faith without works is dead!” (James 2:20) I liken it to living in a high crime area of town and expecting God to take care of me without doing my part, like not locking my doors and windows. Then, I’d wonder why God would let someone walk in to steal my possessions or harm me. It doesn’t work that way! There’s always God’s part and our part. It’s called “personal responsibility!” So, I’m always looking for (and sharing) ways to add an extra layer of protection for anyone who wants it.
Recently, I read about some uses for tension rods and started thinking about ways to use them in prepping. The picture shows a way to set boundaries with puppies or crawlers, but also consider using two rods (with a light sheet or towel) to block a skylight or a window that doesn’t normally have a curtain. I use a tension rod above my clothes dryer to hold all my empty hangers and under the sink to hang squirt bottles. Another tip to block light and freezing cold from the outside is to purchase some white, block insulating foam pieces, such as Insulfoam (Expanded Polystyrene Foam Board – it’s REALLY inexpensive.) Carefully measure your window frames and cut the foam to size. It should fit snuggly into your window frames. My husband also put a strip of duct tape around the outer edges to prevent the foam from crumbling. It works great and has a silver side that can be seen from the outside rather than the “raw” side that has a lot of printing. They fit nicely behind the blinds and they’re great for bedrooms to have that little extra warmth.
Then, I started thinking about PVC piping that’s more heavy-duty and more adaptable to bigger needs. Use a PVC pipe (cut to size) in the track of an arcadia door and slide windows. For dire times, cut the pipe so it’s tight against the sliding window and the frame. For every day use, you might want to cut 1-2″ shorter to allow some air to come through when the window is open, but not enough that someone outside could open the window.
Or how about using other items around the house that can ensure an added level of safety? Recently, a news program said that once someone gets into your garage and closes the garage door, they have a lot more time to work their way into your house because no one can see them. First, get into the habit of locking your inner door and make sure it’s a good lock and a solid door. Then, for those times that you want to feel even more secure (at night or going on vacation), use a wooden baby gate (as shown – they’re still available) to place one end of the gate on the door and the other end of the gate against an opposite wall (if architecturally possible.) The tension on the gate makes it virtually impossible to open the door.
Here are some other tips you can use if you’re home alone:
Close the blinds and curtains BEFORE it gets really dark (obvious reasons) and turn the lights on OR keep a light (or lamp) on a timer if you’re out and will be coming home after dark. Then, before going to bed, check windows, doors, the garage and garage door to make sure everything is secure. This may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many people don’t.
When going to bed, put your cell phone, car keys and garage remote on the bed stand… close to you but far enough away that you don’t accidently “hit” the buttons, especially the garage remote. A well-charged cell phone is better than a land-mine phone in case power goes down or lines are cut. Car keys? Most car keys now days have a remote button that can set off the emergency alarm on the car. And, the garage remote allows you to open your garage door so your neighbors can hear the alarm. Of course, be vigilant and make sure windows and doors are closed and locked. Too many burglaries and rapes happen because they weren’t. Even second story bedrooms are vulnerable if someone really wants to get in.
Of course, you could do all the better known ideas, like putting up wind chimes or bells (or anything that makes noise) on door knobs, but think twice about this idea if you have an animal that could knock into them or if your air conditioning or heater comes on with a direct hit. Yes, even getting a dog might make some people feel more safe, but get one for the right reasons, not just because you need an internal security system.
If you’re alone in the house, don’t consume alcohol to become drunk, sleeping pills that knock you out, or do anything that prevents your senses from being at their best. Be aware of your surroundings – even at home!
Plan in your mind BEFORE a tragedy happens what your plan of action would be. Run to a neighbor’s house? And what would the best way to get there? Keep an actual written list of emergency numbers (including your address and other important info) ready in case you need to call the police, fire department, etc. I’ve heard too many stories of an emergency happening and people panicked, forgetting the most basic information. And if you’re going to be “home alone” for an extended time, always check in with a neighbor, friend, or family member with pre-arranged, scheduled phone calls. Sounds silly but it works!
Having a firearm or knife isn’t always the best to have around unless you are totally trained in how to use it. Otherwise, the perpetrator could disarm you and actually use it against you. Choose your weapons carefully and better yet, get trained! Even pepper spray can be iffy if you don’t know how to use it.
I have a few tips for when you’re out shopping. Women leave their purses unattended in their carts all the time. First, don’t leave your cart unattended! But, for extra security from a potential “grab-and-go”, lock the straps of your purse into the child restraint belt and then make sure your purse is closed. I do this all the time since I don’t like to wear my purse through the store. Then, be aware of your surroundings – at all times – when exiting the store, going to your car. Have your car keys ready to unlock your car (and ready to hit the emergency button) and if you suspect anything (ANYTHING) go back into the store, report your suspicions, and get someone from the store to walk you out. It’s definitely not the time to be distracted by talking on your cell or have anything in your ears. Try to do any shopping during daylight hours, but if you must go out (restaurant, store, etc.), park in well-lit areas and where there will be a lot of traffic. Have a whistle handy or use a spray deterrent, but know how to use it! “Bad guys” have many ploys to distract you (flat tires, flyers on your windshield, hiding between cars, offering their help, pretending they, themselves, need help, etc.) so just be thinking all the time. As women, we put way too much stuff in our purses. If you’re by yourself, carry only what you need for purchases and no more. Keep your garage remote with you or in a place in your car that would be hard to find. Once a thief has your remote and can find your address somewhere in your car, they’re in! And, finally (as related to shopping), always lock your door(s) when you get in the car and don’t sit there. Get moving and be aware of traffic around you.
When you’re pumping gas at the gas station AND/OR going inside to pay, LOCK THE DOORS ON YOUR CAR. People can sneak into your car when you’re not looking and then are at the mercy of their knife or gun. This also applies to taking your grocery cart back to the collection stalls. Lock your doors if it’s more than a safe distance. Finally, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER leave a child in the car even if you think you’re going to run in somewhere for just a few minutes. What if something happens to you while you’re inside – a freak accident, a hold-up, delays, etc.? No one will know you left a child outside in the car. Sizzling summers and frigid winters are the worse but no time is acceptable. Again, in all situations and at all times, be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.
Okay, that’s it for now. Of course, not all of the suggestions and ideas above will necessarily apply to your situation or lifestyle, but I’m throwing them out for those that desire that little bit of extra, personal security. Never be embarrassed by wanting to keep safe. It’s up to you. And above all, remember Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you! James 4:8a. God’s part! Our part!