Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Apartment and Dorm Security

"Hope for the best, expect the worst" is one of the best pieces of advice you’ll ever get concerning security. If you live in an apartment, there are quite a few limitations on what you can actually do to secure your space. There’ll also be some variability in this regard. For example, if you have a freestanding apartment, your landlord may allow you to get an alarm hooked up. If you live in a complex, this generally will not be an option. Here are some tips to help you secure your apartment so that you can feel as safe as possible when you’re at home and when you’re out and about.

Doors and windows
If you do not have a deadbolt ask that one be installed. If you do ask that it be rekeyed. There are external deadbolts that can be installed on the inside of the door. Check hinges and strike plates. Make sure there are long screws in them to strengthen them. Consider a nail that will keep the door from being taken off the hinges.
There are quite a few inexpensive door alarms that are simple to hook up and easy to operate. These generally use a simple magnet to determine whether your door is closed. They’re not as secure as a professional security system, of course, but they do provide some level of deterrence. With these devices, if somebody opens your door and doesn’t enter the combination to disarm the alarm right away, the device emits a loud shriek, which will alert anyone nearby that something is amiss. You can usually set these up for in at-home mode where the alarm will sound immediately instead of giving you a few seconds to enter your combination, which is great when you’re in bed at night.
You can literally pick up a decent window bar for about a dollar at any hardware store. You have the option of buying burglar bars that are specifically made to keep your windows from being able to be slid open or you can purchase a piece of dowel, a broomstick or just about anything else you can put in the window track to obstruct the motion of the window. If you live in a ground floor apartment, these are imperative. Slipping into a window is all too easy for thieves, so you want to make certain that they cannot open the window wide enough to get in. You can also buy small devices that attach to the window track with a wingnut that allows you to tighten them down and prevent the window from being opened. Consider fire exits. You may have to have a fire drill occasionally to train all occupants to grab the stick or take off the “lift limiter” to get out the window. There are also window alarms for individual windows. Keep your blinds in good repair and drawn when you’re not home. Put valuables out of sight.

The very first line of this article explains why having a safe is a good idea. No matter how much time you put into controlling access to your apartment, you’ll want to assume that somebody’s going to get in there eventually. You can buy small safes that one or two strong people can easily carry up a flight of stairs but that are certainly heavy enough to deter anyone from running away with them. These safes are available with good quality locks, doors, and burn protection, which make them great for storing anything valuable that you absolutely cannot afford to lose. Your most valuable items should be stored in such a safe. It’s a good idea to conceal the safe, as well. You can put it in your closet where it cannot be seen, put it under a table where it’s difficult to notice or, if you want, cover it up with a tablecloth and make a table out of it.

One thing that every thief wants to avoid is being seen. Make sure you always tell maintenance if your outdoor lighting has gone out and have it replaced immediately. If you have a peephole on your door, get a peephole cover so that a thief cannot use a peephole reverser to see inside your apartment.
Provided you put a bit of effort into increasing the level of access control you have over your apartment and into safeguarding those things that are the most important and most valuable, you should be able to enjoy relative security living in an apartment.
Know your neighbors
If you know your neighbors and what cars they drive you will be better able to identify someone who should not be hanging around your complex.

Bushes and shrubs
If plants are obstructing your windows ask the complex to trim them or do it yourself. Also make sure there are not any plants that anyone can hide behind.

Put timers on a light and a radio or TV. This will give the illusion of someone home.
Look into getting renters insurance. This will give you peace of mind and even protect against fire. If your area is prone to flooding, most renters insurance do not cover floods.
Consider taking video or pictures of your apartment and its contents. Marking your valuables with a drivers license number is good for identification.
Work with landlords in forming an apartment watch group or tenant association. Consider social events for your complex. This is good to get to know your neighbors and to be able to look after each other. Maybe fixing playground equipment or maybe putting in a basketball court or social event for youth might help keep things friendly and provide activities for tenants.
Consider self-defense
Always remember that self-defense should be at the top of your list in securing you and your family. Things can be replaced, people cannot.

Semper Paratus
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