The home security market has seen a dizzying array of new products and developments in recent years, all with the aim of keeping us safe. But none of these products could ever replace basic and responsible personal safety habits.
“We too often have to respond to incidents where someone might have installed a brand-new and top of the range home security system, but suffered a theft or break-in because they left one of the house’s windows standing open or forgot to close the garage door. This is essentially the issue we face – the presence of sophisticated technology does not mean we can forget our own personal responsibility,” says Charnel Hattingh, national marketing and communications manager at Fidelity ADT.
One of the best ways to make the maximum impact, she explains, is to be aware of your surroundings. “Whether you are driving somewhere, walking in a mall, or going for a run – make sure you are paying attention, and that you avoid any unnecessary risks. Remove anything from the equation that could distract you, such as headphones or your cellphone.”
Hattingh says this level of awareness should also extend to your street and your suburb. “If you see anything that seems to be out of the ordinary or to be amiss, it is best to immediately alert your security company, the local neighbourhood watch, or the police.”
Safety habits combined with the best that technology offers – such as CCTV cameras, infrared and passive sensors, and remote monitoring – makes for the ultimate weapon in the fight against crime.
Hattingh lists some safety habits to remember:
• Lock all doors and windows all the time. This applies to your house, your car and any outbuildings on your property. This applies whether you are at home or not. If you have an alarm system installed, make sure it is always armed.
• Make it look like someone is home. Use automated lighting, either with timers or using your home security system. Keep a car in the driveway. Have a neighbour pick up packages. Close curtains on the ground level so no one can see in your windows.
• Keep valuable items out of sight. Never leave keys, wallets, cell-phones or any other small items on a table or anywhere close to a window.
• Cut back any trees or shrubs that provide cover for burglars, then make it a habit to keep them trimmed. This means around your house and around any outbuildings someone might be tempted to break into.
• Talk to your family and friends, and get to know your neighbours. Make sure your loved ones remember what they can do to stay safe, and make sure you share these tips with people who live in your street.