How to keep yourself safer and make your home more inviting: from a door to door person's viewpoint.
Keep your home safe and inviting: What I see on the job.
I currently have a job distributing flyers door to door. I've done this for about 4 years now, and I've even written a hub or two about it. In this hub, I'll tell you some of the things I see homeowners do or neglect to do, that not only detract from their home's value, but also can open them up to crime and make their places less inviting.
1. Open Doors that are not obviously watched!
One of the things I sometimes see, are doors left open. I'm talking about the front door, and garage doors, where I see no one close by keeping watch! I usually avoid even placing a flyer at these homes, just in case something does turn up missing later on. I'm sure that the people who leave the doors open and unwatched think they'll hear an intruder. But they are wrong, according to testimony from ex-burglars and crime prevention experts. And open garage doors let a casing burglar see what's in the garage! If you are one of these homeowners, please keep your doors closed when you're not around to keep watch! It doesn't have to be a professional burglar who enters your home and takes something. An unscrupulous mail carrier or even neighbor can look in, see no one's around, and quickly snatch that small treasured vase on your coffee table!
2. Vehicles left running in driveways!
I also see vehicles left running in driveways, often by owners who are letting them warm up in the morning before they go to work, to try to save time because, as usual, they are running late! This is very dangerous and even some local police departments have cautioned against doing this on local TV. One department even issues tickets to car owners who leave their cars running in their driveways, with good reason! In the few minutes that you'll supposedly be back in, a thief can steal your car. And how often are you even back in the time you think you'll be back in? There's always that last minute phone call to make or item you suddenly decide to take with you that you now have to look for, and that 3 to 5 minutes turns into 20. A good thief needs only about 5 seconds to jump in your car and drive off! Advice: Don't leave the car running in the driveway. Period. If you're often pressed for time, make some adjustments so that your morning isn't so hectic. Being rushed often makes us do things that could do more harm to us than good.
3. Unclear or unmaintained walkways.
Oftentimes the walkway leading from the curb or sidewalk to the front door is either unmaintained, or has plant overgrowth partially or completely blocking the way for visitors. For me, that's fine, as I've no right to expect accommodation since I'm not an invited visitor, but more like a solicitor, even though I don't actually knock on doors, or ring doorbells. But your invited guests and people you do call upon for service, and mail carriers, also have to deal with this. They may fall and get hurt, and some of your friends and relatives, if the walkway is overgrown, may not like coming to your place but won't tell you so as not to hurt your feelings. Finally, it may make your place look run down and, if you want to sell, this would need to be addressed. It may not take a major job, but at least, if plants are branching into the walkway, trim them back. If tree roots or other factors have damaged your walkway, making it dangerous, do see if you can have it repaired or an alternate walkway made. Of course, in these tough economic times, the money may not be there. If this is the case, you may have other resources available, such as your own knowledge of such projects, or that of friends, neighbors, and relatives, who might be willing to lend a hand or give advice as to how to get it done much cheaper.
Another problem in this area that I often encounter are wooden stairways that get extremely slippery when wet. Some I've encountered feel as if they've been greased somehow and are extremely treacherous. I've developed a motto for myself which says, "Watch Out For That Wood!"
If you have wooden steps or a wooden porch, be sure to try to make the surface less slippery. I've seen this done by laying down sand strips on stairs as one way. There are probably others as well.
Other surfaces can become slippery also, but wood seems to be the worst.
Many people use what is called an "invisible fence" to contain dogs in front yards. The dog wears a collar and the perimeter of the yard is "fenced" electronically. If the dog tries to get out of the yard, the collar 'buzzes' the dog.
I can see it's uses, but I think overall, it's a bad idea. Again, I claim no 'right' to place a flyer on a front door, and avoid placing them at homes with "Invisible Fence". But I also notice that the signs used to show that a home has this product, are very small, and some people don't even put them up! So it's possible that the kid selling scout cookies or school candy can get bit by the dog that is in the front yard with an invisible fence!
Also, the dog itself is more vulnerable. Oftentimes, people with Invisible Fence will have the dog out in the front yard without supervision. So the dog can be attacked by other dogs, which are not kept out since they are not wearing collars for the invisible fence. The dog can also be taken, if it is small, by a dog thief, or given things to eat that it shouldn't eat.
And, Invisible Fence doesn't always work! I was across the street from a home with Invisible Fence. I wasn't even approaching the house when the dog in the front yard came across the street at me. Luckily, the dog was friendly, though large, and the dog's owner was in the yard doing yard work. She called the dog back and apologised to me, and was surprised as she told me they have Invisible Fence and that the dog shouldn't have been able to get to me!
5. Dogs, especially puppies, not being properly secured!
Fortunately, I haven't run into loose dogs that often, but I have from time to time. If your dog is aggressive, gets out, and bites someone in the street without provacation, you will probably be held liable, as the dog was not defending your home or property. Or it can get hurt or killed by cars or other dangers.
On one occasion, a small puppy ran up to me as I was distributing flyers. Luckily, it had a collar with an identification tag, including the owner's phone number. I had my cell phone, so I called and the owner lived very close by and came to meet me and pick up the puppy. She was very grateful and told me he likes to dig and apparently dug under their fence. Luckily, this had a happy ending. And while one can't always forsee every way a dog can escape their yard, it's a good idea to give this more thought. The puppy's owner, by having her puppy wear a collar and ID tag, helped greatly to make this a happy ending.
So, these are the main things I see that homeowners should be aware of. Paying attention to these things and making the right changes can keep you safer and make your home more inviting and enjoyable.
Thanks for reading and for your comments!