Living alone can give us the freedom to come and go, maintain our home, our way, and provide all the privacy we could ever want. However, it can also be concerning. How can we learn to play it safe?
At the top of the home-alone fears are burglary and personal assault. How can protect ourselves when some of us can scarcely twist the lid off a mayonnaise jar? We certainly can’t wield a heavy object in the direction of an assailant, and we may not have the strength or speed to use a firearm.
Yet, we don’t want to be at anyone’s mercy. Therefore, when living alone, we must be preemptive. Sometimes brain over brawn can foil any ill-intended visitors.
- Keep your doors and windows locked. Day and night. That includes your car.
- Never let a solicitor or other stranger enter your home.
- Keep your cell phone within reach with 911 on speed-dial.
- If you can keep a landline, and call 911 from that number, it will be easier for police and rescue personnel to get your address.
- Consider putting a string of bells on each entry door. I keep my tied tight around the door handles.
- Keep your car keys on your nightstand at night. If need be, you can hit your car alarm to signal distress.
- Have an emergency agreement with a trusted neighbor. If you text “help”, they’re on their way while calling 911.
I tied bells around the handles of my entry doors to let me know when my teenagers were arriving home from shift work. Then I left them for an extra security alert.
If someone has entered while you were away
First, we want to make sure they’ve already left. Then, we need to call the police immediately and not touch anything. A full investigation may turn up any missing items and help to confine the criminal.
Also, we’ll need moral support. Coming home to find a break-in is a traumatic thing. Call a neighbor or nearby family member immediately.
How to quickly discern if someone has been inside:
- Leave a $20 bill on an entry table. If it’s gone, someone has entered.
- If you have a two-story home, leave an old purse on the stairs going up. Leave a few items inside, to include a few dollar bills and some coins. If the purse has been moved or tossed someone has been inside. However, remove the purse when you’re at home to prevent a tripping hazard.
If you see any tell-tale signs as you enter your home, leave immediately and call the police.
Living alone and feeling frightfully ill
We all know when we’ve caught a bug and when we’re suddenly ill with something of greater concern. Don’t suffer for days as you wonder what’s up.
Let a friend, neighbor or family member know if you’re battling a lingering virus or infection. And see your doctor.
Ask your doctor what he or she prefers you do for those sudden dives into illness, chest pain, tingling in the limbs, difficulty speaking or a sudden and severe headache. Then follow their instructions–which means keeping your cell phone charged and handy.
Keep a list of names and numbers for these and other times of emergency.
Falls and other injuries: A special concern when living alone
Once again, we need that emergency list within our grasp. If we enter it into our smartphones and keep our smartphones on us, we’ll be ready.
However, we should always take precautions to avoid injury.
- Ask your doctor if you’re a candidate to have a “falls assessment.” If you suffer from a condition related to loss of balance or muscle weakness, etc. you may be able to obtain a free alarm or calling-forward device from your insurance company. But even if you must buy it–it’s worth it.
- We all love our slick and shiny wooden floors, but we must wear non-slip footwear to stay safe. And there’s no need to run to grab the telephone.
- If you use a cane or walker, don’t set them aside. They’re there for your protection.
- If you have grab bars in your bathroom or any other room, use them. And if you don’t have them but need them. Get them installed.
- Tape your rugs to the floor to prevent slippage
Power outages, broken heaters or air conditioners?
As we age, we are more sensitive to temperature changes. What may seem like a simple power outage to some can put us in a dangerous situation. If you lose power, you’ll want to act quickly.
Call your friends and family to see who is still warm and toasty or cool as a cuke. That’s where you want to be. When all is repaired or turned back on, you can return home.
If you notice a gradual chill or rise in temperature but your lights work, check your thermostat. Can you kick on the heat or AC? If there’s no response, start making phone calls.
Ask a neighbor, family member or friend to come assess the situation. But don’t wait for hours. If no one responds, call for a repairman.
Water main breaks and boil water alerts
In the past year, we’ve experienced two water main breaks. One left us boiling water for a week and the other for two days. Well…that’s too long for me. So, I stocked up with bottled water for the next time.
Do you keep a reserve of drinking water? Whether you’re living alone or not, something as simple as a frozen pipe, in winter, can call for bottled water.
My grandmother would quickly fill the tub when water was cut off for any reason. But that’s not the place I want to draw water for my coffee. Other than water, we should always keep a supply of canned goods and a can opener. You never know when natural forces or city mishaps will send you to the pantry for a can of soup rather than the chicken you had planned to cook.
Home sweet home–day or night
In a perfect world, we could stay home alone without a care in sight. But, the truth is, we must play it smart to play it safe. A secure home, trustworthy neighbors, on-call family and a list of emergency numbers can help us sleep better at night.
And enjoy our comings and goings in the daytime.
Keep these numbers handy. Put them on your smartphone and post them in your kitchen. Then live life well in your own home–even when living alone.
- Poison control 1-800-222-1222
- Nearest trustworthy neighbor
- Nearest family member
- Doctor’s office