It is hoped these tips serve to sharpen everyone’s awareness of the need for vigilance. If you have safety measures at your home, ensure that they are always in place. Be sure to test your security equipment regularly... never be complacent and think that it only happens to other people.
It is in your own best interest to be safe rather than sorry!
How to keep vigilant
- Don’t ever think, “It won’t happen to me.”
- Install sensor lights around the outside of your house and in particular at your front gate.
- Encourage your neighbours to do the same – this has proved to be extremely successful in the streets where everybody has installed sensors to light up their neighbourhood. We don’t have street lights – this is the next best thing!
- Make sure these lights are switched on every night.
- Always arm your home security system at night or when you leave your property unattended.
- Test your alarm and panic buttons at least once a month.
- Complain to your armed response company if you do not see them patrolling your area on a regular base – you pay for such a service.
- Ensure the number of your house is bold and clearly visible. In the event of an emergency, security or medical personnel can waste precious minutes trying to locate a property with no number.
- Save emergency numbers (Watchcon 021 790 9333) in your cell phone
- Display all emergency numbers prominently in your home, particularly next to each telephone and make sure family members and domestic staff are aware of them.
- Don’t leave your wheelie bin outside your home for longer than necessary as it can be used to climb over walls.
- Ensure newspapers and post items are regularly cleared from your mail box.
- Don’t leave outside lights on during the day as it can be construed as you being away.
- Don’t leave things lying around - for example ladders/wheelbarrows/tools/bicycles - on view or within easy reach of people with any criminal intent.
- Always check the surrounding area before entering or leaving your property. Someone may just be waiting or watching.
- Set up a contact system with your neighbours. Have their phone numbers/cell numbers handy and look out for each other’s safety and security.
- Always lock your vehicle if it is parked in an open area, and ensure that nothing of value is left on view.
- Keep all shrubs and trees on your pavement well trimmed to ensure minimal hiding places for criminals and their stolen goods.
- Do not leave perimeter doors unlocked. Install security gates that allow for doors to be open in hot weather.
- Timer devices fitted to a couple of table lamps will ensure lights are switched on at certain times, even if you are away from the house. Makes it look like someone is at home.
- Be vigilant and report suspicious behaviour. If you spot anything suspicious or anyone behaving suspiciously in and around your neighbourhood, call Watchcon on 021 790 9333 and report your concerns.
- Be extra vigilant when building work is taking place near your home.
- Have regular chats to your domestic worker about safety measures in your home, especially about the use of panic buttons and emergency telephone numbers.
- A dog is a good early warning system. Keep it visible as a deterrent but beyond the reach of strangers. The unexplainable death of a watchdog is a warning sign of a possible burglary.
- If your house alarm goes off, or you hear strange noises or your dogs bark ....switch on the outside lights.
- When employing someone, request their identity document and make a copy for safekeeping. Check any previous employment references and do a security clearance at the police station.
- Install the best security you can afford, for example the security gates at outside doors. Keep these gates locked. If possible fix a door viewer and latch chain.
- When approaching your house entrance by foot or by car ensure that it is safe to enter and that you have not been followed. Be aware of persons loitering at the entrance.
- Always keep you keys safe to prevent duplication. Never leave your house key under a doormat or in a plant pot. Once you have locked your door from the inside remove the key and place it in a safe place. Do not leave keys in a hidden place for domestic staff or children as criminals often stake out a house and will discover these hiding places.
- Know your neighbours and build a relationship of mutual trust and support. Exchange contact details and set up an arrangement whereby you can look out for one another, especially when any safety or security concerns arise. Your strength lies in how many people are able to assist you in an emergency.
- When going away inform your neighbours.
- If you buy luxury goods, cut up the boxes and dispose of these in tied black bags - a branded box is a tell-tale sign of what thieves could find in your house.
- Mark your computer equipment, home entertainment goods and easily-removed luxury items with some form of invisible identifying process. There are various pens or sprays on the market.
- Keep cash and valuables in banks or in a safe at home.
- Store your firearms in a safe.
Do you know where your nearest Fire Hydrant is?
In the case of a fire at your house you do not want to waste time looking for the fire hydrant nearest to your house.
So, today go out and walk up your road/street/complex and look for your fire hydrant, not just for a sign that says ‘fire hydrant’, but for the ACTUAL fire hydrant.
Make sure it isn’t covered in undergrowth, damaged or overflowing. The council regularly marks the whereabouts of fire hydrants very clearly with yellow paint so also make sure this is being done in your area.
Top Ten causes of False Alarm Signals
It is everyone's responsibility to help protect Hout Bay. Every false alarm distracts your Armed Response Officer from responding to positive incidents. Positive incidents account for less than 1% of actual reponses. This represents a significant wastage of manpower. Please do your bit to help reduce the number of alarm activations. Below is a list of the top ten reasons for false alarms. The biggest cause is ‘finger problems’ by clients. If you do set your alarm off accidently please phone your Armed Response company or Watchcon to cancel the activation.
- Finger trouble. The alarm is activated while arming/disarming the system. Remedy – Familiarize yourself with the system, or call the alarm installation company.
- Doors and windows not secured correctly. Activations can be caused by draughts or wind. Remedy –Secure all doors and windows properly before setting the alarm
- Technical malfunction. The system has a fault and thus generates false signals. Remedy – Call the alarm installation company and rectify.
- Incorrect installation. Incorrect use of detection devices such as internal detection devices being used externally. Remedy – Use an approved installer.
- Insects. Ants and spiders can nest in devices. Remedy – Have your alarm system inspected, tested and serviced regularly.
- Sun reflection. Sunlight may shine directly onto or reflect onto infra red detection devices and cause them to activate. Remedy – Call the alarm installation company and rectify.
- Foliage for outside detectors. External beams require line-of-sight between them. Remedy – Ensure that external beams are not impeded by foliage and if necessary trim.
- Animals and pets. Animals are kept in homes that do not have “pet friendly” detection devices. Remedy - Call the alarm installation company and upgrade the alarm system to accommodate the pet requirements
- Forgetfulness (ie that the alarm is armed). Client forgets that the system is armed and the alarm is activated while entering or exiting the residence. Remedy - Have LED indicators installed to show that the system is armed.
- Children. Children are able to reach and press panic buttons. Remedy – Educate children to use the panic buttons correctly, or raise the height of these buttons.
This security message is courtesy of Coastal Security Services.
Other tips for more vigilance
Never automatically open the door or a security gate when the bell rings or buzzer sounds. Make completely sure the person wanting to enter is expected. Domestic workers, garden staff and children are often approached by criminals who pose as telephone or TV repairmen, electricians, plumbers, licence inspectors or other professions.
In an effort to gain entrance, criminals often use a cell phone and make out they are talking to the home owner, which puts pressure on unsuspecting victims to open the gate or door. Those who remain at home should be made aware of these scams.
Emphasize the importance for security to your domestic workers, which in turn will secure their own. Always inform those who remain at home whether they can expect any deliveries or a repairmen to call. Similarly, inform companies that their employees will not gain entry unless you have made a specific arrangement.
Insist on identification from contractors who wish to enter or work in your home.
Something to consider... check the delay on your alarm
The alarm system in any house is usually programmed in such a way that the sensors on windows are set to activate as soon as a window is opened, thereby sounding the alarm siren immediately. The sensors on your front door, however, often have a time delay in order to allow you more than enough time (anything from 30-60 seconds, maybe even more) to get to the keypad to disarm your alarm system.
A growing number of recent housebreaking incidents have occurred where the front door has been forced open to gain entry. The perpetrators obviously know that there is a delay and it gives them more than enough time to grab a number of valuable items before the siren sounds off.
If your keypad is near the front door, it is suggested that the delay period is adjusted. It can mean the difference between losing a whole batch of goods or sending the intruder/s packing empty-handed.
Avoid any misunderstandings
If you give away or sell any unwanted items to locals and they are likely to walk through the streets carrying these movables, consider supplying a brief hand-written note, with a description of the goods together with your name and phone number. It saves any misunderstandings if the new ‘owner’ is stopped and questioned on a point of possession.
Safe room and a plan of action
Every household should have its own safety and security plan, which should include burglar bars on all window, security gates, an alarm system linked to an armed response service provider and perhaps even beams. But, what would you do if an intruder still manages to enter your home? It’s a good idea to have a ‘safe room’ or ‘safe area’. This is an area that is securely lockable with access to a phone or radio, into which the entire family can move in case of an emergency. Once established, practice this procedure with all members of your household, including domestic staff. It can be made into a fun exercise without unnecessarily scaring the children.