No matter which way we try to dress things up, crime is a major problem in South Africa. The statistics are a clear indication that we all face a high risk of falling prey to criminal elements, and most of us go to extraordinary lengths to keep the bad guys out and our families safe.
It can be said with a fair amount of certainty that many women feel safer having a man in the house. However, there is a growing number of single mothers who live alone with their children. Here are some safety measures that women should be taking in order to keep themselves and their children safe.
Lock up all the time, every time
Many robberies occur because criminals are on the lookout for the right opportunity to strike. For this reason it is advisable to install security gates on all the exterior doors. Educate everyone in the home, including the children if they are old enough, to close and lock the gate every time they enter or exit the home.
Ensure that all the windows are covered
Close the curtains at night. It has been proven that burglars generally watch properties closely before trying to gain entry. People who do not shut out the outside world by drawing a curtain allow criminals to watch their movements around the home, alerting them to who is doing what and where at any given time.
Alert your neighbours
Don't wait for something to happen before making friends with your neighbours and letting them know that you live alone. If possible, gather the contact details of those living around you and get in touch immediately if you become aware that something is amiss.
Install a burglar alarm
Choose a security company in your area that has a reliable reputation and a good response time. Remember to test the alarm at least once a month to ensure that it is working and that the call is getting through to the security company. Many of us become complacent when we have an alarm system and will often only set it when we leave the premises. If you have an alarm, set it every night before you go to bed. It may also be an idea to provide each child (providing they are old enough) with a panic button.
Install motion detectors and outside security beams
It is extremely dangerous to go outside if you hear a noise at night. Remember while you can't see the criminals, they can almost certainly see you. Rather install security lights on the exterior of the home and alert your security company if you see anything untoward.
Consider getting a dog
Dogs, particularly the smaller breeds, are often fantastic early warning systems when all is not well.
Watch what is going on around you
Criminals watch potential targets closely. Report anyone who is acting suspiciously as soon as possible. On that note, it is also highly advisable to join a neighbourhood watch, particularly one that uses messaging services such as Whatsapp to keep other residents informed of any potential problems or crimes that have taken place.
Do not advertise the fact that you live alone
It is never a good idea to broadcast on social media that you and your children live alone. Most of us have befriended people we don't know personally and given the power of social media today, don't always take cognisance of the influence these platforms can have on our daily lives.
Keeping your wits about you and erring on the side of caution may not prevent you becoming a victim of crime, but having your security cards stacked in your favour could well save you and your children from harm.