Security Tips For Living Alone

It can be hard to live alone. You’re responsible for, well, everything: all the household chores, and all the maintenance (if it doesn’t fall under your landlord’s jurisdiction). It can also be exhilarating: you’re responsible for no one’s else’s messes or maintenance! But however you feel about it — and those feels probably change on a day-to-day basis — you have to worry about security.

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Humans, let’s face it, evolved in groups with multiple people to protect against threats. As a solo dweller, you’ve got only yourself to rely on. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make up for the deficient.

Get A Dog

This is everyone’s first line of advice when you move in alone. “Why don’t you get a dog?” they ask, as if a dog will solve all your problems. But you need to be specific.

The Guardian reports that in a survey by Co-Op Insurance, the second-most common burglar deterrent was a barking dog. But, as we’ve discussed before, criminals say those dogs need to be “big, loud, dogs” to really turn the baddies off. And while they are likely to deter, you can’t rely on them for protection unless they have had specific protection training (which is very expensive).

Your best breed bets, according to Animal Planet’s Dog Breed Selector? For small spaces, a Collie, a Chow, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and an Airedale Terrier are good bets: all largish, barkish, protectish, trainable, and not requiring too much in the area of exercise (although a Collie will need to be brushed). In a house, an Akita, a Bull Mastiff, or a Tibetan Mastiff will be bigger and still have all the qualities listed above, though they may need more exercise (which they can get in a fenced yard). At any rate, put up “Beware of Dog” signs to scare of burglars and other baddies — and don’t expect your dog to rescue you if there’s a break-in.

Get To Know Your Neighbors

Say hello. Introduce yourself, maybe with some cookies. Make yourself more than the person who lives in Apartment 12B. Neighbors can be extra sets of eyes to help us spot danger and alert us to suspicious activity. Don’t trust them blindly, but being a friendly neighbor is always beneficial.

Get A Security Camera

What deterred burglars the most, according to the Co-Op Insurance survey: CCTV cameras. So it’s simple: get a security camera. Some cameras you can view via smartphone or tablet, and you can even put more than one around the home if need be.

Turn Your TV On

A turned-on TV is another known burglar deterrent. It tells them someone is home, and burglars by nature don’t want to mess with you. They want to get in, get the goods, and get out.

Keep Your Vacation To Yourself

Everyone should know to keep their vacation plans off social media — and that goes double for people who live alone. It’s a clear message to would-be thieves.

[If you are traveling, check out our tips for air travel and tips for Airbnb guests.]

Also, make sure you cancel your paper delivery for the time you’ll be gone, stop your mail so it doesn’t pile up, and have someone pick up any packages you expect (that’s where knowing your neighbors comes in handy). Leave some lights on, too, especially in places where you can expect people might be in the evening. Better yet, put lights on timers and set a rotating lighting schedule.

Use That Peephole

Don’t have a peephole? Get one. And don’t answer the door unless you know who it is. This can save you from annoying salespeople, but also from sketchy people who may want to take advantage of you in the worst way possible.

Take A Self-Defense Class

When the rubber meets the road, you may end up staring down a person with less than honorable intentions towards your possession, or worse: you. Knowing what to do in that situation can literally save your life. We’re not telling you to start Krav Maga classes this minute (though it wouldn’t hurt), but it would help to know basic defensive and evasive maneuvers that would get you to safety.

And What About Medical Emergencies?

If you live alone, you regularly eat alone — and you should know how to perform the Heimlich Manuever on yourself. But what if you fall and you can’t get up, or there’s some other emergency? Don’t look for a Life Alert necklace yet, millennials. Instead, you can program your phone to do the same thing for you at the touch of a button. Your iPhone comes with a built in SOS button that calls 911 for you — check out our tips on Using Emergency SOS in iOS 11. There are also apps available for Android — including EMERGENCY CALL USA 911 and 911HelpSMS — that you can add which will help you call emergency services faster and more easily.

Elizabeth Broadbent

Elizabeth Broadbent

Elizabeth Broadbent lives in a medium-sized city in the South with her three children, three dogs, and patient husband. She works as a staff writer for Scary Mommy, and her writing has been featured in The Washington Post and on

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