My family accuses me of paranoia, but I'd always rather be safe than sorry. This mindset includes security precautions both while traveling and at home. Thanks to Reader's Digest Inc.'s new book How to Be Safe, strategies are both easy and safe.
• Use your child's bedroom to store any valuables you don't lock up, such as in a sock. Burglars normally don't ransack a kid's room.
• A mail slot (which I wish I had) goes against the wood grain. Because it makes the front door easier to kick in, install your slot near the bottom of your door.
• Keep your car keys next to your bed. If something suspicious rouses you and you suspect someone is breaking in, hit the panic button on your key ring. The car alarm will sound, waking the neighbors, and giving Rob Robber the chance to flee.
• Plant thorny shrubs beneath ground-floor windows. Not only will they add beauty to your flower beds, but will deter a potential intruder.
• A biggie: If a yard worker or a visitor uses the bathroom, go behind him or her to ensure the window is still latched tightly.
• Lower the volume of your phone when you're away. This ensures a passerby won't hear the voice mail which indicates a home alone situation. (If you're like my husband and me, we often let ours go to voicemail when we're at home because of telemarketers.)
• Be careful not to store wood near the side of the house. Ole' Rob may use it as a stepladder up to a window. Keep logs and so forth either in the garage or at the edge of the yard in a stack.
• Never load up your car the night before traveling and leave the car outside of the garage. Not only does this provide a temptation for the car to be broken into, but also it alerts Rob and Friends that you'll be gone for enough time for them to do some serious damage.
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Saturday. Email her at consumer watch@timesfree press.com.