How Safe Are You At Home? Part 3
November 9, 2012
Originally published May 21, 2012
We’ve covered the entry points in your home with doors and windows. Now it’s time to turn your attention to the outside of your home. And even if you live in an apartment, you have to pay attention to the landscaping of your complex.
Why you may ask? Isn’t that the responsibility of the property management and the owners of the property? And what if I’m blind and can’t see the landscaping outside, why does it matter then anyway? All good questions and let me answer those concerns first and then we’ll delve into the land itself.
The management and the owners of your complex, whether it is condos, apartments, or any other complex where the grounds are taken care of by someone else, are more concerned with aesthetics rather than security. Understandably they want their property to be as appealing and saleable as possible. And whether you’re buying or just renting, it doesn’t matter. They want it to look inviting.
Unfortunately, it may also be inviting to anyone who wants to do harm in your or about your home, one of the few places where you expect to be safe. I have lived in several complexes and consulted with a few as well. They pay lip service to security, but if it perceptually compromises the aesthetics, forget it. And many times it is the cost of re-designing the landscaping and planting of new items. Yes money rules over someone’s property and life.
If you’re blind or visually impaired, or any other disability for that matter, need to pay attention to the landscaping as well. If you don’t pay attention to it and know what’s around you then you won’t be aware if someone(s) is watching you and preparing an assault. So yes, it is important that you pay attention to what’s in the landscaping and what’s around you, even if you can’t see it. Use your ears, smell, intuition, & your eyes if you can to, not be afraid, but be aware. Don’t just pay attention to your cane and what’s in front of you.
Now on to the actual landscaping!
At a house ensure that if you have ornamental bushes next to the house, that they do not grow past the bottom of the window. They may look wonderful and pretty there, but they can be a danger. How? If someone wants to break into your house, then they want to do so unobserved. If the bushes grow past the bottom of your window, then you allowing someone to potentially hide and work on opening the window without breaking it and making noise. Burglars and other ner’do’wells want just that reaction from you.
If you must have something in front of the window that grows up the window, then plant a rose bush. It’s pretty (roses are my favorite, and if someone does to get in that way, they’ll be a world of hurt when they do. A bush such as this doesn’t allow them to hide as easily and you can still see out and in. And while privacy is a concern you have to balance your privacy with security.
The same goes for bushes growing along the sidewalk and driveway. Again, they are very pleasing to look at, but can also hide someone who wants to do you or someone else harm. Keep these bushes trimmed to no higher than stomach level, just below your sternum. And if these are your bushes in your yard, then I would keep them trimmed down to less than waist level. This because, you have no one else around to watch out for what happens in your neighborhood.
The same goes for any bushes that grow along your entry walk from the street or driveway. Keep them trimmed low so no one can surprise you that close to the door. And the last bit of advice for bushes is to ensure that they are planted at least 2 feet away from any exterior wall and the like.
The reasoning for this is simple as well. If you plant them too close to the wall, then it is easier for someone to hide and surprise you or someone else at home. This allows you to visually too inspect behind them when you may suspect something amiss. That makes it a tad bit safer for you to check for potential intruders. And try not to have any bushes at 90 degree angles in the yard – another unlikely hiding spot.
Tree’s are another matter altogether. Depending on where you live they can be different issues with security & safety. In some places that utilize palm trees for landscaping, you don’t have to worry about security as much. But in California and Arizona it’s the Pacific storms and microburst’s to think about.
In other parts of the country, actually all 50 states, trees can be another way for those miscreants to get in or otherwise do damage to you and your home. And if you live in an apartment, then it is a definite threat for someone to get into your abode.
Many, I would venture to say most, people don’t think of a large tree in their yard to be a threat. But I have lived in the Midwest. Some of those Oak trees can grow very high. And their limbs can be very strong. Strong enough to allow a 250 pound man to climb on one.
And if they can climb on one, then they can gain access to your 2nd story windows. Or in an apartment even the 3rd floor places. Back in the Midwest, from North Dakota to Texas, some of those trees are tall enough and strong enough to allow someone to climb into a 5th or 6th floor apartment!
It really doesn’t matter where you live in the United States, really. From Bangor to San Diego. From Seattle to Miami. From Minot to Brownsville. Tall trees are everywhere and if they are too close to your home or apartment, then they can cause a threat to your security and safety.
Ensure that you have them trimmed so that if the limbs do reach your roof, that they can’t support a human not even a child (trees that high are a kid’s dream to climb & jump off of!). And if you do live in an apartment, then inform your complex office that there is a problem with the trees – and don’t back down if they dismiss you.
Give them a couple of weeks to remedy the situation and if they don’t make your message to them even stronger. And being disabled you have to be a bit paranoid so keep documentation of what you said and did. That way they can’t contrive a way to get rid of you for causing problems later. (Being in security for as long as I have, and dealing with some of the managers and clients I’ve had, has made me very cynical and paranoid about things like this. One of these days I’ll write a blog on those things).
Flower beds, cut grass, and those things don’t normally cause problems in security or safety for anyone, even those who are disabled. But keep in mind, that if you feel unsafe for any reason with the landscaping, then you need to inform the property managers about it. And again, don’t let them patronize you about it. Take the opportunity to instruct them about being disabled. No matter how empathetic they are, they have no real clue how difficult it can be sometimes.
Ensure that when you are looking at your landscaping you don’t forget about your lighting. You must have adequate lighting around your home or complex or you’ll invite hooligans to the property. At the very least you should have lights over and above every exterior door in your house or apartment – that work. This will allow you to potentially scare someone away if you feel threatened for any reason. In a complex, lighting is just as important. Ornamental lighting is perfectly acceptable, unless it is strictly ornamental and does little to illuminate the property.
There are many lighting units that can be placed in the ground next to sidewalk and illuminates the walk and nothing else. At the very least a complex need to have area lighting as well throughout the complex, so that anyone who doesn’t belong there can be scrutinized and reported. And don’t be afraid to call the police if you feel something is wrong
I’ll end this entry now as it is now more than 3 pages approaching 4. Your safety and security is important to me no matter who you are. So please take care and if you have any questions, please call me at me at 480-251-5197 or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org (put blog question in the subject line please).