Thursday, November 15, 2012

10 Tips to Prevent You from Being the Next Victim of a Crime

All too often lately, I hear friends tell me that their car has been broken into or a neighbor has had an intruder in their home.  Often times, this can be avoided with a proactive approach on security for yourself, your family, your property and your neighborhood.  Below are 10 Tips to keep you from being the next victim of a property crime.

  1. When you leave the house, lock all doors and all windows.  Make sure your garage is closed too.  Often times, burglary is a crime of opportunity. If a criminal doesn't find an open window or door at your residence, he is likely to move onto the next home and try his luck there.  
  2. If you don't have a monitored home alarm system, at least get an alarm sign for your front lawn.  They can be purchased on ebay and are an excellent deterrent.  Again, if a criminal sees this in your front lawn, they are likely to move onto a home without an alarm since it's much easier to break into without being caught.
  3. Along the same lines are exterior video cameras and mock cameras.  Many residents are not able to afford an expensive video surveillance system.  If you can afford to purchase one and install it, it will be an excellent deterrent.  Not only does it prevent your home but it also protects property and people in range of the video cameras. This includes vandalism to vehicles on the street, theft from vehicles on the street. assaults on individuals, etc.  If you cannot afford a video surveillance system, invest in mock surveillance cameras.  They will not record anything, obviously, but serve as a great deterrent.  
  4. Don't leave anything visible.  This applies to your home and your vehicle.  When it comes to your home, try to close as many blinds as possible when you're not there.  If a burglar sees a large, gleaming flat screen television through the window, it makes your home that much more tempting.  If he's not sure what he may find in there, he may not risk it and move on somewhere else.
  5. When it comes to your vehicle, never leave your belongings on the seats.  If you have a purse, either put it under a seat, in the trunk or in a compartment not visible to the naked eye, or take it with you.  The latter being the best choice.  The worst place for a purse is the place it is most often left in by women everywhere, the front seat. If a criminal sees this, he's very likely to go for the smash and grab.  Smash your window and grab your purse.  This not only applies to your purse but your phone, backpack, sunglasses, computer and anything else you may have with you.
  6. Even radios and navigation systems should be put away.  It may be a hassle but, when you turn your car off, park and exit the vehicle, you should put away anything that can be removed.  If you have a radio with a removable face plate, remove it and put it in the center console or the glove compartment.  Do the same with a navigation system.  It may be a hassle but it will prevent you from spending hundreds on replacing these items and several hundreds on a deductible to replace a shattered window.  
  7. When you go out for the day, leave at least one light on inside and one outside.  Darkness makes it easy for an intruder to gain entry without being seen. Leaving a light on indoors gives the appearance that someone may be home. That's all a potential intruder needs to move onto a different target.
  8. Change your locks immediately if keys are lost or stolen.  You never know who may have found your keys and/or they saw you drop them.  This can lead them directly to an empty home with direct access inside if locks are not changed.  Do not leave spare keys under mats or any other "hidden" areas either. Intruders know to look for this and they will.
  9. Trim your shrubbery. If you have overgrown bushes, trees or plants around entrances to your home (front door, side gate, garage, etc), all it does is help hide an intruder as he is trying to gain entry. Keep all shrubbery trim and away from doorways and gates.  
  10. Be alert.  This cannot be stressed enough.  If you see any person or vehicle that does not appear should be in the neighborhood, don't be afraid to contact authorities. Often times, criminals case an area (check it out for periods of time to evaluate activity) prior to actually committing the crime.  An alert neighborhood will steer them away from your area and onto another.  ANY suspicious activity should be reported.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Top 5 Tips for New Dads: Mom is #1!

As a first time dad, your toughest challenge is ahead but, at the same time, so is the absolute best time of your life. Being a parent is a gift that is not guaranteed so, regardless of the trials that come with it, enjoy it, be grateful for it and, most importantly, prepare for it. In order to do that, you'll have to know how to handle being a first time dad AND a husband to a first time mom! Mood swings will come and go so be ready for a roller coaster. I promise it'll all be worth it!

1. Although you'd think the baby is your first priority, in reality it's your wife
She's going to need you by her side for at least the first week or two. You should be there to comfort her and help her in any way you can. She may have mom, sister and best friend there but nothing compares to sharing the first few weeks (at least) of your lifetime as parents together. Post-partum depression is all too common and being there to share in the ups and downs of the first few weeks at home will help show your wife that parenthood is a team effort!

2. Always be preparedAs a mom in law enforcement, I have a small emergency bag in my patrol car. It carries all of the necessities I'll need in a true life gun battle. As parents in real life, my husband and I carry the same type of bag for our parent emergencies. It is a smaller version of our diaper bag with a diaper, wipes, rash cream, tissues, an extra pacifier, an extra outfit and some baby food or rice cereal. This ensures that, regardless of where I am, I'll be prepared. We have all run out of the house to make a quick grocery store or gas station trip. This won't change when you're a parent, other than you'll have a baby in the back seat that may decide now's the time to relieve him or herself. That's where having an emergency baby bag in your car (along with an actual emergency kit of course) will come in very handy!

3. Babies WILL cry....a lotThis is the only way they know how to communicate. All you can do is comfort them and give them what you think they need. Your instinct will kick in and you will know what to do once baby is here. Sometimes they'll need to be rocked to sleep, other times they'll just want the comfort of dad's arms. Regardless of what it is, don't freak out every time the baby cries. You'll know when it's something serious and, when in doubt, reach out to your closest veteran parent friends. My husband and I called the hospital one too many times in the first month for reasons we now can't stop laughing about.

4. Help your wife with the usual baby duties......this includes diaper changes, bottle making and even breast feeding. Breastfeeding is one of the toughest things to master for new moms and they'll need your help. Stay beside her and get her anything she may need, including lots of water since breastfeeding requires a lot of hydration. She may need help positioning the baby, checking for a correct latch from your vantage point or just a break while she uses the potty. A lot of moms want to try and do everything themselves. Don't be afraid to take on the 50/50 challenge of taking care of the baby!

5. Don't be afraid to leave the houseSure, the doctor recommends you stay indoors for a certain amount of time after delivery. Once you get the go ahead, get out and show your baby the world. Many couples think babies are too young to notice the animals at the zoo, the people at the mall or the kids at the playground. They actually notice A LOT more than you think and the expressions they'll make will be priceless. Traveling with baby is not the nightmare you've been told. Just be prepared and always leave the house with a stocked diaper bag, a stroller and a baby carrier when the stroller is not ideal.

For additional articles on parenting, pregnancy, health, nutrition and education, visit Ellie's contributor page at Playground Dad!