with a husband in law enforcement, my eyes have been opened to hidden dangers over the last 15 years. we sit at certain tables in restaurants so that we have a clear view of the door and the rest of the establishment. i notice exits everywhere we go. everything is password and security protected. we are, in two words, extremely careful.
when i first started dating my husband, i was surprised that one of his night time adventures out with his job involved picking up bags of trash on garbage day. once garbage is put on the curb, it is no longer your property and can be confiscated by whomever decides to pass by, including law enforcement personnel who are looking for evidence.
the same fact applies to anyone else wanting to find easy information on you or your family. in one bag of trash, someone can find my phone bill with my cell phone numbers clearly and easily readable, papers with my children's names on them including their approximate ages, insurance forms with some medical history, the list is really endless. when i think of the information someone could gather just from going through my trash, i am quickly sobered.
a new year is a great time to stop and evaluate some of the not-so-safe practices of the past and improve them for the future. here are some simple things you can do to keep your family safe.
1) password protect everything.
this may be a hassle on your computer or your phone and, in reality, if someone is smart enough they can get around your passwords. still, having those safeguards in place may be just enough of a deterrent to discourage someone from taking your things.
2) shred everything.
3) keep your children's names off of their personal belongings.
i see the monogramed names on children's backpacks and i cringe. the same goes for lunch boxes and other items as well. when we put our children's names on their property, we are broadcasting to the world their names and giving potential predators all the information they might need to get an "in" with our children. anonymity to strangers is always an advantage.
4) watch what is on and in your cars.
it doesn't matter how quickly you will be in and out of a place, never store valuables or even perceived valuables where they can be seen through a car window. if there are 100 cars in a parking lot, predators will chose the car with extra loot inside. keep everything out of sight and lock your doors. this may not keep everyone away but it can deter those who are actively looking.
along with watching what is in your cars, watch what you put on your cars. bumper stickers, window stickers, and magnets give away a ridiculous amount of information. little stick figures on your window tell how many children are in your car, what their approximate ages are, their hobbies, family pets. very few people would walk up to a stranger and tell them, "hey, i have three kids, two boys and a girl. the girl is the baby. we head to gymnastics a few times a week and they play soccer. if you follow me, i can show you where i live." we wouldn't do that to strangers and yet we happily put it on our cars for everyone to see. information in the hands of strangers is never a good idea.
5) get to know your neighbors.
whatever you do to increase the safety of your family this year, small steps truly matter. i don't want to be paranoid but i also don't want to miss an opportunity to protect those i love. what about you? what steps are you taking this year to help increase the security of those you love the most?