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DoDEA OSS: Safety and Security Tips: Security at Home

Security at Home

Several of these comments apply only to non-government residences, but most pertain to all situations.

  • If renting a home or apartment off a military installation, avoid one-way streets, dead ends and secluded areas
  • Select a well-lit neighborhood.
  • If located in a commercial setting, examine the type of clientele attracted to the area.
  • Check on availability of police, fire, and ambulance services.
  • If renting an apartment, try to obtain one on the 2nd to 5th floor. Ground floor apartments (and homes) are more susceptible to break-ins. Emergency equipment may have difficulty reaching higher floors.v
  • Ensure your home blends in with others in the neighborhood; don't display obviously U.S. or DoD affiliated decorations.
  • Locks should be on all gates, doors, and windows - and should be used.
  • Intercoms and entry door peepholes should be used. Don't open doors until you have identified persons desiring entry. Beware of unexpected deliveries or workers. Refuse them entry until you can ensure their authenticity. Check their identification and if necessary call their firm or your landlord, to verify.
  • Ask your landlord to tell you in advance of any expected workers or deliveries.
  • Use louvered windows, especially on the ground floor. Use curtains and window shades, especially in the evening.
  • Consider security grilles or bars on windows and doors (generally required in high threat countries); but be certain you allow for quick exit in an emergency.
  • Keep entrances, exits, and stairways well lit.
  • Exterior and entrance lighting that is controlled by a motion sensor is an inexpensive and effective crime prevention measure.
  • Don't hide a key. If you must, leave one with a trusted neighbor.
  • Don't mark your keys with your name, address, or other identifying information.
  • Have locks replaced if keys are lost.
  • Learn how to properly operate all locks. Many Americans simply close entrance doors without using a key. This may lock the door, but does not engage a deadbolt which provides much greater security.
  • Consider a safe or other heavy container for securing valuables. Bolt to the floor or secure to a fixed object.
  • When away, leave on a light, radio, etc. to make it appear that someone is home.
  • Don't release your address and phone number indiscriminately.
  • Answer your phone by simply saying "hello" or by a phrase frequently used in your area. Don't answer with your position or name. If you use an answering machine, record your phone number as part of the greeting. Again, don't use your position or name.
  • Have emergency telephone numbers readily available (police, fire department, ambulance, hospital, etc.).
  • Learn how to ask for help in the local language.
  • Having a dog can serve as an excellent deterrent to criminals.
  • Be prepared for everyday emergencies such as power outages, water main breaks, and injuries. Have flashlights, candles, water, and first aid supplies on hand. Learn basic first aid and CPR procedures.
  • Parking your vehicle in a locked, private garage is best. Avoid parking directly on the street, but if you must, get into the habit of checking your vehicle for tampering prior to entry and operation.
  • If you are going to be away for more than a day or two:
    • Have someone collect your mail, newspapers, etc.
    • Automatic timers should be used for lights or radio.
    • Unplug or turn off the phone ringers if you do not use an answering machine
  • Report unusual or suspicious activity to the police or your security officer.

Sources for Additional Information

The U.S. Department of State operates a 24 hour per day information center. Travel advisories for countries and areas can be obtained from the center, and travelers can report emergencies involving U.S. citizens. Information concerning marriages overseas, citizenship questions, and judicial services can also be obtained. The telephone number is (202) 647-5225.

Most U.S. military transportation offices maintain travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State through Department of Defense channels.

Pamphlets and publications can provide valuable information concerning general security issues and crime prevention tips; but they should not be used as a sole source of such information. The most current and specific information can and should be obtained from Law Enforcement Officials, Security Officers, and/or U.S. Embassy Regional Security Officers in the area in which you live or are planning to travel.

Be Smart | Be Alert | Be Aware