SEATTLE (Zillow) —Having an apartment of your own is a wonderful thing, but it’s also a great deal of responsibility. Apartment security is something that’s easily overlooked, particularly by new renters, but it shouldn’t be. After all, you want to feel safe in your home. So here are six ways to make your apartment more secure:
It goes without saying you should have a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in your apartment. These detectors may never set off an alarm in your lifetime, but if they do they could save your life. There’s no chance of hearing an alarm if the batteries are dead, though. Make sure to test your detectors when you move in to confirm the batteries are functioning and change the batteries twice a year – when daylight savings time changes.
If you live in a multiple-unit building, make sure the locks on the outer doors work. They’re your first line of defense, and you don’t want just anyone to be able to wander into your building. If the exterior lock is working, you’ll have already stopped many potential troublemakers. If there’s any problem with the lock, it is the responsibility of the building’s owners to fix it, so you need to notify them immediately when you discover the lock is broken.
If someone you don’t know buzzes and wants to be let into your building, don’t play a nice guy and let them in. Be a good neighbor and ignore the buzzer, or go downstairs and see who they are. Otherwise you’re subjecting your building to all kinds of peddlers and nuisances and, more seriously, people who may harass other residents in the building or who may be looking for a good opportunity for a break-in.
Make sure your apartment door has a sturdy and well-installed deadbolt. If it doesn’t, complain. Why? Deadbolts are what keep doors shut against intruders. A poorly installed deadbolt or a dinky deadbolt that barely extends into the doorframe can be overcome easily by an experienced burglar. In contrast, a high-quality deadbolt requires a lot of force before it can be broken. Much like with the detectors, though, the best deadbolt in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t lock your door.
Make sure it’s clear and not painted over (a frequent problem). And use it every time someone knocks. If you don’t recognize who’s knocking, don’t open the door.
If you live on the first floor of a building, you need to take extra precautions. Make sure all the windows have grates or some type of secure locking mechanism. Also, much like you wouldn’t leave an iPhone in plain view in the back seat of an unattended car, don’t leave your shades open when you’re not home. People can look right in, and it can give them ideas.
While living on your own exposes you to new risks, common sense and a healthy dose of skepticism will go a long way to keep you safe in your first apartment. Getting burglarized is a real risk, particularly in an urban environment, but it’s still rare, and having renter’s insurance will offer some peace of mind. Far better than becoming jittery at the thought of a cat burglar is to take these precautions, know you are doing your best to be safe and stop worrying about it.