Long gone are the days where all the neighborhood kids played kick-the can in the middle of the street each summer night. Whether you blame it on paranoid parents or uninterested children, one thing is for certain: many neighborhoods today are lacking the close-knit feeling was prominent just ten or 20 years ago. Missing this feeling creates concerns for neighborhood safety overall.
Neighborhood safety is a team effort, but it starts with you. What can you do to make your neighborhood a safer place? We have some simple tips here.
Know your neighbors.
This cannot be emphasized enough. Know whether they work during the day, whether they have children (and, if so, what they look like), and what their needs are. Do you live next to an elderly couple that stays home, but sometimes needs help? Or is there a teenage driver in the family? Are there small children you need to look out for? Knowing these things helps you be aware of who is in your neighborhood and what could be suspicious.
Have a way to reach your neighbors if they’re gone and something is amiss in the neighborhood. Feel free to contact them if you see any out-of-ordinary or suspicious behavior around their home or if you’re gone and would like them to check up on your house. You might even help develop a neighborhood calling tree.
Keep up your yard, and encourage your neighbors to do the same.
A neighborhood with mowed lawns, flowers, and freshly painted homes looks like it’s cared for, and this alone can help deter crime. A well-kept yard also provides fewer places for suspicious persons to take cover. If there is a certain open lot or abandoned home that is an eyesore, work together as a neighborhood to clean up weeds, plant trees, and do a bit of fixing up on the exterior.
Be extra cautious when you go out of town.
Talk to your neighbors and arrange for someone to mow your lawn, shovel your walks, or pick up your mail and newspapers. Use timers on your lights, or find a security system that will allow you to turn lamps off and on remotely.
Close your windows and blinds at night.
A big screen TV is a less enticing steal if no one knows it’s there. Leaving your blinds open and lights on at night provides a free look into your house, its layout, and the habits of its occupants. And leaving windows open at night or when you’re gone is an invitation for an uninvited guest to come on in.
Improve the lighting on your street.
Streetlamps are not the only way to do this. Ask that each household turn on their porch lights in the evenings and install motion-sensor lights in the backs or sides of the house so potential intruders don’t have the darkness to hide in.
Encourage outdoor activity.
Go on walks with your neighbor, work in your yard, and let your kids play with the neighbors down the street. Organizing a neighborhood cookout can encourage people to feel more comfortable spending time out in the neighborhood as well.
Know your local police department.
Express to them your desire to keep the neighborhood safe, and notify them of specific ways they can help. For example, if cars are often speeding through, ask them to patrol the streets. Request that they make a drive-through every night when possible. You might even work with the department to start a Neighborhood Watch program.
Install a security system.
In the end, one of the surest options to improve safety in your neighborhood is to get a home security system and use it properly. A 2009 study by Rutgers found that, as the number of home security systems increased in an area, the number of residential robberies decreased in that area. Use the Safewise security system finder tool to help you evaluate what security system will work best for your home.
Improving neighborhood safety is a team effort, but it needs to start with someone and that someone should be you. As you get to know your neighbors, discuss your concerns, and apply some of the ideas above, you’ll find that your neighborhood becomes not only a safer place to be, but a more enjoyable one.