According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11.6 percent of Americans changed residence during 2010, and an average of 40.1 million Americans move each year. Whether you’re prepping for a move across town or across the country, it’s important to remember that no neighborhood is impermeable to crime.
However, there are steps you can take to help make the transition to your new neighborhood a safe one. Here are our top eight.
1. Establish home safety rules.
The moment you arrive at your new home, it’s time to establish home safety rules, particularly if your children will periodically be home alone. Establish rules that suit your family best, ask kids for their input, and don’t forget the basics like keeping doors and windows locked, and never opening the door for someone they don’t know. Write up your home safety rules and have kids sign the paper saying they agree to them. Then post the rules where they will be seen often, like on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board.
2. Create a child ID kit.
Should your child ever get lost in her new neighborhood, a child ID kit is an indispensable tool. What you include in the kit is up to you, but key elements are fingerprints, an up to date picture, and current descriptive information, like height and weight. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has put together an excellent child ID kit to get you started, and it’s free!
3. Locate important buildings.
One of the first tasks on your to-do list after you move should be locating the closest police station, library and fire station. When an emergency happens isn’t the time to GPS how to get to the hospital; find the fastest route to the hospital as soon as you move and drive the route a few times. Take children to each building and remind them that these are safe places they can turn to in an emergency.
4. Join the neighborhood watch.
If your new community has a neighborhood watch program, you might want to join. Doing so has lots of advantages, like getting to know your neighbors, doing your part to keep your street safe, and staying in the loop about neighborhood crime.
5. Identify a “safe house.”
Once you get to know your neighbors, choose a house that members of your family can turn to if they are in an emergency situation. A house with a stay at home parent or one where a retired person lives is a great choice because they are more likely to be at home. Make a few “practice runs” to the safe house so young children have no doubt about where to turn in time of need.
6. Websites offer a wealth of information.
There are dozens of websites like Neighborhoodscout.com that can help you investigate the safety of a neighborhood you’re considering moving to. Once you’ve moved, use a site like Spotcrime.com to discover neighborhood crime trends and get the information you need to protect your family and possessions.
7. Download a few apps.
In-between unpacking boxes, scan the Internet for a few apps that can help you stay informed about your neighborhood. For example, Safe Neighborhood gives you access to the National Sex Offender Registry so you can find out if there are registered sex offenders in your neighborhood. And AlertID Mobile offers a variety of safety services like My Family Wallet. It stores a picture and basic information about each family member (including pets) so if anyone gets lost, you have essential information to give to police right in the palm of your hand. AlertID also provides data about local crime and crime alerts.
8. Consider home security.
You might not know it, but homes without security systems are up to 300 percent more likely to be burglarized. So, moving into a new house is the right to consider a home security system. And nearly all home security companies now offer home automation services that can boost your family’s safety, plus give you peace of mind. With home security automation, you can get a text message when your kids arrive home from school, be alerted if a door was left open or unlocked and even turn on the porch light or walkway lights remotely so you can safely enter your home after dark. To find the right security system for your home, check out the SafeWise security system finder tool.
Implement our strategies for staying safe in your new neighborhood, and in no time at all you’ll be comfortably (and securely) settled in your new abode.