By: Sheriff Carmine Marceno
The SW Florida senior population is substantial and growing. While many seniors live on their own, a good number of them are not security-savvy and could use a bit of help from others.
Many seniors have come here from rural and/or sparsely populated areas and grew up during a time when doors and windows were either unlocked or weren’t even equipped with locks. Leaving windows open and doors unsecured were the norm.
In our East district, much of which is rural, the serenity and stillness lead many to believe that it is acceptable to leave doors, windows, vehicle doors and garage doors open or unlocked. This practice is seemingly most popular within our senior community.
Sadly, times have changed and such practices make seniors vulnerable.
I would be grateful if our residents with senior family members, friends and/or neighbors would take a few moments to review the following safety measures with them:
Ensure that doors and windows are equipped with locking devices and are kept locked at all times. Despite our notions that burglars operate only at night, please know that many burglaries occur during daytime hours. Therefore, this safety measure applies throughout the day.
Ensure that homes are well-lit during the evening and early morning hours. Trim/remove landscaping that block windows and doors allowing criminals to have access to entryways without being seen from the street/roadway.
Ensure that seniors do not allow any unknown visitors into their home. Should someone request entrance, ask that they call a neighbor or caregiver before granting entrance. Identification badges can easily be printed using home computers and often appear authentic.
House numbers should be clearly visible from the street to assist first responders to identify the correct residence.
Hinged, exterior doors should be of solid-core construction and at least 1 ¾ inches in thickness. Doors that have glass panes or panels should utilize a double cylinder deadbolt lock so that a key is required from either side of the door. Please note that double cylinder deadbolt locks do present a risk during a fire or emergency as a key is required for exiting the residence. A key should be left nearby in the event that emergency exit is required.
Lastly, the “key under the mat” idea is no longer a prudent idea. Keys left in the mailbox, inside of “fake” rocks, atop a door frame or inside of a plant pot remain commonplace and allow easy access to your home. Ensure that seniors avoid this practice.
Times have most certainly changed and many seniors need a bit of guidance when it comes to security measures. Take a few moments to share basic security tips with them!