Creating a safe environment for yourself, your family and your neighborhood requires effort and the participation of everyone. Security evaluations and community preparedness is something everyone can do to improve the environmental factors that could enhance the security of properties. This is one of the things you may do to see if you are prepared for the upcoming winter months.
Practicing prevention habits may seem inconvenient, however it can save you time and money in the long run. As winter comes and the days get darker, it is important to remember how to keep yourself and your neighborhoods safer and prepared. While crime prevention starts with one individual it is most effective when the entire community is involved. For example, if you see that the walkway lights of a neighbor have burnt out try to notify them. Often in the winter months people remain inside and there is less social interaction between neighbors. Some will even take shortcuts in safety and prevention to avoid being out in the cold weather.
Some simple things you can do to check your home or business for exterior security and crime prevention are:
- Keep landscaping free of obstructions to be able to observe and report suspicious activity.
- Make sure trash cans are in a locked and secured area to deter prowlers and identity theft “phishing.”
- Provide adequate and consistent lighting around the property, especially parking areas, walkways and front doors.
- Keep walkways and drains free of debris and ice.
- Create clear designation to mark private property (gates, signage, fences and landscaping elements etc.) to deter unauthorized individuals.
- Keep doors, windows and peepholes obstruction free for good visual access to the outside.
Preparing the inside of your homes and businesses is just as important as the outside. You may want to consider a few things before hosting a gathering, coming home from a vacation or leaving the house for general purposes. Some crime prevention tips include:
- Check if the windows can be opened in the event of an emergency (e.g. fire) and that they can also be locked.
- Make sure to lock the doors when entering or exiting.
- Maintain smoke detectors and alarms.
- Be mindful during social events of who is coming and going and secure private areas.
One thing people might do particularly in the winter season is leave their vehicles running unattended to heat up. This is a risky habit; some car prowlers may use this as a crime opportunity. Keeping a spare jacket or a blanket in your car are options to consider when going to start your vehicle for the day. This way you can sit comfortably and warm inside your vehicle to prevent your risk of prowling and vehicle theft.
Crime prevention habits is not just a seasonal practice. We encourage you to adopt those practices as part of your everyday life. A key to crime prevention success is to work with your neighbors to promote public safety. Take the time to get to know your neighbors and to look after one another! When neighbors take the responsibility to build cohesive neighborhoods, those neighborhoods are less vulnerable to crime.
To request a free training for your organization or community group on crime prevention topics, access our prevention handouts or find your Crime Prevention Coordinator, visit the City of Portland’s Crime Prevention Program website at www.portlandoregon.gov/oni/cp or call 503-823-4064