Having your own place as a 20- or 30-something woman is great — but it comes with some very valid concerns, like the pressure of paying for rent, bills, and groceries every month. But one more thing you need to consider when you’re living solo is your own safety. Whether you just signed a lease for an adorable studio apartment or are renting a homey house in the ‘burbs, your security should be a top priority. To help put your mind at ease, we spoke with Jack Plaxe, founder of professional security consulting company Security Consulting Alliance, about tangible measures you can take to stay safe when you live by yourself.

Woman reading on couch at night

1. Ensure your physical residence is secure. No amount of gadgets and gizmos can protect you if your actual house or apartment isn’t well-maintained. Plaxe suggests, at a minimum, inspecting doors, door frames, locks, and other door hardware. “[These] form the basis of residential security,” he explains. “Every potential entry point for a burglar or intruder must be considered and protected.” Upon moving in, really press your landlord about whether they changed the locks to your apartment or house. And if it’s an option, look into installing a smart lock, which uses fingerprints, key codes, or fobs rather than a standard key.

2. Install an alarm system. This might seem a little dramatic (only parents have those, right?), but Plaxe says they’re more of a multi-purpose device than you’d originally assume. In addition to simply alerting you of a home invasion while away, these systems can often also be activated by the resident if they’re in need of the police, fire department, or emergency medical attention. If you’re not willing to splurge on a security system, then a security camera, such as the Wyze Cam ($26), is a cheaper alternative that allows you to keep tabs on your digs, regardless of your location.

3. Get a dog. Sounds like a good excuse to adopt a puppy to us! Aside from giving us company and cuddles, dogs can also serve a utilitarian purpose because of their heightened senses of smell and hearing. “A barking dog can deter a potential break-in,” Plaxe notes. If a pooch is not for you, consider getting a sign that says, “Beware of Dog.” You’d be surprised how even the threat of a dog is enough to turn off an intruder.

4. Have a back-up plan. We’ve all had our computers crash, so we know the frustrating reality that technology fails us at times. Home security systems are no exception. Here’s where self-defense comes in. Plaxe acknowledges that self-defense preferences are highly personal, but it’s important to pick one that works for you, nonetheless. “Options are numerous but can include… chemical sprays and batons, to name a few,” he says.

5. Be prepared. Not all threats to our safety are coming from scary ski-masked strangers. Emergencies, such as natural disasters and power outages, or accidents, like choking or slipping, can happen at any time. For this reason, Plaxe emphasizes the importance of being well-equipped for these scenarios. Creating an emergency preparedness kit, gathering a few days’ worth of extra food and water, keeping a battery-powered radio and flashlight, placing first-aid kits in your home and car, and taking a basic first-aid training course are just a few of his suggestions.

6. Create a support network. You might live alone, but you’re certainly not alone. Your friends and family can always help and support you during times of need. “Let them know about your planning efforts, and ask them to check on you after a disaster,” Plaxe advises. “Practice your plans with them and stay in regular contact.” If nothing else, befriend your neighbors. They could be your most valuable assets when you’re in trouble — after all, they’re right there.

How do you sleep peacefully at night? Let us know @BritandCo!

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