Top Tips To Secure Your Neighborhood
January 19th, 2022
4 minute read
If you’re over 40, then you remember a time when small-town kids rode their bikes all over town, walked to school, and generally were able to go out and be children — at least until the street lights came on. When I was a kid, all summer days after breakfast and chores were spent down at the river, completely unsupervised, dirty, and happy. The idea that we were somehow unsafe was ludicrous; the worst thing we had to worry about was if someone in town saw us doing something and told our parents.
Our neighborhoods aren’t like that anymore. Even in small towns, human trafficking is becoming a problem. Drugs are everywhere, destroying families and increasing crime. The number of homeless, many of whom are mentally unstable, passed the “staggering” stage years ago. Violent protests and social unrest are growing.
How do we make our neighborhoods safer? How do we protect our kids? The answer is not just law enforcement, although that is an important part. It’s the neighborhood itself. It’s you.
Get to Know Your Neighbors
In today’s society, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “not my business.” You see the neighbor’s kids out playing in the dark, defenseless targets for a predator, and you shrug your shoulders and ignore it. You see a strange car driving slowly up and down your street and just go about your day.
The problem is that crime, lack of preparedness, and other negative effects stem from this type of attitude. A neighborhood where residents are situationally aware, work together to identify and mitigate threats, and look out for each other is a stronger, safer one, and every family in your neighborhood that’s prepared for a disaster is one more family who isn’t going to be begging at your door or becoming a threat later.
You start the process by simply saying “hi”. Hold a BBQ for the houses immediately around you, if you’re in a suburban area. Talk to your neighbors and find out who they are, what they want, where their heads are. What’s important to them?
Start finding out who’s dependable and who might be interested in being part of a neighborhood watch. When you’re ready, you can look at how to set up an official organization on your street or area, with the cooperation of local law enforcement. Start talking about prepping and see if your neighbors have considered what they’ll do in a disaster. Use current events as a catalyst to get them talking.
If you’re more rural, you might already know all sorts of things about your neighbors. You might already have barter agreements, or be good friends that help each other out. Build on that, and start looking at what else you can do together to make your area safer.
Lighting and Cleanliness
Two things that can affect a neighborhood’s attractiveness to criminals are poor lighting and rundown, dirty streets. Get a security system; they’re quite affordable now. If you live in an HOA, talk to them about putting up more lights in places like unlit parks and alleys.
Take a Saturday and clean up the streets, wash off graffiti, pick up trash, and generally make things look nice. Plant some flowers or even vegetables. There are many resources for neighborhood beautification; in fact, in some areas, you can even get grants to pay for it.
Teach Your Kids Situational Awareness
Even children can learn the basics of keeping their heads on a swivel. Teach them to recognize the familiar cars in their neighborhood so they can spot someone that isn’t supposed to be there. Train them to notice the routines so they can understand when something is out of place or somehow wonky. Show them how to check the doors and windows before going to bed, and teach them to pay attention to what’s going on around them.
These skills and others can become part of a fabric in your neighborhood, where people look out for each other, help each other, and take responsibility for the area’s safety. There is always something more you can do, and more to learn — and there’s never a bad time for any of it.
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