Master Locksmiths Association issues home security advice to help carers keep loved ones safe
According to the most recent report by Age UK, two million people over 75 live alone. If you’re one of the UK’s many carers looking after a parent or elderly relative who lives on their own, it’s important to take adaptive measures to ensure they are as safe and secure as possible in their home.
Ahead of Carers Week (12-18 June), which aims to raise awareness of carers and the challenges they face, Dr Steffan George, Managing Director of the Master Locksmiths Association – the leading trade association for the locksmithing industry – says: “While it’s important to think about security, with a vulnerable homeowner, you need to consider safety too. Getting the balance right can be difficult, but it’s important that you take the time to research the best options and ensure you have taken all the measures necessary to keep your loved one safe and secure in their home.”
“There’s lots to think about – for example, it’s important to avoid the situation of entrapment – so as well as ensuring burglars can’t easily break into the property, you have to ensure you will be able to gain entry both in the case of an emergency and on a day-to-day basis if your loved one is incapable of answering the door.”
Here, Dr Steffan George shares his expert advice on the measures you can take to ensure your loved one is as safe and secure as possible in their home, and you have peace of mind.
Think about access
Firstly, ensure you can gain access to the home in a way that doesn’t jeopardise security. If the person you are caring for is unable to answer the door, thinking about alternative ways to access is a must, but even if they are capable of answering the door, a key safe should be installed in case of emergency. Coded key safes help ensure those who require access can get it as efficiently as possible – whether this be yourself, a paramedic or another trusted carer. However, in order to ensure security then key safes that have been independently tested by companies such as Sold Secure should be used.
Check the exterior
Your loved one may not be able to keep on top of their own garden but it’s important that it isn’t left to its own devices – overgrown shrubbery, especially between houses, beside entrances and surrounding windows, can provide the perfect cover for those looking to break in. Ensure any tools are stored away safely within a shed or outhouse, and for extra security, use products such as ground anchors, chains and padlocks, and again, ensure they have been independently tested.
Make security user-friendly
Is your relative suffering from reduced visibility or loss of strength? If so, they may struggle with locking up or manoeuvring handles. Invest in key turners – plastic handles designed to attach to a key at one end, rubber handle covers which provide better grip or even remote locking which works like a car’s central locking system, and allows the user to secure their property simply and from a distance.
Invest in deterrents
Do your best to make the home look as busy as possible particularly if your loved one is living on their own. Timer lighting helps make a house look occupied and can give the impression there is more than one person within the property. A fake TV, which works on a timer to emit multi-coloured LED lights – similar to that of a real television – works to do the same, but uses less power than a standard lamp is a great idea too. Outdoor lights with motion sensors are a must too, ensure they illuminate paths, steps and any areas that have obstacles or uneven surfaces, therefore, they will double up as a safety precaution.
Keep valuables out of sight
If the person you are caring for owns expensive items that they do not wear or use frequently – such as jewellery, computers, ornaments and other items – which could attract an opportunist thief, make sure they are kept out of sight and away from windows. Better still, lock them in a professionally specified and installed safe. A safe is also an ideal location to leave spare sets of keys – if an intruder does manage to get in, the last thing you want is for them to get their hands on permanent access to the home.
For further advice on any of the above, contact your local MLA approved locksmith who can give you advice on bespoke security solutions for your loved one’s property and specific needs and requirements, as well as helping with installation.