Stay Safe at Home
Published on 01 March 2019 01:58 PM
Age UK North Tyneside’s Advice for Staying Safe at Home
One of Age UK North Tyneside’s three key campaigns is Fear of Crime. Many older people are anxious about crime. Although it’s important to be cautious, taking a few simple precautions to make themselves and their homes more secure can help avoid being targeted and give peace of mind.
You can reduce the risk of your home being burgled by taking some simple, and often inexpensive, precautions. Fitting your doors and windows with good locks can go a long way towards deterring burglars. If you live in rented accommodation, ask your landlord if they can help make your doors and windows more secure. Your local Age UK can often provide contact details for reputable, local handypersons and contractors.
Use a door chain so you can see who’s on the doorstep without having to open the door completely. If you have one, don’t leave the chain on all day because this can stop family, carers or emergency services from getting into your home if they are needed. A door peephole, allows you to check who is outside before deciding whether it’s safe to open the door to them.
A letter-box cage will prevent thieves from tampering with locks through the letter box.
Back doors should also be fitted with a five-lever mortice deadlock. Fit a security mortice lock and mortice bolt to both sides of French doors, and get advice on fitting locks from a reputable contractor, Your local Age UK will support you to identify a suitable contractor.
Fit window locks with keys to all downstairs windows and any others that are easy to reach, such as those above a flat roof or near a drain pipe. Keep window keys in a safe place, out of sight and reach. They should be close to the window so that you could find them easily if you needed to escape in the event of fire, but not on the windowsill.
If you’re thinking of buying PVCu or metal-framed windows, make sure they come with good built-in locks and comply with British security standards, as it may not be possible to fit better locks once they are installed. Only ever use a qualified locksmith, give Age UK North Tyneside a call.
Protect yourself from doorstep scams
Doorstep scammers commonly target older people. In fact, 85% of victims of doorstep scams are aged 65 and over according to National Trading Standards. Rogue traders are cold-callers who may offer you a service you don’t really need. They may claim to have noticed something about your property that needs work or improvement, such as the roof, and offer to fix it for cash or an inflated price.
Bogus officials claim to be from your utility company as a way of gaining access to your home. Always check the ID of any official, and if they're genuine they won't mind waiting while you check.
Fake charity collection fraudsters may pretend they're from a charity and ask you to donate money, clothes or household goods. Legitimate charities like Age UK North Tyneside will always have a charity number that can be checked on the Charity Commission website.
Some scammers ask you to complete a survey so they can get hold of your personal details, or use it as a cover for persuading you to buy something you don’t want or need. Never provide any personal or bank account details to anyone who calls on your doorstop.
Don’t be taken in by hard luck stories if someone comes to your door and asks you to help them out with cash, ask to use your telephone or claim they're feeling unwell. The story is likely to be made up and intended to con you out of your money or gain access to your home. There are things you can do to feel safer when answering the door, such as putting up a deterrent sign on your front door or window saying no cold callers.
Make sure that you keep your own passwords safe. Your utility company can support you to do this. Why not give them a call and ask their advice? Northumbrian Water for instance offers Priority Service support specifically for older people including a password protection scheme, meter reading or additional support for those with mobility, vision or hearing impairment. You can additionally ask that a nominated person deals with your bills and queries. Call Northumbrian Water Priority Services Tel 0345 7335566.
Investigate a local neighbour or neighbourhood watch scheme. Details can be found in your local library, Age UK office or by searching https://www.ourwatch.org.uk/
If you feel that you might require additional support using the internet or mobile devices safely why not ask your local Age UK office for details of any local training or support that might be available to you free of charge.
If you do feel that you may have been targeted you should call the Police in the first instance. Additional advice and support can be provided by Age UK North Tyneside’s Team and the Safe Place scheme could assist if you feel unsafe or vulnerable when you are out and about. Look for the Safe Place yellow sticker in a window. The team there will contact a nominated person or the Police on your behalf.