Protecting your home: the balance between paranoia and negligenceAlthough security may be back on track, it is too soon to let down your guard
ingy deif, Sunday 20 Mar 2011
When the door bell rang at 10 in the morning at an apartment in Nasr City, Dr Rami a dentist and father of a 4-year-old, simply ignored it and finished reading his paper before heading off to work.
A few minutes later the door opened, and a huge, dark figure appeared at the end of the corridor but ran off when he glimpsed someone inside the house - to the horror of those staring in disbelief.
Almost the same thing happened with the family of Mrs Ghada, a mother-of-two in the district of Mokattam, only this time it was 7:30 in the evening.
Both instances are just an example of the numerous cases of burglaries and thefts that have spread in the wake of the recent absence of security in the streets, creating a general state of panic and fear among families.
This poses the question: can we live like this? And how can we function and go to work when the probability of coming back to a home that has been broken into is nagging at the back of our minds?
"First of all we have to acknowledge that what we are witnessing is rather exceptional and that things will change, especially with the current reinforcement of police forces,. But until then we should tackle the issue from two aspects, and reach the sense of security we all seek, "says Dr Hoda Zakaria, a professor of political sociology at Zaqaziq University.
"First we have to understand that although being careful and cautious is needed, panic and a continuous state of fear could be damaging psychologically and lead to disastrous reactions, especially as a lot of people now have access to weapons for the first time," she explains.
"We need to understand that a thief is usually a coward and prefers to search for an empty house, rather than confront anyone, even a child. Also our society is augmenting this panic by spreading rumours. This must stop and we should never pass on any news that could lead to chaos and fear, until we are absolutely certain it's true," Zakaria stresses.
In addition to installing traditional security devices and using common sense, Dr Zakaria recommends that any parent should tackle the following points with their children:
- Do not open the door if a grown-up is available, and if not, the door should be opened only if the doorman accompanies the visitor, even if the guest is recognisable to the child
- If the child has a copy of a key, it should hang around their neck under their shirt, and they should be careful not to use it in the presence of anyone
- The orders given to children should be concise, clear and not conflicting, meaning that if they are told not to let anybody in, they shouldn’t be criticised if they do exactly that, even to the elderly or relatives
- Although access to mobiles is recommended, wearing jewellery or having expensive gadgets should not be allowed
New safety measures have been circulating due to the current events and they can come in handy if we teach them to our children. They include using whistles or flashlights from the window, or better still, as children in the west are taught early on, nothing tops a good scream to scare a thief away!!
"The traditional alarms and security devices nowadays are a sell-out!" says Mahmoud Nashaat, an importer and owner of a security devices company that offers consultations.
"The latest gadgets on the block function by eye and face print, in addition to alarms and lights that work on timers, to create the effect of an occupied place when it empty, but apart from those, safeguarding your home could be a matter of common sense," says Nashaat.
His advice is to think 'Better safe than sorry' and add additional bolts and door locks, as a thief will ignore a door that is difficult to open. Iron bars on windows that can be easily accessed are a must, and these days installation of an iron gate is also recommended.
A deserted house is naturally tempting, so leave a light on or a radio humming to create a feeling that the house is not empty, and if you are going to be away for more than a day, arrange with a neighbour or the doorman not to leave papers or envelopes piling up on the doorstep.
Outside the house, installing a security camera is recommended, and buying a safe is a must - opt for a large, heavy one.
All the residents in a building should cooperate and hire a security service. Their presence usually scares burglars away.
© 2010 Ahram Online.