On Thursday, June 27, 2019, Heartland Security participated in the Douglas County Healthy & Active Senior Expo sponsored by Douglas County TRIAD. Seniors could visit vendor tables, listen to the keynote speaker, attend breakout sessions, get free lunch, and win door prizes. One of the breakout sessions was titled "Home Safety" with a talk given by Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen*.
Sheriff Wolbersen told of crowd of over 30 seniors about how to stay safe in their homes. He emphasized that seniors should know their limitations and have a network of people they can reach out to for help with things. He also mentioned several other topics that we will elaborate on here.
1. Trip Hazards and Falling
Sheriff Wolbersen said that their office receives many calls regarding seniors falling and that injuries from falls are the leading cause of death for people over 65. Seniors should be aware of anything they might be able to trip over, such as cords, pets, or rugs.
- If you have pets, before you move, you should look all around you to make sure you don't trip over a pet, especially when stepping backwards.
- If you're taking medications that may cause light-headedness or vertigo, get up slowly and use tables and counters to help steady yourself.
- If you have heavy items to carry, break them up into smaller, more manageable loads. For example, instead of carrying an entire 24-pack of water, take 2 trips with 12 bottles each or 3 trips with 8 bottles each.
According to Sheriff Wolbersen, "if it's important to you, it's an emergency". A lot of times people won't call 9-1-1 as they don't want to bother anyone or don't think it's what someone else would consider an emergency. However, people shouldn't be afraid to call. If you don't want to dial 9-1-1, have the sheriff office's regular number in your phone to call instead. If you have a medical alert, wear it and have it with you. Carry a cell phone with you or have it near you so you can call if something happens. However, assume your cell phone does not give your exact location - if you are able, tell the dispatcher where you are (apartment number, room number, etc.). According to Sheriff Wolbersen, 94% of all 9-1-1 calls come in from cell phones now, with only 6% from a landline.
3. Lock Your Doors
As a reminder, you should always lock your doors, even when you're home. "Daytime is a really popular time for burglars to work... You should lock your entry door from your garage to your house, but a lot of people don't," said Sheriff Wolbersen. "A lot of thefts happen because we have given them the opportunity to steal from us." While we can't control burglars' actions, we can control our own, and locking doors, closing windows, and closing garage doors are simple but effective ways to help secure your home. Sheriff Wolbersen also said he recommends security systems as perimeter security is really important. Security systems are designed to have a loud siren to help scare off burglars and make neighbors and passersby aware of an intruder.
4. Doorbell Cameras
Sheriff Wolbersen said there is a real danger with seniors letting strangers into their homes. A doorbell camera can let them see who is there, and if they don't know the person, to not let them in. He said with peepholes sometimes there can be shadows so the person outside is aware you are there looking through the peephole. There is nothing saying you need to open your door to anyone - you can tell them to leave a card or you can call the sheriff's office and they will talk to your visitor(s). The bottom line is if you don't feel comfortable opening the door, don't do it. It's not worth putting yourself at risk. If you think someone needs help, call the sheriff's office and they will help the person.
At Heartland Security, one of our goals is to keep seniors safe and independent in their own homes. We can help with that by offering security systems, cameras, and medical alerts with 24/7 monitoring. We offer a free security analysis where one of our sales managers will come out to your home to find out what you want protected. Then, we'll create a customized solution for you. There's no obligation. We're here to help you.
If you're not interested in a security system, there's another way to help keep your home safe. If you know you might be out of town for a while, check with your local sheriff's department to see if they can do a residence check. You'll fill out a form with them stating when you'll be gone, where you'll be, and how to reach you, and the department will periodically send out patrols driving by your home. While they won't get out of their squad car, it may be another deterrent for burglars on the prowl.
*Sheriff Wolbersen and the Douglas County Sheriff's Department do not in any way endorse or promote Heartland Security.