Criminals often prey on older members of society because they are seen as vulnerable, soft targets. Stuart Clarkson, Executive Manager Fidelity ADT, says that for this reason their safety must be highlighted and addressed the year round. “It is however particularly important to ensure safety measures are in place during the festive season if family, carers and friends are away for the holidays.”
He encourages friends and family members to speak to the elderly about their safety and possible assist in doing an inspection of their property to see if there are any vulnerable areas. “This also applies to senior citizens living in retirement villages and complexes. Break-ins are not isolated to stand alone homes any longer,” he says.
Besides checking the perimeter security such as walls and gates, and testing that the alarm system is working, it is important to check that the locks fitted on windows and doors are of a good quality. “If you need to get an expert opinion get a security person to come and do an evalution.”
“We highly recommend panic buttons that can be kept in a pocket or worn around the neck. Not only do these offer assistance if there is a security incident they also act as an alarm if there is a medical emergency.”
He adds that there should always be a list of important contact numbers near the telephone or emergency numbers on quick-dial on a cellphone so that no time is wasted in the event of an emergency.
“Please encourage the elderly not to open their doors for anyone unless they have verified who they are. It is an unfortunate reality that the elderly are often victims of con-artists. They need to be suspicious of anyone who comes to the door with a story. Encourage them to rather call someone to come and check before letting the person in. This also applies to people who may call on the phone wanting personal information, asking for money etc. They should never freely give their personal details – including credit card details, identity or banking information.”
Clarkson adds that they also should never rush into signing any kind of contractual agreement without getting someone to read through the details first.
He offers the following additional safety tips worth sharing:
· If you plan to go out, even if it is just for a short walk, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
· If you are going to the shops, never hold your handbag dangling at the straps; keep it tucked tightly under your arm. If you are only taking along your purse or wallet, either carry it in the front pocket of your trousers or in an inside jacket pocket. While shopping, never leave your handbag or anything of value, like a cell phone, unattended or in the trolley.
“We need to be conscious of the fact that many elderly people do not go away for the holidays and will be at home alone. Let’s ensure their festive season is a crime-free one,” he concludes.