• By Thal Dixon
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How to Stay Safe in a Shady Neighborhood

It usually isn’t difficult to tell if you’ve found yourself in a rough area, as the signs tend to be pretty obvious—sirens, illicit drug activity, trash, abandoned buildings, and a high number of bars, for example.

And sometimes, whether we like or not, we find ourselves living in areas that are a little rough around the edges. If you live in a shady neighborhood and sometimes find yourself worried about your safety, here are some things that you can do to protect your home and your family.

Get to know your neighbors.

It helps to get to know your neighbors so that you can determine who is trustworthy (and who you might want to be wary of). Introduce yourself to your neighbors, be friendly, and do your best to simply be a good neighbor.

Don’t walk alone after dark.

This may be common sense for many, but it’s worth the extra reminder: do your best to avoid walking alone after dark. If you find that you do need to walk somewhere, see if a friend can give you a ride instead—or if a couple of friends want to walk with you.

Remain alert.

You’ll also want to avoid distractions as you walk around the neighborhood, whether it be at night or during the day. Fight the urge to look at your phone as you walk or to listen to music with earbuds in. If you’re passing a group of people who are unfamiliar to you, take note and walk with confidence. If you walk around distracted and without a confident aura about you, you’re only more likely to become a target.

Invest in home security.

If ever there were an obvious reason to invest in a home security system, this is it. Consider investing in a high-quality home security system that will protect your home from intruders and that will track any unwanted visitors. Installing a surveillance system in and around your home can both deter criminals and track anyone who does break into your home. Even getting a dog can be helpful—no one can “deactivate” the sound of your dog’s bark, after all.

Use common sense.

In addition to investing in a good home security system, it also helps to practice some good measures of common sense at home. Turn on lights when you’re not home, don’t sleep with the windows open, and lock your doors at all times. It also helps to practice “thief-proof” landscaping, installing motion detecting lights around the yard and eliminating large bushes and shrubs that thieves could hide in.

Don’t be afraid to report it.

If you can hear a fight nearby or if you fear that someone’s safety is being threatened, don’t be afraid to call the cops. If you sense that a neighbor’s child might be facing neglect or abuse, it might be time to call child protective services. And if you see a pet that’s consistently being left out in the cold, it could be time to call SPCA. It’s better to have an official look into a situation that ends up not being serious than to have something tragic happen off-the-radar.