It’s almost midnight now. About an hour ago, I was lying here in my comfy little bed reading a book, juuuuust about to [finally] drift into some much needed sleep when there was a loud crash on my back porch. By loud, I mean I’m pretty sure the sky fell.
I jolted straight up out of bed, suddenly very wide awake – a state in which I will now continue to remain perpetually probably until the sun begins to peek over the horizon…or until my pilot gets home in a few days.
Yay. Because sleep isn’t already elusive enough as it is when he’s gone.
I crept around my house like a stealthy, special ops soldier peeking out the slits in the blinds, my eyes pealed for the slightest movement, my ears on alert for the faintest noise. Okay, except for the fact that most special ops soldiers probably don’t wear neon pink, shorty-short pajamas and a tank top for their reconnaissance work. And for those of you who do? Hey, no judgement.
I slunk around the house in full-blown pilot wife ninja mode, sidling up to the doors and windows with my pistol gripped white-knuckled in my hands, flipping on the outside lights, scanning the scenery suspiciously, and checking all of the locks. You know, securing the perimeter for the bazillionth time tonight. Yeah, my pilot definitely knows better than to show up unannounced to ‘surprise’ me!
As I worked my way around the house twice…okay, thrice (insert sheepish grin)…my vicious guard dog in a display of unwavering loyalty may have opened one eye and sighed in annoyance before turning over and going back to sleep. It’s so good to know she’s always got my six. But hey, if I ever get attacked by a rogue package of hot dogs, she’ll be there to save the day. Guaranteed.
Of course, I found absolutely nothing out of the ordinary – no zombies, no ghosts, no pilot wife devouring boogiemen. Probably just some stupid raccoons doing stupid raccoon things. But it hardly matters now. This girl? She won’t be sleeping tonight. Grey’s reruns here I come.
It never fails. As soon as he walks out the door for a trip and the last rays of the sun sink ominously behind the horizon, our cozy little ranch style home becomes a creaky, thumpy, shadowy haunted house complete with bloodthirsty werewolves and serial killers lurking behind every shrub.
True story. Being a writer with an obviously overactive imagination has its moments!
Now, I’m not generally the overtly anxious type (I know, could have fooled you, right!?). I’m not scared of a while lot, but there’s nothing like a loud crash on the back porch at night in the middle of a trip to get the ol’ heart pumping.
The truth? It’s a crying shame. We shouldn’t live in a world where we have to be afraid. We shouldn’t live in a world where people hurt one another, steal from one another, break into homes, or spray bullets from the upper floors of a hotel into a crowd of innocents.
But we do. It’s the terrible, heartbreaking truth of the brokenness we navigate. We absolutely should not live our lives in fear, but we must live them in observant preparedness.
Our guys travel a lot, and that means we are left behind to fend for ourselves a lot. And of course being alone leaves us vulnerable and makes us potential targets. So the question becomes, what are some practical things we can do to feel and be more secure in our own homes while he is away? How do we avoid becoming the next victim?
Here’s a list of practical ways to do just that. Whether you are the wife of a traveling spouse or a single woman who simply chooses to live alone, these are some great ideas to help you feel and be safe in your own home.
1. Get a dog. Dogs are a great deterrent and excellent alarm system. Yeah, even mine. If there was any real trouble she’d definitely bark…and then hide in the bathroom until it was safe. That’s why I have my other 130-pound monstrosity that guards the outside perimeter at night. Most intruders are looking for easy targets. Having a dog knocks down the ‘easy target’ factor several hundred notches. A large dog obviously has the added benefit of bulk and a big bite, but even a small dog will raise a raquet and alert you to anything out of the ordinary. That’s a toothy obstacle most want-to-be baddies don’t wish to contend with.
2. Video surveillance. With today’s technology, it’s pretty easy to hook up a surveillance system. For hacking purposes, I prefer just to survey our exterior. Bad guys prefer to remain anonymous. Although it is not a full-proof deterrent (stupid hoodies!), it certainly helps, let’s you monitor activity around the exterior of your home without opening a door, and can also provide useful evidence to authorities if ever the need should arise.
3. Post signs. Whether or not you actually have a big dog or video camera, post a ‘beware of dog’ and/or ‘property under video surveillance’ sign on your front door or in another highly visible place anyway. If you have the nicest Schitzu on the planet, put an ‘I love my German Shepherd’ decal on your front door as well. Most bad guys aren’t interested in finding out if you really have a dog/camera or just just how big or vicious that dog really is, especially when there are plenty of easier dog and camera-free targets just down the street.
4. Motion sensor lights. Most bad guys prefer sneaking around in the dark. Suddenly being the star performer in a spotlight show is not super appealing to them. Just be prepared for the neighbor’s cat to set the ones in your backyard off and scare you half to death one night (insert full-blown pilot wife ninja mode)! Not that I know or anything.
5. Install a whole house alarm system. For obvious reasons. These systems are wired into the mainframe and can automatically alert the right emergency authorities if necessary. These are a great comfort if you can afford them. However, they can be a little pricey to install and maintain if you are on a tight budget, and well…first year salary. Need I say more?
6. Jingle bells. Can’t afford an alarm system and don’t want/can’t have a dog? Most intruders enter through the door (go figure!). Place an over-the-door on the inside of all of your exterior doors and hang a set of those obnoxiously loud jingle bells or even a cow bell on each one. It’s a great, cheap alarm system. No one is coming in the door without you knowing about it! Heck, you might even want to do this if you have a dog to help her know when to hide…errr, I mean bark and attack.
7. Deadbolts and strike plates. Put deadbolts on all your exterior doors and reinforce strike plates with three-inch screws. Again, most intruders come right through the door. They do so by 1) jimmying the lock or 2) with a well-placed kick near the lock, which effectively breaks a standard screw. The strike plate is the metal part in the jamb that the door shuts into to hold it closed. Many people do not even bother with the third, middle screw because they think it’s just ‘extra.’ It’s actually the reenforcement screw that helps secure the door! Check your doors to see if you even have that middle screw. Replace and/or add the middle screw using a three-inch screw (they do not come standard). If someone kicks that, the door won’t move…but their bones will break.
8. Lock windows. You would be amazed at how many people don’t/forget to lock their windows! Guess what the second most common point of intrusion is? Make sure your windows are locked. You can also purchase a secondary window locking device for added security.
9. Park a car. If there is usually an extra car in the drive when he’s home, make sure there’s an extra car when he’s not. Have a friend or neighbor park their extra car(s) in your driveway when he is gone. That extra car signifies that he is still home to any potential home intruders who case the hood. It will also give the nosy woman down the street a little something, something to talk about. Oh, and make sure you let your pilot know so he doesn’t freak out!
10. Get to know your neighbors. Let the trustworthy ones know your situation, and keep them on speed dial. They can often see your house from their own windows and keep an eye on things. If someone is knocking on your door they can peek out and see who it is. They can also be there quickly if needed. I live in Texas, so my neighbors also happen to have bigger guns and arrive faster than the police. Most of your neighbors will be more than happy to keep an extra eye on things when he’s traveling, especially if you bake them an occasional pan of their fave ooey-gooey brownies. Good neighbors are one of the most precious assets a wife of a traveling man can have.
11. Weapons. Keep a tazer, pepper spray, knife, baseball bat, or heavy flashlight by your bed within reach and in a couple of other places around your home. Any of these items applied liberally to the face or other parts of the body will give an intruder cause to pause. Of course, proper care must be taken to secure such items from children.
12. Take a self defense class. Knowing what to do in a close encounter situation will give you the peace of mind you desire, knowing that you have the skill you would require in a situation where your personal safety was threatened. Acquiring these skills can also be a fun activity you can undertake with your children!
13. Lock doors. This seems like it would go without saying. However, oftentimes we take this simple but important precaution for granted, especially during the daylight hours when we feel safer. We can’t imagine someone actually perpetrating crime against us during the blazing light of day, but unfortunately it happens more frequently than we know. Always lock your front door behind you immediately when you enter your home and shut the garage before unloading groceries whenever possible.
14. Don’t open doors for anyone. Teach your children that they are never to open the front door for anyone without your express permission and follow the same precaution. Don’t open doors for door-to-door salesmen. You don’t need what they are selling. I mean, Amazin. Duh! Don’t open the doors for evangelists. God will forgive you. He would rather you stay safe. Wait for unrecognized deliverymen and women to leave packages on steps before opening the door to retrieve them. If a signature is required, you almost always know that item is coming ahead of time. In addition, posting a ‘do not solicit sign’ within clear view on your front door should deter the legitimate salesman. Be sure to put a Girl Scout cookie exception notice up in February, however, lest you inadvertently miss out on your annual Thin Mint binge.
15. Don’t publicly announce his comings and goings. This has become increasingly prevalent with the popularity of social media. We share our entire lives online. We wouldn’t dare walk into a parking lot full of strangers and hand out flyers with our addresses announcing that we will be home alone for four days if anyone is interested, but we unhesitatingly share the same information on social media, which can reach an even larger audience. Be careful about what you share and with whom! Friend only people you really know, keep your personal page settings as private as possible, and avoid sharing detailed schedules on public forums.
16. Doorstop alarms and security bars. A doorstop alarm is exactly what it sounds like. It is a doorstop with a depressor button on it. When a door is opened it 1) makes the door more difficult to push open and 2) an alarm will sound. A door security bar sits between the knob and the floor making the door difficult to open. Individual alarms for windows are also readily available. Be sure to change batteries regularly for maximum function. Not as fun as jingle bells, but effective.
17. Be aware, look confident. When you are out and about, whether you are taking an early morning run (my friends can all stop laughing now) or shopping for groceries, always be aware of your surroundings. Put your phone away and pay attention to who is around you. Turn off music so you can hear anyone approaching. Keep your head up and look people in the eye as you pass them. The bad guys choose targets that appear weak and distracted. You want any potential attackers to know that you are not the woman he wants to mess with.
18. Firearms. I list this last and with much trepidation. I believe every woman has the right to own a firearm for personal protection but that not every woman should own a firearm for personal protection. I also believe this decision should be made with all due caution and consideration. This is a huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly. In order to operate a firearm correctly and safely, you must have (a) proper training and (b) regular practice. In addition, if there are children in the home, utmost care to properly store firearms and train up children must also be taken. A firearm can actually become a dangerous liability that is used against you in an intruder situation instead of for your protection if you are not properly coached in and comfortable with its use. Pulling a trigger is a serious and permanent decision that would likely be made in a situation of great physical and emotional duress, and once it a bullet leaves the barrel it can never be undone. I love shooting and am an advocate of keeping a firearm, but I am also an advocate of proper training, extreme safety, and regular practice.
Feeling secure in your own home when your pilot is away is an important aspect of learning to F.L.Y. – to first love yourself. It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where we must worry about such things, but we do. However, there are many practical ideas you can apply to make yourself feel and be safer in your home so that [perhaps] you and your dog can both sleep a little easier at night when he’s gone.
I love you, ladies. Blue skies and sweet dreams.
Angelia (a fellow pilot wife)