The feeling of being safe and secure is something we all want. If we go back to our college coursework, this very basic desire is one we must feel comfortable in before we can turn our attention to other facets of life. Some people take that too seriously and can create some unseen risks in the process.
Let me relay the story I was told by a “big-city” firefighter. An elderly homeowner witnessed a man steal her neighbor's purse. Fearing for her own safety, she installed numerous locks, grates and security devices in her home so that she could again feel safe and secure at home.
Months later, a neighbor called the fire department for a smell of smoke in the neighborhood.
Fire units responded to find smoke coming from a chimney in the middle of summer. Feeling this was odd, more fire units were summoned, while the firefighters on scene began their investigation. Knocking and screaming didn't arouse anyone inside to open the door so they could search for an unwanted fire. Faced with roll-down security shutters, grates and locks, the task of making entry began. Some worked on the front door, while others went around the house, looking for an easier way to make entry into the home.
This very time-consuming task now complete, firefighters entered the house and quickly extinguished a small, smoldering fire. They also found the body of the elderly occupant of the home, barricaded behind the security systems designed to ensure her safety.
While we enjoy one of the safest cities in the country - one of the reasons I choose to live here - we all have a concern about crime.
In coming up with the correct level of security, don't follow the example of the person whose story I just told. Did she even understand about escaping in a fire emergency or was she so worried about keeping people out that she didn't even think about it? Did someone not consider this when installing the system in her home?
There are plenty of products out there that can add a level of security to your home, but consider emergency escape before you make your purchase.
Case in point are door locks that need a key to open and close from both sides. In an emergency, you don't want to have to go back toward a fire to get a key to leave the building.
Another example is security grates that cover windows. How will you escape in an emergency? They make them with panic buttons located inside the house that can be activated to release the locking mechanism.
A safe and secure home is something we all want. Just remember safety “from the inside” as well as safety “from the outside.”
Tom Kiurski is training coordinator for the Livonia Fire Department.