One of the most important factors that influence security is awareness. In broad terms, being aware simply means being attentive and mindful of all the things that are going on around you, including the things that you might have to keep secure. If you stop and take a second to think about some of these things in your own life, you will realize that there are, in fact, a lot of things that we have to remember to secure. At times, these many tasks can be overwhelming, so it comes as no surprise that there are some things that people forget to secure.
Take a look at your daily routine for instance. There are countless numbers of times you, and many others might have walked out of your home without arming your monitored alarm system. You have to be cognizant of your personal safety, home security, and a host of other things. There is a lot to remember and potentially a lot to forget. It is nearly impossible to be constantly aware of everything that goes on around you, but alas such is the nature of security.
However, there are simple methods that people can make use of to help them stay situated and up to date with their security. These methods range from security checklists, regular security assessments, to setting up reminders on your smartphone. Another simple way to be aware of things that you need to keep secure is to read about them. Oftentimes, people don’t even know that there is something that they have to keep safe unless they are told. Even if they do know, they will neglect it without the proper reminders. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some important things that almost everyone forgets to keep secure.
1. Important Documents
Any kind of document that has some form of personal information on it should be kept safe and secure. However, most people tend to overlook these documents because they underestimate their importance. There are several reasons for this. Chief among these is the fact that most of these important documents are not used on a daily basis, so it is very easy to put them in the back of our minds. Here are some prime examples:
- Birth Certificates
- Social Security Cards
- Property and Vehicle Titles
- Passport Books
- Driver’s License
- Bank Documents and Statements
The odd one out on the list above is, most likely, driver’s license. I am sure there are people who will say they probably secure that much better than they do the rest of the aforementioned documents. However, you will be surprised to find out that many people lose their license or have them stolen at some point in time. These documents are extremely important because of the personal nature of the information that is on them. If this information is not kept secure, it can lead to identity theft and many other problems. Ideally, homeowners should invest in safes or lockboxes to store some of these documents (especially those that you do not use regularly).
2. Backup Hard Drives
In this day and age, it has become common for people to have backups of their data and computer files for several reasons. First, it prevents the loss of data if your computer is damaged or if a virus somehow wipes your data. Also, storing files and data on an external device is one of the best ways to keep your data mobile. There are those who utilize cloud services because of their ease of accessibility and also because they are a much cheaper option than buying a number of physical hard drives. I will not dive into the reasons why I am not a fan of cloud storage yet, I will save that for later.
However, it is important for people who use hard drives to understand that the data that is on your hard drive needs to be protected and kept secure. This should be done to negate the possibility of unauthorized individuals gaining access to your files. Hard drives can be secured via data encryption or simply by storing the physical drive in a safe location. I suggest that you take advantage of both of these methods because security works better in layers. For this, homeowners can use safes and lockboxes, as well as utilizing off-site locations like safety deposit boxes. Safety deposit boxes are ideal for this, but they do not work well for storing important documents because you might need those documents at a moment’s notice.
3. Guns and Ammunition
Gun owners will be the first people to tell you just how important it is to properly secure the physical embodiment of your second amendment rights. This cannot be stressed enough, and for good reason. Guns are an extremely powerful and efficient weapon that becomes a liability and a hazard when it is being handled by unqualified individuals, or if a burglar is able to gain access to your firearms.
I mean, let’s be honest, a gun isn’t a toy, so you would think that people effectively secure their firearms, right? No, unfortunately, there are those who forget to secure their guns and ammunition, or simply neglect to do so. I am not pointing fingers because I understand how easy it is to do this. For instance, if you take your time to clean your gun you might get distracted and leave it lying around, with every intention to come back later and put it away. It is important to make sure that guns and ammo are always stowed away so that only authorized and properly trained individuals can access them.
I am sure you’re wondering what medication is doing on this list, but it is one important thing that everyone forgets to secure. Failing to properly secure medication can lead to serious, although inadvertent, consequences. It is very easy for people to forget that every time you are given prescription medication by a pharmacist, they warn you not to give to anyone else and to make sure that you are the only person that has access to it.
Many homeowners utilize medicine cabinets to help keep their medication in order and out of reach, but this isn’t always the best solution, especially if you have children at home or if you usually have guests running through your home. There are many ways that guests and kids unwittingly compromise security (their own security and ours as well). Sometimes this can’t be helped because children are naturally curious. It is very easy for a child to mistakenly ingest prescription medication that they mistook for skittles. This can lead to fatal consequences that can easily be avoided by securing your medication in a more secure fashion.
Ideally, homeowners can make use of lockboxes for medication that they do not need to take in a hurry. For a medication that might be the difference in a life and death situation, make sure you store it in a medicine cabinet that makes use of a child latch lock. Furthermore, securing your medication will help prevent you from becoming a victim of theft. Believe it or not, there are many burglary cases that revolve around the theft of high-end prescription drugs like Adderall, Oxycontin, and Ritalin.
5. Jewellery, Heirlooms, and Collectables
I must admit, I am guilty of this myself and I am sure there are many people who can relate to this. Even for the most organized and security minded person, there are times where you might leave jewellery and other valuables lying around. I completely understand if this is something that happens every once in a while like I said I am guilty of this myself. However, some people do this so often that it has become a habit for them. They forget to properly secure jewellery and things of high sentimental value, and this automatically makes these items vulnerable to theft or damage.
On average, burglars spend 8 to 12 minutes in a home. This simple statistic implies that burglars do not have a lot of time to waste, so they grab things that have a potential high sale value (jewellery) as well as other items they might deem as profitable. This is not to say that homeowners are to blame for break-ins, but it is their responsibility to make sure things are secure enough so burglars can’t find them.
Jewellery chests, safes, and lockboxes are all great places to secure jewellery and other high value, items. It is best to make sure that these are stored in unassuming locations that are easily accessible to you, but not to burglars. Also, people can make use of checklists to help remind themselves that they need to safely put their items away whenever they are not in use.
Properly securing your high-value items will also ensure that they are not damaged in the event that someone breaks into your home. Burglars might not realise something is valuable and will treat it in that manner, which might lead to unnecessary damage. If you have any valuable memorabilia, comic books or other collectables, make sure that they are also being kept in a safe location that keeps them out of harm’s way.
6. Power Tools
Power tools are expensive, which means that they also have a high resale value. Needless to say, they are popular items among burglars. This is not only because they can be sold fast for a good amount of cash, but also because they are easy to grab. This is mostly because homeowners do not secure tools as effectively as they should.
When you are trying to keep things secure, it is important to think about the process in layers. Layers of security will ensure that there is always something in place to offer up some resistance to burglars. It is easy to think that your tools are safe behind a locked garage door, so most homeowners tend to leave their tools lying around on a workbench in plain sight. This creates two problems. Not only does it make it easy for burglars to gain access to your power tools, but it also increases the chances of someone getting inadvertently injured.
For people that still carry cash around, you should know by now how important it secure. It is not necessarily easy to do this because of how mobile cash can be. I know that might sound a little confusing, so please bear with me while I explain. I say cash can be mobile simply because people carry it everywhere and, more often than not, leave it in multiple places for different periods of time. For instance, there are some people who keep some emergency cash at home, at work or in their cars. Also, there are those who make sure that they never leave home without having some cash on them for emergency purposes.
Keeping your cash secure while you are at home, or on the go, is crucial. It helps reduce the possibility of you losing your money or being the victim of burglary and theft. One of the most common hiding places that people use to hide cash at home is sock drawers. However, the fact that it is so popular also means that burglars know about it as well and they will very likely exploit it the first chance they get. Think outside of the box when you are attempting to secure your cash. Yes, it is important to be able to access it fast, but you should make security your priority.
8. Emergency Survival Kits
When it comes to emergency survival kits, you need to understand that they are essentially a compact version of everything that you might consider most valuable, important, and necessary. Some of the most basic components of emergency survival kits include an emergency stash of cash, financial information, birth certificates, and a host of other important things. Most people will tell you that your emergency survival kit should be easily accessible so that you can readily grab it in an emergency. If zombies are breaking into your home, you do not want to jeopardize your life simply because you cannot get to your emergency survival kit.
Even though it is necessary to have your emergency survival kit readily available, you should still place it in a secure area that no unauthorized person can get to. There are some homeowners who place their emergency kits by the front door. That way they can easily grab it if they ever need to run out during an emergency or when the world is ending. People like this have the right idea, but only half of it.
If a burglar breaks into your home and they grab the survival kit that is sitting by the front door, they would have scored your emergency stash of cash as well as any other important and valuable items that you have in there. Ideally, you should strive to make your kit as inconspicuous as possible and should probably have it tucked away in a safe.
9. Yard Furniture
Any homeowner will know that the right yard furniture allows you to really customize the exterior of your home and it helps give you a few more options for entertaining guests or even simply enjoying a nice book on your porch. As amazing, and diverse, as yard furniture can be, home owners usually forget to secure them properly. Although, sometimes the reason isn’t that they forgot, but that they simply didn’t think it was necessary to secure their front yard. Yard furniture and exterior placements, are an investment and as such you want to make sure that there is nothing that damages your property, and you also don’t want to make it easy for someone to walk by and grab your stuff.
Let me give you a perfect example. In my old neighbourhood, one of my neighbours had a lovely bench on their front porch, but it was not kept secure. The bench had not bolted down to the porch or held in place by any security chain. It came as no surprise, to me, when my neighbour told said that the bench had been taken. Your yard furniture should not be treated differently than any of your other belongings, and you should try your best to have safeguards in place to secure them. Not only does this help guard against possible theft, but it also helps prevent damage to your property in the event of something like a natural disaster.
10. Passwords, Access Codes, Pin Numbers
Last, but most definitely not the least, are passwords, access codes, and pin numbers. These are everyday numbers/phrases/codes that we use to secure some of the most important things to us. Funny enough, we do not keep these passcodes secure. If I ask you how you keep track of your passwords, what would your answer be? For some, they think it best to have a document (word document, spreadsheet) that houses all this information that they can then either save on an external hard drive or the cloud. For others, it is easier to write down all this information in a notebook or a diary, so that they always have a physical copy, a la old school.
Before I dive into my thoughts on this, let me just clarify that I do not have the answers. I am merely suggesting what I think will be a good alternative. For people that use the cloud to store precious information, I would suggest using it mostly as a backup rather than your primary solution. This is because once you depend on the cloud, you no longer have a direct security control over your information. If anything goes wrong (your cloud provider suffers a security breach etc.) your data is now compromised. Now, this does not mean that if you store your passwords in a notebook that you are doing it right, especially if you do not secure said notebook.
As an alternative, I would suggest using both a hard drive and a notebook to store your password/pin number/access code information. In addition, it is best to make sure that you hide these items so that no one has access to them but you. In this instance, the best possible solution will be a lockbox that is doubly secured with a high-security padlock. This allows you to have easy access to the information when you need it.
As I pointed out at the beginning of this post, it can be very easy to forget to secure some of these things because there is so much to remember. One thing that I have found to work for me simply involves using a checklist to help me develop security habits. This will help you manage each and every one of these security tasks and will lead to better security overall. It is always important to be aware of what is going on around you so that you are always prepared to react and secure what needs to be kept safe.