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Tech tips

Live alone? Here are 7 tech tips to help you feel safe

There are many perks to living on your own. You can dance around the living room to your favorite oldies. All the dirty dishes in the sink are yours and yours alone — washing them can wait.

Perhaps best of all, nobody will be upset if you decide to spend Saturday binging your favorite show. But that comes at its own cost. You’re not alone if you’ve noticed that your streaming bills have been creeping up. Tap or click here for some secrets to rein in your costs.

But there’s another side to the solo life. Fear and doubt can creep in when you’re on your own. You might read about break-ins or theft on social media or worry about local crime. Remember: Just because you live alone doesn’t mean you don’t need to feel safe.

1. Get to know your neighbors

Have you met your neighbors? While staying cocooned in your own world is easy, getting to know your neighbors can be one of the best ways to feel more secure when you live alone. Introduce yourself. Exchange phone numbers if you feel comfortable with them. You’ll feel better knowing the neighborhood has your back.

A great way to get to know the locals is to join a buy nothing group. This is where neighbors pass around items they no longer use. Let’s say you’re upgrading your TV and need to get rid of the old one. Rather than go through the trouble of selling it, just ask if anyone nearby would like to come and get it.

Tap or click here to check out a safe way to give away and get free stuff in your neighborhood.

2. Install a smart security system

Home security technology has come a long way since the days of elaborate hard-wired systems with lengthy, expensive contracts. You can now customize a system for your home that’s comprehensive, affordable and takes advantage of the latest tech.

Our sponsor, SimpliSafe, is an award-winning home security system, so you know it’s engineered with the latest technology you want to keep your family safe. But what really sets SimpliSafe apart is its people: Highly trained security experts who are always there for you when you need them most.

SimpliSafe is there 24/7 with experts trained to not only keep you safe but to make you feel safe and never alone. It’s one of the many reasons U.S. News called SimpliSafe “the best home security of 2022.”

For a limited time, get a free security camera, 20% off + a free month of monitoring.

3. Conduct a security check of your home

Check that all your door and window locks function properly and that you have deadbolts on every outside door. Replace any burned-out light bulbs around the exterior. Try to think like a burglar. Where would you break in if you had to? What can you do to deter it?

Consider growing thorny plants below easily accessible windows, putting locks on your gates, and installing metal security doors in place of your old screen doors.

Install sensors at your windows, doors and outbuildings such as garages. And don’t forget about your house interior. Have a gun cabinet? Put an entry sensor on the door, so you know when someone opens it.

Tap or click here for more secret uses for your home security system.

4. Set up the SOS emergency feature on your phone

Your phone is always with you and can be a lifeline in an emergency. Be prepared by activating your phone’s emergency SOS feature. It will call emergency services and send notifications and updates to your chosen personal emergency contacts when triggered. Learn how to set up this must-have safety net for your smartphones:

Set up emergency contacts for your iPhone

  • Open the Health app and tap your profile picture > Medical ID.
  • Select Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
  • Tap the Add emergency contact button, then select a contact. Add their relationship.
  • Hit Done to confirm your changes.

To call emergency services:

  • Press the side button and one of the volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider pops up.
  • To call emergency services, drag the slider.
  • You can also continue holding the side and volume buttons to contact emergency services automatically.

Once the countdown ends, your phone will contact emergency services.

RELATED: An Apple Watch detected a tumor and saved her life — here’s how it can do the same for you

Set up emergency contacts and SOS for your Android phone

  • Open the Safety app.
  • Sign in to your Google Account.
  • Tap Settings.
  • Tap Medical information to add info like blood type, allergies, or medications, tap the item in the list you want to update.
  • Tap Emergency contacts, then Add contact and choose the existing contact you want to add.

Now you need to activate your Android’s SOS feature:

  • Now Tap Safety & emergency and then Emergency SOS.
  • Turn on Use Emergency SOS.
  • You can also turn Play alarm sound on to play a loud sound when Emergency SOS starts.
  • Decide which emergency actions should trigger when you use Emergency SOS. Turn on the actions you want to use: Call emergency services and Share info with emergency contacts.

To call emergency services:

  • Press the Power button five times or more. A five-second countdown begins before emergency actions are started. To cancel Emergency SOS, swipe Cancel to the right during the countdown.
  • After the five-second countdown, emergency actions are started depending on your settings.

5. Make it look like you’re home, even when you’re not

Whether you’re at work for the day or off on a week-long vacation, there are ways to make it look like your home is occupied even though it’s empty. Set up mechanical or smart-home timers to turn lights and a stereo on and off.

If you’re leaving for a while, arrange for a neighbor or friend to pick up your mail, check on your house, and even take out your trash and recycling bins. If you’re leaving on a trip with your car, see if someone you know can park a spare vehicle in the driveway while you’re away.

Have an Echo speaker? Alexa Guard is like a pair of ears you leave at home. Your Echo device will listen for glass breaking, smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms. You’ll get an alert on your phone if these sounds are detected.

Alexa Guard can also automatically turn any connected smart lights on and off to make it look like you’re home. Handy!

Tap or click for five clever ways to use your Echo and Alexa that you’ll wish you knew sooner.

6. Think before you post online

We tend to want to post every exciting moment in our lives on social media, but it might not be just your friends who are watching your adventures. If you maintain a public profile, anyone can see you’re lounging on the beach in Hawaii and not at home.

Perhaps the simplest solution is not to post personal information on social media, including your vacation schedule. You can wait until you get back to share a fun slideshow of your journey.

If you’re determined to share in real time, one way to combat this concern is to restrict your accounts to trusted friends and family.

Tap or click here for 10 Facebook privacy and security settings you need to change right now.

7. Call the authorities if needed

Listen to your instincts. If you see a suspicious person, call it in. If you feel threatened, dial 911. Even if you’re unsure if the situation qualifies as an emergency, call your local police department’s non-emergency number (if one is available) for guidance. Keep this number in your phone contacts so it’s ready when needed.

Whether you’re moving out on your own for the first time, an empty-nester, or just getting set up in a new place, take steps to feel comfortable in your house or apartment. You might be living alone, but your support network can be a mix of family, friends and neighbors.

Called emergency services by mistake? Don’t worry; it happens. Tap or click here to avoid accidentally calling 911.

Bonus for primary caregivers

While you can’t always be there, you can take comfort that your loved ones have safeguards in place in case something goes wrong.

Amazon’s Alexa Together service lets send you daily check-in alerts or dispatch emergency services if a fall is detected. And now, there are two new features available to help you care for your loved ones:

  • Circle of Support lets up to 10 caregivers assist the same person, including family, spouses, neighbors and friends. Everyone in the Circle of Support will get daily alerts and quick check-ins through the activity feed.
  • Remote Assist Routines help group everyday actions into an automated system. This is especially helpful when older people struggle to remember or access certain things. For example, a routine can automate the process if someone switches off their alarm, turns on the bedroom lights, and then listens to the news.

Tap or click here for more information on Alexa Together, including links for the Alexa devices you’ll need to use the service.

You may also like: Tech tip: Use an Amazon Echo as an affordable Life Alert alternative

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