f you have a toddler who thinks midnight is a great time to hit the playground without you, or a dad with Alzheimer’s who gets lost a block from home, you need to know when someone heads out the door (or a window) of your home.
Short of moving your family into a prison, your options for keeping everyone where they belong range from simple lock products to help child-proof doors and windows that cost about a buck to sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment costing thousands.
These products will help give you peace of mind:
- A hook and eye latch (about $1) installed at the top of the door out of reach of the toddler and out of sight of your wandering dad.
- Three or four barrel bolt locks ($4 each) installed so you have to slide some to the left and some to the right to get out. Put them at the top and bottom of the door where you wouldn’t normally look for a lock.
- Keyed window locks ($7) will keep toddlers and parents from opening the window, but heads up: If there’s an emergency, a window lock may block escape routes. You’ll have to decide which is the greater risk.
- A door mural ($40) helps disguise the front door to those with Alzheimer’s.
These products alert you when a door or window is opened:
- A string of Jingle Bells (about $4) attached to the door will tell you when it’s opened, but test to make sure you can hear the bells from all over the house.
- Electronic window alarms ($7) run on batteries and let you know when a window is opened by sounding an alarm or chime.
- If you want to know when someone gets out of bed, a pressure-sensitive mat alarm (about $10) mat will play music or blast a 105-decibel alarm when a person (or a pet) steps on it. You can also put it under a rug in front of the door.
- A motion detector alarm ($20) mounted over the front door or a window tells you when someone passes by, while mounting one under the bed will tell you when someone gets up at night.
Installing solar-powered motion-sensor lighting ($33 at Lowe’s) around your home’s exterior will tell you when someone’s outside.
Secure the whole house
For $250 to $700, have a simple home security system installed, or for about $1 per square foot, have an alarm company install a full perimeter system for all doors and windows.
Set the system to chime rather than call the security company when a door or window opens so you don’t scare the pants off grandpa or baby with a screeching alarm.
Don’t be surprised if the brand-name home security companies refuse to install a system unless you agree to pay them $35 to $75 a month to monitor it. A local company is more likely to install without demanding a monitoring fee.
It’s not easy keeping track of someone who doesn’t understand why it’s dangerous to be outside alone. Here’s hoping some of these solutions work well enough to make your days and nights a little easier.
What have you done to keep your family members safe from wandering?