Receiving the keys to a new home is always a special occasion, and it should herald the beginning of a new chapter in life where the focus switches to living in comfort and safety. In Hong Kong, residents need to consider how to protect their home from intruders and also from the elements, so here we offer some top tips on the best ways to safeguard your home and family.
Incidents of home robbery and burglary in Hong Kong have fallen sharply in recent years, from a peak of 9,076 in 2002, to 4,214 in 2012. Advances in technology and home security systems have made a significant contribution to home safety, and there are a wide selection of options available to those seeking to improve their home security.
One of the easiest ways to help protect the home is to invest in new door locks. Some apartments in Hong Kong are fitted with a double front door - one outer door with the actual front door located just behind - and both can be fitted with new double or triple locking systems. Those with young kids might be wary about making simple things like opening the door too complicated, but some of these systems are very easy to manage. Locks can also be added to windows to prevent them from being opened from the outside, and are an important addition to security, particularly when the homeowner is away on business or on holiday.
Installing an alarm system can help supplement the effectiveness of new locks. Depending on the size and nature of the residence, alarm systems can be designed to help provide complete home security. The most basic alarm system will generally incorporate sensors for all entry points into the home that when activated will sound an alarm. The engineers installing such a system will often ask the homeowner to create a personal identification number (PIN) which they can enter to both arm or disable the system. Depending on the supplier, the alarm system can also be directly connected to a control center, which will contact the police when the alarm has been raised. Having such an alarm helps provide the homeowner with reassurance that their home is protected, while also helping them practice good safety precautions by ensuring doors and windows are locked for the alarm to function correctly.
Most apartment complexes use an intercom system to prevent ordinary members of the public from gaining entry to the building. For those living without an intercom, these devices can easily be bought and installed from a number of security companies in the city. An intercom system requests visitors to contact the apartment from outside, and once the resident has confirmed the identity of the caller, they can then permit them to enter. Intercoms range from simple “buzz and enter” devices to more complex systems that can include video imaging, CCTV, speech recognition or even fingerprint or retina scans.
One of the more traditional ways to provide security for the home is to buy a dog. Dogs are fantastic at sensing and detecting movement, and should they meet an unwelcome intruder, they are quick to start barking to raise the alarm. Another positive regarding dogs is that having a large dog, such as a Doberman or Rottweiler, is unnecessary - small and noisy dogs are just as effective at deterring burglars. Additional tips for keeping intruders out are to always lock the doors when leaving the home, put the lights on when out at night time, and to be cautious of allowing salesmen or people seeking assistance into the home without properly checking ID first.
Hong Kong’s humid climate, frequent summer typhoons and occasionally violent thunderstorms create additional problems when thinking about protecting the home. As the city generally experiences humid weather from spring through to autumn, and storms with high winds and heavy rains, homes need to be properly maintained to avoid damaging their structure and interior.
There are a number of visual indicators of increased humidity inside the home, such as mold stains appearing on walls and ceilings, the development of a musty or stale odor, wooden floors beginning to cup, increasing numbers of mosquitos and other insects inside the home, and wallpaper or paint starting to peel and blister. While air conditioning units are commonly used during the hot summer months to keep apartments cool, they are not as effective at keeping the building itself adequately ventilated.
Interior design experts suggest using portable or ceiling fans and dehumidifiers as an alternative to air conditioning. Fans will help circulate air around the apartment, while dehumidifiers will help reduce the moisture content of the air and bring a fresher feel to the apartment’s interior. During really hot and humid summer months, it is advisable to keep windows and doors closed during the day, but open at night. As temperatures cool down at night, or after a heavy period of rain, opening windows to allow a simple cross breeze to blow through the building from outside will help to keep the home properly ventilated.
The typhoon season in Hong Kong is traditionally from May to October, and each year a number of serious typhoons and tropical storms hit the city. Heavy rain and winds affect public transport and often cause flooding and other structural damage. Those living in apartments can help protect themselves during a typhoon by applying some heavy shutters or metal wiring over windows. Shutters will block wind and debris from striking the windows, while wiring is said to protect windows from strong winds better than tarps or similar covers by allowing some wind to pass through the structure without damaging it. Tarps will typically tear apart or be blown away during very strong winds.
Items from balconies should also be brought indoors for extra safety, or if they are permanent fixtures they should have additional ties placed on them. Once the typhoon does occur, windows should have towels or other seals applied to prevent rain damage, and electrical appliances should be turned off and unplugged. Homeowners are also advised to remain indoors and keep themselves as safe as possible, regardless of what is happening outside.
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