By Betty Berry, Dec. 20, 2011

Q: It seems like there are more break-ins than ever. Do you have suggestions on how to make my home more secure?

A: I did some research on your question and was surprised to learn how lax many people are about their safety. I was told more than one-third of residential burglaries are not truly break-ins but entries through an unlocked windows or doors. For starters, use your locks.

You didn’t mention whether you live in an apartment or house, so some of these suggestions may be helpful to others but not to you.

All exterior doors, including doors into an attached garage, should have high-security deadbolts and keyed knob sets.

The exterior doors should be solid and door frames in good condition so doors fit snugly. If you can’t see outside from a nearby window, the door should have a peephole.

The movable panel on sliding doors — the slider — always should be on the inside so a bar can be placed in the track. A lock at the top of the door will add security.

Windows should have high-quality locks. Sliding windows, like sliding doors, should have bars in the tracks.

If you have just moved, if you lose a key or if your keys are in the possession of someone you don’t want to have access to your home, get your locks rekeyed.

Make sure you lock up securely every time you leave the house. While you are home, all outside doors should remain locked.

Never hide house keys in a mailbox, in a planter or under a doormat. Burglars know where to look.

Lighting discourages intruders. Make sure all entrance areas and yards are well-lit. Turn on these lights whether you are home or away.

Leave on several interior lights when out. Your home will look occupied.

Doors and windows should not be hidden by overgrown shrubbery. Prune it back and remove any tree limbs that would give an intruder access to second-story windows.

An added note: Many automobile thefts are made easy by people who leave windows open, doors unlocked and in many cases, the keys in the ignition. Always lock your car and take your keys with you, even when you are parked in your driveway.

Q: Many people must use electronically operated life support equipment. Does any program assist with this expense?

A: Yes. Southern California Edison has a Medical Baseline Allocation program.

The program may be available if someone in the home needs the regular use of electric life support equipment or has a qualifying illness. If the applicant qualifies, the portion of the household electricity used for the life support equipment will be billed at a lower rate.

To start the qualifying process, the patient and his or her doctor must complete a two-part application. Once the program is in place, the applicant must keep Edison informed of changes in type of equipment or number of hours it is in use.

Call Edison at the telephone number shown on your electric bill for more information.

Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362; phone 495-6250 or email (please include your telephone number). You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.

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