What do you do when there’s a knock at the door, or your doorbell rings? If you head to the door and open it without much thought, then it’s time to rethink your routine. Dangers can lurk on your doorstep, and a healthy dose of skepticism can help you keep a solid door between you and a potentially bad situation.
Whether you’re expecting a repairman from the electric company, or a person arrives at your front door randomly, remember there are risks involved when it comes to opening the door of your home to someone. A burglar could be checking to see if you are home, or a supposed salesman could actually be there to case your home for a break-in attempt.
But there are ways to safeguard your home and your family when it comes to answering the front door. By learning some simple tips, and teaching them to your kids, you can minimize the risks to your home and family.
Read these nine tips on things you should never do when answering your front door. And remember to teach your children these same lessons, for when they are home with an adult, or home alone.
When there’s a knock or ring of the doorbell, you should NEVER:
- NEVER: Open the door without asking who is there
When you get a phone call from an unknown number, chances are you immediately ask who is calling when you pick up. When a knock comes at the door, immediately asking the question, “who is this?” should be no different.
Before opening the door, ask the person to identify him or herself. If they are at your house for good reason, they’ll quickly be able to tell you who they are and why they’ve come.
- NEVER: Open the door before visually confirming who is there
Your next line of defense is to look through a peephole or out a window to see if the person is who they say they are. It’s Bob from down the street? Take a peek and make sure. It’s a flower deliveryman? Look outside to see if he’s wearing a uniform, has an identification badge, and if there is a labeled delivery truck in your driveway.
There are also steps to take when you don’t know what someone looks like who you are expecting at your house. See step 4 for more information.
- NEVER: Open the door without first looking with the chain lock on
After you’ve looked out the peephole or window to visually confirm who is there, don’t just fling the door open. Your next move should be to keep the chain link on and also take a look.
Looking with the chain on gives you a better vantage point to see if perhaps someone else is on your doorstep whom you couldn’t see, and allows you to do things like check an identification badge while still having the protection of a chain-locked door.
- NEVER: Take a worker’s word for it
If someone arrives at your door to fix your cable or an electrical meter, deliver a package that needs to be signed for, or even sell you a new vacuum cleaner, don’t take their word that they are who they say they are.
The worker should be able to easily produce an ID badge, with a photo, that confirms who they are. You can also call the company the person says they represent, and talk to someone who can confirm the identity of the person at the door.
If a worker gives you a hard time about checking their ID or calling their supervisor, or tells you they don’t have time and what they need to do will just take a second, beware. A legitimate worker will want to make sure you have all the information you need and are comfortable before entering your home.
- NEVER: Forget to use your camera phone to identify who is there
Also remember that technology is on your side. With the door closed or chain lock on, snap a picture of the worker standing at your door. Then email or text the photo to the person you are talking to at the company who can confirm the worker’s identity.
That way, you know not only that someone from the cleaners was supposed to come to your house, but that the man or woman standing on your stoop is that person.
- NEVER: Not reschedule an appointment if you’re unsure of the worker
If you’re unsure of the worker, or they fail to produce identification, don’t feel bad and think you’re wasting their time or yours. Reschedule the appointment, delivery, or work that is supposed to be done.
- NEVER: Ignore your gut feelings and open the door because you don’t want to be rude
Whatever you do, don’t open the door because you fear being rude. Sure, someone might have a friendly face and a big smile, but you never know what their motives are and who they really are unless you do your due diligence.
Go with your gut. You have a great intuition, so use it when it comes to opening the door.
- NEVER: Store weapons out of reach or far from the door
A weapon down the hall in the kitchen, or upstairs in a bedroom isn’t going to be much help to you if the worst happens at the door. Keep something you could use as a weapon near the door, such as a baseball bat or golf club.
- NEVER: Teach your children it’s okay to open the door whenever someone knocks
Now that you know how to keep yourself safe when someone knocks on your door, make sure your children do too. Children can be very trusting of others, and it’s important to share with them the proper protocol for answering the door. If an adult is home when the doorbell rings, tell the child to always alert that adult before opening the door.
Also teach children the above steps to take for when they are home alone. Or, teach them not to open the door to anyone, depending on your child’s age. Make it a game and practice different scenarios for who they might encounter at the door, and what they should do and say.
Want more tips on keeping your kids safe? Read seven tips to keep your child from becoming a statistic.