For decades, researchers and scientists have found links between high temperatures and high crime rates. Recent research, such as this Iowa State University study, notes that hotter days see much higher rates of violent crime and crime rates tend to rise with yearly temperature, particularly in highly populated areas.
For residents in dozens of states across the United States, that may mean trouble this week. Record highs are being set nationwide, and heat advisories or warnings have been issued in 23 states stretching from the Rockies to the Atlantic.
With this in mind, now is the perfect time to refresh on what you can do to keep you and your family safe from the increased incidences of crime that occur during heat waves.
According to a study from the National Institutes of Health and this University of British Columbia study, some of the types of violent crimes that often increase during hot weather include assault, robbery, burglary, and larceny-theft. Fortunately, a home security system and other safety measures can help protect you and your family from these types of crimes.
Here’s a short look at some steps you can take to stay safe from crime during the heat wave— and year round:
- 1. Get a basic wireless security system. The best defense against crime can involve simply being protected. A basic security system includes sensors on doors and windows to prevent break-ins, a control panel and monitoring to make sure someone is always watching out for you. If you live in an area that sees increased crime during hot weather, this could be the best step to make sure the heat wave does not lead to a crime wave in your neighborhood.
- 2. Be alert. If you see a potentially dangerous situation developing, just remove yourself from it. Research has found that part of what leads to increased crime during heat waves is increased frustration. When the weather is hot, people are more likely to overreact to a slight provocation or annoyance. If you feel that a situation is escalating, let everyone calm down and remain non-confrontational.
- 3. Add cameras to your system. Indoor and outdoor video cameras deter crime, help you see intruders coming, and help police catch criminals. In many cases, the same person or group of people commits multiple crimes during a heat wave. A video camera, if it fails to deter the criminal, can capture their image so that police can catch the person before he or she strikes again.
- 4. Use a panic button. Most security systems allow you to order a panic button for a relatively low cost. A portable panic button- that you can carry on a keychain or in a bag- can offer a great last line of defense. If your neighborhood is not normally at risk of violent crime, but becomes so during a heat wave, you may not be prepared if a criminal attacks; a panic button will allow you to immediately contact the monitoring station, who then contact the police on your behalf.
- 5. Know your neighborhood. Think back to the last heat wave in your area. If there was a noticeable rise in crime, there is a good chance it could happen again this time. Be prepared by knowing where the crimes are most likely to occur and, if possible, steer clear.
- 6. Use interactive monitoring. The more advanced home security systems give you a great deal of control over your system from remote locations. With features like remote locking and lighting, you can keep your home safe all day and have it ready for you when you pull into the driveway. If criminals are looking for empty houses during the heat wave, turning on your lights before you get home can be a great deterrent to protect your house.
Remember, there is no guarantee that high crime will follow high temperatures; a number of factors, including location, population and socioeconomic status may play a part in these trends. But when hot weather strikes, it’s better to be protected. Use these tips as a starting point to make sure that you and your family are safe this summer.