Photo: Getty Images / Composite by VICE Staff
My apartment feels a little bit… um, scarier after binging a few episodes of Ryan Murphy’s new series The Watcher, a series based on the true story of a family terrorized by menacing letters in the quaint, upper-middle class town of Westfield, New Jersey. Why, as a single woman living alone, would I ever do such a thing—especially right before bed? The answer: Because I’m a masochist and love to spur my own worst fears, just for the hell of it. On the positive side, all the time I spent lying awake did get me thinking about all the ways I can take action against intruders, the boogeyman, my own intrusive thoughts, etc.
My paranoia led to some pretty thorough research and discovering effective solutions on how to safeguard your abode—especially if you live alone (or, you know, find that your true crime addiction has you waking up all hours at the slightest hiss of the radiator) . I’ve found all the extra reinforcement you could ever need for serious peace of mind—because you want to be able to talk about Dahmer with everyone on Slack AND get a restful night’s sleep. Here are the best affordable home security options and gadgets (short of a whole rig and subscription), especially for those living alone.
Door and window locks > Kevin’s Home Alone security system
One scene in The Watcher, without giving anything away, introduced me to the miraculously simple solution of a door security bar. It’s basically a super sturdy steel post that you leverage against any kind of door—hinged, patio, and even sliding doors—to prevent forced entry. This one from Master Lock is also adjustable, so you don’t have to worry about the fit, and you can stash one in the car if you’re on a road trip. Master Lock also makes an alarmed version that will go off if the knob is so much as touched. If you happen to have a hinged door that swings inward, there’s an even easier solution that installs by simply closing it in the door.
$24.48 at Amazon
$27.99 at Amazon
If you live on the first floor of your building, or have a fire escape outside your window, you might want to add an extra layer of security to prevent the windows from being jimmied open. These aluminum window safety locks screw onto the track of the window and prevent the window from being wedged open from the outside. They’re also a great option if you have kids or pets, to prevent them from opening a window too wide and potentially falling out.
$10.99 at Amazon
Smart systems and cameras
It’s kind of a no-brainer at this point to have in-home cameras and smart systems if you’re concerned about security. Let’s be honest: We’re surrounded by cameras when we’re out and about in the world, and if almost everywhere else is monitored on some level, why not have your own security system to ward off weirdos and capture anything sus happening while you ‘re not around? Both Blink and Google make easy-to-install video doorbells that will alert you to all of the comings and goings outside your home.
$179.99$164.99 at Amazon
$49.99 at Amazon
The idea of spare keys can be tricky when living alone. Hiding a key under the doormat feels like you’re asking for trouble, and you can’t always reach even the most reliable friends. You can install a Wi-Fi enabled smart lock in about 10 minutes, and it will allow you an extra layer of security and the ability to unlock your deadbolt with your smartphone. August’s smart locks fit perfectly over most single cylinder deadbolts, and can be set to automatically lock after you enter the house so you never have to go back and make sure.
Alarms and panic button
OK, maybe the term “panic button” seems a little intense, recalling images of a similarly named 2002 thriller starring Jodie Foster, Jared Leto and a young Kristen Stewart, but there are a ton of devices out there to scare off creeps and intruders. Maybe you’ve heard of Birdie, the personal alarm keychain that emits a piercing siren and bright strobe to ward off attackers and draw attention for help. It’s a simple, yet effective way to keep yourself safe while coming home late—or, really any time at all.
$29.95 at Amazon
A flashlight for your bedside table is never a bad idea, and one with a built-in stun gun is an excellent ideas. First of all, you’ll be able to see in the dark, secondly, they’ll never suspect it’s a defensive weapon.
$13.99 at Amazon
Last but not least is a pretty bananas 5-in-1 smart pepper spray that not only sprays up to 10 feet, but also sprays a red dye at the perp, while emitting a siren and strobe light alarm, all while simultaneously sending text messages and phone calls to selected contacts with your GPS location. If you want even more security, you can subscribe to a monthly app that will alert a professional monitoring service who will alert the authorities.
$54.95 at Amazon
Sleep tight, all you paranoid horror junkies.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.