A Military Spouse Should Know How to Safely Manage the Home
The inevitable is coming. My husband is getting ready for another deployment and now it’s time to prepare. The internet is swamped with general suggestions that every military spouse should know before their spouse goes dark. However, for this article, I’m sharing specifically on things regarding home security and safety.
Home safety tips to use during deployment
These are all lessons that I have acquired through experience from my husband’s previous tours. By sharing these tips, I hope to help other spouses have perspective, especially while their significant other is deployed. Continue reading to learn more.
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What does “going dark” mean?
For the sake of clarity, let me first define what I mean when I say, “My husband is about to go dark.” I use this term when he is on active duty in the field and unable to have a civilian contact him for normal communication.
There are many reasons active duty soldiers are required to go dark, including confidentiality.
While I feel that all people should know the pre-deployment tips I share below, they are often used as afterthoughts. Even though faith and perseverance can help you overcome all obstacles, it’s still nice to know these key things in advance.
So without further ado, I’m going to share 7 things that helped me during my spouse’s previous deployments.
1. Understand every shut-off valve around your house
In case of an emergency, you should know how to turn off your house’s water, gas, and electricity.
During an incident, every second is crucial.
Learning the locations of your utility shut-off valves and breaker box will save time. It’s also a good idea to tag them for easy identification.
2. How to check your perimeter
Checking the perimeter of your home is part of regular diligence; however many military spouses forget to do this while their significant other’s are away.
Even if you decide to hire a service to cover the maintenance of your home, you should always keep an extra eye out for yourself.
Look around the foundation of your home for cracks or pooling water after it rains. Be mindful of ant piles and other bugs. If you see a potential problem, address it right away so it won’t turn into a headache later.
Every military spouse should know how to check the perimeter of their homes.
This is not only for hazards but also to keep the house in good appearance. We’re not talking about vanity, were discussing how to make your home appear as if your spouse was still there.
Weeds and discarded newspapers signal to outsiders, and so do vehicles that never change spots. People notice these things.
Keep watch of your surroundings.
3. How to have situational awareness
I understand that dealing with the kids alone is challenging.
Furthermore, I don’t want to cause a level of paranoia.
But, situational awareness around their home is crucial.
This means different things to different people. Here are a few examples of what situational awareness, in regards to my home, means to me:
- Nothing on the outside of my doorway can be used as a weapon (forgotten umbrella, large rock, etc.)
- My blinds are closed facing up, not down. (It’s much easier for me to take a peak out, then a person to peak in.)
- I do a quick assessment of my car’s tires before leaving.
- I review my pool area for snakes or spiders.
- The space under the beds is always clear.
- I keep door stoppers on all doors and closets. (Very noticeable if moved.)
- Additionally, I scan the corners of each room I enter.
4. How to maintain your pool
Sure, you may have a pool person already, but what if something happens before the next scheduled service?
Do you understand the basic functions of your pool pump?
Would you be able to vacuum the bottom if something fell in?
Being involved in your pool’s maintenance can make a world of difference to its longevity.
5. Your vehicle’s current warranty
If there is a mechanical issue while you’re spouse is away, you want to be informed about the potential costs. Additionally, have an understanding of any roadside assistance perks or insurance deductibles.
Additionally, it’s good to make a plan ahead of time. In case you could not get a hold of your spouse, is there a dollar limit for repairs? If you were left as the sole decision maker, what would be your course of action?
6. How to call the Red Cross
In the event of a life-changing emergency, you may have to contact the Red Cross to patch you through to your spouse.
Take note, that sometimes, the best you can do is leave a message and wait for a callback.
Before deploying, every soldier is provided with a contact location that they can share with their loved ones.
When you contact the Red Cross, be prepared to give this location as well as your soldier’s full name, social, relationship to you, and rank. This article from the Red Cross is super helpful with complete details.
7. How to share your whereabouts
The biggest mistake a spouse can do is improperly sharing their whereabouts with others.
For instance, Facebook is NOT a place you want to share your location statuses. I can think of no valid reason to be so transparent with such a large number of people.
Be diligent about protecting your privacy.
Keep in mind that sharing your location also happens accidentally. It could be as simple as posting a photo on Instagram with geolocation services. A friend may tag you in a meet up… and so on.
It may seem insignificant, but what you post online matters.
Never share publically that you are alone. Also, never lead others to believe that you and your spouse are separated. Commenting “I miss you”, or “They’ll be home soon”, or any version of the same will signal to others that your spouse is away.
The right way to share your location:
When your spouse is deployed, it’s good to give a daily heads up to one or two trusted people. Offline and via private phone or text messages is best. Every morning, I tell my mother where I plan to go for the day, just so she can have an idea. My husband’s mother also visits often to make sure I’m safe.
Keep one trusted person as your safe daily contact.
When your spouse is out of reach because of their deployment, you will need to depend on others to share in your well being.
Things a military spouse should know
This article breezed so quickly and I feel that I’ve only scratched the surface. While it’s true that we miss our spouses when they are away, it’s also a time that we grow.
Are there any other things that a military spouse should know? Leave a comment below and start a discussion.
Until next time, when your hands are full, live your life to the fullest.