We find ourselves on the road on a regular basis (check out our Traveling Armed series). Staying in hotel rooms just becomes a fact of life. The rooms and locations themselves have spanned the spectrum from flophouse to fantastic, but the vast majority of them fall right in the middle. At home you might have cameras, a sophisticated alarm system, and a fur missile or two in your onion of security. But on the road? Not so much. Today we’ll go over some simple tips to increase security in even the worst rooms without having to resort to a rotating firewatch.
Choosing a Room
As long as you’re in a place with interior hallways (otherwise it’s called a motel), higher floors are less likely to be broken into. Most fire ladders will be able to reach up to the fifth floor, so ideally you’re between floors two and five. A room by the elevator has more traffic going by and is a less desirable target, whereas a room right by the fire stairs gives a criminal quick egress.
Check the Fire Evacuation Plan
It’s right on the back door. Not only does it tell you how to get out in case of a fire or other emergency, it literally maps out all alternate exits.Examine all Door and Window Locking Hardware
..and if any of it isn’t up to snuff, ask for a different room.
Cover your Peephole
It sounds dumb at first, but it’s not. Peephole reversers are available publicly, and you may recall the case of Erin Andrews being recorded through one (she was recently awarded a $55 million dollar settlement). A band-aid works perfectly for this because it’s cheap and easy to peel back and reattach.
Do Not Disturb
Keep that sign up all the time. If you need the room cleaned or require towels, just call down to the desk. Keeping a television or radio on when you’re gone will also give the impression of occupancy–and besides, you’re not paying the electric bill.
Extra Door Security
No door is impenetrable. What you’re really giving yourself with an additional layer of security is extra time or notice. While there are numerous specialized products on the market like doorknob alarms etc, these are all very inexpensive and some can be done on the fly with contents from a dollar store. Also, even if someone has a key to the room, it’s going to make their job a bit harder. Bear in mind that some of these methods may violate local fire codes.
A $3 hard wedge is easy to pack and works really well.
-Stick a Fork in It
This one takes a little explanation. All you need is a dinner fork. Cut the head off or just bend it back and forth until it snaps off. Bend the tines as shown, ensuring they aren’t deeper than the latch hole. And well, just look here:
This video goes more in-depth. All this can be accomplished with a multi-tool, though obviously a vice, hammer, and saw makes everything a bit faster.
-Zip Ties and a Carabiner
Many of life’s problems can be solved with zip ties. The carabiner goes around the bolt latch, and then it’s secured to the door handle. The handle in this case does not move in the upward position so it keeps everything in place. The second zip tie acts as a stop for the main loop. The carabiner itself is very easy to remove in the case of an emergency.
Which kinda goes without saying…
We know we haven’t covered all possible methods in this short piece. How do you do it when you’re away from home?