Apartment Safety: Using the Intercom

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Apartment Safety: Using the Intercom

Staff Writer · Sep 2, 2009

Consistently using your apartment’s intercom is one of the best ways to improve apartment safety. Understanding how intercoms work, and how to best use them to control who comes into your building, should be a top priority.

Use of Intercoms for Apartment Safety

Identifying visitors to the building is the primary use of an intercom. It allows you to speak to whoever is trying to gain access before they enter the building. Ensuring that everyone in your building uses the intercom system benefits you all.

A key to avoiding dangerous situations in apartment buildings is controlling who enters your building. Ideally, entry should be limited to occupants, friends and family members, maintenance staff, service personnel and mail and package delivery services. In short, if someone doesn’t have a valid reason to enter your building, don’t let them in.

Tips for Using an Intercom

Among the first things you should do when renting an apartment is test the intercom and buzzer. Check to see that the buzzer outside the front door sounds in your apartment when someone presses it. When pressing the buttons on the intercom, the person on the other end should be clearly audible; and they should be able to hear you, too. Test the button that unlocks the front door. If any of these items is malfunctioning, have your landlord commit to fixing them, in writing, before signing the lease.

After moving in, establish a plan for using the intercom to screen visitors. Your plan should include checking the front door area to see if there is a safe way to verify the identity of someone you’re unsure of. Many buildings have glass doors or windows which allow you to see who is standing outside your front door. If possible, find a way to view the person outside without letting them see you. Criminals sometimes ring buzzers to determine which apartment you live in. This allows them to monitor your movements so that they can return when you’re away to break into your apartment.

Each time you answer the buzzer, ask who is there before buzzing them in. Make a habit of doing this even when you’re expecting someone. Never assume that you know who is ringing your buzzer. If the person at the other end asks who you are, don’t tell them. They should know who you are, if they have a legitimate reason to ring your buzzer. Respond by asking them who they are looking for. If they can’t prove that they know you and that you should know them, refuse to let them in.

Never let anyone in because they say that they’re visiting another apartment. Instruct them to buzz the other apartment. If they claim that the other buzzer isn’t working, call or knock on that apartment’s door to alert them of a visitor. Even when visitors identify themselves as being from a legitimate delivery company, don’t believe them unless you can see the delivery truck from your window. If not, go to the front door to see who is there. By remembering to use the intercom to screen visitors, you can keep strangers out of your building and greatly enhance your safety.

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