You sit back, relax, slip into a bathing suit, dip your toes into the pool, and . . . get robbed? That’s right. Growing temperatures usually mean one thing: growing crime rates. Recently, here have been a number of studies linking warm weather to murder, rape, and burglaries. It may seem far-fetched and unbelievable, but climate change might be both destroying our environment and upending our society.
Matthew Ranson, an environment economist at Abt Associates, a Cambridge-based public policy research and consulting firm, conducted extensive research linking social effects with rising temperatures. The predictions were shocking: warmer weather may lead to an additional 180,000 cases of rape, 22,000 murders, and 1.3 million burglaries in the United States alone.
How could such astonishing results stem from a few extra degrees of warmth? There are a number of possible reasons, and simplicity is one of them. Crime is easier in warmer weather-there are more potential victims out and about, more windows left open to let in a breeze, and more social interactions that could potentially turn to brawls.
Apart from the criminal convenience summer affords, there are also psychological factors at play when it comes to warm weather crimes. For instance, decades of research shows that pitchers are more likely to hit a batter in retaliation if the weather is warmer. Why? Because the majority of people become socially hostile and aggressive in heat.
Rising temperatures not only spike aggression, they also contribute to discomfort. Homeowners don’t like feeling uncomfortable and are generally more willing to open a window than crank up air conditioning. If you look at one group in particular, college aged females, you can see a rise in rape due to discomfort. How so? Female students are on a tight budget and aren’t willing to
spend money on utilities. The alternative? Open, easily-accessible windows.
If temperature skyrockets, and the crime rates in your city are quick to follow suit, there’s a simple solution that doesn’t have anything to do with cooling down. Read on to find out how you can combat the criminal convenience of summer.
There’s not much you can do about rising temperatures in your city, but there are things you can do at home to prevent burglaries and unwanted invaders. If you want to transform your home into a safe, secure sanctuary, here’s what you can do:
1. Buy an alarm system. Most alarm systems are affordable and easy to use. While most burglars shy away from invading houses with alarm systems, others assume homeowners don’t take the time to turn it on. If you buy an alarm system, have it professionally installed and use it daily.
2. Lock all windows and doors. It’s surprising how many burglars just walk into a house through an unlocked door or crawl in through a window. Keep all of your windows and doors secure-lock them when you leave and when you come home. Pay special attention to garage doors and windows, as well as upper story windows and doors leading out to decks and balconies, as many burglars are skilled in the art of wall scaling.
3. Leave lights on when you’re away. It may waste a bit of electricity, but leaving lights on might keep burglars at bay.
4. Keep the garage closed. An open garage lets passersby gauge just how wealthy you are. Help others avoid any temptation and keep your garage door closed at all times.
5. Keep valuables out of sight. If a stranger comes snooping and likes what he or she sees through the windows, you might be out of luck. Keep your valuables out of sight and you may avoid a burglary all together.
6. Use a deadbolt. Whether you’re away, home alone, or sleeping in a house full of people, you should use a deadbolt to prevent murders, burglaries, and rapes from happening. Deadbolts are an extra obstacle that usually sends burglars and criminals packing.
7. Plant obnoxious, thorny bushes. It may seem silly, but planting thorny bushes is a great way to keep criminals away. If you’re living in an apartment, house, or condo, noxious bushes will help you feel a bit safer (especially if you can’t help but open your windows to let in the breeze).
8. Add exterior lighting to your home. Take precaution and add lights to the outside of your home. Most exterior lights can be timed-time yours so that they light at sundown.
What if you’re afraid the weather can influence your behavior? If the weather is warm and you feel a bout of hot-headedness coming on in a social situation, here’s what you can do to avoid conflict, accidents, and tragedies.
- Stay calm and drink plenty of water. The number one thing you can do when an argument arises is to stay calm. Whether you are at a party or simply walking down the street, you never know when conflict will arise. If the heat is getting to you, walk away from the situation and get a drink of water. Water has balancing chemicals and will help your body adjust to heat.
- Don’t retaliate. Although spiking temperatures often lead to cases of retaliation, you don’t have to succumb to uncomfortable weather. If you are accused of something you didn’t do, don’t start calling others names in retaliation. Leave the situation immediately.
As heat rises, so does tension. This summer, stick to the pool and steer clear of the crime.