Who's got time for worry, and what's more reassuring than knowing all is OK at home when you can't be there? Year round is a busy time, but as we settle into back-to-school routines, we want to be sure our kids are safe before and after school – or anytime they are home alone. From our previous blog "Back to School Security Tips for Families," here are our top 10 security tips for keeping kids safe at home when you can't be there or on their way to and from school:
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- Identify a trusted neighbor or emergency contact for both you and your child. Keep contact information for school representatives handy along with the bus/transportation department.
- Teach your child to assess your home before entering after school. A torn screen, open door, or a broken window indicate a potential break in. Your child should not enter and should go to a safe neighbor to call you or the authorities.
- Enforce strict rules about answering the door and consider a doorbell camera. Even "bad" guys can look nice or impersonate professionals we should trust. Have children follow our tips for staying safe when strangers knock. Front door security cameras or a video doorbell can help you see who stopped by and even greet them via your smartphone.
- Have your child check in after school. Set a time for this check in to happen every day. Homeowners with wireless security installed and an alarm monitoring app can have notifications sent that show video of a child entering the home or when a door is opened or closed. Watch for a future blog, sharing how your home security system and mobile security app can alert you to trouble or confirm that all is well.
- Set a routine. It helps to maintain safety when everyone knows what to expect and what's normal. Outline the route home, time of arrival and check in plans. Have agreed upon snacks, chores, or homework rules plus downtime for them to relax safely after school. In the event of an emergency or a lost child, knowing the daily route and routine can help authorities.
- Discuss kitchen safety. Determine safe food options and make a plan for having healthy snacks available, within easy reach. Carefully consider the ages of your children before allowing heated snacks to be prepared.
- Plan for emergencies and any unforeseen situations. Keep emergency numbers by the phone, and make sure your children know your address and when to call 911. Discuss what to do during an emergency or unexpected event. Role play situations and outline steps they should take if a storm approaches, the power goes out, you are late getting home, etc.
- Review the route to school or bus stop plan. Team with other students and parents to map out the safest route and agree on rules for staying safe. Have your child carry your contact information. Avoid empty lots or alleys. Walk in pairs or groups. Know what to do if an adult approaches in a car or on foot. Don't wear headphones or play games while walking or riding. Bike helmets are a must, and a whistle can come in handy to attract attention if needed.
- Talk to your children about their responsibilities. Remind them that others will be watching out for them but they need to watch out for themselves too. Drivers can sometimes be distracted, so your child needs to stay alert and aware of surroundings. For example, make eye contact with drivers before crossing a crosswalk, and avoid headphones or playing on a device along the way.
- Encourage open communications. Make sure children know they can come to you or another trusted adult if something is wrong, from bus stop bullies to an unknown adult hanging around the neighborhood. If something doesn't feel right, let them know that their concerns are important and matter.
Use your Cell Phone and a Mobile Security App to Connect with Kids at Home
While your older children get used to their new freedom, they can still feel a little unsettled or anxious being alone. A monitored security and smart home system, with free mobile app and control from almost anywhere, can help. Knowing they have extra eyes and ears around if needed can reassure you and help children feel more secure while they adjust.
Providing independence with the added security of a wireless security camera and remote monitoring – backed by 24/7 alarm monitoring – also means you might be able to eliminate after-school care costs but still keep an eye on your child who is old enough to stay home. Be sure to check with your state on any laws and age requirements for leaving children at home and consider the maturity of your child.)
For less than a family dinner out each month, a smart home system will deliver invaluable peace of mind and convenience day after day. At Central Security Group, we wish you and your families a secure and happy fall.