With the economic recession obligating more and more parents to go back to work in order to care for their family, an increasing number of children are being left alone at home for extended periods of time. While it is good to train and to trust your children to act responsibly, it is always beneficial to remind them of what to do to keep themselves safe when they are alone at home. Take advantage of the holiday season to talk to your children about the basics of home security and safety precautions.
1. Most importantly, make sure that your child is mature enough to be left at home without supervision. There are differing views on the age at which children are old enough, but it all depends on your personal judgment of their maturity and responsibility. There may also be laws in your area that mandate a minimum age for children to be left alone.
2. The old adage, “Don’t talk to strangers”, still goes a long way in keeping your children safe. Tell your child not to answer the door if a stranger knocks. Even if it is someone they know, still don’t answer the door; have your child tell that person to call you.
3. In the United States, home appliance fires account for an estimated 9,600 fires and $211 million in damages per year. Out of those nearly ten thousand fires, most were caused by accidents with the oven or stove. Keep your children safe by preparing meals for them in advance, rather than having them run the risk of a serious accident.
4. If your child needs a key to enter the house, do not leave it under the mat or a rock near the front door. Those are the first two places a criminal will look for it. Rather, put the key on a chain and have your child wear it hidden under their shirt or keep it secret on their person.
5. Leave lights on around the house, whether your child is at the house or will be later. Even just one lighted lamp in a bedroom can make the house appear occupied, a fact that is a known deterrent against home invasions.
6. Keep a first aid kit readily available in the house, and make sure your child knows exactly where to find it. This is good for general knowledge, whether or not you are there. It also ensures that they will be able to help themselves in the event of a minor injury when they are alone, keeping them safe inside the house.
7. Having a quality home security system is extremely beneficial in both keeping your children safe and giving you peace of mind. There are advanced alarm systems available that can give you the ability to watch video from cameras in your house, view activity and system logs, and arm or disarm your security system: all accessible on your smartphone.
You may have a whole host of obligations during this holiday season, but you can make safety and responsibility a priority by talking with your children about home security for just a few minutes. By doing so, you will ensure that they are well-equipped to take care of themselves at home as you care for your family at work.