One of the hardest things about being a parent knows that you can’t be there for your kids all the time. There will inevitably be times when they will have to be home alone. And while you may not be there to take care of them, you can help them to take care of themselves.
Making sure your home is secure and that your kids know what to do in case of emergencies is of vital importance for your family’s safety and your own piece of mind.
So here are a few things you can do to make sure your kids are safe if they are home alone.
Ensure your Home is Safe and Secure
To keep your children safe when you’re not there, it’s important that your house is as safe as possible. To start with, all windows should be fitted with security screens and doors fitted with deadbolts. Make sure your kids can open the doors from the inside in case of emergencies.
Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are also vital in any home. These should be regularly checked and tested to ensure they’re working properly. However, an alarm is only as good as your response. So make sure your kids know what to do if the alarm goes off. Tell them when under what conditions they need to leave the house and give them a safe location to go to, like a trusted neighbour’s house. Also make sure they have the correct emergency numbers to call and ensure they know what to say to the operator.
A good home security system is also a great way to ensure your kids are safe at home. While the kids are inside, you can set the external sensors to send out an alert if there is any movement outside the house or any opening of the doors and windows. A good security system will even send you text or email alerts. This way you can contact the kids to make sure they aren’t messing around outside and setting off the sensors.
Home security cameras are also a great tool for checking in on the kids. With a home camera system, you can access the real time footage via a phone app and check in on the kids that way. Your cameras can also be set up with motion detectors. If motion is detected, your security system can send you an email or text alert. This can be useful if there are specific rooms you don’t want your children going into while they’re home alone.
Ensure your Backyard is Safe and Secure
Making sure your backyard is safe and secure can mean two things: 1) ensuring people can’t easily access your backyard and 2) ensuring your backyard is safe for your kids to play in.
The safest backyards are fenced off to prevent trespassers. Any backyard access via the side of the house should also be closed off with lockable gates. Sensor lights, fence sensors and motion cameras are great ways to ensure that you immediately know if someone is in your yard.
You should also ensure that there are no major injury risks around your backyard. Swimming pools should be fenced off with child proof fences and locks. Anything dangerous like power tools or hand tools should be locked away in tool sheds or tool boxes.
Anything in the backyard that could be a potential hazard should be made inaccessible for the kids. Ultimately, the safest option, however, is making sure your kids are safely inside.
Keeping Technology Safe
Any internet-enabled technology is a potential link to the outside world. While you may be able to monitor your kids’ internet browsing while you’re at home, when you’re out they can access what they want. It’s important to know how to limit their internet access while they’re home alone.
Learn how to use the parental controls on internet browsers, smartphones, game consoles, TVs and other devices.
And it’s especially important that you kids know not to talk to any strangers over the internet.
While it may just be simpler to cut off their internet access completely while you’re away, remember that it can also be a valuable line of communication and may be needed for emergencies.
Talk about what to do if a Stranger Comes to the Door
It’s important that your child knows exactly what to do if a stranger comes to the door.
Teach your child not to immediately open the door if the doorbell rings. Instead, they should look through a peep hole or nearby window to confirm the person’s identity.
You may want your child to call you before opening the door. This way you may be able to confirm if that person is there for a specific reason and allowed inside. Or you can simply tell the child to not open the door for anyone while you’re out.
You may want to teach your child a set phrase to say if you’re not home: something like “Mum and Dad are busy right now and can’t come to the door. You’ll have to come back later.” But make sure they don’t announce that they’re at home alone.
If you would like more control in this scenario, you can also use a digital or video doorbell. These are essentially internet-enabled intercom systems. When the doorbell is triggered, either by motion or someone pressing the button, a live feed can be sent to your phone. Using this live feed, you can see who is at the door. You can even speak to the visitor through the intercom so your child doesn’t have to interact with them at all.
Have things for Children to do
When children get bored they can get up to a lot of mischief. But if the kids have enough to keep them entertained they are less likely to get into trouble. Make sure they have plenty of fun and stimulating activities to keep them occupied while you’re out.
As your children get older, you can encourage their independence by letting them stay home alone for longer periods. Take advantage of traditional and modern security strategies to keep them safe when you’re not there. Remember, independence and responsibilities are important for children to learn. Just make sure they are properly equipped and prepared so they know what to do in case of emergency.