Home Alone: After-School Tips for Kids & Parents
September 20, 2018
You are very alert to your child’s whereabouts but are they just as alert? It’s not until age 11 or 12 that most children begin to use logic, view the world around them, develop problem-solving skills and plan for the future according to French psychologist Jean Piaget’s 1952 findings. That being said, wanting to establish guidelines and plant safety seeds in their formidable heads is something to which we can all relate. Check out our top safety tips for kids who are home alone after school!
Recruit Help & Monitor Location 24/7
Whether it’s a ride home from school or someone to escort them home from the bus stop to the house, have a system for ensuring your children get from A to Z safely. If no one is available to assist in person, consider smartphone tracking using family networking apps such as Life360. You’ll know your child’s exact location and you can also allow for them to know yours. Additionally, your home security system can be configured to send you a photo text the moment your child unarms it.
Monitor All Online Activity
In a technology driven world, it’s wise to both monitor your child’s smartphone activity (Snapchat, Monkey, Tinder, etc.) as well as any web-based activity. Even their music choices can be telling but the primary area of caution is two-way communication with strangers online. There have been too many cases of criminals posing as innocent teenagers to risk it. As a standing rule, it’s probably best to prohibit all two-way communication while you are away.
PRO TIP: Just because you don’t see a specific app (one that you’ve already banned) on their phone doesn’t mean they aren’t using it. Keep a list of passwords and check the cloud to reinstall deleted apps.
Don’t Answer The Door (or the Phone)
Unless there is a planned visit from a familiar and trusted relative, friend or neighbor, it’s just not worth the risk. Keeping the doors locked and off limits when the kids are home alone is a simple precautionary measure to implement. If anyone other than immediate family calls, it’s probably best to not answer the phone either; if they do answer, be sure they know to never tell callers that they’re home alone!
Another way to go about expected or unexpected visitors to your home is Skybell™ Wireless Video Doorbell which combine secure, HD, wireless home security cameras and two-way communication at your front door. Implementing Skybell™ allows you to answer the door remotely and allow entry only to visitors you approve of while your kids are home.
As an added perk, you can see and speak to your kids when they arrive home from school without relying on them and their technology (raise your hand if your child’s smartphone battery is always dead at the least opportune times!). Added perk #2 – Skybell™ is connected to your security system. If you have smart door locks, you can let your kids in remotely when they’ve misplaced their house keys.
Keep Emergency Contacts Visible & Review Fire Escape Plans
Choosing one spot in the house to keep all emergency contacts and plans visible will save any unnecessary distress in case of emergency. Your children will know exactly who to call and where to find their numbers. In addition to memorizing and learning how to dial 911, it’s probably a good idea to help them commit at least one phone number to memory, likely yours. It’s also a good habit to practice your family emergency and fire escape plans twice per year (for easy scheduling, choose the first day of spring and fall when you change your smoke detectors and CO batteries). Lastly, teach them how to use a fire extinguisher.
PRO TIP: Program a handful of ICE (in case of emergency) contacts directly into their phones and consider downloading an app that allows them to quickly beacon for help, such as I’m Getting Kidnapped on Google Play (a free, non commercial product with no ads).
Secure Dangerous Items & Set Ground Rules
Weapons of any sort, prescriptions, matches/lighters, liquor and dangerous chemicals or anything that can pose an immediate harm to your children should be out of sight and locked up. Kids don’t always recognize potentially harmful items as dangerous so it’s best to omit the option. Depending on your child’s age and maturity level, you may make certain things off limits, such as cooking, baths or swimming in the pool, when you’re not there to supervise. Consider other household rules that are both appropriate for your family and necessary to keep your child safe while you are away. Type them out and post right next to your emergency contact list.
Embracing Technology That Can Help
We can’t emphasize technology enough! Utilizing tools such as Total Connect™, Lyric™ Controller Home Security System and Skybell™ Wireless Video Doorbell help take some of the pressure off you and your children. In addition to what they can do for your entire family’s safety, they automatically alert you via text or email when your child arrives home from school and keep the lines of communication open.