These days, especially with the economy being in the state that it is, many people are forced to do things that they might not have had to previously in order to make ends meet. One common scenario is that of the household with two parents forced to go to work at full time jobs, leaving the children home for a few hours or so at least by themselves after school. There’s always babysitters, daycare, or even some sort of after school program – but unfortunately many of these cost a lot of money themselves.
If your children (or at least one of them) is old and mature enough to stay home by themselves for a few hours after school, this may be your best option. The thought of them being home by themselves unsupervised might scare parents a bit initially, but with the proper precautions and rules in place, you can be virtually free of worry.
Keep Doors and Entry Ways Locked- One of the most likely places a burglar or criminal will try and enter your home is simply through the front or back door. Believe it or not, statistics show that the majority of home invasions are due to this simple oversight. Give your children (or the oldest and most responsible one) a key to the house which is their responsibility to keep track of and make sure that they have. Drill into them the importance of locking any doors that are opened behind them when they get home, and especially to secure windows and doors if they’re leaving the house for any reason whatsoever.
Home Security Cameras and Home Security Systems – Now that modern security camera systems nearly all feature the ability to view (and even control) them remotely, you can have the peace of mind of being able to verify that everything is alright at home at any time. Any computer with a browser will typically be able to access most home security camera systems, many of which even include the ability to pick up nearby audio. Even if you don’t work at a computer or at a place that you could get on one to check on things, most security camera providers have applications for your smart phone that can access your live streaming video from your security cameras in seconds.
Home Security cameras with motion sensors can even send you an alert to your phone or email if activity is picked up where there should be none. Outdoor security cameras can be useful for making sure nothing suspicious is going on outdoors, but what about indoors? You can pick up spy cameras for home which act as hidden security cameras if you want to be able to check in on your home discreetly, or put them in plain view to make their presence known – including the knowledge that you could check up from anywhere anytime!
No Opening Doors for Strangers- Another essential is to make sure that doors aren’t opened for strangers. This should be standard for any children when it comes to answering the door for any reason, but make sure they understand the importance of verifying the person at the door before opening it. Children’s minds typically aren’t going to be thinking about the negative consequences of opening the door since it seems like such a routine safe behavior to them, but when they’re home alone without an adult to ensure their safety it’s a different story altogether. Discuss and stress the importance of this to your children.
Something you can do to really help with this is a peephole on your front door. People in general are more likely to do and remember to do things when the task is simple, and having a peephole on the door makes the process of verifying who it is at the door a lot more simple. Have your children develop a habit of checking who’s at the door through the peephole at any time, even if you’re at home, so that this is something they would already do normally.
List of Emergency Contacts- An essential element that should be part of anyones home security is a list of emergency contacts in plain view, such as on the fridge or a dry erase board. This list should of course include all of the basics, including but limited to:
- The local police and/or emergency medical services. Generally this is covered under “911″ for those of us in the United States, but this may vary by location.
- The fire department
- Poison control
- The general and direct number to your place of work, in case you need to be contacted.
- Parents cell phone numbers
Nearby relatives or family friends
Along with the list of phone numbers, list any important or relevant information concerning each child’s medical issues, if any. Some children may have allergies or other problems that emergency services might need to be made aware of. You should also list your “relative” location as well as address – When phoning emergency numbers who might have to come to your home, names of nearby major roads, highways, etc. can be helpful, although your children might not know these details.
Go over this list with them and make sure they understand everything, especially relevant medical details.
Have Every-Day Tasks for Them to Complete After School – Not exactly a home security system in itself, but this works as assurance that the kids will be home on time right after school and have something to do to keep them out of trouble each day. Even if you trust your children completely, having a task at home to compete before you return home gives them incentive to get home at a decent time. A rotating schedule of simple chores, such as tidying up the bathroom, kitchen, or other rooms in the house for each child will give them something that won’t take a lot of time or effort to get done, but will provide the benefits proposed previously.
Let Nearby Family Members, Friends, and/or Neighbors Know – A trusted neighbor or nearby friend/family members can make a big difference. Let them know the times that you’ll be away from home, and ask sincerely to just keep an eye out for anything “suspicious” just in case. Most people are happy to help or even check in on your kids from time to time, especially they’re right next door. Give a copy of your emergency contacts to these people just in case, and let your own children know that in the case of an emergency they are there to help.
The thought of leaving your children home alone for the first time might be a little scary, but taking the proper precautions and having a plan in place with them will make you feel a lot more comfortable with the idea. Kids are smarter than adults give them credit for a lot of times, and most children will be fine by themselves for a few hours after school is out.