Sometimes it’s impossible to be home with your kids, and you may not have the luxury to take them with you—whether school was cancelled due to inclement weather, you need to attend a work meeting, or any number of other reasons. Many parents often worry about leaving their children at home alone, but fortunately there are plenty of ways to make sure your children are safe when you’re not at home.
First, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s generally not recommended to leave children under 10 years old home alone. In these cases, a babysitter or relative is a much better option if at all possible. While leaving your younger children with a family member they know and trust is ideal, there are plenty of ways to find reliable sitters—from word of mouth to websites such as Care.com, and local sitter services with good reviews in the area. If you think your child(ren) is ready to stay home by themselves, the tips below can help ensure their safety and relieve your anxiety.
1) Set Some Ground Rules
Giving your children free reign over your house without adult supervision can be a recipe for disaster. Setting rules to follow is key to ensuring your children are safe and stay out of trouble while you’re away. The rules you set should be clear, simple, and easy for your children to follow so they know what is and is not okay to do while you’re away.
Answering the Phone & Door
Telling your children not to open the doors under any circumstance is generally best practice for maximum safety. While you could have them learn a script to tell people, it’s better to keep them removed from any scenarios that could potentially put them in danger. Similarly, it’s a good idea to have your children ignore any phone calls while you’re out if you have a home phone to prevent any chances of them accidentally letting the caller know that they’re home alone.
Limit Electronics Use
If you don’t want your kids spending the entire time you’re away playing with electronics (computers, phones, tablets, TV, etc.), it’s important to set some limits. It can be temping to waste away hours on electronics instead of being productive—especially for children—so limiting screen time can be a good idea. You can use parental controls across most devices to ensure they stay within their designated usage limits.
If your kid(s) aren’t used to cooking on the stove or with the oven, you may want to make them off-limits while you’re away. Instead, you may want to leave some easy meals for them to microwave, or sandwich ingredients and easy snack foods such as chips (or veggie sticks and similar to promote a healthier diet). If you plan far enough in advance, you may have time to make them a meal and leave it for them to microwave or order delivery and have it delivered before you have to depart. However, it’s not the best idea to allow them to order delivery on their own (unless they’re older and you’re comfortable with that option).
Keep Doors & Windows Locked
It’s important to check that all of your doors and windows are locked before you leave. Additionally, it’s important to ensure your kids know that they need to keep the doors and windows locked at all times to ensure an intruder can’t easily enter.
2) Child-Proof Your Home
Take some time to ensure dangerous chemicals and items are out of reach of your children. Lock up any chemicals and poisons you may have in your home, garage, yard, and/or shed to ensure your youngsters don’t accidentally stumble across them. This applies to medications and alcohol as well—be sure to keep these substances locked up tight.
Similarly, if you have any guns around your home, ensure they’re unloaded and the the guns and ammo are locked away safely in containers that your children can’t access.
If you have guns, be sure they are locked up securely and that the ammunition is likewise secured in a separate location. Put a lock on the liquor cabinet, and secure all medications in a secure, tamper-proof manner. If your medicine cabinet doesn’t come with a lock, you can add one or invest in a lockbox to keep dangerous pills out of little hands.
3) Create a Safety Plan
Setting guidelines (as outlined above) and child-proofing your home can help reduce the chances of problems while you’re away, but it’s important to create a contingency plan in case an emergency arises. Your children’s safety and wellbeing is paramount, so having a comprehensive plan in place can bring you peace of mind.
Be sure to leave a fully-stocked first aid kit, and ensure your children know how to use it. Additionally, leave a list of emergency contact numbers—be sure to include the numbers for the police and poison control, along with trusted family, friends, and neighbors.
Ensure your children know what to do in case of any type of emergency. Include safety plans for fires, tornadoes, earthquakes (if in an area where earthquakes occur), and other natural disasters.
Practice safety drills with your children to ensure they understand what they need to do, and let the people on your emergency contact list know when you’ll be leaving to keep them in the loop.
4) Load Up On Essentials
Stock up on essentials to ensure your children have everything they need while you’re away. Be sure there’s plenty of healthy snacks in case anyone gets hungry. Also ensure there’s plenty of toilet paper, paper towels, and other essentials on hand.
Leave flashlights in an easy-to-access area in case a power-outage occurs while you’re away. Even if the weather forecast looks clear, you never know when power loss may happen—it’s better to ensure your children can easily access flashlights if such a scenario occurs.
And, of equal importance: leave the correct dosage(s) of medicine(s) for you children, and make sure they know who needs to take what, when. Be sure to leave exact dosages instead of leaving bottles out to reduce the risk of accidental overdoses.
5) Use Your Security System
An extra layer of security can bring you peace of mind—especially if you often find yourself away when your children are out of school and extracurricular activities. Modern home security systems can help keep your children safe by monitoring doors and windows for unexpected breaches, scaring away would-be intruders, and alerting you and the authorities as needed.
In addition, you can equip your security system with CCTV video surveillance, and you can access the stream 24/7 from phone or any device with an internet connection—no matter where you are. Being able to check on your children at any time can be a massive relief, so it’s worth considering if you know you’ll be needing to leave your children home alone.
If you’re considering installing or upgrading a home security system for your home in East Texas, 3D Security, Inc. is here to help. We have over 30 years of experience with installing, upgrading, and integrating security systems for homes and businesses of all types and sizes. Contact us to discuss your needs and goals, and we’ll work with you to create and install the perfect security system.