Security is about protecting the things in your life that are most precious — including your children. The number one priority for parents is keeping their kids safe.
However, you need their help to make it happen. Your child’s safety requires their active participation. Building this partnership with your children requires education and constant communication.
After all, you teach your kids to wear a helmet when they ride a bike, and tell them to look both ways before crossing the street — home security requires the same level of education. You have to provide them with sufficient information about the subject in order to empower them to protect themselves.
With that in mind, here are 10 tips you should share with your kids in order to promote strong home safety skills:
1. Secure the House
The first step in the process: Making sure the house remains secure. This involves actions like keeping doors and windows locked at all times. While this may sound boring to a child, you can help them understand the importance of remembering to take these actions.
Of course, kids can be unreliable about locking doors. You can take the uncertainty out of the procedure by installing smart locks, which allow you to lock and unlock them remotely.
2. Memorize Key Phone Numbers
Like most people, your kids probably rely on a smartphone for communication. For them, calling mom doesn’t mean dialing a number. It means using the contact marked “mom.”
This can cause problems in an emergency, if your kids have to use an alternative phone and don’t know your number. Make sure they have your number memorized, along with other emergency contacts (friends or family that can help in a pinch).
Meanwhile, drill the number “911” into your kids’ memories. You want them to know how to get in touch with emergency services if they need immediate help.
3. Have an Emergency Contact List
While we’re talking about emergency contacts, it’s a good idea to create a contingency list with multiple people. If your kids can’t get you, they should have a host of grandparents, or aunts and uncles, family friends, or neighbors they can reach out to.
You should also let them know the circumstances when it’s acceptable to call 911. For non-emergency situations, you can also post (or program into their phones) the phone numbers for police, doctors, or the fire department.
4. Understand How the Alarm System Works
An alarm system can be a useful tool to help keep your kids and home safe. However, to work properly, everyone has to understand how it functions and the best way to use its features.
You’ll need to show your kids how to operate everything, including arming and disarming the system.
A little time taken to show them how to operate the system will prevent future headaches. Your kids will be safer, and you’ll avoid things like false alarms or accidental service calls.
5. Don’t Advertise the Situation
Kids love to talk. Younger kids will happily chat with pretty much anyone, from friends and teachers to strangers in line at the grocery store. Meanwhile, older kids, especially as they move into their teen years, love social media.
This tendency to share everything with the outside world can compromise home safety. Teach your kids to keep certain information private — like their home address, or when they’ll be home alone.
6. Don’t Answer the Door
Generally speaking, you try to teach your kids to have good manners. You want them to avoid hurting people’s feelings or being rude.
When it comes to their safety, however, your kids need to know it’s acceptable to say, “no.”
You can start by telling them not to answer the door if you’re not home. They should know to ignore the doorbell, unless its someone they know, and you’ve already given permission to open the door for that particular visitor.
7. Use Cameras to Monitor the House
Concerns about unwanted visitors can be a source of worry for parents who leave their kids home alone. Luckily, modern security systems usually come with doorbell cameras, or other outside monitoring devices. Kids can check who’s there, without having to peek out a window or otherwise signal that they’re home.
Meanwhile, you can remain in control of the situation. You can tell your kids to ignore the door completely, and then monitor the camera yourself if someone rings. If you think it’s okay for your kids to open the door at that point, you can call them to let them know.
8. Security Within the Home
Don’t just protect your kids from outside dangers. Make sure they’re also safe from the potentially harmful items that can be found inside the house.
This includes things like medicine and cleaning products. Keep these locked away from smaller kids. Meanwhile, discuss the dangers as your children get older, making sure they know to stay away from those items.
If you have a pool, you should take special precautions at it presents a major temptation for kids. Keep the fence around your pool locked and teach proper pool safety from an early age.
9. Prepare for Certain Potential Scenarios
It can be tempting to avoid discussing scary scenarios, but kids appreciate honesty.
And, they need to know how to handle certain situations. It’s better to discuss them in the abstract, when people are calm, than to have your kids try to figure it out on their own while they’re scared and panicky.
Talk to your kids about potential situations they might find themselves in. Tell them how to react if one of them does wind up in a jam, and maybe even run through some drills to make sure they understand your instructions.
10. Have an Escape Plan
Think about the safety talk at the beginning of each airplane ride. The crew takes a moment to point out all the emergency exits on the plane. You’ll probably never have to use them. But a few seconds can save a life in the right situation.
Take that strategy into your own home. Your kids should know alternative escape routes if a worst-case scenario should occur (for example, a fire or a break-in). The precise plan will depend on the layout of your house. But make sure each room has an alternative escape (even through a window) and discuss the plans with your kids.
Author Bio:Heather Cowart is the Brand Manager for Brinks Home Security, one of the largest providers of home security and smart home systems in the U.S. Heather has a deep understanding of smart-home products and specializes in thoughtful design. She is passionate about developing personal customer experiences and educating others about home security.