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Home Alone: A lesson in home security as kids head back to school

It’s that time of year when children will be returning to school to enhance their education.

They will learn about everything from ancient history to modern day technology, but will they be as versed in the importance of good home security practices?

This is where parents have to take control and teach their children crucial, lifesaving habits particularly when their youngsters are entering and exiting an empty home.

Most children today are coming home to an empty house at the end of their school day. As a matter of fact, many latch-key kids have to lock up and leave their home early in the morning when heading off to school.

With both parents working, kids have developed a much greater sense of responsibility for not only keeping their home safe but themselves safe as well.

But parents need to realize they are still children and can easily be influenced by the bad guys. So how do we prevent this from happening?

The most effective way is to keep a good open relationship with your youngsters. Teach them about the dangers of the outside world without scaring them, because the last thing you want is a child who’s nervous to stay home alone.

You need to focus on what they need to do to stay safe as opposed to what will happen if they don’t. For instance, make sure your children get into the habit of always locking the door when they enter and exit.

Never hide a key in the garden area, under the mat or under a favourite outside flower pot. Guaranteed these are the first places a crook will look.

Keep in mind there may be covert eyes watching where your child hides the key and that could lead to a dangerous situation when your child is home alone.

Make sure Junior always carries the key in a safe place – safety pinned inside their jacket or perhaps left with a trusted neighbour.

Don’t allow your child to bring home friends when you’re not there because you don’t know how security conscious their buddies are. The last thing you need is somebody in your home who’s leaving doors and windows open when you’re not there.

Always leave a radio on as well as a couple of lights to give the illusion of security. Also leave a pair of size-12 men’s work boots on the doorstep to help ward off potential intruders.

Also make arrangements with a neighbour to park their vehicle in your driveway while you and your spouse are at work. This will further give the illusion of adults at home.

It’s always a good idea to have your child phone you when they have arrived home from school safely. And if they don’t have a cellphone, make sure you purchase one for them. I’m a huge advocate of children owning cellphones for safety reasons.

Always have a list of emergency numbers handy. This includes everything from 911 to family members and friends.

Sometimes children can be easily distracted or forget to lock the doors they walk through, so make small signs reminding your children to lock up and post them on the interior of all exterior locking doors.

If you feel you have a lot of duplicate keys floating around, make sure you rekey your locks before your children go back to school. The last thing your child needs is an unexpected visitor while home alone.

In the event your children have to call the police, make sure your house numbers are large and visible. Remember there’s always safety in large numbers.

And, of course, make sure your children know how to lock and unlock all your locks. Locks should be of good quality and easy for your children to operate. If you find the locks are hard to operate, make sure you call in a security professional to make the necessary adjustments.

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