The school year has begun again, with excitement and exhaustion sure to follow. And if you’re like many parents, your child is out of school before you can start packing up at the office. Unless your child is part of an afterschool program, they’ll be spending time home without supervision. After school and home alone safety are major concerns for parents who want to give their child more freedom as they grow older.

Read on for tips to keep your child safe when they’re home alone, while reducing the stress and anxiety time can put on you.

#1. Home Security Systems Are a Must

Every home is at risk for break-ins. When you have children, the importance of making your home a safe space becomes immeasurable. Security systems are the only way to keep your home secure from intruders at all times of day – particularly when kids are home alone and need extra safety.

Habitec’s monitored home security systems don’t just trigger alarms when activated, they also alert our Central Station to contact the authorities and ensure your family is as safe as possible in an emergency.

You can also access your security system remotely, to make sure they made it home safely and on time. It’s a great way to know your child is safe, while also letting you focus on work instead of worrying.

#2. Make Sure they Know to Call 911 for Emergencies

Emergencies can happen at any time. If your child often spends time home alone after school, it’s critical they know how to react when something happens. Telling them to dial 911 isn’t typically enough, because emergencies can cause panic.

Periodically go over potential emergencies and how they should dial 911 as soon as it’s safe to do so. Sometimes this means leaving the house, in case of fires or if they arrive home to find someone has broken in and calling from a trusted neighbor’s home or their mobile phone.

Your goal should be to make dialing 911 an automatic response. Make sure they know your street number and name. It’s important they can direct emergency responders to their home without delay.

#3. Give Them A List of Contacts

A notecard full of important numbers used to be a staple of family life. With smartphones and integrated contact lists, it’s not as necessary as it used to be. But this doesn’t mean you should skip writing down important numbers on paper for your kids!

Phones can break, be lost or run out of power. If something happens to their phone when they need to contact you, it could mean trouble. A list of numbers helps them reach out to you or others if they need to go to a neighbor’s house due to an emergency.

#4. Work with Your Neighbors

A trusted neighbor or two can be a lifesaver when it comes to keeping your child safe when they’re home alone. In emergencies like fires, it’s important your child has a safe place to go to while they wait for you to rush home. They can also turn to these neighbors if they ever feel unsafe at home, such as if they think someone may have broken in or a stranger is acting unusual in the area.

Many of your neighbors will likely have kids too. It can often be beneficial for safety to have your kids spend their after-school time in groups. If someone is injured or if there’s a problem, the group can find help instead of relying on your child’s ability to address the issue alone.

#5. Use Security Cameras to Keep Them Safe

Modern security cameras are invaluable tools to increase the safety of your home and family. The mere presence of cameras acts as a deterrent, and they can be used to help capture criminals and prosecute them.

Modern security cameras give you the ability to instantly check in on your home and family – even if you’re hundreds of miles away. Remote access to your cameras is one way you can leverage your security system to protect your child when he or she is home alone.

You never want to feel like your child is “off-the-grid.” If they don’t answer a text or phone call, it’s common to get anxious. A quick check of the camera could show they’re simply busy working on homework, playing games or simply distracted and didn’t hear their phone. It’s much better than worrying about all the “what-ifs” on your drive home!

#6. Teach Them Online Safety Habits

Few things are as important nowadays as being safe online. With social media, chat apps and computer viruses taking control of your computer, it’s critical everyone in your home understands the risks.

Being able to go home alone after school can be seen as a privilege versus after school programs many school systems offer. Part of the privilege is not putting themselves at risk. Posting online about being home alone, inviting groups of friends over or sharing photos and videos of unsafe behavior because they’re home alone are all things jeopardizing their safety and your home’s security.

Teach your children about the risks of oversharing online. Let them know it’s not just their friends reading their posts and everything posted online is essentially impossible to delete.

#7. Practice Fire Drills

A home fire is a serious risk. According to recent data, there are approximately over 350,000 home fires every year! The risk of a home fires increases when your child is home alone.

Like learning in school, preparation and repetition are critical for teaching them how to respond to a fire. It’s hard not to panic when a fire starts to spread – whether large or small. The best thing for you to do is spend time each year going over fire safety information:

  • Where to go if a fire breaks out
  • Who to call
  • How to escape the house from each room
  • Physically practicing fire drills

Schools practice fire drills several times per year. The same can be done in your home. Your child will be better equipped to respond to the emergency, which means you can rest easy.

#8. Home Automation Can Prevent Lockouts

Everyone is forgetful, and this goes double for children. If your child needs to bring a key home every day to unlock the doors and get inside, it’s likely they may eventually forget to bring it to school or even lose it altogether!

Home automation is one way you can prevent lockouts and ensure your child always gets inside when they’re home alone after school. With Habitec, special locks can tie into your home security system and remain accessible anywhere you have access to the internet. A few taps is all it takes for you to unlock a door and let your child get inside safely.

#9. Teach Them Not to Answer the Door

Once your son or daughter is home alone safely, locked doors and an armed security system separate them from the dangers of strangers. Criminals scout houses before they target them – and know a friendly child is an easy way into a home to start stealing, possibly hours before any adult gets home from work.

“Stranger danger” isn’t new, but it’s still important to discuss with your child. Statistically, it’s unlikely a knock at your door is going to be someone intent to cause trouble, but it’s impossible to know and the risk isn’t worth it.

Children who are home alone should avoid answering the door unless they’re positive who it is. Let them know not to open the door unless they were expecting someone, and to be ready to call 911 in case someone starts pounding on the door or attempting to break in.

#10. Review Your Video Analytics

Video analytics are a new feature of smart video monitoring offered by Habitec’s security cameras. The goal is to let you review and understand what goes on in the view of your cameras so you can see just the notable events and what triggered them.

With video analytics, you can quickly see how many people approached your home and confirm if they should be there. Was it just a delivery? The mail? Or someone approaching to look through your windows?

Analytics enhance your security cameras function by making it easy to know what’s happening in your area without spending the whole evening scouring through a day’s worth of footage. It won’t alert you to every passing car, but it will let you know of a car lingers in front of your home for too long. Things like this can give you an early alert to potential risks. It can also dispel fears when your child heard someone outside, but on review, it turns out to be someone from the utility company out to read your meters.

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