Across the country, the percentage of families with full-time working parents has steadily increased. That means that for Indianapolis families, it’s less likely that a parent can be there every day when the kids return home from school.
For some people, the idea of leaving an older child home alone for a short amount of time can seem scary, and the term “latchkey kid” may seem unattractive. But with the proper education and planning, letting your child stay home alone can not only be done safely, but it can be a great tool to help your child learn, grow, and become more responsible.
When planning on letting your child stay home alone after school, follow these guidelines to ensure safety and security for your family.
Educate Early On
Well before the day comes when the kids spend an hour or two by themselves after school, take the time to educate them on the ins and outs of what will happen and what their responsibilities will be. Start with laying some ground rules (of course, these will vary depending on your situation):
- Will they be allowed to leave the house?
- Will they be allowed to have friends or guests in the house when you’re gone?
- Can they use the internet while you’re gone?
- Are they allowed to answer the door if a stranger knocks?
- Are there any appliances they are absolutely not to touch or use?
When you set these rules with your children, be sure to explain why these rules are in place, so they can better understand why they need to follow them.
Being home alone also comes with a lot of responsibilities, so make sure you talk with your child about what they’ll need to do on a regular basis, and what they might need to do in case of an emergency:
- Teach them about locking all doors to your home and arming the alarm system when they come home.
- Teach them the importance of never telling any strangers that they’re home alone - be it over the phone, on the internet, or otherwise.
- Have an emergency phone number list near the phone in case of emergency, and teach them who to contact in specific instances. List emergency service numbers as well as nearby family or neighbors who may be able to respond quickly.
- Teach children about emergency plans in case of fire, severe storms, injury, or other possible events.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Possibly the most effective way of keeping children safe when they’re home alone from school is to keep in regular contact with them. Get them in the habit of calling you or another family member every day when they get home from school. If you’re unable to speak with them from work, have them leave you a voicemail or text message. Not only will speaking to them on the phone put you at ease that they’re safe, it can also help reduce any anxiety or fear they have about being home alone.
Most home security systems will let you receive automated email or text message notifications any time your system is disarmed or rearmed. Enabling these can help you know exactly when your children arrive home.
Childproof the House
Childproofing the home isn’t just something you do when you’re expecting - it’s arguably more important when children are old enough to be left home alone. Almost all of the following steps for making your home safe for your children go hand-in-hand with educating them, as mentioned above:
- Make sure all types of medication and alcohol are completely inaccessible to your children.
- Do the same with any type of hazardous chemicals that may be under your sink, in your garage or anywhere else.
- Keep any potentially dangerous objects out of reach as well. These could include knives, tools, lighters, or any other common objects that could pose a threat.
- Make sure all furniture is secure, especially anything capable of toppling such as large dressers or drawers.
Want More Peace of Mind?
Making sure your children can be safe when they’re home alone after school is no small task. But thankfully, parents in Indianapolis aren’t alone. Call Guardhouse Security at 317-602-5777 to set up a consultation and make sure both your security systems and your emergency plans can handle the demands of your 21st century family.