For most school districts, Winter Break is typically two or more weeks in length. That means no school, and no child care. Depending on the age of your children, this could mean leaving them home alone while you continue to go to work. In order to keep your children safe, it’s important to set some non-negotiable ground rules before you head out the door.
1. If Someone Knocks, Don’t Hide
The natural instinct for most kids when someone knocks on the door, whether they’re home alone or otherwise, is to hide. They’ll go silent and duck below the couch so that no one sees them. Now, this may seem like a good idea because then the person will go away, right? Actually, most burglaries happen during the day and they’ll typically knock on the door to see if someone is home before they try to enter. By staying silent and hiding away, your kids could be signaling that it’s a-ok to kick the door in. Now by no means should your child ever unlock or open the door, for anyone, but by looking out the peephole and asking “Who’s there?” they can signal that someone is home if it’s a potential burglar, or send someone on their way if they’re merely a solicitor or neighbor. Teach your children to be bold, articulate that you aren’t available, and send the knocker along to the next house.
2. Have a Clear Plan
If your children are going to be home alone, it’s extremely important for them to know exactly what to do in a variety of circumstances. What should they do if the dog eats something it shouldn’t, their sibling falls and hits their head, or they burn their grilled cheese and set the kitchen on fire? Obviously preventative rules should be set in place, like don’t use the stove when you aren’t home, and these rules should be part of a conversation that takes place in advance. You shouldn’t be calling out rules and expectations as you’re heading out the door, because chances are either you or your children will forget something. Sit down and have a conversation where your kids get to have input. What do they think are fair rules? What can they do to keep themselves and their siblings safe? This way, you know that there is a clear understanding of your expectations.
3. Contact Information Should Be Easily Accessible
You probably already know this, but your kids (or babysitter) should have a clearly labeled list of emergency contacts. The vet, the doctor, the non emergency police or sheriff number (so that they can report suspicious activity, like that creepy guy knocking on doors), your work numbers, the number for a trusted neighbor or nearby family member, you get the idea. By putting these in a visible place, like the front of the fridge, your kids have easy access to this important information. It’s also a good idea to have this information visible so that if something serious were to happen, the authorities would know how to contact you. As part of the conversation about rules and plans, you should also include the procedures for when to call. Make sure they understand that it’s very serious to call someone when it isn’t actually an emergency, and to do so with the police is actually illegal.
Winter break is supposed to be a fun time for your kids to relax and unwind after a long first semester of school. By having set rules and boundaries, you can help ensure that it’s also safe.
If you’re still nervous about your kids being home alone, it could be a good idea to invest in a security system. Once your kids know how to use it, it can be an added buffer of protection for them and reassurance for you. At J&J Security, we can help you create that extra layer of security so that you, and your kids, can relax and enjoy the holidays.