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After School Kids Safety Tips: Have a Latch Key Kid Safety Plan

Posted by Taniqua Pino on Mon,Sep 14,2015 @ 02:53 PM

It is estimated that 11% of children ages 5-14 spend one or more hours at home alone after school each day. When you include kids ages 15-18 it is estimated that 40% of kids that are home alone for some portion of the day. Creating a safe environment is crucial to your kids confidence which is crucial to them handling an emergency properly.
Here are 5 steps to create a safe environment that will prevent some emergencies and help younger people safely navigate any issues that do come up and let's face it, if we don't make a plan, chance are they're making their own.

Creating a Safe Environment

That might sound strange to say, "Create a safe environment." while you will not be there to create it??? but every parent creates a safe environment in the home by having things like safety locks, choosing the safety community you can afford to live in, and so forth. Here are some specific steps to take to ensure your kids are as safe as can be when you are not around.

  • Inform trusted neighbors, friends and relatives that the kids are home alone and might call you. 
  • Have an emergency phone list.
  • Create a daily routine for what is done on the way home and once they arrive home.
  • Have a SHORT list of things not to do for any reason.
  • Talk about household dangers and spend time training them what to do in an emergency.
  • Practice and talk about the plan.

When people know what to do and expect, they are confident. Kids are no exception. This seems like many steps, but properly done, this is a simple plan for the youngest latch-keyer can follow and stay safe.


Inform Trusted Neighbors, Friends or Relatives the Kids are Home Alone

If grandma lives next door, that's awesome! Make sure she knows the kids might pop over or call for guidance. Most of us don't have family next door so figure out what the next best thing is. Does their auntie live a block away? Your best friend can be there in 3 minutes? Make sure a trusted person knows the kids are home alone, maybe they can even drop in weekly. 


Have an Emergency Phone List

If you don't already have an emergency phone list, you should. At our house, we first established the list when we left our precious little bundles of joy with a sitter. Post a list by each phone and on the refrigerator. Your emergency phone list should have the following numbers on it:

  • 911
  • Police and Fire Department
  • Poison Control  (1-800-222-1222)
  • Your alarm company's phone number.
Other helpful numbers might include:
  • Mom & Dad's cell numbers (or other important relatives)
  • Child's doctor
  • Neighbors or nearby friends

Back to the thought of having sitters. Don't forget to familiarize them with "The List." The first couple of times we have a sitter at my house, my first question is always, "Who do you call first if my kid cracks their head open and is bleeding profusely?" Most of the time, I am told, "I would call you." NO! If my kid is seriously injured, call 911." Fill me in later. This is usually the prefect transition to "The List" and when to call each person on the list. 


Create a daily routine for what is done on the way home and once they arrive home.

The first two steps are things that you do and don't involve the kids. This step is where the kids get to participate. The best way to get kids in on a plan is to include them. You might want to ask them, "What steps do you think you need to take to be safe on the way home and then after you get home?"  Then make a plan. Your plan should include these steps:

  • Kids should never carry keys around their neck and displayed, It should at least be under their shirt if on a necklace. 
  • Have a route that parents know. Walk with friends if at all possible. 

Once at home:

Like any routine, it takes a few days and then it will become second nature. Again, routines create confidence which not only builds a sense of security, it also helps when an emergency arises. An overall rule should beKids must call if they want to change the plan.

Have a SHORT list of things not to do for any reason.

Make a list of items that are 100% off limits. The most important "don't do list" items might have more to do with communication. Inform kids, especially the older kids that might be knuckle-heads or "too old" to hear your safety rules not to:

  • Tell anyone for any reason that they are home without adults.
  • Do not open the door to strangers. It is safest to let them know someone is home but not open the door. 
  • Don't touch: sharp knives, matches, pool use, gas stoves, or medication. (depending on your kids)

In our house, we cover the rules once a month and have a plan for each event, more on the plans below.


Talk About Household Dangers and spend Time Training Them What to do in an Emergency.

Statistics show that there are a few common household dangers that send kids and adults alike to the Emergency room and worse. 2000 kids per year turn up in the emergency room with wounds from microwave use, have kids remove food from the microwave regularly and point out what could happen, correct bad habits like quickly snatching boiling hot food. Kitchen related accidents are also a huge issue that bring minors to the emergency room in droves. If they will cook alone, practice with them so they are skilled when you are not around. Remember, kids breath in 2 times the air adults do in a day making them more susceptible to noxious gases. Train kids to double check the gas rages are off if they are old enough to use them.

Train them what to do in an emergency:

Here are some important topics. You can add or delete as is necessary for your family.

Q. What do they do when someone knocks on the door and adults are not home?

A. contrary to popular belief, you should NOT ignore it. Most burglaries happened during the day and many will knock first to verify no one is home. Then they come in. A safer option is to say, "Who's there?" A burglar will pretend to be lost or create some other excuse. You can even tell your kids to say they have to check with Dad before opening the door, then return a moment later and say Dad's too busy, sorry.  (They can do something similar if someone calls and asks to speak to an adult.)

Q. What do they do if they come home and a window or door is open?

A.  Hopefully there is a trusted neighbor or friend near by and they should go there before entering the house. If no trusted friends are close, they should go to a business and phone you and the authorities. They should not enter a home that looks different than when it was left in the morning. 

Q. What do they do if someone breaks in or is trying to break in?

A. This is a toughy but unfortunately it has happened. The best offense is to have a plan. If you have a home security system, it should be armed! It should be armed to Stay with NO delay so that it sounds the moment a door or window is opened. If they are near the alarm panel, pressing the police button and holding it will send the police immediately, the alarm sounding will send police after they call the house. 

Teach kids to get out through a door and run if possible or hide and dial 911. Figure out the best place to hide for your home, maybe in a bathroom that the door can lock.  

The name of the game here is to help our kids plan and be able to stay level headed in case something does happen, Be that a cut, a burn or anything else that they may encounter. The great news is that most of the things a kid will encounter at home without adult supervision are within their ability to handle and the accidents that can occur are preventable. 

Finally, practice and talk about the plan. 

Taking half an hour to an hour to talk to some neighbors, make a call list and then a list of things that kids absolutely cannot do until you get home might be your best spent time this year. That's also steps 1,2 and 4 done. Step 3 (creating a daily routine) can be done over dinner one night this week and the other two steps are conversations that should probably be had a couple times a month. 

If your home has an ADT monitored home security system, teach your children how to turn it on and leave it on while home alone. For older teens that watch their younger brothers they can take a Babysitter Training Course to gain knowledge in first aid/CPR training and other safety skills. Courses that teach skills to responsibly provide care for others is offered through your local Red Cross.

If you would be interested in having a monitored alarm system watch over your youngsters while you are away, give us a call today at 1-800-310-9490 or click here for a no obligation FREE home security review.



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