Guest post by Cassie Tolhurst
You can’t keep an eye on your kids forever. Eventually, they’ll be old enough to stay home alone. But before you leave the kids by themselves, prepare them for emergencies to keep them safe. Why? Because research shows that kids who are left home alone on purpose and are prepared for emergencies are safer than those children left on their own by accident—showing there’s something to be said for prepping your children to be responsible in your stead.
The following eight tips will ensure your young ones are prepared for the worst and safeguarded under practically any situation—giving you greater peace of mind.
- Talk About Fire Safety
Fire is a dangerous thing. During a four-year study, researchers found that people playing with matches and lighters started over 49,000 fires—and children were the primary unintentional instigators of these cases.
While you can hide all your fire-starting paraphernalia to reduce your kids’ risk of accidentally starting a fire, it’s critical to talk about fire safety with your little ones. Tell them flames are not a plaything. Educate your kids about how it only takes one spark to set a whole house on fire. Teach your kids to stop, drop, and roll. Tell them that if there’s a fire, they need to call 911 immediately and get themselves, siblings, and pets to safety. Even set up an emergency fire escape route and practice with your entire family.
By having a real chat with your kids about the dangers of fire, they’ll be more likely to respect it and leave it alone. And should a fire accidentally start in your home, your children will better know how to approach that situation correctly.
- Keep Emergency Supplies Reachable
In case of a fire, natural disaster, or emergency, it’s important to have supplies within reach. Your supply stash should include flashlights, a fire extinguisher, fresh water, dry goods, and a first aid kit. Show your kids where these supplies are so they know how to access them if they’re in trouble. You can also build kid-friendly emergency kits your children can grab and use easily during an emergency.
- Lock Up Dangerous Items
If your children are old enough to be home alone, they’re old enough to know what they’re allowed to play with and what they shouldn’t touch. However, sometimes kids are kids and they just don’t listen. Lock up all the alcohol, firearms, fire starters, knives, and chemicals that your kids could get into while you’re not home.
Unlocked guns are an especially huge hazard for kids. Children three and five years old and fifteen to seventeen years old are the most likely to shoot themselves or someone else by accident, so keep your firearms locked up and out of sight. You should also talk with your little ones about gun safety and why they should never play with these weapons. This conversation can help your children understand why the guns are locked away and how that can keep your kids safe.
- Teach Your Kids to Keep Doors Locked
Teach your children to never open the door for anyone when you’re not home. Make a list of pre-approved adults who are allowed to come over in case of an emergency. Even think about installing a smart doorbell that will let your kids see and talk to whoever is outside without having to open the door. Smart doorbells also allow you to stay in the loop any time someone approaches the door or rings the doorbell, so you’ll know what’s going on and can speak with visitors if you’d like to.
- Install a Generato
In case you lose power while you’re away and your kids are home alone, install an emergency generator. This appliance will ensure the house is kept at an adequate temperature, lights are running, and security systems keep functioning until power is restored. Nationally, power outages average just over three hours long, so having a generator will keep your kids secure until you get home to them.
- Make a List of Emergency Contacts for Your Kids
When you’re planning on leaving your kids alone, tell trusted family members, friends, and neighbors. That way, they can keep an eye on the house and your kids from afar. Write down the names and numbers of these contacts for your kids and put that list somewhere accessible, like on the fridge. Also add the numbers for poison control, 911 (although obvious), and other emergency contacts in case your children need them while they’re home alone.
- Install Smart Technology
Smart technology allows you to keep a virtual eye on your family while you’re away—and keep your kids and house safer. Install smart locks so you know when your youngsters get home from school or go to a friend’s house. Install indoor security cameras to check in if you’re at the office. Even consider an entire home security system to secure the house while you’re gone. It’s important to note that many of these devices use Wi-Fi to relay information to you and an emergency dispatch center. Ensure your home’s internet is up to par so when your children call for help, someone will answer.
- Make a Safety Room
If there’s a bad storm or natural disaster, you’ll want your kids to have somewhere safe to go. Set up a bathroom or a basement as a make-shift shelter for tornados, blizzards, or strong windstorms. Stock it with blankets, flashlights, and water to keep your little ones secure until help arrives.
People say that worrying is suffering twice. However, it’s always better to be overprepared than underprepared when it comes to your children’s safety. By following these tips above, you and your kids will be more than ready for the times they’re home alone without a parent or guardian—giving you fewer gray hairs and things to worry about.
Cassie Tolhurst is a recent grad, digital journalist, and tech enthusiast. When she isn’t stalking Twitter she is spending time with her loving family and dog. Her passions include the newest mobile gadgets and what’s streaming on Netflix.