The home is the centrepiece of many families. It is one of the few places where everyone can feel close and unified. It is a fiscal investment just as much as it is a sentimental one and many homeowners want to keep their homes as safe as possible. When it comes to home safety, diligent homeowners usually keep themselves up to date and try their best to employ the services of security professionals that will give them the right advice and guide them in properly assessing their home security.
There are many ways that you can increase the security of your home, and these range from installing a monitored security alarm system, to adding security pins in the locks of your home. These additions and upgrades are all well and good, and work immaculately to increase the security in your home, but many homeowners and families overlook a danger that is sometimes cute, cuddly and obnoxious. I’m not talking about dogs, they’re not obnoxious. I am, however, referring to kids. Yes, I said it, they’re cute and obnoxious. Moving on.
When you are laying the foundations of your home security, and attempting to make your home burglar proof, you need to be cognisant of just how children can be behave like loose cannons. Kids love to have fun, run around, talk endlessly and be goofy whenever the moment presents itself. Very few children, if any, are ever thinking about their own safety (they prefer to leave it up to the adults to keep them safe). This task is undoubtedly complex, and parents/homeowners have a lot on their plate when it comes to the combined issue of child safety and home safety.
It is important to identify the ways children can compromise the security of your home. Some people are most likely thinking that this post will not apply to their homes because they don’t have children. Don’t think you’re off the hook! Keep reading if you have nephews and nieces that are always running around your house because you want to make sure that they are kept safe as well.
Without further ado, let us take a look at some of the ways that these little adorable monsters can compromise your well-placed security plans, and how best you can address these dangers to keep yourself, your family and the kids safe too. Oh and the non-obnoxious dogs as well, we don’t want to forget about them.
1. Stranger Danger
One of the most important things all homeowners and parents need to teach children is the inherent danger that exists around strangers. There are instances that arise where a stranger could be of the utmost importance to helping a child, however, it is important that your child is equipped with the necessary knowledge and understanding of society to know who to trust and who not to. Make sure that your child understands that divulging personal information about themselves to strangers poses a danger to them and to your entire family. Many burglars know that children are the weak links in home security, and this is a fact that they constantly try to exploit.
A good way of ensuring your security isn’t compromised is to teach your kids not to tell strangers where they live, or give out details about their parents or family members schedules. Kids do not realize the danger in such actions. To them, it may seem minuscule. However, if they were to tell a stranger exactly where they lived and the times when the home was virtually unoccupied, they would be opening themselves and your home up to various dangerous elements that you will never see coming. It is necessary to make sure that you children understand just how important this is. This also goes for those fun aunts and uncles who have nephews and nieces that constantly say anything to anyone.
2. Staying Safe on The Internet
The importance of children staying safe on the Internet cannot be overstated. Many people think of the Internet as a harmless place where answers to even the most mundane questions can be found. It is far from that. With the amount of people that become exposed to each other on the internet, the spread of information has farther reaching implications than it does in real life. In the physical world, information spreads at a rather slow pace, and even though it is still dangerous to give away too much information to strangers, that danger is increased tenfold on the internet.
Making sure your children understand how dangerous it is to be advertising information about your home and schedule on the internet is key to your family staying safe. Many people have the tendency to post information such as the presents they got for Christmas (which effectively decreases your holiday safety), the awesome vacation they just took, or even the amazing restaurant they plan on going to later tonight. The majority of people that post information like this online, are young children and teenagers. To them it may seem completely harmless and just a way of telling your friends something interesting you have done or are planning to do. Unfortunately, the internet is not as private as we would all like to believe.
When you cast the glare of the public eye on yourself and your home (inadvertently or not) you open up your schedule, and eventually your home, to many more people than you would have originally intended to. Make sure that your children understand that by giving people a glimpse of what is going on in your home, you are also giving them an opportunity to steal from you, or cause some form of harm.
Parents and homeowners need to pay close attention to the internet traffic of the children in their home, this will ensure that they are not doing anything that will put themselves, and the inhabitants of the home, in any danger. Many of the internet’s chat rooms are filled with burglars and criminals waiting for an easy mark who is willing to divulge even the slightest information. So the concept of avoiding strangers should translate to the way your children interact with people on the internet. At least, until they are old enough to do what they please. At that point, the best you can do is hope that you impacted their decisions in some way or form.
3. Home Safety Plans
Having an effective home safety plan is a good way to bolster the home security of any home but making sure that your safety plan is understood by all occupants (mainly kids) is one way of making sure your security is not compromised. This gives you the advantage of being prepared for almost every security eventuality that can occur. It allows you to make sure that everyone under your roof is well versed in the protocols of your plan. This is a key way to ensure that your plan is successful when the need for it arises. Home safety plans are made to cover any situations that might arise that are out of the ordinary. They are essentially meant to make sure that yourself and your family make it through anything unscathed. It is advisable to practice these home safety plans on a regular basis to make sure that your children know exactly how it is supposed to go, and what they need to do in the face of any form of danger. Making children understand just how dangerous these occurrences can be is important, and it is even more important that they understand this before they are in the midst of said situation. Children are prone to being scared of things, we all are, but if they are not made aware of the fact that in a bad situation their fear should be secondary to their safety, they will end up freezing in place out of shock. This will make it a much harder to keep them safe.
4. Security Devices
Many homes are armed with security devices and alarms that are meant to aid in burglary prevention and discourage burglaries. Having a home security system is like the icing on top of the cake that is your home safety (even better if that cake is red velvet). However, as a homeowner, you want to make sure that your children understand just how important a home security device is and that they know how to operate it. This operation involves arming and disarming the device. There have been many instances where kids forgot to arm these security devices once they came back home from school or a play date. It is important that you remain constantly aware of whether or not your alarm is armed or disarmed, and that you teach children how to properly perform both of these functions.
It is essential that it become second nature to them as they go in and out of the house, so that your house remains completely secure at all times. It is also imperative that they understand the way it works, in case they need to raise the alarm in the face of danger. Children like to play with things, and the more complicated things look the more enticing it is to kids. If it has a few colourful buttons, they are most likely going to want to play with it. As a homeowner or a parent you need to make the children under your roof aware of how important your security alarm is and that the panel for controlling it is not a toy. It is important that they understand that the set of flashy knobs and lights is not something to play around with. They could either disarm the system or trigger false alarms that will incur the homeowner/parent with unnecessary costs and fees.
5. Door Etiquette
Door etiquette simply stands for the things you need to teach children involving the doors in your home. When children go in and out, as they so frequently do, you need to make sure that you are constantly reminding them to close the doors that lead in and out of your house. The same concept is transferable to windows as well. Have a conversation with your children about what doors signify in terms of security, and how neglecting security can cause unintended harm to your family. They need to be aware that unlocked doors gives burglars, and other unwanted guests, access to your house in a much easier manner than should be possible. I’m not saying scare the children, but merely make them aware of the how important it is to be sure that they close the doors when they are coming inside.
Also, make sure that you let your children know to properly answer a knock on the door, and teach them how to react when it is someone that they do not know. There are two main aspects to this. The first is that you need to teach your children how to answer the door when you are home, and the second is teaching them how to respond when you are not home and will not be home for quite some time.
In some instances, children (adults too from time to time) inadvertently give information away to burglars and other surly characters that come knocking. If a stranger comes knocking on your door for no apparent reason, it is important that you always give the impression that you are not alone at home. Most children and pre-teens have a natural propensity for letting things slip, and this is often the case when they answer the door for strangers. It’s hard for children to think up a logical evasive answer on the spot, so make sure that your safety plan covers generic answers they can give people they do not know when one of them walks up to your house.
6. Garage Doors
When I was much, much younger, my sister and I always used to get in trouble when we blocked the garage door with our bikes. Can you blame us? We were always tired after riding our bikes around the neighbourhood, and being the lazy children that we were, we used to just park them in the doorway of the garage and walk off without a care in the world. Needless to say, this made it hard for the garage door to close all the way, and made my mother rather livid time and time again. I’m sure there are many parents who go through similar situations today. A lot of modern homes are equipped with automated garage doors that have motion sensors. If your child mistakenly (or lazily) leaves their toys, bikes or sports accessories in the doorway of the garage, it will most likely stay open due to them being equipped with motion sensors.
Parents and homeowners need to let children know the danger that unlocked and open garage doors pose to home security. It makes your property more susceptible to theft and increases the likelihood of someone breaking into your home. This probability increases a hundredfold if your garage is connected directly to your home, as is the case for most. If you have an older garage door, there is a higher chance that you will not have to go through this because you have to manually close your door each day. If there is something blocking the doorway then you will be able to see it and remove it. However, when the garage doors are automated homeowners are not inclined to close the doors themselves and they may overlook anything that their kids left blocking the path of the door. As important as it is for homeowners to educate their kids on this, they also need to constantly double check things for themselves.
7. Curtain Call
When a burglar is choosing a house to break into, they have most likely spent a good amount of time casing the property, and have a good idea of what you have and what they want. They achieve this by simply observing the way things are around your house, and the hard truth is that they can only see what you decide to show them. This is why it is always a good idea to keep visibility in mind when you are making security upgrade or outlining the security of your home. You want to make sure that the interior of your home is not directly visible from the street, and that you have curtains obstructing the view of anyone who might be peeking in.
Parents and homeowners are normally cognisant of this fact, and do their best to make sure that they keep curtains and shutters closed so that their possessions and their lives are kept private. Children, on the other hand, are prone to forget to do this. Educating the children in your home on the importance of closing curtains and shutters throughout your home is invaluable. It may seem unnecessary but it serves as another deterrent against burglars by making it harder for them to see what goes on in your home.
8. Fire Hazards
When kids are given the adequate training on how to react in emergency situations, it gives them the ability to respond properly and expediently when the situation arises. It goes without saying that an evacuation plan needs to be included in your home safety plan, but you also need to take the time to educate your children on the dangers they might face and show them how best to react.
Sometimes children are stuck in these dangerous situations and they freeze and clam up to the point where they find it hard to think logically or even move at all. They need to be adequately prepared beforehand so that they can act in the moment. When children compromise a fire safety plan, they compromise the security of not just themselves but everyone under your roof. It is of the utmost importance that they are well read in these plans and know how to execute them without a hitch.
Children also need to be educated on what is classified as a fire hazard and how they need to treat each of these items. If a child has a basic understanding of how fires start and the danger that they put people in, they will use caution and avoid starting any fires, or do their best to. An integral part of home safety is making sure that children understand the combination of things that can cause fires but it also means making sure that these things are out of their reach. This is a job that falls on the homeowner and also parents.
9. Lack of Communication
One of the biggest flaws that could present itself to even the most well-structured and thought out security plans and home security upgrades is a lack of communication. Communication is the cornerstone of any good plan, and is exceedingly important at making sure it goes off without a hitch. It is crucial that each of involved parties is understanding of this. When it comes to children, communication plays an even more vital role in making sure that they understand just how things should go. Adults are more adept at reading subtle signs, and can catch onto things much faster than children, so when it comes to explaining things to children it is important that the information is communicated effectively and on a consistent basis so that they grasp its importance. Make sure that you are explicitly clear on what you need them to do so that nothing is left hanging that could cause potential danger later.
Communication is key and the way it is carried out is of even more important when children are involved.
10. Potential Weapons and Accidents
The concepts of home safety and home security do not only apply to moments when burglars try to gain access to your home. It also applies to making sure that the people under your roof are kept safe at all times, and this could also be from elements that are already present in the home. When living with, or taking care of children, it is important to make sure that any potential weapons are stored away properly so that children cannot find them. It is best to make sure your gun (gun security is extremely important) is unloaded so that if a child happens to find it and mistake it for a toy, that no one ends up getting shot inadvertently. Also, make sure that knives and other sharp objects are kept out of reach of children, and that if the need arises for them to use these you directly supervise them in the process. When it comes to having children at home, you quickly realize that almost everything has the potential to cause some form of bodily harm and you need to be constantly on the lookout for what is and what isn’t.
The pressures of everyday life make it easy to forget some of these simple tips that can help keep your children and your family safe, and we get that. That is why we summarized all of the above points, and a little more, into a safety checklist that is easy to comprehend and easy to follow:
- Make sure you and your child have an open line of communication so that they know they can trust you and tell you whatever happens. Even the most seemingly inconsequential piece of information can lead somewhere.
- Let your children know the dangers of interacting with strangers and people that they do not know. Even when it comes to people that they know and trust make sure that you are notified before they go anywhere or do anything.
- Show your children how to operate your home security alarm.
- Ensure that they understand how to answer the door when you are not home and that they know what they should and should not say.
- Allow your children to take advantage of the buddy system. That way there is always someone trustworthy around your child, making it easier to find them if need be and ensuring that they are never alone.
- Teach kids what they can and cannot divulge to people that they do not know. Make sure you teach them just how important it is to watch what they say.
- Make sure that your children are well versed in the security plan that is used in your home. It is best to have them run through the protocols every now and then to make sure that they will know how to react when the need is presented.
- Show your kids how to properly use things around the house so that they do not pose a threat to themselves and to you. For instance, you want to make sure your child knows how to operate a toaster or a stovetop before they try and use it. If something goes wrong they might end up hurting themselves or burning the house down.
Keeping children safe is no easy task and it is not one that should be taken lightly. It is imperative that homeowners and parents are vigilant when it comes to their children and everything that goes on around them so as to keep them safe from harm and to make sure that they do not put anyone else in harm’s way.