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Home Security and Latchkey Kids


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In this age when most families have two income earners working outside of the home children are often left to fend for themselves after school until a parent arrives home. These children are known as latchkey kids. The age at which these children are staying home alone is dependent on the maturity of the child and the legal age a state will allow them to be home alone.

Before allowing your child to stay home alone after school you should take several precautions to ensure their safety. It is important to do a thorough inspection of your home and look for potential safety risks. Once safety risks have been identified make an effort to correct the risk and properly instruct your child on the use of equipment in your home.

Latchkey kids are responsible for their own care and entertainment while you are away. There are a few things that you can do to help ease this transition:

  • Put a list of emergency telephone numbers beside each phone. If your child carries a cell phone, be sure to enter emergency numbers into his/her phone.
  • With your child's help assemble a first-aid kit. This will help your son/daughter to know what each item is used for.
  • Create an evacuation plan for a fire and practice the plan.
  • Have your child check-in with someone after they have arrived home.
  • Educate your child on what to do if a stranger approaches them on their way home or rings the doorbell. Children should be instructed to never open the door for anyone.
  • Enlist the assistance of a trustworthy neighbor or nearby relative in case your child loses their key.
  • Discuss any scenario you can think of that your child may run across and what they should do if that occurs.
  • Leave an instruction book by the phone for your child to answer any questions they may forget.

    If you do not have a home security system, consider installing one for their protection. When a latchkey kid returns home from school they can set the alarm in the stay at home mode. Many burglaries occur during the day while most people are at work. A security system will trigger an audible alert to scare away potential intruders.

    For even greater protection consider a security system with monitoring such as ADT's 24 Hour Monitoring service. This service will contact the monitoring center under a variety of conditions such as intruder breach, carbon monoxide leaks, fire, flooding, and even freezing pipes. The latest ADT Home Security system can be upgraded to include Cellguard which can contact the Customer Monitoring Center using a nearby wireless tower.

    When an emergency situation is detected the security system contacts the monitoring center. After the monitoring center is alerted they will contact you by telephone. A Customer Monitoring Center associate can speak with your child via Two-Way Voice. Two-Way Voice allows communication through the security system keypad and does not require a telephone. Your child would simply need to speak back for the associate to communicate.

    Often our children are given no other choice than to become a latchkey kid. This can be a difficult adjustment for some children as they may feel lonely, scared, and bored. You can help your child with his/her fear by taking all the necessary precautions. Keep the lines of communication open with your children to help them to cope with loneliness and boredom. Putting in a little extra time and effort into making your child feel comfortable and safe will make all the difference in how they handle being home alone.

    Bruce Kelly, the author of this article, is an ADT adviser with Security Choice, an ADT Home Security authorized company. ADT is the Nation's leading provider of security alarm systems. Protect your home and loved ones today with America's most trusted security company, ADT .

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