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Six ways to protect your latchkey kids

As a parent, you don't choose to have your kids at home alone, but sometimes the pressures of two parents working, school schedules, and baby sitting problems conspire to leave your kids home alone. But there are some very easy things you can do today to reduce the risk for your kids. Every parent can do these things. Here are 6 ways to protect your latchkey kids.

1. Set some rules. Sit down and tell the kids what the rules are. Write them down. Then post the rules in plain view. Your kids will be more aware, and that's a good thing. If you don't want them near the gas stove, write it down. If they need to leave the sharp kitchen knives alone, write it down on the rules.

2. Talk to them. Sounds simple doesn't it? Talk them through the rules. And talk to them about personal security. Remind them to lock the doors. Make sure they know not to let anyone in when you're not there, except people you have already told them can come in.

3. Show them how to use 911. Make sure they understand when to use it. And make sure they know it's not a joke.

4. If you have firearms in the house, place them in a gun safe. Not under a mattress, or in a cupboard. You have a legal, ethical, and moral responsibility to secure your firearms. The same applies to fireworks.

5. Give them emergency contact numbers. Friends or neighbors who you trust to have good judgment if you aren't available, for when you can't get home fast enough.

6. Make sure the kids understand Internet security too. You aren't there and you need to know what they're doing on their computers. Look into Internet Monitoring Software, low-cost products that invisibly monitor the activities of your kids, and privately emails you the results as often as you like. The best of these software products track internet sites visited, downloads, chat room conversations, and IM.

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