Safety tips for your latchkey kid

Aug 20, 2012 at 7:00 a.m. ET

You and your husband both work full-time, and your child's home alone after school. Here are some measures to take to make sure they're safe and sound.

Latchkey kid

With more and more families where both Mom and Dad work full-time, more kids are coming home to an empty household. So making sure your child is safe when they are in the home by themselves becomes an important issue. Teaching your kids some precautions and also taking advantage of tools and technology will help keep them safe and give you peace of mind.

Coach your child on how to handle telephone calls

Make sure your child knows they shouldn't reveal that they are home alone. If someone calls, they should simply say you are too busy to come to the phone right now. Practice a few calls with your child so they get used to how they should behave on the phone and so that the right answers easily roll off their tongue.

Keep in touch with your child

Have them call you when they are safely inside the home after school. If you're comfortable with merely a text message, make that the routine instead. If you want to take further precautions, consider investing in a system such as the one from Rogers Smart Home Monitoring, which allows you to monitor your home in real time. It uses two networks (so one is a backup in case the other is disabled).

Download helpful child safety apps

Use your mobile phone for more than getting their text that they're home (after all, they could be fibbing and actually out playing with a friend even if you told them to come straight home). Try, for example, Family GPS Tracker. This app will show you precisely where your child is. Is one of your concerns that your child is surfing the internet and might come across adult-only sites? Then install an app such as Safe Browser. This app will help keep your child from accessing pages that have been noted as inappropriate for children.

Have safety drills

Your child has fire drills at school. Why not have drills at home too so they know how to react in a variety of situations, from fire to home invasion, for example? And don't just do it once; we all get rusty over time. Consider having them every six months or so. That way their reaction time and tactics are fresh in their mind. It might get tiresome to do these drills, but you'll all be happy you did should an emergency occur.

More on kids' safety

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Car safety for kids
Tips for baby-proofing your home