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Parents, focus your spring training on keeping kids safe while home alone

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For many families, staying home is a luxury they cannot afford.

The latchkey kid is a term as familiar as it is necessary. It is unrealistic to expect parents to take time off of work with the sole focus of staying home to ensure a holistically safe environment.

So how can you promote safety and accountability while holding to professional obligations?

The first, and most critical, factor is determining if your child possesses the awareness and maturity to manage themselves in an unsupervised environment. This decision is not based solely on age. It should be a combination of the age of your child along with their maturity level.

The most critical factors to consider are:

  • Can they perform under duress?
  • Can they care for themselves if they sustained a minor injury?
  • Do they know how to summon or find help?
  • Are they able to evaluate factors affecting their safety and act as guided to mitigate a potential threat?

The following suggestions may help you to create and maintain a safe environment for your child while you are at work:

  • Set strict guidelines
    • No leaving the house without permission
    • All the doors and windows locked
    • Do not answer the door for anyone
  • Communicate
    • Use technology to touch base
      • Set a schedule for calls, and be unpredictable (mix calls and Facetimes)
    • If applicable, set home alarm for alerts to your phone on open doors or windows
  • Eliminate dangers under your control
    • Lock up firearms, alcohol and other weapons
  • Create activities
    • A constructive, busy mind is a healthy mind
    • Too much free time may lead to curious, and unsafe decisions
  • Have a plan
    • Have a “safe home” where your child can flee for help
    • Have a “safe room” to hide and use a cordless or cell phone to call 911

Remember, if you’re smart, you can be safe and sound!

Former Phoenix police officer Paul Penzone writes occasional safety tips for KTAR.com and can be heard on KTAR News 92.3 FM.

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