We can only try our best to protect our children, but emergencies happen, and we need to be prepared for them to give us peace-of-mind in any situation. Teaching our children how to handle a situation in an emergency is vital. They need to be calm and know which procedure to follow. Children under the age of 5 can’t be responsible for their own safety, but anywhere from the age of 5 they can start to form part of the household security plan.
Here are some guidelines to help you put a household security plan in place:
Have a discussion with your child about what can go wrong, and what to do when things go wrong. Also, as children get older they need to take on more responsibilities. You need to talk to them about that, too. Are they happy to stay home alone while you go grocery shopping for an hour? What about during an afternoon? Do they want to browse in a bookshop while you do some banking? What can go wrong in those scenarios? What should they do if things do go wrong?
2. Have a crisis management plan and go through the protocols with them
Once you and your child have agreed on the basics, come up with a concrete plan for various situations. Discuss with your child what to do and not to do while home alone, and what to do at home while you are having a nap or working in the garden. This will also mean they will know what to do if you are injured or knocked unconscious. Come up with a list of steps to follow and people and organisations to phone. Perhaps even stick it on the fridge. Give it a run-through with your child. Repeat it often.
3. Plan B
Having a plan is great, but what happens when things don’t go according to plan in reality? You need to cater for the unforeseen. So, it’s important to have a Plan B for in case things go awry.
4. Ground rules
Your children need to be aware of the ‘drill’ when it comes to certain security measures that need to be taken at home, and away from home: answering the phone; opening the door; posting things on social media, etc. Go through your list and ensure that your children understand the importance of why you have set these rules.
5. Keep dangerous items locked away
Keep all toxic items and weapons in the home locked away in a cupboard where your children cannot get hold of them. This includes tools lying around the home.
6. Make use of technology to assist you
Teach your children how to use the alarm system and where the panic buttons are and how to use them. If your child is old enough to be alone at home, this will come in handy should they need to alert someone for help in the event of an emergency. Install home security cameras so that you can monitor your children from your mobile device.
7. Have a cue that only you understand
Having a cue word or action really helps children to know when you are indicating a time to be serious and follow the practised procedure. Whatever it may be, what you want is to get to your child/children to understand this message and how to use it. This is useful in any situation where your children may be approached by strangers. They need to learn to ask for the code word/cue to know that it is safe to proceed.