The new school year is now well and truly underway, and for many children, that
means going home to an empty house. Many parents struggle with work
commitments, which means that they can’t be home when their children finish
school. To help make sure that your children are as safe as can be, we’ve pulled together a
handy guide for keeping latchkey kids secure.
Should you let your child be a latchkey kid?
The law does not specify an age when it comes to leaving kids home alone, but it
does state that it is an offence to leave a child home alone if doing so puts them at
risk. Most experts recommend that they’re not left alone before the age of 12, not over
night or even at night, and not leaving a child under 16 in charge of younger siblings.
However, for most parents, having your child go home to an empty house is a last
resort. Childminders are expensive, grandparents aren’t available or after school
clubs are non-existent, so many parents don’t have much choice.
It’s not all bad though, “latchkey kids” apparently exhibit more self-reliance and
independence than their peers.
What your kids need to know
Rules are really important when it comes to being home alone. Plan them with your
child, so they have a good understanding of what’s expected of them. Then, write
them down for everyone to see.
Your rules could include:
– Get in touch with parents as soon as you’re home. This could be a phone call or text.
– Doors and windows should be locked at all times
– Do chores first before any internet/computer games
Things that your child should know for their own safety might include:
– Not going into the house if the door is already open, windows are broken, fire or smoke etc.
– Not using the oven or the stove, the toaster or the kettle etc.
– Don’t answer the door under any circumstances.
Use a Key Safe
One of the worries of leaving your child to let themselves in is the worry that they
might forget or lose their key. Being sat outside until someone comes home is not
You can combat this by using an outdoor key safe. A key safe allows you to securely
keep a key on the property, so your child doesn’t have to remember it, they just have
to remember the code – and you can always remind them of it if needs be.
You can find a wide range of different key safes to suit your requirements here.
Use Smart Home Technology
If you want to go one step better, smart home security can mean that you can keep
an eye on your child and your home.
Smart Door Locks
Smart door locks mean that you don’t need a key to open the door, instead using a
smartphone app, key tag or code to gain access. Look for ones that provide an audit
trail, so you know who’s been coming and going.
Choose something like the Yale Sync Smart Home Alarm kit and you can create the
security system that you need to monitor your child at home.
For instance, add a door sensor and you’ll get an alert that the door was opened,
and you could even aim a camera at the door so you can see whether your children
have brought anyone home with them.
Smart Door Bell
A smart door bell like the Ring 2 will allow you to answer the door so your child
doesn’t have to. They should know that they are not allowed to answer the door
regardless of who it is, leaving you to decide whether the person at the door should
be let in.
In this day and age, being a latchkey kid is safer than ever, with smart home security
technology giving you, the parents, the peace of mind.