Back-to-school season is upon us. Classes in many local schools have swung back into session this week. As the last heat wave of the summer fades, we want to provide you with some back-to-school security tips. Every time of year brings its own unique security concerns. In our Vacation Security To-Do List, we discussed safety tips for securing your home while traveling. In this post, we address how to keep both your home and children safe during school season. Children arriving to an empty home creates unique security concerns. Therefore, we will dedicate much of this post to keeping track of school-aged children and keeping them safe. Additionally, we will also share ways to ensure that leaving your kids in charge temporarily does not affect your home’s security or energy efficiency. Let’s begin with a couple of our most important tips for keeping kids safe in your absence.
Use a Home Security System to Keep Your Children Safe
Earlier this year, we examined some ways to Avoid Common Security Mistakes. Many homeowners assume that criminals enter homes at night under the cover of darkness. However, in that post we pointed out that burglars prefer to avoid confrontation whenever possible. For this reason, they often choose the middle or late afternoon hours to break into a home. Because students often return home from school at these hours, that puts them at a greater risk to walk in on a burglary in progress than parents returning home from work. A monitored home security system can greatly alleviate this risk. The siren response created by a home alarm will scare away most criminals.
Additionally, having your security system monitored also activates a central station response. Our central station will dispatch the local police if someone breaks into your home. They will also call you to notify you of any alarms that occur. Arming your monitored security system provides you the assurance that you will know if anybody tries to enter your home uninvited during the day. You will also have peace of mind knowing that your children will not walk in on a crime in progress. Let’s look at another way that your security system can increase your back-to-school security.
Create Smart Home Alerts to Ensure Your Kids’ Safety
You may recall our post on Using your Smart Phone to Add Security to Your Alarm. In that post, we discussed the use of an interactive cellular dialer for sending instant activity alerts to your smartphone. Our own preferred cellular dialer powered by Alarm.com allows you to add these alerts. Alarm activity alerts, for example, will let you know when your kids return from school. You can also take this concept one step further.
For example, you can create an “expected activity” schedule. If your kids fail to disarm your security system by a certain time, you will know immediately. Or perhaps you leave for work before your kids leave for school. In this case, you will receive an alert if your kids do not arm the security system before leaving. If this happens, simply use your phone to arm your security system. Let’s look at another way to monitor your home for security threats during the school day.
Use Keyless Entry to Create Additional Security
Most families have backup plans in case school-age children lose the keys to their homes. Perhaps you “hide” a key under a doormat for your school-age children. Or maybe you’ve given a neighbor a spare key with this possibility in mind. These arrangements can prove inefficient for a couple reasons. For one, hidden keys often get stolen or copied by thieves for later use. Lost keys can also leave kids locked out of their house until you return from work. Installing a keypad lock allows you to avoid these situations. Now your children can use a code to enter the home, rather than a key. This ability adds a tremendous level of back-to-school security. No more lost or missing keys and, just as importantly, no more kids being locked out of their house upon arriving home from school.
If you have a smart lock connected to a cellular dialer, you can also set up useful security alerts. In addition to creating security-system based alerts, you
can now create smart-lock based alerts. If someone forgets to lock the door on the way to school, you will know. Just as with your security system alerts, you can create schedules to make sure that your home stays locked throughout the school day. A cell-dialer powered smart lock also allows you to remotely lock and unlock your door. If you need to allow someone into the house, you can do so without providing a code. The additional security provided by these alerts and the ability to lock and unlock your door without a key or code make this a very popular option.
Monitor Your Exterior Doors for Activity
Even after your children have returned home safe from school, you’ll still want to monitor anyone who approaches your home. Installing a doorbell camera allows you to receive an immediate image of any visitors. Of course, you should instruct your children not to open the door for strangers. However, nobody wants to come home from work to hear their children tell them someone knocked on the door and walked away. As we pointed out in our post on Yard and Driveway Security, burglars often scope out potential victims’ homes. Knocking on doors or ringing doorbells are a couple ways they accomplish this. A doorbell camera will activate upon sensing motion. This means that you will receive an image of anyone who approaches your door, even if they do not ring the doorbell. Therefore, these cameras also help catch package thieves or vandals.
Add Environmental Controls to Add Efficiency and Convenience
Adding a smart thermostat to your home can help during school season in several ways. For one, children coming home to a cold home will often over-compensate with the heat settings. Rather than giving your children control of the thermostat, create weekday temperature schedules. Keeping the home cool during school hours and comfortable in time for your children’s return saves energy. It also saves your children from returning to a chilly home.
Just like some of the other security devices we’ve shared in this post, smart thermostats can create alerts as well. If your home’s temperature drops above or below a customizable range, you will receive an alert. This can help you catch an emergency situation before it turns into a catastrophe. Additionally, your smart thermostat can work with your security system to save energy. If your children come home and leave the windows open, for example, your smart thermostat will both throttle back on the AC and send you an alert. The beginning of school season also means cooler weather around the corner. Between the changing weather and children coming home from school before you, this is the perfect time of year to begin remotely tracking and controlling your home’s environment.
Creating a Complete Plan for Back-to-School Security
We hope that reading this post has given you some specific security ideas for this school year. No matter the age of your children, security becomes more important than ever if they will be returning from school to an empty house. If you have any questions about the information in this post, please do not hesitate to contact us. We provide free home site surveys to address any areas of concern and make recommendations if desired. Together we can create a plan for back-to-school security to make both your home and your family as safe as possible during the upcoming school year.