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Creating a Plan for Back to School Security

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The chill in the air this week comes as a reminder that it’s time for students to return to school. Some students spend the later stages of summer vacation looking forward to this reality. For others, the end of summer comes far too quickly. However, most students enter this week with a mix of both nerves and optimism. Regardless of students’ feelings about returning to school, families should always approach this time of year with a security plan in mind. Our Summer Vacation Security Survival Guide for Parents discussed security measures for the summer. In this post, we share our top tips for creating back to school security.

We’ll begin with a focus on establishing routines for students leaving for and returning from school. Practice makes perfect, and knowing who will do what (and when) will help ensure that security best practices are followed all around. From there, we’ll discuss the issue of key security. Kids returning home from school must have both a plan and a backup plan for getting into their house after school. We’ll also discuss a couple ways to monitor school-aged children after school or during days with no school. Knowing what your kids are up to provides both back to school security and peace of mind. Finally, we’ll discuss how to plan for — and detect — emergencies in the home. Let’s begin with a look at establishing routines for students returning to school.

Children climbing on to school bus.

Creating routines for students can ensure that basic security procedures do not get overlooked.

Establish Routines for Students Going to and Coming from School

Before the first day of school, families should map out the order in which people will leave the house. Preparing for this in advance can make sure that your family never leaves your house vacant without closing your windows, locking your doors, arming your alarm system, and completing any other security-related tasks. Assigning different tasks to different people can help ensure everything gets done. Additionally, plan the safest routes to and from the bus stop with your kids. If possible, students should walk with other students to increase safety if parents cannot walk with them.

Finally, families should get on the same page as to who should come home when. Creating a schedule can alert other family members if they should check in on their siblings or call their parents if one of their siblings gets back later than expected. Furthermore, set expectations as to what happens when kids return home from school. Where can students find post-school snacks? Should they ever open the door if someone knocks, or does the door stay closed without parents home? Having these discussions before school starts adds a tremendous amount of back to school security. Additionally, it also helps keep school-aged children feeling confident by having these routines in place. Now, let’s look at an aspect of returning from school that deserves its own section: key security.

Exercise Key Security

Of course, kids need a way to get into the house upon their return home from school. Unfortunately, the keys parents give their kids occasionally go missing. This leads many parents to leave a spare key in a “hidden” location outside the home. We discussed this idea in our post on Avoiding Common Security Mistakes. As you can likely tell from the title of that post, we recommend finding a more secure solution to the issue of lost keys. After all, what if the wrong person sees someone grabbing that key from underneath a rock, beneath the doormat, or out of the mailbox after school? This can allow any criminal easy access into your home once that spare key gets replaced in its old location.

We recommend leaving a spare key with a trusted neighbor rather than outside the home if at all possible. This makes it impossible for anyone to grab your spare and use it for entry. Additionally, consider using a keypad lock one your home’s main entry door. These locks allow students key-free access to the home. Furthermore, certain keypad locks — or smart locks — will let you know when someone has locked or unlocked them. This concept ties directly into our next security concept. Let’s take a look at how to use alarm or smart appliance-based alerts to stay up to date as your kids get home.

Monitor Your Kids’ Return from School

Creating routines to make your children’s school lives as safe as possible goes a long way towards creating back to school security. However, allowing yourself to actually make sure they follow these routines takes this concept even further. We’ll look at a couple different ways to monitor your kids’ return from school. First, we’ll discuss using our interactive cellular dialer, powered by Alarm.com, to monitor your alarm system and provide alerts that keep you informed about security system and smart home equipment usage. From there, we’ll also look at the benefits of adding home surveillance to accomplish this goal. Let’s begin with a look at how alerts created by our cellular dialer can provide security and peace of mind.

Use Alarm.com Alerts to Your Advantage

An Alarm.com alert indicating that the security system has not been armed by 8:30 AM.

Creating Alarm.com alerts that notify you if nobody secured your home allows you to arm the alarm from your phone, preventing you from having to wonder if your alarm system was armed by the last person out the door.

One of the benefits of installing our interactive cellular dialer revolves around the ability to control your alarm system remotely and receive instant alerts created by your alarm. For example, you may want to receive an alert anytime someone disarms your security system. This can inform you of when your kids start returning home from school. Additionally, you can create alerts for events that do not happen. For example, you may expect kids to return home from school by 3:30pm. If nobody disarms the security system by then, you will receive a notification letting you know. At that point, you can contact your kids and see what caused the hold-up.

You may also remember our post on 7 Important Security System Add-Ons for Your Smart Home. In that post, we explained that our cellular dialer acts as a smart home hub. This means that installing the dialer also allows you to control other smart home devices with your phone using the same Alarm.com app that you use to remotely arm or disarm your security system. Tying these devices into your system creates the potential for smart-appliance based alerts.

Take the case of the smart locks we mentioned earlier, for example. You can receive an alert if nobody locks your door by a certain time after leaving the home. At that point, you can use the Alarm.com app to complete this important task. You can also receive alerts for lights left on, coffee makers not getting turned off, and any number of other smart appliance-related activity. We recommend reading the article linked above for other security-related smart home ideas. Now, let’s look at using cameras to monitor your home during the school year.

Install Home Surveillance Cameras to Check in on School-Aged Children

Adding surveillance cameras can add back to school security in a couple different ways. For one, you will have the opportunity to look at live or recorded video of students returning home from school. Following our advice and monitoring your system with our interactive cellular dialer also allows you to install smart cameras that provide even more immediate monitoring of camera footage. Smart cameras allow you to receive live, customizable video alerts. For example, maybe you want a live video alert of anyone that crosses your interior front door camera between 2:55 and 3:05pm, right when you expect your kids to return home. Smart cameras allow you to do just that. Additionally, if your children brings guests home from school, you’ll immediately see that as well. Let’s look at one more tip for adding back to school security for your family this year.

An Alarm.com severe weather alert reading "Tornado Warning Until 6:30 PM"

Alarm.com weather alerts can help ensure that you warn your kids about weather emergencies that occur at home in your absence.

Create Emergency Detection and Preparation Plans

Early detection plays a major role in minimizing the damage done by any disaster, both natural or otherwise. This concept takes even greater importance when your kids are home alone. The threats of carbon monoxide, fire, uncomfortable temperatures caused by broken HVAC equipment, or extreme weather make parents especially uneasy during times they are away from home. Fortunately, we install equipment to help families remain proactive in detecting these threats. For example, we routinely add smoke and carbon monoxide detection to customers’ existing security systems. This adds an element of invaluable life safety to existing alarms. As we also pointed out in our Smart Security Tips to Save you Money, adding these devices can also lead to a sizeable homeowners’ insurance discount.

Additionally, we offer sensors to monitor other environmental dangers, such as extreme temperatures or flooding. This can allow you to find somewhere else for your kids to go after school if a pipe bursts in your basement, or if your basement floods. Of course, these sensors also allow you to send someone to your home to potentially minimize the damage. Finally, you can even receive extreme weather alerts through Alarm.com. These alerts can prepare your family for extreme weather rolling through the area. In extreme circumstances, they even allow you to call home and have your children seek cover if it may be necessary. The extra security and peace of mind that adding emergency notification equipment brings make it an easy decision for many of our customers.

Finding Back to School Routine That Addresses Security

We hope that this post has given you some ideas on improving back to school security. Unfortunately, security concerns often get lost in the shuffle during these transitional periods of the year. We encourage you to contact us with any questions about the material presented here. We will happily answer any questions you may have about back to school security. Additionally, we provide free site surveys for homeowners. While on site, we can help you address any potential concerns you have after reading this post. Together, we can create a plan to make back to school season as safe as possible for you and your family.