Tag Archives: family

Kids Stuck Inside on a Snow Day? Check Your Home for Hazards

As many schools’ winter breaks come to an end, children are heading back to their classrooms and out of the house. But even with school back in session, some states can have up to 50 days of weather-related school closures. So on days when the weather is too crummy to even play outside, how can little ones stay safe indoors with all that bottled up energy?

If your young children are stuck inside on a snow day, here are some safety tips to keep in mind while preparing for their time off from school:

Slipping or falling opportunities
Cabin fever could mean your kids are more rambunctious than usual, which could mean running inside the house (even if they aren’t supposed to). Look around your home for anything that might present a tripping or falling hazard, such as area rugs, cords or even corners of furniture. Also remind your kids about the dangers of horseplay on furniture, since a fall from a table or sofa would be worse than from their own two feet.

Falling objects
If falling children isn’t a concern, check for any potentially falling objects. Any heavy objects like televisions or stereos should be securely fastened to a wall or stand. Other hazards to scan your rooms for are objects that could be bumped into and broken if they fell, like vases or picture frames.

Hot water in cold weather
With dropping temperatures, your heat could be on all day and all night, posing a potential problem for kids out of sight. Try to keep an eye on little ones around hot water heaters, radiators, and even stoves and microwaves. Children are most likely to be scalded by hot water in drinks or baths, so be sure to be mixing cold water into anything too hot.

Even when your kids are stuck inside at home, they can be just as safe as if they were back in their classroom. When in doubt, if you think your child might get into something they shouldn’t, assume they will and prevent it. Whether the weather is stormy or snowy, wet or simply your typical winter, check your home for these hazards to ensure your child’s safety. Maybe tomorrow it will only be a late arrival instead of a whole day off…

The Top 10 Safety and Security Posts of 2018—to Guide You into a Safer New Year

Another year has come and gone. And we are doing our usual looking backwards to review 2018 and decide what to bring forward into the new year…as well as what to leave behind. Which brings us to safety and security, of course!

During the past year, we served up over 50 blog posts on home security and safety topics. To wrap up 2018 with a flourish, we’ve sorted through those 50 posts to make this list of the top 10. The criteria? The topics we consider of the highest priority based on what poses the greatest risks to us, our loved ones and our homes. Without further ado, here are our top topics for the past year, those we consider still high priorities as we move into 2019:

As mentioned above, we delivered over 50 posts over the past year, covering everything from online shopping to college campus safety tips. You can find every safety and security topic at our blog, so take a look and discover all the other ways you can keep yourself, your family and your home safe and secure in 2019.

8 Cyber and Cellphone Safety Tips for Teens, College Students—and Parents

School is starting! That puts high school and college students back into the busy-ness of the academic year, as well as back into the social media fray. Sure, they spent an inordinate amount of time on their phones all summer long, but being back in school gives them even more reasons for screen time.

And that means it’s time to review some cyber and cellphone safety tips for teenagers and young adults. If you’re the parent of a high school or college student, read through this advice as well, so you’re better informed about the dangers your kids face.

#1 Keep some things to yourself. You don’t have to share every mood swing, angry moment, argument, thought or opinion. Nor do you have to post every single photo. When it comes to sharing, less is better. That applies to news about yourself too, including being home alone or going on a trip. You are entitled to your privacy, and sharing less helps to protect it.

#2 Remember that everything you do is going to become part of the public record.  Once it’s on the Internet, it’s not going away. Every email, message, post, tweet, like, share and photo might seem temporary because you’re not likely to see it again any time soon, but it could come back to haunt you later.

#3 Employers can access Facebook too, and they do. About 70% of employers will look at a Facebook profile when considering a job candidate. What will they see on your Facebook page? If it’s something you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see, it’s probably something you shouldn’t post. This could apply when you’re applying to internships too.

#4 Practice self control. Technology can make that hard to do, because we live so in the moment these days, but you can take the higher road. Put your phone away until you calm down. Choose not to react or respond. Talk to someone instead.

#5 Follow the same rules of good behavior online that you do offline. Don’t gossip, be mean, or spread rumors. If you wouldn’t do it in person or say it to someone’s face, you probably shouldn’t be doing it or saying it while hiding behind the supposed anonymity of a screen.

#6 Watch your step. You’re leaving a trail of everywhere you go. Every website you visit and link you click provides data that is recorded somewhere. Even if you’re clearing your cache to remove the evidence from your laptop, it has already been recorded.

#7 Remember that what you’re seeing online is often not real. The perfect looking people on Instagram, the pornography, the vacation photos…be hyper aware of how those unreal images are affecting your own self-image. Experts have noticed an increase in depression among teens in recent years, and some attribute that to social media. We know of a young woman who deleted Twitter and Instagram from her phone because looking at them caused her to feel so bad about her own physical appearance.

#8 Put your phone away for a while. Teenagers are averaging nine hours per day on social media. That’s more time than most people spending sleeping in a 24-hour period. Not only is that unhealthy, it’s dangerous too. Teens are at risk when looking at their phones when so distracted while walking down the street, and obviously while texting and driving, as these horrific videos show.

The Internet and social media have changed our world, in some ways for the better and in some ways for the worse. Teens and their parents can help make it a change for the better by practicing cyber and cell phone safety, starting with these tips.

Safety for School Days: 9 Rules for Safer Travels to and from School

Although we no longer have kids living at home, and the first day back to school is now on college campuses without mom needed (or wanted) to send anyone off, I still see all the first day of school pictures posted by friends on social media. And that reminds me once again of the importance of safety rules for kids getting to and from school.

No matter the age of your children, if they are going to and from school, they need some rules. And the sooner you instill those rules in them, the sooner the rules will become habits—habits that can last a lifetime.

To get you started, we offer nine rules for safer travels to and from school below:

Rule 1: Stick to the sidewalk
For those kids who walk to the bus stop or to school, they need to stay on the sidewalk. No walking out behind cars or in the road, or even in people’s yards. The sidewalk is there for a reason. Stay on it.

Rule 2: Avoid shortcuts
Shortcuts are a no no. Your kids should take the same route every day, and walk with other kids whenever possible. Talk to other parents with kids taking the same route to get all the kids traveling as a group, even if they’re just walking to the bus stop up the street.

Rule 3: Be careful when crossing the street
Kids are kids and, at any age, they can be careless when crossing the street. Remind your kids to look both ways, make eye contact with the drivers of the cars they assume are going to stop for them, and use crosswalks. Then remind them again.

Rule 4: Put the phone away!
Kids really should put their phones away when going to and from school. If they don’t, they are more likely to be distracted and step out into traffic, trip and fall, or not notice suspicious activity. If they are teenagers who drive, they most definitely should not be on their phones! Kids can send you a text when they leave the school, put their phones in their backpacks, and then pull their phones out to let you know they’re home. Period.

Rule 5: Stay safe at the bus stop
For kids who taking bus, the rule is to stay in the designated bus stop area. After school, they should go directly from the bus stop to their home or their daycare.

Rule 6: Don’t be too early
Although teaching kids to try to arrive early to events is a good habit to teach, many schools don’t have supervision outside the building until shortly before the school day starts. That leaves kids who arrive really early unsupervised by adults. Teach kids early is good, but too early is not safe, and have a designated time for your child’s arrival, when you know the school will either be open or have supervision.

Rule 7: No dawdling
Also make sure your kids know not to dawdle after school. They need to head straight to their next destination, whether that’s home, practice, daycare or somewhere else.

Rule 8: Know the rules of the road
For kids who ride their bikes to school and those who drive, reiterate the safety rules of each.

Rule 9: Have a password
Especially for younger kids, have a password. That password would be used if someone had to pick up your child unexpectedly, say if you were in an accident, for example. If your child is approached by a stranger who claims you sent them, the child should be taught to ask for the password. If the stranger doesn’t know it, the child should be taught to yell for help.

These days it seems fewer kids walk to school because parents are driving them in cars. But kids are still getting to and from school, and still need safety rules for doing so. And since the rules can apply to almost any situation, consider making one of the first lessons of this school year safety first.

Home Security: Not the Most Glamorous Wedding Gift, but Perhaps the Most Thoughtful!

August gone and the fall season looms near. Where did the summer go? I can’t tell you, but I can tell you it’s no longer the season for weddings. Nope. September and October are now the most popular times for weddings, with 19% of weddings taking place in September and 14% in October. That means if you’re getting a wedding invitation, it will probably be for a fall wedding. (We have one on our calendar for September!)

If you’re wondering why we’re talking about weddings as the month of September approaches, it’s because we have an unusual wedding gift idea for you: home security. Sure, it’s not a glamorous gift, but it is a thoughtful one.

Making home security doable
Although Americans are waiting longer to get married, with the average age now 27 for women and 29 for men, there’s still a chance they will be living on tight budgets, especially if they are buying a house. Adding a home security system to their monthly expenses probably won’t be a priority once they’ve taken on a massive mortgage payment.

If you’re older and your financially established, you can give home security as a wedding gift, with the monthly cost easily less than the cost of a dinner out. You’ll hardly notice the cost of the monthly fee. Then later when the young couple is financially more stable, they can take over the payments. In the meantime, you’ve helped to keep them safe, and they’ll get into the habit of having the home security system, making it easier to budget for later.

Keeping clutter at bay
A home security system also makes a practical wedding gift because it doesn’t add to our ever-growing collection of “stuff.” The peace of mind it provides is not tangible like a dinner plate or throw pillow, but then again, who can put a price on peace of mind? Yet it takes up no room, doesn’t need storage space, and won’t someday end up at a garage sale.

If you’re headed to a wedding this fall and you want to avoid working your way through the dreaded online registry, consider home security instead. Learn more about the benefits of the gift of home security, a gift that keeps on giving—peace of mind, that is, without causing clutter.

Disasters Can Strike Whenever, Wherever: 5 Tips to Prepare Before You Hit the Road

Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

It’s summertime and people are hitting the road! According to Forbes.com, 68% of Americans will go on a trip this summer. Are you one of those lucky people who get to get away? If so, whether you’re traveling by car, boat, train or plane, you need to be as ready for a disaster when away from home as you are when at home. Disasters can strike whenever and wherever—including at your house when you’re not there, or at your vacation spot. Be ready either way with these tips:

Tip 1: Have a mutual emergency contact
Have one shared point of contact should you have a house sitter or older kids who stayed home, and make it someone outside of the area if possible. If a disaster wipes out communications in your area, you want someone outside of the area to be a mutual emergency contact so that person can communicate between you and the others if necessary. Or it could be that it’s your vacation destination that’s hit. Just make sure you have that one person regardless.

Tip 2: Designate a safe place away from home
Should something happen to your home, make sure your kids know where they should go. Agree upon it ahead of time so you’re not scrambling trying to figure out where the heck they went.

Tip 3: Teach the kids how to handle the things at home
In case the kids are home when something goes wrong, make sure they know how to turn off the natural gas and to do anything else that might be necessary in the event of an emergency, like find flashlights and work the fire extinguisher. If you have a house sitter, show them.

Tip 4: Arm all with phone numbers and email addresses
Make sure everyone has all the phone numbers they might need as well as email addresses. You can’t be sure which lines of communication will be open. This means having each other’s contact information but possibly also the neighbors’ in addition to your one mutual point of contact. Also make sure these phone numbers and email addresses are written down on a piece of paper, not stored solely on a smart phone that can get lost or destroyed.

Tip 5: Enlist your neighbors
Communicate to trusted neighbors what you would like them to do in the event that a disaster strikes while you’re away. This might be a disaster at home, or where you’re vacationing. Do you want them to watch over your pets, for example, or turn off the gas at your house? Or perhaps you simply want them to keep an eye on your place? Have the tough talk.

And in the event that you can’t make it home during a road trip, make sure your cars are stocked for emergencies.

8 Ways to Make Your Home Safer This Summer—Before the Guests Arrive

What does safety mean to you? For some, it means eliminating accidents and for others it’s synonymous with home security and keeping intruders out. Regardless of your definition, being safe is always a concern, whether you’re at work or at home, at school or on the road.

But we tend to take safety in the home for granted. After all, it’s our home, our sanctuary, our place to get away from the pressures of the outside world. How can it not be safe? Sadly, in lots of ways!

So let’s change that. As the pace of life slows down for many with the end of the school year and summer stretching out before us, let’s take a little time to review our homes and make sure we aren’t overlooking any hazards—especially because we might have summer visitors we also want to keep safe!

  1. Test smoke alarms on a regular basis, at least once every few weeks. Yes, keep changing out the batteries twice a year, but make sure the batteries are still good in the meantime. During the summer, people tend to be away from home more often and might not even know a battery has died if they weren’t there to hear the beeping noise it makes when it needs replacing.
  2. Have an escape plan in case of fire, and ladders to get you safely from second-story rooms to the ground outside. It might seem awkward, but go over the escape plan with your summer guests—to be on the safe side.
  3. Speaking of fire, if you have a fire pit outside, have safety rules for everyone who sits around the fire but particularly for little ones who could be running around and end up getting burned. Adhere to these rules! And make sure kids aren’t unattended by the fire.
  4. Check for lighting inside and out to make sure you’re eliminating trip hazards by making them visible. Think about people making their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night or walking up to your front door while it’s dark outside. Consider putting lights on timers or programming your home automation system so lights are always on when needed.
  5. Also check for trip hazards, such as hoses outside and throw rugs inside. Even if you’re used to stepping over them or treading lightly so you won’t slip, think in terms of company coming over and someone unaware taking a fall because they didn’t know to tread carefully on or around that rug. If you have stairs or other uneven footing guests won’t be aware of, consider putting down colorful tape so it’s easier to see.
  6. Make doubly sure anything poisonous is well out of reach of little ones, even if your kids are older or grown and gone, since you could very well have a young visitor. This applies inside and outside the house, if you have lawn care or gardening supplies stored in your garage, for example.
  7. Make kitchen safety a habit by keeping sharp and hot items away from the edges of countertops and tablecloths that can be pulled down. If you’re barbecuing outside, follow the same rules, keeping sharp and hot objects out of reach of little ones.
  8. Double check window locks and latches, to make sure kids can’t inadvertently get a window open and possibly fall.

This is only a partial list of tips for improving the safety of your home with summer and guests in mind. Obviously other outdoor items such as swimming pools, trampolines and even play equipment require strict safety rules that you’ll want to adhere to. But these tips above should serve as reminders that it’s safety first, even within the sanctuary of your home. If you’d like a much more comprehensive list of safety tips, Real Simple offers a detailed room-by-room guide.

Everyone Should Learn to Swim: Kids, Teens and Yes, Adults…Here’s Why

I’m going to tell you a sad story, but there is a reason for it: A friend lost a grown child to drowning. His son had taken a few swimming lessons as a teenager, but didn’t like the water. He wasn’t a strong swimmer as a result, and one day with friends at a lake, he went in the water, got tangled in some plants, and drowned. He was in his early 20s with a bright future ahead of him, and then this. The family was devastated and it tore them apart.

Why am I leading with such a sad tale? Because summer is almost here and kids need to know how to swim—but so does everyone else.

Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death for children. But it claims the lives of teenagers and adults too. According to the CDC, unintentional drowning ranks fifth in the U.S. as a cause of death by injury, and of the 10 people on average who die by drowning every day, only two are children: the other eight are 15 years old and older.

My conclusion? Everyone should learn to swim.

It’s not too late
Everyone needs to know how to swim not because we’re all planning beach vacations, but because it is a safety issue. Anyone who boats or kayaks or floats down the river on an inner tube must know how to swim. But what about an accidental fall from a dock while walking around the marina? Or participating in some water-based activity while on a trip? Or or or…? There are many situations that can lead to an unintentional dunk in deep water!

So it’s time to tackle this issue. Although you might think swimming lessons are only available for youngsters, that’s not true. And even if you took some lessons as a child, if you haven’t been in the water in the many years since, you might consider some additional lessons. Just like it’s never too late to install a home security system or start wearing a seatbelt, it’s never too late to learn to swim. Researching this post, I read about a 70-year-old who took swimming lessons!

If you don’t swim or you don’t swim very well, it’s time for some adult swimming lessons. Or if your kids didn’t get lessons and now they’re teens, it’s time to close that safety gap.

Benefits beyond safety
For teens and adults, the benefits of learning to swim can go beyond safety. Swimming is a sport that’s easier on the body than running, and therefore an activity people can continue to do for physical fitness no matter their age. It’s also an activity you can do year-round, as long as you can get to an indoor pool. For those who decide they truly enjoy it, swim leagues provide opportunities for adults to compete in the sport. And for anyone who wants to compete in triathlons, swimming is required.

One final reason everyone should learn to swim
If you’re not interested in being a better swimmer for your own sake, do consider the safety factor of your children. Should your child end up in distress out in the lake while you’re camping, don’t you want to have the necessary skills to be able to swim out and help or even save them? This applies to boating and kayaking and other water sports as well. In addition, children learn more by watching what we do, not doing what we say. The children who see their mom or dad take water safety seriously, including swimming, or more likely to make better, safer choices later in their own life, decreasing the risk of their death by drowning.

As for the sad story at the beginning of this post, I think about that family every year at this time as people start to flock to lakes and rivers and boats to enjoy summer activities. And yes, I need to heed my own advice. I know how to swim but definitely do not swim well. Maybe this is

When May Means Graduation, Give Gifts to Keep Them Safe

May has definitely become the month that kicks off graduation season, with both May and June seemingly full of elementary kids moving up to middle school, and middle school to high school, and then high graduates going off the college and college graduates going off to life! Oh my!

If you have friends or family moving into a next life stage—with a transition into or out of college—consider giving gifts that put safety first, because it’s an uncertain world out there. Don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be a suit of armor or anything overly pricey. There are several ways you can give the gift of safety and security with ease…

For the kids headed to college in the fall For those graduates heading off college dorms, look for gifts at DormSmart.com. They sell “dorm room essentials” and have a section of their website focused on safety and security, including both items for sale and helpful hints. (Read more about dorm safety and security here.)

For those who will be driving, consider car safety kits, or this emergency preparedness backpack kit sold by the Red Cross. Other good ideas include gift cards for car maintenance or oil changes, so they can prepare their cars for the road trips to and fro.

For the kids headed out into the world
Not all kids are headed to college. Some will be entering the military while others go straight into the workforce (an increasingly popular choice these days). And even those going off to college won’t necessarily live in a dorm, as many choose apartments instead. (If you’ve ever had dorm food or tried to sleep in a building full of immature 18-year-olds away from home for the first time, you might not blame them!)

For those new graduates who are moving into an apartment or a home of their own, an emergency preparedness kit like the one mentioned above makes a great gift. Or pull together a few basic items they probably won’t have, like flashlights and batteries and a hand-cranked radio, and make a gift basket with those. Or make a gift basket with canned good and a can opener, in case the power goes out. These can be very clever but very useful gifts, because they help prepare the new graduate for an emergency but also get them thinking about being prepared.

And of course either the car safety kit or the emergency backpack mentioned above make great gifts for your new graduate, no matter where they are headed.

More than anything else, however, make sure you talk to them about staying safe and secure. It is a scary world out there. Talk to them about intangibles like identify theft and password concerns. Be honest with them about the importance of staying safe on campus or while out at night. Prevention really is worth a pound of cure, and their schooling probably didn’t teach them how to stay safe in the first place. So now’s your chance…

Travel Tips for Teens: Ensuring Safe Travels for Your Homeward-Bound College Student

It’s only May, but summer vacation is about to start for college students across the country, and that means teen travel, as they pack up and head home to eat everything in sight, sleep for 12 straight hours a day, and make huge piles of dirty laundry until it’s time to go back to school in the fall.

Kids at this age are somewhere between children and adults, and their commonsense hasn’t necessarily matured to the point we might prefer as they set off to make their journeys home. If you’re driving to the dorm to help them pack up and get home, you probably won’t have much to worry about. But many parents have kids going to school out-of-the-area (including me!), and it will take more than a car ride to get them home. For those kids, review these teen travel safety precautions with them, before they start that trek and end up on your doorstep.

Traveling by plane, train or bus
If your student will be traveling by plane, train or bus, make sure all arrangements are made well in advance. You don’t want to purchase a ticket only to find out your child never arranged for transportation to the airport or station, or that they didn’t know they needed to get there an hour before departure time. You’ll probably also need to work around dorm checkout times and your child’s finals, and make sure travel times fit with those.

Also review basic safety tips with your college student, including things like don’t leave their bags unattended, always keep their purse or wallet close to by their sides, be aware of people bumping into them or trying to distract them, keep their photo ID and boarding pass with them at all times, sit in crowded rather than isolated waiting areas, make sure their contact information is inside of their bags in case of lost luggage, and look up from that darn phone so they’re aware of their surroundings.

Traveling by car
If your child is driving home from school or getting a ride, you don’t have fewer worries—only different ones.

Ideally, before they even left for school last fall, you made sure they know how to check the tire pressure, fill the washer fluid, and make sure all brake lights, headlights and blinkers are working. In addition to reminding them about those pre-travel checks, encourage them to get an oil change before the trip—maybe even send them a gift card for that purpose.

It’s not only the car that must be made ready, however, it’s the child too. Review the route with them. Make sure they plan to drive only during the day, with a plan to stop every couple of hours to stretch their legs. Really stress the dangers of driving while sleepy, and, of course, make sure they know not to text and drive!

No matter how they’re traveling, charge that cell phone!
Regardless of the plane, train, bus or car that will bring your student home for the summer, make sure they leave with a fully charged phone, and that they have a power cord for charging along the way. Stress that there is no excuse for a dead phone while traveling. At all. Period.

Now, go make that bed, stock those cupboards, prep that laundry room, and get ready to welcome that hardworking student home for a summer of much-needed rest!

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Customer Reviews

I feel so much better knowing my family is protected! I spoke with SafeStreets USA in the evening and a technician was able to come install the system for me then for my parents first thing the next morning. Very impressed with his knowledge and care!

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We had our ADT system installed by SafeStreets USA and were really impressed with the service we received from our technician. He was very friendly and answered all of our questions on the system and how it worked. He set everything up in a couple of hours and was a real pleasure to talk with []

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