Tips and technology helps latchkey kids stay safe

As kids head back to school, many will soon become â??latchkey kidsâ??.

As kids head back to school, many will soon become â??latchkey kidsâ?? or kids that beat their parents home as they finish with school while the parents are still at work. However, just because the child makes it home does not mean they are completely free of danger. Parents are encouraged to talk with their children about safety protocols and procedures while staying at home alone.

â??The child needs to know who they can and cannot open the door for, who they can and cannot answer the phone for. You should teach your child how to call 911, how to get to safe places while theyâ??re on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, and not hang up until help arrives,â?? said Sergeant Chris Sheffield of the Amarillo Police Department.

APD also suggested talking to children about areas in the house where they cannot go or things they cannot use, like the oven. Officers said that children should learn to be aware of their surroundings and situations, even while at home, and that parents should talk to children about a safety plan in case of emergencies.

â??Have teachable momentsâ?¦ having them demonstrate to you that they know their name, they know their address, that they know how to call 911. They know a safety plan. Just sitting down with your child and communicating your familyâ??s safety rules is one the best things parents can do,â?? said Lt. Elizabeth Brown.

The national campaign, Take 25, asks parents to take 25 minutes to talk to their child about personal safety in several situations, including time spent home alone. Some of their suggestions include:

-Taking about who is considered a trusted adult or neighbor

-Ensuring that a child communicates before leaving home or going anywhere else

-Making sure the child learns their full name, home address and telephone number

-Discussing online safety while a parent is unable to monitor

The campaign also suggests that parents focus on the how, not who, of dangerous situations. For example, parents should discuss the safety plan of what to do when a stranger approaches the door.

While law enforcement emphasizes this open line of communication with children, new innovations and technology in home security systems could help give parents a little extra peace of mind.

The company, Vivint, offers various devices that monitor window or door activity, pin pads for locks on the doors that send notifications when they are used, applications that allow the parent to adjust and control a roomâ??s temperature, and even a camera device that can send images of a room to a parentâ??s computer or handheld device.

â??Theyâ??re able to get a veto clip of their child walking in the front door. That way they can monitor whoâ??s coming inside the home with the children. Whether it be friends or perhaps a stranger, and maybe preventing a life-threatening situation,â?? said Nikolas Balderaz, field service manager for Vivint.

Balderaz said the new products and technology have been very popular with parents who appreciate the extra piece of security.