Back to School Home Safety Tips

Posted December 28th, 2023 by SimpliSafe

Original publish date: 3rd January 2023

Last updated: 28th December 2023

Back-to-school season is in full swing, with all the excitement and chaotic mornings that come with it. When there’s lunchboxes to be packed and uniforms to be ironed, home security can sometimes take the back seat. 

School runs twice a day can leave your home vulnerable to burglars, who may be keeping an eye on homes that are routinely left vacant. Adding to this, the morning rush can also mean appliances could still be plugged in or valuables left in plain sight. To help ease the back-to-school blues, SimpliSafe has some advice for families that could help protect their homes from burglary and other emergencies during the return-to-school season. 

1. Set up a family group chat

In instances where more than one child is heading off to school and they are of an age where they have their own mobile phone, it might be good idea to set up a family group chat. This way, you can check in with everyone to see whether they’ve arrived at school or home safely, and important information can be shared easily over text or WhatsApp. For example, letting the kids know you’ll be getting home from work late. 

2. Teach your children about the importance of home security

Always communicate the importance of home security to your children. Educating them early could provide that extra layer of protection if they are home alone, and they can take these vital bits of information with them into later life. 

Make sure that they know how to operate your home’s security system by practising entering and exiting. This will give the kids and you the confidence that this process can be completed safely. Practice makes perfect, after all! 

3. Consider what you post on social media

The ‘back to school photo in uniform standing by the front door’ is almost a right of passage for those in school, particularly if you have a child starting their journey in reception. But bear in mind that even a glimpse of your child’s uniform colour could give away their location between the hours of 9am and 3pm. 

Even if you block out their school badge, there could be clues to your location in other images, and with the internet nowadays, it isn’t hard to narrow down which school wears which colours. Even if your social media profiles are private, bear in mind that the internet is permanent and photos can end up anywhere. It may be hard to shelve this proud moment, but some things should be kept off the internet. 

You should also avoid ‘update’ posts or even comments if your social media profiles are public. Even an innocuous comment such as “School run time!” or “Just dropping the kids at school!” can advertise that your home is empty at specific times, giving potential burglars and insight into your routine. Believe it or not, but burglars will use social media to learn more about their targets, and when they can infiltrate undetected.

4. Front door safety

You could also teach your kids about the importance of front door safety, reminding them that they shouldn’t answer the door to anyone if they’re home alone. They should be made aware that individuals who appear ‘nice’ on the outside might not always have good intentions. 

If someone does come to the front door, this is where your emergency contact will come in handy as they can suss out the situation. Ensure that your kids have a number they can call in this scenario. 

5. Install security cameras

Setting up both Indoor Cameras and Outdoor Cameras around your home is beneficial for various reasons, but these security devices can also be used to check whether the kids got back safely. With remote monitoring, you can keep an eye on your home wherever you are through the SimpliSafe app, receiving immediate alerts when motion is detected. In the instance that you can’t be there to confirm an emergency, those on our professional monitoring plan can rely on our monitoring centre to contact the local authorities if needed. 

6. Supervise children’s internet use

Speaking of the internet, a return to school may see your child’s online presence increase, as they use computers and the internet for homework and research projects. Having an open dialogue with your kids about the dangers of the internet and cyberbullying is crucial, but now is the time to reopen the conversation and reiterate the importance of digital vigilance. 

If they’re using social media, make sure they know the importance of not disclosing personal information or details that could compromise your home security. Getting your kids not to overshare may be difficult, but the first step is to have an open conversation about why it’s important.

7. Stranger danger

As well as covering internet safety, the dangers of interacting with strangers - whether they’re walking home from school or answering a knock at the door - should be reiterated here, too. Remind them never to talk to strangers or get in a car with someone they don't know. Tell them to come to you or another trusted adult if they are ever approached by a stranger. 

You may put your own ground rules in place regarding answering the door when there’s no adult at home, which may include not opening the door at all, or using a video doorbell to communicate with whoever is on the doorstep. If you have a home security system that’s connected to your mobile phone via an app, you may choose to monitor visitors remotely yourself. 

8. Keep entry points locked

It may seem obvious, but parents everywhere will know how hectic those mornings can get. Open/unlocked doors and windows are the most common entry points for burglars. Even if your school drop only takes you down the road, a burglary can happen is seconds - someone could be in and out by the time it takes you to get to the school gates and back. Do a quick sweep before you set off to ensure doors and easily accessible windows are closed and locked.

9. Be ready for any emergency

Burglaries aren’t the only emergencies to look out for. Flooding due to frozen or broken pipes or a fire can happen in the home at a moment’s notice, so make sure you have the necessary warning systems in place to protect your home and belongings. Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly, and replace the batteries as needed. The same goes for any water sensors and glassbreak sensors that are designed to cover your entire home.

To help reduce the chance of a fire breaking out, make sure that appliances are switched off before you leave. This includes lamps, phone chargers, hair dryers and straighteners that should be unplugged when not in use. Encourage your kids to do a last check of their bedroom before they head out. 

10. Emergency contact

Rely on an emergency contact who can tend to your kids when you can’t be there to help - this could be a trusted neighbour or a family member who lives close by. Set up multiple PINs on your SimpliSafe Keypad to ensure that they can arm and disarm your security system should they need to enter the property.  

11. Safety on the inside

Once your kids return from school, ensure they have a safe place to study and play. Their homework area should be well-lit and organised, with dangerous objects and chemicals out of reach. Ground rules for using equipment such as scissors should be in place to ensure they can complete their home projects safely. 

It’s also worth remembering that home safety and security go beyond locking your doors and windows and internet vigilance. As your kids enter this different phase of their life, be sure to keep an open dialogue with them about their day, so you can be on the lookout for any changes to their mood. Home security should be a family effort, where everyone does their part to keep things safe. Including your kids in these conversations will help them understand its importance.

12. Keep valuables hidden

Keeping your valuables hidden is a given, but the importance of this should also be communicated to your children. Again, if they’re home alone, the risk of a break-in could increase if an expensive computer or gaming device is on show. If the device can’t be moved out of view, tell them to keep the blinds closed. 

Looking to upgrade your home security? Shop our range of home security packages or build your home security system with SimpliSafe. If you have any queries or would like some further tips and tricks for using our system, please don’t hesitate to contact our dedicated customer support team.