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In an age where public shootings, child abductions and home robberies happen almost every day, parents across the U.S. have turned their attention to securing their family’s safety.
Although it’s important to remain vigilant, there’s a fine line between taking necessary precautions and being paranoid. While parents must teach their kids about real-life threats and how to properly handle dangerous situations, it’s not healthy to instill blind fear, either. So how can you help your family be safer, wiser, and savvier without making them terrified of everything?
Here are seven ways you can instantly make your family safer, without having to expose anyone to unnecessarily shocking information.
1) Lock Your Doors
While this may sound like some pretty generic advice, the overwhelming majority of home robberies happen because a door was simply left unlocked. It’s a relatively easy precaution to overlook, especially when there’s an absent-minded teenager present in the home, or a tween that just wants to dart out the door as quickly as possible. No matter how much faith you have in your neighbors, or how “safe” you think your neighborhood is, you should always lock your door—even if you only plan on being gone for a moment. Taking the time to double check that all windows and doors are secure could save you thousands in preventing future burglaries.
2) Get a Dog
First of all, every kid should experience having a dog. It teaches youngsters responsibility and accountability but a dog is also a great way to deter unwanted visitors. There are several guard dogs that families can consider which are not innately aggressive. If you’re looking for dog who looks big and bad but is really nothing more than a gentle giant, a Great Dane would be the perfect choice. They’re mild-mannered and low maintenance, but they look the part of a big bad guard dog.
3) Create a Family Code Word
Setting up a family code word that is only known by family members and trusted friends provides your children with an easy way to instantly discern who they can and can’t trust. Whenever you need a close friend to pick your child up from school and can’t let your child know the change of plans in advance, this is a great way for them to tell if it’s safe.
4) Search for Sex Offenders in Your Community
The thought that sex offenders could be living in your community might sound far-fetched, but it’s actually more probable than most parents would like to admit. Fortunately, a number of federal laws require all fifty states to keep updated sex offender registries, making the identities of convicted sex offenders known to the public. Parents can access this information through public records searches, either online or through locally available channels. These sites allow people to instantly find out if anyone nearby has been convicted of a sex crime, which is especially useful if you’re new to the area.
5) Invest In a Generator
Aside from potential predators or criminals, parents must also know how to keep their families safe during a natural disaster, as well as a man-made one. While a generator may be pricey, having one in times of need could save your life. During a storm, your main power source could be cut off, leaving you vulnerable. With a generator, you’ll be able to temporarily keep the power in your home regardless of whether the power lines are down. Having your lights on will also help keep away burglars or thieves that take advantage of the post-disaster chaos that typically ensues after a major storm, earthquake, flood, or tornado.
6) Download a Safety App
If you have an older child who spends time outside the home without parental supervision? Make sure they’re safe when you’re not around by ensuring their smartphone is equipped with the latest safety apps. There are several apps that let users discreetly send an emergency message to friends if they feel unsafe. Apps like On Watch let you set an alarm that sends a text and location alert to your contacts when the countdown hits zero. This are a great backup for when someone in your family finds themselves in a potentially dangerous situation.
7) Set All Social Media Profiles to Private
Online safety is just as important as home security when it comes to making your family safer. Help your teens avoid unwanted solicitation on Facebook by asking everyone in the family to change their default setting to private. Make sure that work, school, and address information is not visible to the general public.
It would also be wise to have your social media savvy children remove their profiles from being searched. Under privacy settings, in the “Who Can Look Me Up?” section, have your teens adjust their setting so that only friends can search for their timelines and disable the search engine’s ability to link to their profile in a search. This way, when some creeper Googles “16-year-old, female, San Diego” your teen’s Facebook profile won’t pop up in the search results.
A quick glance at the crime section of the Huffington Post would make any parent reel with worry over their family’s safety. But it’s important to remember that you set the temperament example in your home. If you’re constantly acting fearful of the world, your kids will learn to be afraid. Children tend to adopt their parent’s worldview so make sure to still inject a fair amount of positivity into the atmosphere of your home.
Encourage caution, not blind fear, and your family will have a greater chance of staying happy, healthy, and safe.