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Making the Grade with Home Safety

Allison Rhodes Image

Does your home earn high marks for safety? How safe are college dorm rooms? Whether they're at home or school, we constantly worry about our kids. The Safety Mom offers safety tips and product suggestions for keeping kids safe at home and college.

Home Alone: Protecting Latchkey Kids

Q. My son is starting high school, and he will be coming home from school before I get home from work. Are there some safety precautions I should put in place?

A. While our young teenagers seem so mature in certain ways, in other ways they’re not. Review with him what to do in case of emergencies. Be sure you have fire extinguishers in the house, and that he knows where they are and how to use them.   Also, establish a pre-designated meeting place outside the house in case there is an emergency and he needs to evacuate. It’s a good idea to alert a trusted neighbor that he will be home alone. 

For added peace of mind, consider a home security system. GE Choice Alert’s wireless home security line offers products with simple DIY installation and includes a control center with a window/door sensor kit, a garage door sensor, and an indoor/outdoor motion sensor. The security sign with a yard stake and matching window stickers send the message that your home is protected.

Play It Safe: Maintaining Recreation Equipment

Q. My kids spent most of the summer on their bicycles and outdoor playset and both definitely took a beating! Are there some “maintenance projects” I should do to keep them in good working order for next year?

A. It’s important to constantly check for any parts on the outdoor playset that may have become loose or rusted during the summer. As your children get older, the swings need to be able to support more weight. Consider installing new Swing-N-Slide Extra-Duty Swing Hangers, a Swing-N-Slide Anchor-It Kit and a Swing-N-Slide Frame Brace to be sure that all the parts are secure. Also, to make it safer for them to climb up to the slide, install Swing-N-Slide Safety Handles on the side of the ladder.

Check their bicycle for frayed cables, and replace worn-out brake pads. Oil the chain and remove any dirt and be sure that the tires are inflated to the pressure that’s recommended on the side wall of the tire. Ensure their bike helmets still fit properly, and replace the helmets with new ones if there are any cracks or they appear worn out.

Babysitter Blues: Monitoring the Nanny

Q. I have a new babysitter watching my kids after school. What safety precautions should I put in place?

A. It’s always stressful hiring a new babysitter, but clear communication as to what her responsibilities will be certainly helps. Be sure she is CPR- and First-Aid-certified and knows what to do if there is an emergency that causes her to leave the house.  It would also help you feel a bit more secure if you had a way of checking in on her. The Schlage LiNK system allows you to monitor the activities in your home wherever you are — all from a computer or cell phone. You can program the system so that you receive a text message or email whenever your babysitter arrives home with the kids. You can also verify that your doors are locked again once she leaves.

Dorm Safety: Staying Safe Away from Home

Q. My daughter just started her freshman year of college. What are some tips on college dorm safety?

A. When leaving her dorm or apartment, she should make sure that all doors and windows are locked, including the main building entry and exits. And, when arriving back home at night, tell her not to take a long time checking mail or anything else but to go right indoors. A great gift to send her is the GE Personal Security Portable Alarm kit.  There is a portable window and door alarm that will alert her if either has been opened and a keychain alarm that can be activated if she feels threatened in any way. Once activated, the keychain will emit a shrill alarm alerting a passerby that something is wrong.