With a large percentage of parents in the workforce today, teenagers are finding themselves at home alone in ever-increasing numbers. Any teenager who is capable of operating a smartphone, tablet or computer is smart enough to take responsibility for his or her own safety and well-being. Below are several tips that Seattle-area teens should remember when it comes to staying safe and secure at home.
Safeguard Personal Information
Everyone knows that teenagers love to share personal information, but there are some things that should be kept private. Telling an unannounced visitor at the door or a random person on the phone that your parents aren’t home is one of those things. Spreading first and last names, home addresses and parental work schedules around on social media and mentioning the location of hidden house keys are two more types of information leaks that every teenager should try to avoid.
Restrict Uninvited Guests
One of the most popular ploys that criminals use to gain entry into a home is appearing at the door dressed as a delivery person, utility worker or government inspector. Before letting anyone into your residence, however, you should do a little homework. If the person shows up on foot or in an unmarked vehicle or seems nervous or suspicious, you’re probably better off asking them to come back later or not answering the door at all. The same goes for a friend of a friend of a friend who turns up on the doorstep unannounced.
Secure the Premises
If you’re home by yourself, it’s your responsibility to ensure that all exterior doors and windows are secure. Checking the locks takes only a few seconds and doing so can make the difference between being caught completely off-guard by a stealthy intruder and having time to take action to prevent becoming a victim. Plus, even the most vigilant parent sometimes overlooks an unlocked door or window, so making sure that the doors and windows of your home are secured is a good idea even when you’re at home with other family members.
Use Discretion On-line
You may want all your friends to know about your upcoming beach vacation or that your parents are heading out of town on a week-long second honeymoon without you, but that’s just the type of information that criminals can use to their advantage. When it comes to social media, it’s best to leave out specific details about departure and return dates or, better yet, to make postings about trips once everyone is safely back at home.
Know How Your System Works
Being familiar with your home’s security system can give you an extra layer of protection when you’re home alone. Even if you think that you already know how your system works, have a parent show you how to set and disarm the alarm and actually practice these activities with them in the house so that you can operate the system with confidence. Knowing the proper usage of your home’s security system also reduces the chance of accidentally setting the system off and sending a false alarm to the local police.
Teenagers, with their limited life experience and open-ended willingness to exchange information with almost anyone, can be weak links in any residential security set-up, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By taking extra care and implementing a few simple precautions, every Seattle teen can help his or her loved ones protect and preserve the security of the family home.