Preteens – those few years just before 13 — have it rough. They’re no longer little kids, but not yet teenagers. They’re bodies are changing, but their minds and judgment often haven’t caught up. You’re still in charge, but rules are being challenged and sometimes ignored.
Keeping preteens safe at home requires clear guidelines – write them down – that children understand and follow. Here’s what should be on their home safety checklist.
1. Doors Should Remain Locked
Even if you’re home, it’s a good idea to keep doors locked. Many security companies now offer home locks you can open with codes or remotely with your cellphone. Preteens staying home alone should never unlock a door unless they are expecting someone. And then, they should visually confirm who’s at the door before opening it.
If you have coded locks, stress to your preteen that the code is private and should never be shared with friends, even their bestie. If you think the code has become public knowledge, change it.
2. Microwave Rules
The microwave is a great tool for preparing after school snacks. But your preteen must know the safe way to use the small appliance. Here are some guidelines.
- Don’t let children use the microwave until they are tall enough to pull food out safely. If they still have to reach up to the microwave, they aren’t ready to use it themselves.
- Teach children how to open hot containers to let out steam slowly to avoid burns.
- Tell children never to put anything metal in the microwave, which can cause fires.
- Show preteens how to stir and test microwaved food to make sure it’s not too hot before eating.
- Tell children never to leave the kitchen when something is cooking.
3. Fire Safety
Even though you think your preteen knows better than to play with matches, it’s still a good idea to hide or store safely matches, lighters, butane and gasoline. Let your child know that these flammables are not toys and should never be used when you’re not home.
It’s also a good idea to install monitored smoke detectors that will alert you and a monitoring station when smoke is sensed.
4. Lock the Booze
Preteens are curious about everything, particularly those things that seem reserved for grown-ups, like drinking alcohol. It’s a good idea to keep your booze locked up, to help your kids resist temptation when you’re not around.
Ask your home security provider about sensors you can apply to doors, cabinets and closets where you store liquor. If your kids violate those areas, you’ll receive an alert on your cellphone or computer.
5. Home Emergency Preparedness
Make sure you keep an up-to-date list of emergency numbers your child can call in case of fire, intruders or health problems. Then play, “What If,” to rehearse with your child measures he would take if a fire broke out – get out of the house, then call for help – or other bad things your emergency preparedness plan covers.
A preteen is old enough to learn some basic first aid techniques, like bandaging a small cut and applying ice to bumps and strains. Make sure he knows where the first aid kit is and how to use its contents. Also, he can download the Red Cross First Aid App, which provides expert advice for everyday emergencies.