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Back to School Child Safety Tips

by Cassie August 9, 2016

School Safety Tips

The school year is starting up. While you are out buying school supplies and new outfits, take the time to teach your children school safety tips as well. Review safety tips for transportation and also emergency contact information. If an emergency does arise, be confident that your child will know what to do because you’ve taught them how to respond. Use these safety tips to ensure your child stays safe this school year.

School Bus Safety: The American Red Cross informs children on how to stay safe while riding the school bus. Security tips include how to wait to board the bus until it has come to a complete stop and the driver instructs them to get on. Your child should ensure that they are always getting on to their designated school bus, no alternatives.
Carpool Safety: If your neighborhood is participating in a carpool, make sure that every driver in the group is following proper safety protocol. All passengers need to be buckled, and anyone who is under 13 years old should travel in the back. Never attempt to overload a car full of children to save a trip. Travel safety tips are available on and provide feedback for parents on how to keep their children safe on the way to and from school.
Walking Safety: Children 10 years old and younger should always be accompanied by an adult on their way to and from school. Teach them the basic traffic laws of a walking pedestrian by abiding by crosswalk rules and walking traffic lights. Inform them to always look both ways before crossing any streets and avoid approaching strangers if possible.
Stranger Danger: Make sure to inform your child of “Stranger Danger.” It is not wise to create panic necessarily, but it is essential to explain to your child that not all people have good intentions and it is possible for bad things to happen when dealing with strangers.
Contact Information: It is important that your child remembers what number to call in case there is an emergency. All children should know their home phone number and address. Try to get them to memorize your personal phone number, and give them a piece of paper to keep in their backpack with all other emergency contacts.
Know School Policy: Determine the policy for your school in case of an emergency. It is also important to know their policies on releasing students early from school and what is needed from visitors. It is important for you to feel that your child is always safe while at school.
After School: suggests many tips to teach your children if they are going to be coming home to an empty house after school. It is important that you teach them how to be safe while they are home alone. Show them to lock the front door as soon as they come home, and to keep all other doors locked while you are not home. Your child should also never answer the front door to any strangers while no one else is home. My Alarm Center offers home security systems, that enable parents to receive alerts when children arrive home.

Whether your child is at school, coming to or from school, or home alone after school, make sure they always know what to do in order to stay safe. Role playing is suggested by experts so that you know exactly how your child will respond in an emergency situation and teach them how to handle it properly.


Home Automation Gifts for Dad

by Cassie June 13, 2016


Home Automation Gift

Home Automation Gifts for Dad

This year for Father’s Day, get your dad the gift of home automation. Not only will he love receiving the latest technology, but he will gain daily convenience and peace of mind, with increased home security.  Here are a few of the ways that home automation can help simplify his life and increase your family’s home security:

Keep Doors and Windows Closed

By providing your dad with a home automation system, he won’t have to worry if the garage door was left open once he sits down to relax for the night. Through automated sensors, he can simply check from his mobile device and close it with the push of a button and rest easy knowing that his lawn equipment or big kid toys are secured. Dad can check for open windows while traveling and ensure that the home is secure from anywhere.

Adjust the Thermostat

Many dads take responsibility for managing the thermostat to reduce heating costs. Most often, Dads choose to keep the house cool at night and then adjust it in the morning, to a more comfortable temperature. With smart home technology, Dad can adjust the temperature right from his mobile device or schedule the temperate change to occur at customized times of the day or night, ongoing. Manually changing the thermostat is a fatherly task of the past.

Improve Home Security

When we hear a bump in the night, Dad is usually the one who investigates. Now, he can be the protector of the castle without leaving his bedroom. Using wireless cellular monitoring, and a smart home app, Dad can monitor surveillance cameras to check on the family. Dad can also ensure that the home is secure while traveling, providing increased rest and relaxation.

Eliminate Keys

Dad will never have to worry about locking out any family members or hiding a spare key. Secure key pads provide an easy way to unlock the door through the home automation system. He’ll never have to wonder if the kids are able to get into the house after school or if the dog walker made it in time, giving him undeniable peace of mind. He can allow contractors or friends into the home remotely with the touch of a button and reduce security risks caused by handing out spare keys.

Keep Tabs on the Family

Dad will now have the ability to receive alerts on home arrivals and departures. Home sensors detect motion and alert Dad to movement in designated locations in the home, even ones that are out of sight.

Detect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide

Monitored smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors give Dad peace of mind and protects your family’s home and pets. This smart home gadget sends mobile device notifications and alerts local authorities in the event of smoke or carbon monoxide detection, even when no one is home. This way, your home and pets are safe even when family members aren’t present. It can work with or without a home security system being armed and is professional monitored for total peace of mind.

When deciding what gift to get Dad for Father’s Day, home automation is the gift that keeps giving peace of mind and convenience, every day. The benefit list doesn’t end here! Contact My Alarm Center to learn more about home automation and the packages we offer from coast to coast, from Philadelphia to Seattle.

5 Secrets Home Burglars Are Keeping from You

by Cassie April 13, 2016

Home Break In

It is every home owner’s worst nightmare. Returning home from a relaxing vacation with your family only to find your home has been ravaged and ransacked. Every drawer is turned over, photographs litter the floor, household items destroyed, and prized personal belongings are just gone. Why me? What could I have done to prevent this from happening to me? Should I have gotten one of those home security systems and security cameras?

Prevent this from happening to you. Here are five secrets burglars don’t want you to know to prevent a home security breach:

1. They watch your house. You may remember them. That friendly passerby walking his dog that waved when you walked out to get the mail wasn’t just a new face in the neighborhood, he was staking out your house. What could he see when your door was open? Nice furniture, big TVs, gaming systems? Or the repair man that walked through your home to the kitchen to fix the sink. He really was just as nice as could be, but he was really analyzing the layout of your house. What is the best way to get upstairs, where jewelry, money, and prescription drugs are kept? Anything valuable downstairs that could be easily grabbed on the way out?

2. They avoid houses with dogs, too much risk. Burglars avoid houses with dogs. Why risk breaking into a house with an alive alarm system that can bite? So yes, even little Fido is protecting you.

3. No matter how safe your neighborhood is, an unlocked door or window might as well be an invitation. Five minutes is plenty of time to rob you blind when the front door is unlocked. The barrier between them and your home is gone, now they can quickly get in and out without anything in their way.

4. Have neighbors pick up your mail, newspapers, shovel your driveway, anything that makes it look like someone’s home when you are out of town. Full mailboxes and newspapers in the driveway screams that no one is home and hasn’t been for a few days. For those semi-professional burglars, they may know which day of the week is garbage day after casing the neighborhood for a few weeks and target a house that did not put their garbage cans out.

5. Home security systems and security cameras work! One of the main reasons thieves have decided to break into your home is because it’s easy and they aren’t likely to get caught. When they are casing a house to rob, that is one thing they look out for. Is there a camera that will show my face? Is there an alarm system that will alert police, who will be waiting for me when I step outside the house? Most importantly, advertise that you have one of the home security systems and security cameras! Don’t be shy! Make sure to get a My Alarm Center sign to put in your yard that you can display clearly.

4 Ways to Secure Your Home Technology

by Cassie March 15, 2016

Home Technology Security

Home security measures are not limited to your alarm system, surveillance cameras, or monitored fire detectors. Something as innocuous as a computer can become a thief’s most effective tool in stealing your personal information. Online files could also be manipulated or corrupted to spread viruses across large networks in minutes before anyone knows what is going on. With that in mind, what can you do to secure your physical and digital technological assets?

1. Secure All Devices and Servers with Strong Passwords

At a minimum, you will want to secure your computer, your smartphone and your tablet with a password. You should also use a password to protect your WiFi network as that can reduce the odds that anyone uses a baby monitor or your smart home thermostat system to get a glimpse into your home. Passwords should have both uppercase and lowercase numbers as well as numbers and symbols. Furthermore, you should change your password every 30 days to keep potential hackers guessing.

2. Never Transmit Sensitive Files or Personal Information Without Encryption

Everything that you either upload to the Internet or transmit over the Internet should be encrypted whenever possible. This reduces the odds that someone sees your social security number, a credit card number or any other information that could be used to steal your identity or put yourself or your family in danger. To tell if a website is securely encrypted, look for https: rather than http: in the URL.

3. Use Parental Controls to Limit What Your Kids Can Do

While you may understand that you don’t just share information online or have security settings set to your preferences, your kids may not appreciate or share your concern. They are likely more concerned with getting to their favorite website or social network to see what their friends are up to. Using parental controls will restrict what sites that they can access or what they can do to the device itself. Controls may even lock them out after a certain amount of screen time each day or during times when you can’t monitor what they are up to. Two examples of common parental control services include, a kid safe search engine provided by Google and Net Nanny, a paid software that provides customized, parent selected restrictions and monitoring.

4. Report Any Suspicious Activity to Your ISP

If you see a file that you didn’t download to your computer or believe that you have a virus that could be tracking your keystrokes or other activities, contact your ISP immediately. It may be possible to get a log of who accessed your computer or your network. If you do have a virus or a trojan loaded to your computer, it may be necessary to see a professional to have it removed immediately.

While you can’t guarantee that your devices or files will be 100 percent secure, there are steps that you can take to reduce the odds of a security breach. Strong passwords, knowing who is using a given device in your house and reporting suspicious activity can keep you and your devices safe from hackers and thieves. Being mindful of both physical and digital home security measures will help protect your family and home.

We Once Threw Snowballs At Santa Claus, or How Philadelphians Get Into The Holiday Spirit

by Cassie December 15, 2015

Philadelphia Art Museum

As Philadelphians, we wear our contradictions with pride. We’re the City of Brotherly Love, but we’re also some of the most hated (or feared, as we prefer) sports fans in the U.S. And while our paradoxes don’t stop at the holidays – we are the city who booed Santa Claus (Look, we had reason: The Eagles were 2-11 that season.) – Philadelphia loves the holidays.

No, really. Our city loves this season. Just look around the city, and you’ll see entire row-house rows outfitted in beautiful lights. You’ll see candles in the windows. Santas sprinkle the city (and usually, they don’t get booed or snowballed). And Philadelphia’s Christmas events, attractions and things to do – they’re absolutely abundant. And completely magical.

Here’s a rundown of our favorite Philadelphia holiday events for 2015:

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest (November 27-March 6)

While not strictly holiday, there are few things that mark the Philadelphia holiday season more than a winterized Penn’s Landing. The Delaware riverfront location is always picturesque, but add in some decorated trees, holiday lights, and cozy fire pits, and this city favorite screams holiday cheer. Rent some skates (or bring your own), warm up in the heated tent, down some hot cocoa, and then head out onto the frozen surface to make some winter memories.

 Macy’s Christmas Lights Show (November 27-December 31)

Longtime Philadelphians remember this as the Wanamaker light show, and today Macy’s carries on the beloved tradition. Since 1956, Philadelphians have made the pilgrimage to watch the Christmas Light Show: 100,000 LED lights that depict seasonal scenes to the tunes of the Wanamaker Organ and Julie Andrews’ melodic narration.

Franklin Square’s Electrical Spectacle (November 12-December 31)

Leave it to a park named after Ben Franklin, to create one of the best, most beloved light shows of the season: the annual Electrical Spectacle. The spectacular display runs everyday, every 30 minutes from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is a true and enduring delight for the city’s kids (and their parents).

The Christmas Village (November 21-December 27)

If you associate the holidays with old-fashioned coziness, get thee over to Philadelphia’s own Christmas Village, housed at Love Park. The German-themed, open-air market pays homage to our state’s roots while offering up awesome and one-of-a-kind gifts from 60+ vendors at 90+ wooden booths.

The Holiday Railroad at Reading Terminal Market (November 27-December 31)

If you find yourself in Center City with a train lover, head on over the Reading Terminal Market. Located right by the piano court is a 500 square-foot holiday railroad, complete with 14 working train lines and plenty of holiday cheer.

Adventure Aquarium’s Christmas Celebration (December 4-31)

While technically not in Philly, the Adventure Aquarium is an honorable member of our fine city, which means we can include it on our list of favorite holiday events. And that’s a good thing, since Santa goes swimming every year at Camden’s aquarium.

Christmas at Longwood Gardens (November 26-January 10)

If you’ve only visited Longwood during the warmer months, you’re in for a huge treat. Every year, the beautiful gardens are outfitted in a half-million twinkling lights, decking the halls (and trees) with jaw-dropping displays.

Happy holidays, Philly! Try not to throw snowballs at Santa this year.

Safe Toys & Gifts Month

by Cassie December 1, 2015

Safe Toy Month

December marks the annual safe toys and gifts month – fittingly, as surely ’tis the season for giving and receiving.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking hey, it’s a toy; it must be safe! But while toys are closely regulated, and while toys are designed with kiddos in mind, that doesn’t mean they’re universally safe. There are recalls. There are loose parts. There are long strings. There are many potential safety issues, which are compounded when people don’t follow age recommendations. (For example, giving a 2-year-old a toy marked 4+.)

But relax. There’s plenty you can do, before and after unwrapping, to ensure all the little ones you love are safe. Read on for tips on choosing (and checking for) safe toys and gifts this holiday season:

Use Your Eyes

The simplest test is to look at a toy. Does it have sharp corners; is it pointed; does it have long strings that could wrap around a little neck? (Tip: 7 inches is the absolute longest length for a safe toy.)

 Get Out Your Measuring Tape

One of the biggest safety concerns is choking. Toys for the youngest crowd (generally, infants through preschoolers) should be large enough that they’ll be impossible to swallow. If you’re buying many gifts, consider getting a small-parts tester (essentially, a tube to mimic a small child’s windpipe); otherwise, check that even the smallest parts measure more than 1.25″ wide and 2.25″ long.

Check Age Recommendations

It’s tempting to buy gifts based on a child’s interests, despite marked age recommendations. But often, the age suggestion is not determined by development but by safety; universal interest toys marketed for older ages usually have small parts that pose choking hazards, or other dangers to little ones.

 Beware of Fire Hazard

Toys with electrical elements or fabric should be carefully labeled regarding fire hazard. Fabrics should be marked as flame retardant, while electrical toys will have plugin recommendations. Additionally, electrical toys with heating elements are appropriate only for ages 8+.

Check for Lead

You’d think lead-paint problems were in the past, but unfortunately they’re not. At least, not entirely. Err on the safe side, and only purchase painted toys specifically labeled as lead free.

 Check for Toxicity

Speaking of lead, that’s not the only toxic concern: kids put toys in their mouths all the time. For any art supplies, or really any toy for the under-5 crowd, double-check that it’s labeled as non-toxic.

Listen to a Toy

Toys that make noise can be fun – said no parent ever. But if you’re really going down that rabbit hole, test out the sound first. Some toys can make noise as loud as a car’s horn; put to a child’s ear (and kids are wont to do), these noisemakers can cause permanent hearing damage.

Doublecheck Safety Standards

Most toys are labeled as passing their relative safety standards. For example, the above-mentioned electronics should always be labeled UL, which indicates they meet the standards set by Underwriters Laboratories. Bikes, scooters and similar toys, plus their safety gear, are usually certified by the CPSC or Snell.


Generosity is a wonderful thing. This year, give as best you can but please, always give safely. Happy holidays!

Famous Horror Movie Safety Tips: What They Could Have Done Differently

by Cassie October 21, 2015

Horror Movie Safety Tips

Turn off the lights. Queue the creepy music. Grab the popcorn. But if you hear a squeaky floorboard, whatever you do, DO NOT ask, “Who’s there?”

I am an unabashed horror fan. Old movies, B movies, ridiculous sequels, parodies – bring ’em on. I love a good scare. And so, to celebrate the horrors of October, I thought we could do a little something fun. And that’s to look at fatal horror movie errors that almost guarantee a character death. Oh, and how they could have been avoided, of course. Safety first!

Don’t: Run From Danger
Sprinting from danger can seem like a very good idea – fight or flight, right? and who wants to fight a serial killer? – but as seen in modern classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (and many, many others of its ilk), it’s not that great of an idea. In fact, it’s a pretty good way to not be around much longer. That’s because when we’re panicked, running flat-out and not watching the terrain, falling is a given. Falling flat on our faces is likely.

They might have lived if… They had practiced their fire/emergency escape plan (chainsaw-wielding serial killers totally qualify as an emergency). Practice, practice, practice, and they’d have been able to evacuate with their eyes closed, no falling prey to crazed killers.

Do: Get a Good Night’s Sleep
There are few villains more nightmarish than Freddy Krueger, amiright? For more than 30 years, his disfigured face and sharp talons have haunted horror-lovers everywhere. In addition to unsettling dreams, do you know what he’s given us? The knowledge that being too tired is downright detrimental to our health.

They might have lived if… They’d gotten a solid night’s sleep. Everyone’s needs and rhythms are different, but experts agree that most of us need a solid 7-9 hours. Getting enough sleep not only fuels your day, but can help you stave off illness, be more productive, and enjoy better moods. Plus, if anyone ever comes to haunt your nightmares you’ll be able to stay awake… at least for a little while.

Don’t: Assume the Villain is Dead
This one’s so cliché, you can see it in your head: The last remaining characters, standing over the villain’s “corpse,” weeping in relief. Then, BAM! The killer pops up and slays a few more, bringing the survivor count down significantly. Moral of the story: Don’t let your guard down and don’t assume “the killer’s dead”.

The might have lived if… They’d called the police. Look, horror movies notwithstanding, it’s not a good idea to play the superhero. If you fear a break-in or other risk to your safety, call the police. Then, wait for their arrival. Do not face a burglar on your own.

Do: Perform Regular Car Maintenance
Never does a dead battery or flat tire result in so dire a situation than in a horror movie, where a bum car can get you killed. (Tune in to Night of the Living Dead, and you’ll know what I mean. See you in 96 minutes!)

They might have lived if… They’d taken their car to a mechanic. We all go in from time to time (or do it ourselves), whether it’s for an oil change, to rotate our tires, or for those pesky annual inspections. Ask your mechanic to do a full once-over, and you’ll have a better chance of avoiding the horrors of a car break-down.

Real Life Crime Fighter, Phoenix Jones, Fighting Crime in Seattle

by Cassie October 8, 2015

National Crime Prevention Month

Did you know that October is National Crime Prevention Month?

It’s an appropriate match, given the season – a month of frightful diversions, Halloween dress-up, and other spooky activities. And for the last 31 years, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC, aka Officer McGruff the Crime Dog) has designated this month to spread the word about crime prevention and awareness, including important issues like victimization, volunteerism, and ways we can all contribute to safer and more caring communities.

Obviously, this topic is near and dear to us; we’re all about helping keep our communities (and your families and homes) safe. So in the spirit of both Halloween dress-up and the crime-fighting season, we thought we’d throw a spotlight on a local superhero: Phoenix Jones.

Phoenix Jones: Seattle Crime-Fighting Superhero
Have you heard of Phoenix Jones aka Ben Fodor? He’s a local legend in Seattle, thanks to his real-life superhero actions – mask and all!

The story goes like this: A few years ago, Jones’s car was broken into. After the fact, Jones learned that several people had witnessed the vandalism, but no one had done anything. But the real kicker was that Jones’s young son had been cut on the broken windows surrounding the vehicle. The community’s inaction had unintentionally resulted in a child’s injury.

Fast-forward to a second incident, when Jones’s friend was assaulted near a crowd – a crowd that did nothing to help – and the Seattleite’s secret identity was born. The vigilante dons full superhero getup – a bulletproof vest, stab plating, pepper spray, handcuffs, first aid kit and, yes, a mask – to help fight crime.

His reported good deeds include chasing off car thieves, discouraging drunk driving, breaking up fights, and subduing suspects until police arrive for an arrest.

We Can’t All Be Superheroes: How You Can Help
The thing is, as much as we cheer for the good guy – for brave souls like Phoenix Jones – we can’t all be superheroes. And in fact, the police don’t want us to be. Strictly speaking, vigilantism isn’t something law enforcement would encourage, since street superheroes do not receive formal training in how to respond to life-threatening situations.

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t help. The NCPC offers up several things you can do to promote crime prevention in your community, among them:

• Download the Crime Prevention Month Kits, offered by NCPC which cover important topics like keeping kids out of gangs and protecting your assets.
• Request a police department photo op with McGruff the Crime Dog. Don’t forget to invite local schools to attend!
• Suggest your local paper publish a crime-prevention series throughout the month.
• Invite Officer McGruff to your local Halloween parade.

Be a local superhero: spread awareness about crime prevention in October!

A Safety in Football is only 2 points, but Safety to us is Immeasurable!

by Cassie September 3, 2015

Football & Safety



Ba-dum-ching! (You see what we did there?)

Okay, okay, all punning – or would that be punting?! – aside, it’s fall and that means one thing: football season! And that in turn means we’re looking forward to a season’s worth of Sunday and Monday evenings, rooting for our two home teams, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Seattle Seahawks. Who’s with us?

So here’s the thing: We can’t all play pro football, but we can emulate our favorite players. And since we’re all about safeties – okay, no more punning, we promise! – we want to highlight a few ways we can take our cues from the pros about personal health and safety at home.

Stretch Like a Pro

We bet you’ve never stretched before raking leaves, but you should! Scientists are still undecided on whether stretching prevents injury, but stretching definitely helps warm up your muscles and has been shown to reduce soreness after unfamiliar exercise. And as we get older and creakier, new activity – like a-few-times-a-year intense raking – is guaranteed to hurt the next day. And the next and the next, if we’re unlucky.

Do yourself a favor and copy the pros: stretch your arms, legs, hips and especially your back before you bend, squat, and scoop up leaves. Or prep the garden for winter, or do a massive fall cleaning, or start any other major physical activity that will challenge your muscles.

Get Active

Fall is such a great time to get active: temperatures are cooling but there’s still plenty of sunlight; kids are back in school so you can create solid routines; and the air has that delicious crispness that makes you want to spend all your time outside, inhaling the sweet, sweet scent.

It’s a great time to get physical (just ask the pros) – to improve your health through safe, fun outdoor activity. So toss a ball around the backyard, or go big and organize a neighborhood pickup game. (There’s no shame in flag football.) Celebrate the season with a barbecue and old-fashioned backyard games, like horseshoes, bean toss, and croquet. Whatever gets you moving is good in our book.

Teamwork is Where it’s At

Fall isn’t all fun and games: like spring, there’s something about the transition of season that urges organization and deep-cleaning. So whether you’re planning to overhaul the garage, tackle the attic, or weatherproof the basement, you probably have some Major Task on your fall to-do list.

Here’s the football advice: do as the pros do, and don’t go it alone. The best efforts are coordinated, so enlist the help of your family or friends. At the very least, laborious tasks aren’t quite as boring with company; at the most, you’ll have an extra hand to help reach high, lift heavy, or steady a ladder – all things that will keep you safe and make your tasks immeasurably easier.

It’s That Time Again! 6 Back to School Safety Tips

by Cassie August 26, 2015

Be Safe Going Back to School

We know. We know! It’s already August, and that means your family focus has honed in on one thing: it’s back to school time.

The start of school is exciting. It’s a flurry of activity – school supply shopping, clothes to buy, and there may be a new backpack in store. There are decisions to be made, perhaps a new bus stop to investigate, and a school lunch menu to pore over.

And of course, there are new safety concerns: street crossings on the way to the bus stop or school, heavy backpacks, and after-school hours home alone. Take some of the anxiety out of your preparations with our back to school safety tips:

1. Practice Walking Safety
Depending on their age – and provided your kids are conscientious about street safety – walking to the bus stop (or school) is a great way for them to learn personal responsibility. If you’re ready to let your children walk alone, be sure to practice the walking route a few times before school starts. Make sure they know the route well, including being familiar with potential danger areas. If you can, encourage your kids to walk with a friend or other children from the neighborhood.

2. Practice Bike Safety
If your kids ride bikes to school, our walking guidelines still apply; for example, be sure to practice the route in advance. Additionally, make sure your kids know to ride single file, on the right-hand side of the road. They should always come to a full stop before crossing the street, and should walk their bike through all crossings. Be sure they wear a helmet at all times.

3. Practice Bus Safety
If your kiddo rides the bus, much of their safety is taken care of but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few tips to impart: teach them to stand far from the curb – at least three steps is a good rule of thumb – and to always, always cross the street in front of the bus, at least 10 feet from the front windshield. And even though cars should be stopped both ways, your kids should always look left-right-left before crossing.

4. Stranger Danger
Even older kids may need a reminder: Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when walking alone. Remind walkers that if they ever suspect they’re being followed, or if a stranger ever approaches them on the street, that they should state aloud, “You’re not my mom/dad!” and immediately seek out a trusted adult or neighbor, or even a nearby business, library, police station or other public safety zone.

5. Backpack Wisely
What with binders, folders, notebooks and multiple subjects’ worth of textbooks, your kids’ backpacks bulk up fast. Keep their backs safe with an ergonomic model (yes, really! they exist), which will help distribute the weight. Also, keep backpacks to less than 20% of a child’s body weight, e.g. no more than 20 pounds for a 100-pound student.

6. Home Alone Precautions
We’re not talking comedic, movie-worth booby traps; we’re focused more on simple things you can do when your kids get home before you do. Precautions can be as simple as asking your kids to text when they get home, to notifying any stay-at-home-neighbors that your kids will be home alone for a few hours everyday (and letting your kids know that they can always contact said neighbors for help).

Also consider the advantages of smart home safety. New technology makes it possible for your locks to auto-text you when your kids walk in the door, or your camera security system to send you a video of your kids doing their homework. You can even set smart appliances to have a warm, nutritious after-school snack ready and waiting.

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