Back to School Home Safety Tips

Published: August 21, 2023 by  Marguerite Cotter

PhoneWatch, Ireland’s leading home security company, have some home safety tips for families to protect their home from burglary and fire during back to school.

It’s almost back to school time again and with the new term most parents will find themselves consumed by organizing school lunches and ironing uniforms, which can often result in home safety being neglected. Kids heading back to school can make your home more prone to burglary due to the home being more vacant and vulnerable in the eyes of prying burglars. This is especially true when the evenings start closing in with most burglaries occurring at night. Fire incidents can also increase as items can be left plugged in during the rush to make the bus or school run and the increasing use of electronics during the longer nights.  

As back to school preparation begins, PhoneWatch Ireland’s leading home security company, has some advice for families to help protect their home from burglary and fire during the school season. 


Protecting your home from burglary 

PhoneWatch recommends households to take the following measures to protect their home from burglary during the school season: 

  1. Keep windows closed when not at home: 
    Open doors or windows are often the most common entry point for burglars. With back to school, many families can leave them open as they believe they will only be gone to drop the kids off at school for a few minutes. However, burglaries happen in seconds, especially if a home is being surveilled. Make sure all entry points are locked when you leave the house. 
  2. Don't Advertise Absence:  
    Don’t broadcast your plans on social media especially if your social media profiles are public. Little notifications like “Just dropping the kids to school” can provide potential burglars with vital information about your schedule and routine. They will then know when your home is likely to be unoccupied. 
  3. Teach your kids about internet safety: 
    Ensure your kids are also using the internet safely and not disclosing information that could compromise your home security. Preventing your kids from oversharing on social media may be difficult but the first step is having a conversation on the importance of not sharing too much information online. 
  4. Stranger Safety: 
    Review guidelines with your child about interacting with strangers, even when they're at home. Burglars can use information shared online to target your home. 
  5. Arm your alarm: 
    Its important to have your house alarm armed even when you are home. If you do not have a house alarm, you should consider getting one. PhoneWatch, as Ireland’s most popular house alarm, have conducted research which found that homes with a monitored alarm are 4.5 times less likely to experience a break in. Ensure your child knows how to use it in case of emergency. 
  6. Use timers for lights: 
    Use timers to turn on lights, TVs, or radios at different times throughout the day. This can create the illusion that someone is home. 
  7. Keep valuables out of sight: 
    Ensure expensive items such as computers, tablets, phones, or jewellery are out of sight or stored in safes or other inconspicuous and secure locations. Also be mindful of where you store your car keys at night, so they are not easily retrieved during a break-in. 


Practicing Fire Safety  

As kids return to school, PhoneWatch suggests households take the following precautions to minimize the risk of fire: 

  1. Ensure smoke detectors are working: 
    Always have a smoke detector installed at home. Regularly, check smoke detectors and replace batteries as needed. Did you know that with a Phonewatch alarm you get a smoke sensor as standard, and this is fully monitored by us even when your alarm is not armed.  So, if there is any detection of smoke, our Alarm Receiving Centre will take action!   
  2. Have a fire escape plan: 
    Develop and practice a fire escape plan with your family, designating meeting points outside the home. 
  3. Do not leave appliances plugged in: 
    Ensure all appliances are not left on prior to leaving your home. Try to encourage your kids not to leave items plugged in when not in use and always to double check nothing is left on prior to leaving for school. 
  4. Have home alone rules for kids: 
    If your child is old enough to stay home alone when they return from school, establish clear guidelines for safety, including not opening the door to strangers and using kitchen appliances responsibly. Teach your child about electrical safety, including not overloading outlets and cords and not playing with electrical appliances. 
  5. Consider smart home technology: 
    Use smart home technology like PhoneWatch’s smart plugs, which can connect with your home alarm to remotely control lights, thermostats, and security systems, giving the appearance that someone is home. 
  6. Keep your kids' toys organized: 
    Toys are often made from highly flammable materials. Be sure that children know to always keep all toys away from fires or heaters. Make sure older kids know not to leave electric scooters plugged in while nobody is home. 
  7. Do not leave candles unattended: 
    As the nights get darker, always keep a close eye on candles and ensure they are turned off when you are not home. 

Marguerite Cotter, Marketing Director of PhoneWatch, said “Back to school is a busy time for many of us.  The school run is an opportune time for burglars to target your home. Remember burglars are savvy and in most cases have been watching a home to build up a knowledge of the comings and goings. So even if the school run only takes you 20 mins – always make sure you leave your home safe and secure, because a burglary can take as little as 5 minutes.” 

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