Beyond Stranger Danger-Home Security Tips to Keep Your Children Safe When They Hear a Knock at the Door

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Beyond Stranger Danger-Home Security Tips to Keep Your Children Safe When They Hear a Knock at the Door

It’s a common scenario. You hear a knock or the ring of the doorbell and one of your kids runs to the door and opens it. The expectation is to see one of their friends or some other familiar face. But sometimes it’s a complete stranger, perhaps a solicitor or a deliveryman. In some instances, that stranger could be a criminal in disguise.

As can be seen from today’s news reports, criminals are getting more clever and posing as solicitors, utility workers, and even law enforcement personnel. In a recent home invasion in Miami Lakes, Florida, the intruders gained entry into the home by dressing as FBI agents. In another home invasion in West Covina, California, the criminals posed as police officers. 

These days you can never be sure who the person behind your door really is or what their intensions are for you and your family. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there were over 1 million home invasions between 1994 and 2010. Of those crimes, approximately 38% involved physical assault to one or more victims. In addition, 60% of reported rape cases occurred during a home invasion.

As an adult, you have more life experience and common sense than a child. Though you may be able to determine when it’s safe to open the door and when it’s not, ensuring a child’s safety involves more than a stranger danger lesson. Today’s thugs are much more clever, and they know that not everyone is going to answer the door to a stranger—but they might open the door to someone who looks like a sales rep or a utility worker or a policeman. 

To reduce the risk of having one of your children open the door to a criminal in disguise, it is important to educate your children about the potential dangers that lurk among every city and community. No matter where you live, you are just as susceptible to residential crimes such as burglary and home invasions as anyone else. As home security expert, Jordan Frankel, will tell you, CRIMINALS DO NOT DISCRIMINATE. Keeping your family safe requires educating yourself and sharing that knowledge with your children and implementing safe home security practices.

The following are some important home security tips to keep your children safe when they hear a knock at the door.

Tip #1: Teach your children the golden rule of home security—NEVER open the door to a stranger. If you live in a cul-de-sac or on a street with lots of children, it may be common to have kids come knocking at all times of the day. Because of this, your child(ren) may be conditioned to run to the door and open it without even looking to see who it is. While the safest practice is to not allow children to answer the door, this isn’t always practical. If you are going to allow your child to answer the door, you must first educate him or her on the potential dangers. Next, you must provide a safe way for your child to see who is at the door without opening it. If the person on the other side of the door is a stranger, they must not open the door. It is also important to teach them the definition of a stranger, and in this case it means “anyone they don’t know.” Teach them that people dressed as salespeople, utility workers, police officers, etc. are also strangers. Unless the person on the other side of the door is a friend or family member, they are not to open the door. 

Tip #2: Provide a way for your child(ren) to see who is at the door without opening it. If you have smaller children, looking through the peephole may not be an option unless they have a chair or stepstool to stand on. To prevent a child’s temptation to answer the door to see who it is, provide a way for him or her to see who is at the door without opening it. This can be done by installing another peephole that is at their eye level. Another option is to install an electronic peephole, doorbell, or surveillance camera with a portable LCD monitor. These home security devices make it easy to see who is at the door without even going to the door. Just make sure the LDC monitor is located in a place that makes it easy for your child to see.

Tip #3: Install a heavy duty security door brace at the base of your front door. Though you don’t want your child to open the door to strangers, you can never be too safe—especially if your child is home alone. Home invasion criminals are notorious for forcing their way through locked doors by kicking them in or busting through with a body slam. There is a home security device, however, that is designed to prevent such forcible entries. It is called a security door brace and it can be easily installed at the base of your front door without much effort. The device is also easy to engage, even by a child. The OnGARD security door provides an excellent video demonstration of how effective this home security device is at preventing a forcible entry through a front door. Click here to view the OnGARD security door brace demo.

Tip #4: Teach your children what to do when a stranger shows up at the door. You don’t have to make your children feel afraid whenever someone knocks at the door to get them to listen to you. With a little education and some practice, your kids will learn what to do should a stranger come knocking one day. In addition to teaching them not to open the door to a stranger, teach them what to do after they see a stranger at the door. If you or another adult is home, teach your child to notify you or another grownup in the home so that the situation can be handled by that person. If you are smart, like your child, you and other adult family members will also follow the golden rule and never open the door to a stranger. If your child is alone at home when a stranger comes knocking, teach your child to stay quiet then go to a safe area in the home where they can call you, their other parent, or a neighbor. Make sure you have a safety plan in place for such situations. Perhaps you have a neighbor who can go outside and ask the stranger to leave. If your child feels unsafe in any way, teach him or her how to call 911 and where to hide until help arrives. 

Keeping Children Safe Requires Home Security Education

Like adults, children also require home security education. Adding the above safety measures to your security plan will help keep your children safe should a potentially dangerous stranger ever come knocking.