What should parents do if they aren’t able to get time off work, and their children are potentially alone at home during the holidays?

Many parents work through the school holidays so kids are looked after by a family member or domestic worker or simply stay at home by themselves. Whatever your situation is, kids can have a great holiday while staying safe by following simple advice.

Here are some pointers:

  • Keep doors locked and don’t let anybody in through the gate without checking with their parents.
  • If there is an alarm system, teach them how to activate and de-activate it and how and when to use panic buttons.
  • Show them where the list of emergency contacts is – including the 10111 SAPS number as well as a nearby neighbour and any community safety organizations or neighbourhood watch organizations  – and explain when and how to use it.
  • If your children have access to the internet and social media while alone at home, make sure that they keep privacy settings as high as possible.
  • Don’t befriend people you don’t know. Don’t meet up with people you’ve met online. Your child should always tell you if an online contact they have never met suggests they meet up. Remember that not everyone online is who they say they are.
  • If a child sees something online that makes them feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried: they should leave the website, turn off their computer and tell someone immediately.

If you’ve arranged an outing for your kids, make sure that they are prepared and understand what they are and aren’t allowed to do.

  • If they are heading to malls or restaurants, they need to look after their belongings and to look out for each other.
  • They also need to be clear on the transport arrangements and never go anywhere with a stranger. Tell them to find a security guard in the mall if they are scared or unsure of what to do.
  • If you get separated from your parents or guardians in the shops or mall, go to the nearest sales person or uniformed security officer and ask for help.
  • Always walk or play with at least one other person.
  • Always walk along streets you know.
  • Never take shortcuts through bushes or empty areas.

In conclusion, the key thing to remember is to make sure everyone is prepared and that they know exactly what to do in a case of an emergency.

It doesn’t matter if you are relaxing at home or next to the ocean these holidays. If something were to happen to you or a loved one, do you know who to contact for emergency assistance? If your children are unattended, do they know how to look out for themselves? And, is your home security system working properly?

If you are able to answer these questions, you will be well on your way towards enjoying a safe and relaxing festive season holiday.

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