When there’s an intruder in your home, one of your biggest fears is what will happen with the kids. Will they react responsibly, or will they panic? Could they end up injured simply because they weren’t prepared for how to respond when an intruder showed up? By teaching your kids how to respond to intruders, you can decrease the odds that they’ll be injured.
Stay Away from Intruders
If you have children–especially older children–they may be curious if they hear sounds in the night. Sneaking in to take a look, however, is one of the worst things they can do! Instead, kids should be taught to stay away from intruders. If they hear curious noises in the middle of the night, they should quietly alert you, not barge into the middle of the situation.
Listen for Instructions
Does your family have a code word that lets everyone know that a situation has gone south and you need to react quickly? You might have more than one code word that lets your kids know exactly how they’re supposed to react based on the specific scenario. For example, you might have a code word to:
- Let kids know that they need to stop talking, listen to exactly what you have to say, and respond immediately–no arguing.
- Tell kids that a situation isn’t going well and they need to be quiet to let you pay full attention to what’s going on around you.
- Give them a signal to get out immediately. When this signal is given in public, you might instruct your kids to run and find help. At home, it might be a signal to get out of the house as quickly as possible.
Getting kids to listen is hard, but it’s critical, in an emergency situation, that they listen and respond exactly the way they’ve been instructed. Having a code word is a great way to teach kids when it’s time to listen very carefully.
Get Out of the House
When you’re in the middle of a home intruder scenario, your first priority is getting your family away safely. Stuff can be replaced; the members of your family, especially your kids, are priceless. If the kids know there’s an intruder in the house and it’s safe to go outside–that is, there aren’t more people waiting outside to see if anyone comes out–they should leave the house as quickly as possible and head straight for a rendezvous point that you’ve designated ahead of time. Consider whether or not there are neighbors that you know and trust. Their home is a great place for your kids to wait out the intruder in safety.
Take the time to instruct your kids about the best way to get out of the house based on where they are at the time. Their goal should be to slip out unnoticed, without going past the intruders if possible. Take a look at your windows: will the kids be able to get them open and get out quickly and easily? Are there multiple exits from your home, especially those that intruders might not know about? Teaching kids how and when to get out is critical in the event of a home intrusion.
Know When to Hide
Unfortunately, there will be times when the kids can’t get out of the house without going straight past intruders, putting them in more danger. Teach them to know when to hide–and where to do it. Simply sliding under the covers on their bed won’t accomplish anything, but hiding in a closet, especially if they can get behind clothes or other items, can help keep them safe. Practice hiding with your kids so that they can do it as effectively as possible. Keep in mind the safest place in your house: for example, barricading your family in a back bedroom together while robbers are in the house could keep you safer than trying to run through the house.
No one likes to imagine intruders in their home with the kids just down the hall. By teaching kids how to respond appropriately in the event of a home invasion, however, you can keep your kids safer. Make intruder safety a regular discussion in your home to help keep your kids safer in the event of a worst-case scenario.