As a parent, you don't choose to have your kids at home
alone, but sometimes the pressures of two parents working, school schedules, and
baby sitting problems conspire to leave your kids home alone.  But there are
some very easy things you can do today to reduce the risk for your kids.  Every
parent can do these things.  Here are 6 ways to protect your latchkey kids.

1)     
Set some rules.  Sit down and tell the kids what the rules are.  Write
them down.  Then post the rules in plain view.  Your kids will be more aware,
and that's a good thing.  If you don't want them near the gas stove, write it
down.  If they need to leave the sharp kitchen knives alone, write it down on
the rules. 

2)     
Talk to them.  Sounds simple doesn't it?  Talk them through the rules. 
And talk to them about personal security.  Remind them to lock the doors.  Make
sure they know not to let anyone in when you're not there, except people you
have already told them can come in. 

3)     
Show them how to use 911.  Make sure they understand when to use it.  And
make sure they know it's not a joke.

4)     
If you have firearms in the house, place them in a gun safe.  Not under a
mattress, or in a cupboard.  You have a legal, ethical, and moral responsibility
to secure your firearms.  The same applies to fireworks.

5)     
Give them emergency contact numbers.   Friends or neighbors who you trust
to have good judgment if you aren't available, for when you can't get home fast
enough. 

6)     
Make sure the kids understand Internet security too.  You aren't there
and you need to know what they're doing on their computers. Look into Internet
Monitoring Software, low-cost products that invisibly monitor the activities of
your kids, and privately emails you the results as often as you like.  The best
of these software products track internet sites visited, downloads, chat room
conversations, and IM.

About the
Author
: Steve Cross, President of
Guardian Software, is a columnist, author, and is
the former President of family-friendly internet pioneer YourFreeStuff.com.
Steve wrote the book “Changing Channels”, and was a columnist for the Gartner
Group’s “Channel Media” newsletters for years.  Based in the Las Vegas area, he
currently writes about Las Vegas Real Estate, and Las Vegas Entertainment. 
Before purchasing Guardian Software with a couple old friends, he also had
senior level executive positions with several software companies. For more
information, please visit http://www.GuardianSoftware.com.