Leaving your children with a stranger is difficult enough, but you want to know above all that they’re safe. Your childminder may have all the right references, but in the event of an emergency, they may not know how best to secure your home. It’s important for your own peace of mind that you prepare your childminder or babysitter properly.
Here are three home security tips it’s important to teach your childminder to keep your home and family safe, so you can enjoy your night away from the kids worry-free!
Show your childminder around your home—flaws and all
Remember to pass on any particular quirks about your home, like that window that only closes with a slight nudge to the left, or a door that needs a kick at the bottom before it will lock. What you’ve become accustomed to over time might be more difficult for someone else at first glance. While you’re at it, you may wish to give them a tour of your home including where to find utility shutoff valves for gas and water, and where the location of your fuse box in case the lights go out.
Obviously, doors and windows should all be secured, and any sheds or outhouses locked up unless they’re in use. While securing your home is important, be sure to show your childminder any escape routes from your home and how to find local emergency services/hospitals. As well as all the normal info on your kids’ bedtime and food likes and dislikes, you should give your childminder your emergency contact details and the phone number for where you will be.
Remind your childminder not to answer the door to anyone they don’t know. It’s also probably a good idea to make they are clear on what is and isn’t OK to post on social media, like photos of your children, home and possessions. Young people don’t often realise the risks of Facetiming their friends in the company of other people’s children or inviting guests around without your permission, so set some ground rules.
Show your childminder how to work your burglar alarm
If you arm your burglar alarm at night, or have a zoned system that covers unused rooms like a home office, your childminder might need some instruction on how to operate it.
Especially if you’re going to be asking a childminder to take your children out of the house, they’ll need to know how your burglar alarm works, or it’s useless! In the event of a break in, your insurance company is unlikely to pay out if your your home security is disabled or not properly set.
There are lots of different types of burglar alarms, like wired, wireless and even monitored burglar alarms, so start by showing them the basics. They’ll need to know how to arm and disarm the alarm, as well as how to identify the different alerts and figure out where the burglar alarm has been triggered. It can be helpful to let the alarm sound so they know what to keep an ear out for.
If you are giving a childminder your burglar alarm arm/disarm code, make sure they understand not to share it with others. If your system allows you assign multiple user codes, a special ‘guest code’ for your babysitter or childminder can help you identify if they are responsible for a breach later on. You can delete this code when it is no longer needed.
Show your childminder what to do in case of a break in
You should have an already agreed-upon plan with your childminder in the event of a break in. This can make them feel less stressed and can minimise the disruption to your kids. Lots of people choose a designated neighbour’s house at which to seek help or refuge.
The best way to solidify an emergency plan is to practice it. It’s common sense, but remind your childminder of their responsibility to alert the police on 999 or 101 depending on the state of emergency, as well as the relevant details about your home and burglar alarm they might need to know or pass on.
If, for example, you use a monitored burglar alarm for your home, the alarm receiving centre might already have contacted the police. Sussex-based Security 201 explain how such monitored burglar alarm systems work. An additional service can contact and summon designated keyholders to your property in the event an alarm is triggered. Make sure your childminder is aware of such scenarios, and if you use a keyholder, that they know to expect a childminder in your home.
Similarly, once police arrive they will need to verify the identity of the person in your home, else they may assume your childminder is themselves the burglar! Introduce them to a neighbour who can confirm their permission to be in your home to avoid confusion.
Of course, make sure you choose a childminder you can trust. A family friend, neighbour or colleague can be a safer option, or find an accredited member of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) or Ofsted-registered childminder.