No matter where you live, you can’t guarantee your kids won’t sneak off or open the door when they’re not supposed to. But when your children have lived in a neighborhood for a long time, you typically know they can find their way home and are familiar with which areas are safe and which aren’t. When you move your family to a new neighborhood, though, you have to worry about setting up cable, bringing all your furniture over and decorating and getting your kids comfortable with their new surroundings.
It can be a bit overwhelming to take on so much so fast. But don’t worry – we’re here to make at least one part of the big move a little easier! With these few tips, you’ll be well on your way to helping your child to stay safe in their new environment.
Show them where the police station is.
Make sure your children know where the nearest police and/or fire station are. In case of an emergency that cuts the power or takes down the phone lines, your children won’t be able to call for help. It’s important they know how to get to help on foot. If they ever feel unsafe on their walk home, they can also run to a nearby station.
Introduce them to your neighbors.
It’s important for both you and your children to get to know your neighbors. Investing in those relationships will show you who you can trust and who you feel comfortable leaving your children with. Tell your children which neighbors to run to in case of an emergency, of course, making sure that those neighbors are OK with being your point people.
Have them memorize their new contact info.
Make sure your children memorize their new address and home phone number as soon as possible. If they are ever lost and a grownup tries to help them find their way home, having this information will be critical.
Acquaint them with the streets.
Take weekly walks with your children around the neighborhood so they can familiarize themselves with the streets and different routes. It’s important they know which streets it’s okay to walk down at night and which ones they are allowed to take if they need a short cut. You don’t want them to turn down the wrong street when they’re running late to school and find themselves in unchartered territory.
Have them ask for permission to visit new friends.
You aren’t familiar with the parents of your child’s new friends, or even many of your neighbors. If your child wants to go to a friend’s house after school, instruct him to ask you first. Set up a rule that your child cannot go to a new friend’s home until you’ve met the child’s parents. You should feel comfortable with these people before putting your child’s safety in their hands.
Reinforce door rules.
It’s always important that your child does not open the door for strangers, but this is especially true in a new neighborhood. Burglars and con artists who get wind of new residents can take advantage of your child’s naivete and the fact that he isn’t familiar with who belongs in the neighborhood.
Give them a new list of emergency contacts.
Write down a new list of emergency contacts—these should be individuals who live close to your new neighborhood and not your old one. This is another reason it’s important to get to know your neighbors, so you can list them as emergency contacts. Again, include contact info for nearby police and fire stations, just in case.
If they get lost, tell them where to go.
Choose a few easily identifiable landmarks your child can go to if he gets lost. Perhaps a clock tower and a park gazebo are both easy to see from nearly anywhere in the neighborhood. Tell your child that in case of an emergency when he or she cannot get ahold of you, they can wait at one of these places and you’ll know to find them there.
Join the neighborhood watch.
One of the best ways for you to keep your child safe in a new neighborhood is by joining the neighborhood watch. This will keep you up-to-date on happenings in the neighborhood and particular things to be aware of.
Moving to a new neighborhood can be unnerving even for adults, so imagine how frightening it can be for a child. Make sure your child knows his or her way around your new streets and knows what to do in the event of an emergency.