Sometimes you have to quickly run to the grocery store for one small thing, so you decide to leave your kids home alone. With home security and other technologies out on the market, child safety is easier than ever. However, you may still have some stipulations about whether or not leaving your kids alone is an acceptable practice and what circumstances would make it OK. Before you exit for your next errand, consider these tips on how to protect your children:

Wait Until the Right Time

You should be sure your children are old enough and mature enough to handle staying at home alone, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Age isn’t as big of an issue as the way in which your kids handle themselves. If you’re confident that your kids won’t open the door to strangers, know how and when to call 911, and won’t invade the cookie jar as soon as you leave, then they are probably ready for the responsibility.

Start by leaving them alone for short stints while you run next door to the neighbor’s place or grab a take-out dinner. Once you feel comfortable with that, increase the amount of time. This process can be as fast or slow as you want.

Teach Basic Safety

Start teaching your kids lessons on safety before you leave them home alone. Tell them not to open the door to strangers, reach for items too high for them or try to cook (until they’re older). Whatever you do for them now, they should not do when they are on their own.

Set Ground Rules

Safety tips and home-alone rules are similar in nature in that both are guidelines for your kids to follow. However, rules can encompass concerns outside of safety. For example, you may not allow them to leave the house, answer the phone or go on the Internet. Consider typing up and printing out a list of house rules that your children can refer to when you’re out.

Teach Them to Use Home Security

Your home security system is a great way to protect your children and they should know how to use it. Show them how to arm and disarm the system and discuss situations in which they would do so. If you aren’t comfortable teaching your kids to use the system, but you want them to be safe while you’re gone, you can use the SMART Connect app. This feature will allow you to arm and disarm your home security alarms from your smartphone. Simply press the button after leaving the house and your kids will be secured safely inside.

Set Up Alerts

Your SMART Connect app can also send alerts to your phone under certain circumstances, such as a motion sensor tripping. Set up alerts on your app so that you’ll know if things go wrong. If you get a notification you can call the kids right away to see if everything is alright. The children might have accidentally tripped the alarm.

Post Important Phone Numbers

Write a list of phone numbers to post on the fridge that includes emergency information, such as your phone number, 911, a trusted friend or neighbor’s number, and poison control (1-800-222-1222). This way your children will know where to turn should they need the help of an adult. If you’re going to a friend’s house for dinner or something similar, you may also want to post that person’s number in an easily visible place.

Don’t Silence Your Phone

There are a lot of instances where silencing your phone is the courteous thing to do. However, leave your phone on full volume when you leave the kids at home. Check your phone several times while you’re out as well, as it might be too loud to hear the ring at the grocery store and other public spots.

Talk to a Neighbor

Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your house when you run out for errands. If your trip is short, they won’t have to actually come over to check on the kids – watching form the window will do just fine. However, ask that they knock on the door while you’re away for longer periods. Be sure the kids know who this person is and that they are allowed to open the door for them.