When you have a home security system, often times you’ll be asked to create a “safe word” — the point of it being that if your alarm goes off, you have to give the safe word to the security company to let them know you’re not in danger.
In most cases, the word or phase is used to diffuse the situation when you accidentally trip your own alarm. But the point of it is that if an intruder is in your home and pretends to be you, the lack of knowledge of a safe word or saying the wrong one will tip off the call center to the activity and they will dispatch the proper authorities to your home.
However, safe words can be useful for so many other situations than just tripped alarms. Here are our suggestions for multiple safe word situations.
As soon as your kids can communicate, you should teach them a family safe word. This can help guartantee their safety in several situations. In the case of multiple children, try to create a separate word for each child that is easy for them to remember but not too easy for others who know your kids to guess.
If you have to have a non-familiar person pick your kids up from childcare, a safe word can reassure your kids that the person they’re with is friendly and safe. Kids can say their safe words if they’re at the playground or in public when they feel threatened by a stranger — because in a public setting with several children, shouts of “Mom” or “Dad” are frequent and unfortunately very easy to tune out. Also, the word can be used to check in when they’re away from home, to reassure both you and your child of the safety of an unfamiliar situation, such as a first sleepover or camping trip.
This may sound silly, but it’s important to have a non-obvious way to communicate with your significant other in not only dangerous but also awkward situations.
Case in point: my spouse and I were at our local Big Box home improvement store, and I tried to lift something too large and heavy for me to handle on my own. Instead of yelling for help, which is another term often tuned out by people, I yelped my safe word, and my husband came over instantly to help me. In the situation, we both knew I needed help, but we didn’t overly alarm any other customers or employees with cries for help in an honestly non-threatening situation.
Also, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you may need to get just your partner’s attention in a group of people for a private matter, you can whisper your safe word to them without causing a stir by directly asking to speak privately. Saying the word can translate to “The foyer, three minutes” or “We need to leave now” without leaving room for outside parties to get involved in your decisions. This can be especially useful in situations that need to be addressed immediately, from a babysitter snafu to just not wanting to be in the given company any longer.
If you have family that lives far apart, having a safe word can help in long-distance emergency situations. In the case of a natural disaster, a quick phone call or text with your safe word can reassure relatives of your safety without garbled panicky speech with chaos drowning you out in the background. This can also be true in the case of things like house fires or car accidents. Using the safe word can reassure your relatives of your identity and safety quickly and efficiently while you handle your immediate needs.
In any case, family safe words can be another layer of security to keep the ones you love safe in sound in nearly every aspect of their lives. Just make sure to keep your words creative, diversified (ie, not using your go-to password or everyone having the same safe word), and frequently changed lest anyone discover it.
We want to hear your family safe word situations! Tell us your stories in the comments!