Activities such as soccer practice, football games, student council meetings, volunteer events and parent-teacher conferences tend to fill family schedules in the fall, quickly replacing the lazy days of summer with extracurricular activities. While many find it refreshing for the family unit to get back into a routine, hectic schedules can often lead to mis-communication among family members and a relaxed attitude toward safety.

“Fall brings an abundance of schedule changes and families working to adapt to new routines,” says Rebecca Smith, vice president of marketing for Master Lock. “As each family member strives to balance various activities, it’s essential that families discuss security measures they should take to ensure they safely maintain their busy lifestyles.”

1. Secure your home. With people coming and going at different times, each family member should understand the importance of locking all points of entry when leaving, including dead-bolting doors, windows, sliding glass doors and garage/shed doors to bolster your home’s safety.

2. Keep your home active. For periods of time where most members of the family will be away, schedule a dog walker to come over or ask a neighbor to retrieve your mail. This helps to ensure that your home still appears to have people coming and going regularly — a natural theft deterrent.

3. Utilize key safes. Whether you’re storing a house key for children to access after school or for your mother-in-law who baby-sits, a Master Lock key safe will allow them access to your home without the risk of losing a key in transit, allowing parties to enter safely, even if no one is home.

4. Establish a “home alone” routine. If your child gets home from school while you are at work, or if your family is involved in activities on weekends, it’s important to have guidelines for your children to follow when home alone. These include locking the door immediately behind them after entering the house, not spending time outside and not answering the door for any visitors.

5. No notes. Many families leave notes on their front doors to communicate a change in schedule. Communication this important should happen directly via phone call, text message or voicemail — not out in the open for everyone to see.

6. Share schedules. Be sure that your family is aware of each other’s schedules, including work, school and extracurricular activities. Keeping a calendar updated with everyone’s commitments in a common room such as the kitchen will prevent miscommunication about who will be home and when.

7. Create an emergency plan. Every family should have a plan that details what to do in case of an emergency. This should include a list of numbers to call and steps to follow should anything happen to the home while a member of the family is there alone.

8. Communicate with neighbors. Communicate your schedules with a friendly, watchful neighbor you trust and empower him or her as an extra set of eyes and ears, keeping watch on your home when you can’t be there.

9. Set social media rules. In today’s digital age, location-based services are growing in popularity with both kids and adults. Set a family social media policy to limit check-ins and location information being made too readily available online to ensure your family’s schedule does not become too predictable.

10. Secure items on-the-go. Whether you’re headed out for a walk or to a soccer game, odds are you are carrying several valuables including keys, a wallet and cell phone. Secure these items in a small, portable safe secured to a fixed item such as a fence, allowing you to relax and enjoy any activity.

For more security tips and solutions for families on the go, visit