10 Lessons We Can Learn from Home Alone and Home Alone 2 on Safety

Jalesa Campbell
Updated Dec 18, 2020
1 min read

Many of us probably have a holiday favorite when it comes to movies, but two movies we could learn some applicable lessons from in the realm of home security were Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992). Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), as the protagonist, is ahead of his time by plotting to protect himself from a shrewd set of burglars, Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) in both films. There are many amusing yet real lessons we can glean from this holiday favorite, from security to digital safety and all in-between. Here are some of our takeaways from both holiday classics.

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1. Don’t Tell People When You’re Leaving & Where You’re Headed.

One of the biggest giveaways in Home Alone is when Kevin’s mom tells the “so-called cop” that they’re going to Paris. Unknowingly to her, the cop was actually a burglar looking for a prospect, and the McCallister’s home became a target. Don’t tell anyone you don’t trust where you’re going and when you’re leaving. The same goes for social media—it can be hard not to share your excitement and anticipation, but it can’t be as bad as opening your home up to trouble.

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2. Make It Look Like Someone’s Home, But...

If you’re planning to leave home, definitely make it look like someone’s there, but don’t make things too obvious and predictable. If you caught one of the movie’s finer points of near the beginning, Harry and Marv were sitting outside anticipating when some of the homes’ timers would kick in. While lights may work as a deterrent for some burglars, others are very stealthy and will scope a neighborhood. So, instead of powering on your lights at the same time every day, consider random times and even ask a neighbor to come over to check on your home and make it look like there’s still activity.

3. Be a Good Neighbor.

You never know when you’re going to need your neighbors, so try to establish a positive rapport with them. In Kevin’s case, the man who would scoop salt onto the ground in the neighborhood actually looked out for him at the end. You never know who’s open to doing a good deed and lending a helping hand. If you move into a new neighborhood, try to find out who your neighbors are, and maybe along the way, you’ll be able to help each other.

4. Be Careful of What You Share.

While the McCallisters didn’t particularly do anything blatantly to show off the attractiveness of their home, it’s worth noting that you’ll want to be careful about sharing your valuables. You never know who could use that information against you. Harry identified how he suspected big-ticket items like electronics and fine jewelry were likely to be at their disposal with the McCallister household. Big-ticket items give thieves a chance to make money off of your things, so be careful with what you share.

5. Don’t Let Your Credit Card (or Cash) Fall Into the Wrong Hands.

Kevin’s the bad guy in this tip—while having access to a credit card and cash helped him without his family, his use and pretending to be with his father was still wrong and a prime example of what could encounter with identity theft. Worse yet, if a criminal gets ahold of your credit card and personal information, they could drain you of your funds and ruin your identity. Be careful with where you place your money, credit cards, and other critical information. (And never keep your Social Security card with you while in public.)

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6. If Someone Starts to Follow You, Signal for Help.

After Kevin is almost struck by the burglars in their truck and recognizes one of them, they decide to follow him to see which house he would go into. Kevin starts out walking but begins to run and then disguises himself. If you ever feel like you’re being followed or stalked, you need to signal for help. You can make a scene, call 911, or if you have a personal safety device, you may be able to use it as well to signal for assistance.

7. Never Assume Your neighborhood is Burglar-Proof.

Buzz proclaims that nothing bad will ever happen while the family is away in Paris: “We live on the most boring street in the United States of America where nothing even remotely dangerous will ever happen, period.” His words were like a harbinger of bad things to come. A home security system, security camera, yard sign, or strategy cannot fool-proof your home from burglars, but they can help serve as a layer of protection.

8. Watch Where You’re Going.

In both Home Alone and Home Alone 2, we see instances where people are not paying attention to where they’re going. Kevin is almost hit (twice). In reality, while Kevin wasn’t texting or talking on a cell phone, distracted walking and driving are real issues we notice today. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that “nearly 6,000 pedestrians were struck and killed by motor vehicles in 2017.” The old but wise piece of advice to pay attention to where you’re going can be the difference between life and death.

9. Consider Installing Water Leak Detectors (and Other Sensors).

You never know if a pair of burglars’ calling card will be to flood your home by turning on the faucets. But in all seriousness, having home hazard detectors like water leak sensorssmoke detectorscarbon monoxide detectors, and freeze sensors can help you stay in the loop of hazards at home. Many home security providers make these available and provide professional monitoring for home hazards.

10. Invest in a Home Security System or Product.

Last but not least, we highly recommend purchasing a home security system or product, like a security camera, to help you monitor and protect your home. Kevin’s dad spilled the beans by sharing that they didn’t have a home security system, ultimately putting Kevin through a lot of hoops when he was left at home. With an armed home security system, Kevin wouldn’t have been able to roam the house without tripping a sensor, sending an alert to a monitoring center, and notifying his parents that something was up at home.

But, hey, we wouldn’t have had the movies that we enjoy, now would we?


Safety and Security Reporter

Jalesa Campbell

Jalesa is one of Safety.com's staff experts on home security, natural disasters, public safety, and family safety. She's been featured on Today.com and elsewhere.

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