Your children are the most valuable thing in your home, and when it comes to safety and security, they are undoubtedly your first priority. While everyone has concerns about leaving children home alone, work and school schedules might mean that your children are left alone at least part of the time, and it’s a good idea to teach them the rules for being by themselves even if it’s not a regular event. The appropriate age for kids to stay home alone is up to you, but you should be confident they can handle themselves in an emergency. You should be able to feel secure knowing they can make the right choices, and you might have to take some precautions to help them along the way.
1. Installing the Right Home Security System
If you have a security system in your home, you should make sure it is compatible with your kids, too. Your oldest child should know how to both arm and disarm the system, so they don’t create any false alarms but continue to stay protected when you’re not there. One important child safety feature is entry alarms, similar to the ones that shops and small businesses use. Entry alarms can sound a chime whenever a door or window is breached, letting your child know that someone is trying to enter the house and possibly deterring the criminal. Entry alarms are also great if you have a pool, or if an older child is watching their younger siblings. Placing the devices on a gate or back door can prevent accidental drownings.
2. Planning for a Fire
It seems as if it’s an unlikely scenario, but every year, stories pop up in the news about children dying in fires that started when they were home alone. Children home alone should not be using the stove or anything flammable, but in the case of a fire, they should also have a plan. Discuss with your children the routes the can take to get out of the house and other fire safety rules like staying low to avoid smoke inhalation. They should know that if they smell smoke or see flames, they must immediately leave the house and contact a trusted neighbor. Hopefully you are acquainted enough with someone who lives nearby to let them in on the plan and allow your children to feel more comfortable coming to them for help.
3. Preparing for Other Emergencies
Your children should know not to tell anyone on the phone that their parents aren’t home unless it’s a trusted family friend or relative. They should know the phone numbers of these most trusted people, as well as know how to dial the police and 911. You should call to check in with your kids the moment you know they are home from school and at least every hour until you get home. Plan ahead for meals and snacks, and give them something productive to do with their time such as homework or chores. This will not only minimize the risk of accidents, it will make them feel more comfortable being independent.
Before you allow your child to stay home alone, you should make sure they are old enough to know their address and phone number and how to carry their house key safely and securely. They should also know the right thing to do if they are approached or followed on their way home from school. But once they are safely in your house, the right combination of security, foresight, and a reliable support system can make staying home alone a positive thing. It’s never too early to learn how to be safe rather than sorry.
Claire Taylor is an avid blogger. If you are looking for ways to help protect your kids at home, you may be able to use an entry alert.