According to Parenting.org, studies show that kids who are at home unsupervised are at an increased risk of harm by siblings or strangers, accident or committing crimes. Child development and safety experts agree that children under age 10 should not be at home unsupervised, but even if your child is old enough for this major responsibility, it can be a scary prospect for you and your kids. Leaving your children at home alone can be less daunting for all of you with a little planning and preparation. Here are some tips to protect your kids when they're home alone:
Have a Plan
Establish Clear Rules
The Child Welfare Information Gateway advises to define specific ground rules for your kids when home alone. They suggest to "make sure your child knows what is (and is not) allowed when you are not home." Write out all rules and post them on the refrigerator or in another highly visible place in your home. Worried that boredom may lead your children to disregard the rules and start trouble? Consider making a list of chores to keep your kids occupied while you're out.
Home security systems can provide unparalleled peace of mind for both you and your kids. If you don't have one, consider adding one before leaving your kids home alone. New systems are affordable and optimized to help you monitor your home even when you're not there with wireless access. There are numerous options available and LifeShield home security is one of many options that allows you to remotely view a live feed of the video monitoring inside and outside of your home to make sure your kids are safe.
Post a contact list next to the rules for being home alone. Include important phone numbers for anyone that your kids can contact in case of an emergency. Be sure to list phone numbers for the following emergency contacts:
- Your cell phone
- Grandparents, aunts or uncles who live nearby
- Trusted neighbors
- Poison control
- Police department (local, non-emergency number)
- Fire department (local, non-emergency number)
Have a Plan
Have a candid discussion with your child about their fears of being home alone as well as your own. Help put both of your fears to rest by outlining an assortment of possible scenarios and what you child should do if they happen. What should you child do if a stranger knocks on the door? Should they answer the phone? What should they do in case of a fire? Create a thorough plan with detailed information about how to handle each scenario so that you child can confidently handle any situation that arises.
Secure High-risk Items
Are you a gun enthusiast? Do you keep cigarettes or alcohol in your home? You can never be too safe protecting your kids from these dangerous items. Kidshealth.org parenting experts note: "no matter how well your child follows rules, be sure to secure anything that could be a health or safety risk."
Securely lock up all of the following potentially life-threatening household items:
- Cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products
- Matches and lighters
- Prescription medications
- Easily abused over-the-counter medication (cough syrup, sleep aids, etc.)
- Car keys