Does your child spend part of his or her day home alone? Set up child safety rules to home to help your child feel protected, and you feel comfortable, until your family is all under the same roof once again.
Children in single-parent and two-income families often find themselves home alone in the hours right after school. Help keep them safe with these tips and precautions:
Make sure they know their full name, address, and phone number (parents' work numbers, too).
Teach them how to call 911 or the operator in an emergency.
Explain how to give directions to your home in an emergency.
Make sure they know not to accept rides or gifts from people they don't know well; tell them to stay at least 8 feet away from a stranger in a car who stops to ask for directions.
Teach older kids how to operate door and window locks and your home's alarm system.
Whenever your kids come home to an empty house, have them check in with you or a neighbor as soon as they arrive.
Give kids a house key to keep in a safe, concealed place, such as inside a sock. Never keep a key outside under a doormat.
Make sure your kids know that they can't let anyone into your home, including other kids, without permission.
Tell your kids how to respond so phone callers and people at the door won't know they're home alone.
Test your kids to make sure they know how to escape in case of a fire or other emergency.
Tell your kids never to go in your house or apartment alone if things don't look right—if the door is already open or a screen is ripped, for example.
Set parameters with your older child regarding what kitchen appliances are safe to use. Also be sure to give them access to safe snacks they can grab, when home alone.
Be sure to show older children where your family's first aid kit is and how to use the supplies stored within it. For example, how to apply a band aid to a paper cut or wash off and treat a scraped knee.
It's also a good idea to keep your children up-to-date with their annual physical exams. At your tween’s or teen’s next check-up, discuss with your family practitioner things your child can do now to head off diabetes, heart disease, human papillomavirus (HPV), and other preventable health issues.