Home Safety Tips Kids Should Know If They’re Home Alone
Whether you're leaving your child home alone for just a few minutes while you run an errand or you're looking to leave them home during the day while you're at work, there are some things all kids should know before they are left home alone. Here are 11 home safety tips all kids should know so they are prepared and can stay safe when home on their own.
Who to Call and When
One of the top home safety tips is how to use the phone. Make sure they know how to call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency (cell and portable phones must be charged and children must know to press call or send after 9-1-1). It also helps to discuss what constitutes an emergency, so your child doesn't hesitate to call but doesn't panic and call if the wind blows over the patio umbrella.
In addition, be sure your child knows how to reach important people—parent(s), grandma and grandpa, a neighbor or trusted family friend.
Know the Tech Rules
Your child should know what the rules are when it comes to technology when they are home alone. How much time are they allowed to play video games and watching television? Depending on their age, you may want to set up parental controls to limit their screen time and what sites they can access. This can often be done on the specific device under the Settings menu. The website internetmatters.org offers information on how to set up various parental controls.
Knowing basic first aid skills can help ward off panic in the event that your child is injured when home alone. Make sure they know where a first aid kit is located. Show them how to bandage a cut or scrape, how to apply pressure to stop bleeding and how to remove a splinter. If they are old enough and able to use pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen, talk to them about dosage. If they'll be watching over younger children, they should know CPR. The Red Cross offers a number of classes, including first aid, babysitting and child care, and CPR, which may help children be more comfortable in emergency situations. Build a home emergency kit with these essential items.
Managing the Front Door
Do you want your child to open the front door when they are home alone? Talk about it. If you want them to remain inside with the door locked, make sure they understand the rules. Explain why they should never tell anyone they are home alone. Learn how to reinforce doors so they lock securely.
Working the Alarm
If you have a home security system, show your child how to use it. This will come in handy in case it goes off and they need to turn the alarm off. If they are old enough to leave the house, make sure they know how to set the alarm before they leave and how to disarm it when they return.
Discuss with your child what type of cooking they can do when they are home alone. Are they allowed to use the stove and oven? Healthychildren.org suggests children home alone know how to put out a cooking fire. "Keep baking soda, flour or a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Teens should know never to throw water on a grease fire," the website states.
Also, don't agree to letting younger children cook if it requires them to be on a stool because they are too short to reach the stove or microwave. This is the top cause of house fires, according to the Red Cross.
Weather the Storm
Does your child know what to do in the event of severe weather, such as a thunderstorm, blizzard or tornado? "If you live in an area affected by hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes, talk with children about how to recognize the signs and where they should go," suggests HealtyChildren.org. Also, review if windows should be closed and if you have a pet, have your child keep they keep the pet indoors. This master checklist will help you prepare your home for a storm.
Stay Away from Home Dangers
The Red Cross suggests removing, or safely storing in a locked area, dangerous items such as guns, knives, hand tools, power tools and razor blades. Also, make sure children know to stay away from potential poisons such as detergents, polishes, pesticides, lighter fluid, etc.
Have an Emergency Plan
Does your family have a plan so everyone knows exactly what to do in case of an injury, fire or other emergency? Write down the plan, make sure your child knows where it is in case they need it and give them a reminder before you leave. Prepare your home for a natural disaster with these 21 tips.
When it comes to home safety tips, confidence should be at the top of the list. Talk to your child about their time home alone. Do they feel comfortable by themselves? Is there something that can be done to make them feel more confident?
If your child is reticent, don't force the situation. When they're ready, start out slow by leaving them alone for less than a half-hour. If that goes well, you can increase the amount of time in small increments. And remember to check in with them periodically when they are home alone to make sure everything is OK and they feel safe.