For many working parents, the kids having the house to themselves after school is a necessary reality. If you have older children who are alone in the afternoon before you get home, you may be worried about their safety. Here are some ways you can help your kids stay secure when home alone, according to Arpel Security Systems.
1. Make Sure Your Child Is Ready
While most children are ready to stay home alone for an hour or two between the ages of 10 and 12, this largely depends on the maturity of your child. If your child is responsible and is not afraid to stay home alone, test it out on a trial basis (for example, when you go to the store).
2. Practice Makes Perfect
Have your child do a trial run before leaving him or her alone. Make sure he or she is comfortable getting into the house, locking the doors, and setting and resetting any alarm system you may have. Roleplay scenarios about what to do in certain situations that may arise; for example, if the doorbell rings or if a smoke alarm goes off.
3. Spell Out the Rules
Set clear expectations for what is allowed when you’re not home, and make sure your child is ready to comply. This means no stove, no friends in the house, and no swimming, just to name a few. You should also lay out expectations for what should be accomplished before you get home, such as starting homework or doing chores.
4. Have Backup Available
Even the most responsible kids might run into a situation where they need help. Clearly post the names and numbers of the nearest neighbors or family friends who they should contact if they need help. Make sure those friends are aware that they are on deck if any emergencies arise when you’re unavailable; you may want to have them check in on your ids occasionally, especially when they first begin staying home alone.
5. Remove Any Hazards
Anything that can cause harm should be safety locked away when your kids are home alone, most importantly guns or other weapons. You should also put prescription drugs, alcohol, lighters and matches, and any other potentially dangerous items in a safe location that your children can’t access.
While leaving your kids home alone for the first time can be nerve wracking, with the proper preparation you’ll be able to have peace of mind as you finish your work day.