Child Safety and Security

Whether children are left alone for an hour after school or several hours a day during the summer, parents should make sure that their kids feel comfortable being alone. Providing your children with this knowledge gives them confidence in their abilities and will help them deal with any emergencies that may arise. When teaching your children, give information gradually rather than all at once. Too much information at once is difficult for them to remember. Present your children with a number of situations and have them act out their response.

Deciding Whether Your Child Can Be Left Alone At Home

  • Children's age and maturity will help determine their readiness. Children shouldn't be left alone before age 10.
  • They should be able to take care of themselves and handle unexpected situations.

Skills Children Should Have Before Staying Home Alone

  • Good telephone skills
    • list of emergency numbers
    • knowledge of what to say in an emergency situation.
    • understanding appropriate and inappropriate reasons for calling parents or other adults for help.
  • Good personal safety skills
    • How to lock and unlock doors and windows.
    • What to do if approached by a stranger on the way home.
    • What to do if they think someone is in the house when they get home.
    • What to do if someone touches them inappropriately.
  • Good home safety skills
    • Kitchen safety
    • What to do if they smell smoke or gas
    • What to do if there is a fire
    • Basic first aid techniques
    • How to know when to get help

Preparing Your Child to be Home Alone

  • Work together on a list of rules, responsibilities and safety procedures.
  • Discuss what you expect of your children and how they feel about being left alone.
  • Talk to your child about keeping doors locked and not to answer the door or phone.
  • Make sure that the house keys work and that the child can lock and unlock all windows and doors. Have a backup key or neighbor whom the child can turn to if his/her key is lost.
  • In case of fire or emergency, the child should be able to escape quickly, contact a neighbor and wait for help.
  • Install smoke detectors throughout the home.
  • Arrange with a neighbor that your child will go to his/her house if the door is found open or something doesn't feel right.
  • Keep flashlights handy in case of power outage.
  • Discuss whether friends should be allowed inside.
  • Make sure your child knows what they may and may not eat. (ex: sandwich so they don't have to use oven or stove.)

Other Child Safety Tips

  • Know where your child/children are at all times and who they are with.
  • Never let a child go into a public restroom alone.
  • Always stay with your child/children when in a public area.
  • If a child doesn't want to be around a certain adult, make sure you find out why. The adult may be acting in an inappropriate manner.
  • Talk to children about internet safety when they begin to use the computer or get their own mobile device. Discuss how they shouldn't reveal personal information or if they come across anything that makes them uncomfortable, to let you know.
  • When moving to a new neighborhood, show your child which places to go such as a neighbors house if they need help. Also show them safe walking routes to school, and other acceptable places for them to go.
  • Teach children about bullying and cyber-bullying. Let them know this is wrong and how to report it to a parent or teacher.