Letting your child stay home alone for the first time is a big step in their growing up It can be scary, but it can also be unsafe if they do not know the things they need to do to stay safe. The following are some home alone tips to help make them feel secure, and grow up a little bit.
1. Home safety- The basics of home safety should be followed. These include things like turning off hair irons, stoves, ovens, not lighting matches, or candles, etc. When letting your child be alone at home for the first time, discuss with them basic home safety tips. Show them where the circuit breakers are in case they trip a breaker, and how to flip it to have it come back on. Help them find meal options that will not require them to cook, etc. so that there is little risk of a kitchen fire. Teach them the things they should probably already know, but may not be paying that close of attention to.
2. Stranger Danger- Talk to your child about stranger danger. It is imperative that they understand the real risks associated with this, especially when home alone. Although we all hope that it will never happen to us, kidnappings, home invasions, etc. do happen. So, it is better to be prepared than to hope in ignorance that it will never be a problem. Talk to your child about the following:
- Don’t answer the door: It could be a solicitor, or someone you don’t know. Don’t check, just don’t answer. If it is someone you don’t know, they will ask to talk to a parent, and if the parent isn’t home, it is giving them information that they should not have.
- Don’t answer the phone: What happens if the caller asks for a parent? If you say they are not home, you just gave this stranger the information that you are home alone. Not a good idea. So, even with caller ID it is far safer to simply turn off the ringers, and not answer the phones when home alone, or have them only answer when your cell is on caller ID.
3. Fire safety- While this should not be a problem, it is always good to talk to your child about what to do if there is a fire, where to meet you, etc. Teach them the basics of fire safety so that if home alone and the worst happens, they get out safely.
4. Emergency contacts-If you are leaving a child home alone for the first time, it is wise to give them a list of emergency contacts, including poison control, their doctor’s office, etc. help them understand the situations when it would be appropriate to call one of the numbers, and to know where the list of contacts are at all times. Also, make sure they know how to reach you in case there is a problem.