May is almost here, and it won’t be long until kids are out of school. As such, many parents will make the choice to let their older children stay at home by themselves for the first time ever. It can be a nerve-wracking experience to be sure, but if you take the proper precautions as suggested by a new report and instruct your children on how to handle an emergency, you can mitigate the risks that go along with leaving a child at home.
Preparing your children for the experience is perhaps the most daunting task of all. They should have all necessary contact information on hand. That means not only your phone number, but the number of a trusted acquaintance or neighbor who you know will be available when the child is by himself or herself.
There should also be a nearby place your child can travel to if some emergency necessitates them leaving your home. You should instruct your child on the specific plans that can be put into action depending on the type of emergency event. The child must understand how to get out of the home in a safe manner in the event of a fire or some other dangerous situation. You might also practice drills so that the child won’t panic if dangerous circumstances ever do present themselves.
Your child must also understand how to get ahold of emergency responders via 911. You should also ask your child to repeat back to you their own phone number, full name, and home address so that they can provide this information to emergency officials. Otherwise, a younger child might panic and not be able to recollect this information.
If your kid leaves the residence for any reason, explain to them things to look out for when they come back that could signal danger. If a door has been left open, it’s unlocked, or it looks like it has been broken into, the child should proceed to the designated emergency meeting place. The same goes for if windows have been broken into.
In addition to knowing who to call, your child should know what to do when someone else calls the house. It should be impressed upon them that they should never tell the person on the other end of the line that they’re home by themselves. The child can have a short list of people they can provide this information to, but explaining the circumstances to strangers is never permissible. Call your child a couple times while you’re both in the house and practice them saying that you’re busy and nothing else.
Ask your child to call you at certain times of the day to check in, and take it upon yourself to call them at regular intervals throughout the day. Have a first aid kit on hand, and do whatever else you can think of to ensure safety.