As children around the nation are returning to school, many of them will be spending time home alone after school until their parents get home from work.
The American Red Cross on Long Island has steps parents and children can take to make these after-school hours safer and less stressful.
If the child is going to go home after school, it’s a good idea to have them call to check in when they get home.
The following are steps that parents and guardians can include in their home safety plans:
- Post an emergency phone list where the children can see it. Include 9-1-1, the parents work and cell numbers, numbers for neighbors and the numbers for anyone else who is close and trusted.
- Identify neighbors whose home your child can go to in case of an emergency that requires your child to leave your home.
- Practice an emergency plan with the child so they know what to do in case of fire, injury or other emergencies. Write the plan down and make sure the child knows where it is.
- Remove or safely store in locked areas dangerous items like guns, ammunition, knives, hand tools, power tools, razor blades, scissors, and other objects that can cause injury.
- Make sure medicine is kept in a locked storage place or out of the reach of children.
- Make sure at least one approved smoke alarm is installed and operating on each level of the home.
- Activate parental controls on the TV. Use programs that limit the sites children can visit, restrict chat sites and allow parents to monitor online activity.
Safety Steps for Children
When talking to kids about being at home alone, parents should stress the following steps, and post them somewhere to remind the child about what they should, or shouldn’t, do until mom, dad or caregiver get home:
- Lock the door and make sure all the windows are closed and locked.
- If the home has an electronic security system, children should learn how to turn it on and have it on when home alone.
- Never open the door to strangers. Always check before opening the door to anyone, looking out through a peephole or window first. Only open the door for people that parents and guardians have given you permission to let in the house. If unsure, contact your caregiver.
- Never open the door to delivery people or service representatives. Ask delivery people to leave the package at the door or tell them to come back at another time. Service representatives, such as a TV cable installer, should have an appointment when an adult is home.
- Never leave the house without permission. If it’s okay to go outside, children should contact their parents and tell them where they are going, when they are leaving and when they will return. If mom and dad are still at work, children should call them when they leave and when they return home.
- Do not have friends over to visit when your parents aren’t home.
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