Today’s safety guest post is from Austin Kelly, founder of Denventory.com.
Many people ask “How old does my child need to be before I can safely leave them home alone?” The answer is much more than just an age – it depends entirely on the child.
Only you can assess your child’s judgment, comfort level, and maturity. Additionally, your city and state may have laws governing the age at which kids can legally be left to themselves (often it’s 11 and up), so be sure to check. Ask your child how they feel about staying home alone. If they seem worried or afraid, they may not be ready. If it seems like an experience they are keen to have, allow them to foster this sense of independence.
Once you have determined that they are responsible enough to manage on their own for a while, help them establish a set of rules…
1. Have an emergency plan
Make sure that all smoke detectors are working properly. Even if it seems like common sense, review the sound of the alarm and what to do if it goes off. Have a plan for inclement weather in case of a tornado, earthquake, or whatever is relevant to your area.
2. Always check in
Make it a rule that your child calls or texts a parent (or other trusted adult you designate) as soon as they get home from school (or wherever else they happen to be coming home from). This can be the first step in a daily routine that includes homework, a snack, or some downtime.
3. Make the phone (almost) off-limits
Don’t let your child answer the phone for just anyone, set up some guidelines. If you have a caller ID, tell them not to answer the phone if they don’t recognize the name or number. Instead, let it go to the voicemail.
4. Leaving the house
If they need to leave the house for any reason, have them check in with a parent (or other trusted adult you designate) as soon as they arrive at their destination.
5. Practice first aid
Keep a first aid kit handy and review it with your child. Help them distinguish between a true emergency and a minor one that they can handle. Leave a list of emergency telephone numbers on the fridge or near the phone (poison control, the local police, and 911).
Austin Kelly is the founder Denventory, an easy to use web application for creating and maintaining a home inventory. Denventory makes it easy to add items, descriptions, photos, and other useful information about your stuff. Wouldn’t you rather be prepared before tragedy strikes?