Whether you’re looking to enjoy a night out, date night or some simple alone time, you’ll need to teach your children how to take care of themselves, so they can keep your home in order while you’re away.
Your kids are getting older, which means they are becoming better equipped to take care of themselves. But are you ready to put your kids to the ultimate test by leaving them home alone for a few hours? That remains to be seen.
Is Now the Right Time to Leave Your Kids Home Alone?
Raising kids is not easy, particularly for parents who are debating whether now is a good time to let their kids stay home alone.
There is no handbook that defines the “perfect” age for a child to be left in charge of a home, albeit for just a short period of time. Instead, parents will have to use their judgment to decide whether their children are mature enough to handle this responsibility.
Of course, it is easy to focus on the worst-case scenarios, and parents often worry about the risks associated with leaving their kids home alone.
Burglaries, fires and other home dangers usually make parents think twice about letting their children stay home alone. And in some instances, these concerns can overwhelm parents and make it virtually impossible for them to celebrate a date night on their own.
Determining whether to leave your children home alone is a major decision for any parent. No two kids are exactly alike, and even though one child may be ready to handle the responsibility of being home alone, another might need additional time to grow and develop. As such, there are numerous factors for parents to consider, including:
- Your Child’s Age – KidsHealth notes that parents generally should try to avoid leaving their kids home alone if their children are younger than 10 years old.
- The Amount of Time You’ll Be Gone – Leaving your children home alone for a few hours is far different from taking a two-week vacation, and parents need to set realistic expectations for their kids and plan accordingly.
- First Aid Training – How will your child act in an emergency? Without first aid training, he or she may struggle to respond quickly and efficiently in a life-threatening situation, which could put your son or daughter in danger.
Leaving your kids alone for the first time can be one of the hardest things about parenting. How can you prepare your kids to handle themselves? It’s easier than you think. Just follow these steps:
Make sure your kids know how to call 911. Sounds easy, right? Does your teenage daughter have a cell phone that is seemingly attached to her ear? Probably. Chances are, if there’s an emergency, she’ll call 911 from her cell. It’s human nature because her cell phone is almost implanted in her ear already. But, if possible, she should call from the house line. Why? When she calls from her cell, she needs to tell the 911 dispatcher her address. If she calls from the house line, your daughter’s address will show up on the dispatcher’s screen. This saves time, and the fire department can start towards your house before the dispatcher gets all of the emergency information.
Second: Do your little ones know their address? What happens if something occurs and they call 911 from a cell phone? You’d be surprised how many kids do not know their home address.
Finally, and most importantly, do your kids know how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)? Every babysitter should take a CPR class. For every minute that a person is unconscious without CPR being performed, his or her chance of survival falls 10 percentage points. On average, a fire department’s response time is 5 minutes. You do the math… bystander CPR is critical to saving lives.
Preparing your children for their first time home alone is crucial, but doing so can be difficult. Fortunately, we’re here to help you teach your sons or daughters how to stay safe while they are home alone.
Here are 10 tips to get your children ready for being home alone:
- Schedule a Practice Run. Let your children stay home alone for about 30 minutes. That way, you can get a better idea about how your sons or daughters will act while you’re away.
- Establish Ground Rules. Just because you’ll be out of the house for a few hours does not mean your children should be able to ignore your house rules. Set up ground rules while you’re away and make sure that your kids understand these rules before you depart.
- Childproof Your Home. Store prescription medications, matches and other potentially dangerous household items in a place where your children cannot access them.
- Install Home Safety Cameras. Home safety cameras are discreet, inexpensive and simple to install and allow parents to keep an eye on their kids from any location, at any time.
- Build a Support System. Give your kids your cell phone numbers, along with the phone numbers of nearby family members and friends. With a support system is in place, your kids can contact family members and friends for help if they are unable to reach you.
- Teach Your Kids About Fire Safety. Spend some time teaching your kids how to respond if they smell smoke or hear a fire alarm. Also, ensure all smoke detectors are working properly before you leave your kids home alone.
- Create an Emergency Plan. Develop an emergency plan that accounts for fires, injuries and other emergencies. Then, post this plan in your home and make sure your children know where to find it.
- Check Out the Flashlights. A power outage can wreak havoc, even if the outage only lasts for a few minutes. Thus, you should always provide your children with flashlights that include new batteries and are easy to access.
- Keep the Stove and Oven Off-Limits. There is no need for your children to use the oven or stove while you’re gone. Give your kids money to order take-out or provide them with pre-made meals and snacks.
- Offer Instant Access to Emergency Support. If your children are allowed to use smartphones or tablets, you can install the America Red Cross’ free emergency apps, which offer emergency tools and preparedness information.
Providing a child with even a small amount of responsibility can go a long way, particularly for parents who are trying to strengthen their relationships with their kids. And with the right preparation, your son or daughter should have no trouble staying safe while he or she is home alone.
These simple tips can help everyone. Teach your kids how to call 911 and make sure every child knows their address and learns CPR. SureFire CPR provides many CPR and first aid classes for kids and adults. To learn more about our courses, please call us at (888) 277-3143.