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Home alone: Is your child ready?

Posted 3/7/2016 by UHBlog

Home alone: Is your child ready?

Home alone: Is your child ready?

The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that most kids younger than age 11 or 12 are not able to handle stressful or emergency situations on their own. Even more important than age is maturity: Does your child behave responsibly? Is he or she relaxed or uneasy about being alone? The bottom line: Let your child stay home alone only if you and your child are comfortable with the idea.

Prepare your child

Dieter Sumerauer

Dieter Sumerauer, MD
Pediatrician, Pediatric and Adolescent Health Professionals
Clinical Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s pediatrician Dieter Sumerauer, MD, at Pediatric and Adolescent Health Professionals in Middleburg Heights, offers these steps to help prepare kids:

  • Consider a babysitting or first aid course to teach your child how to handle various situations.
  • Teach your child the dangers of medicines, power tools, drugs, alcohol, cleaning products and inhalants. Store these items in locked cabinets.
  • Tell your child to call you when he or she arrives home. And calling your child every few hours while he or she is home alone can instill security.
  • Have a set routine for your child when he or she arrives home. Create ground rules for what your child may and may not do while home alone, such as watching television, going online, using kitchen appliances and caring for pets.
  • Ensure your child knows his or her full name, address and phone number, and your full name, work and mobile phone numbers, and where you are while you are not at home. Teach your child when and how to call 9-1-1. Leave an emergency contact list with your contact information and phone numbers of trusted neighbors, friends and relatives.
  • Create an emergency action plan. All members of the family should fully understand and review it. The plan should include what to do in case of emergencies, where to meet after, and actions such as where to go in your home during a tornado, or how to safely exit your home during a fire.

Protect your child

Dr. Sumerauer suggests taking these steps before leaving home to protect your child:

  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; change batteries regularly.
  • Secure all windows and doors.
  • Lock all firearms, preferably with a trigger lock; keep the key with you.
  • Instruct your child to never enter your empty house if a door or window is unlocked, open, or broken, and to go to a trusted neighbor’s house instead.
  • Teach your child to keep doors and windows locked at all times, and to never allow anyone to enter the home without first checking with you.
  • Avoid leaving your child home alone for long periods. And always call if you are going to be late.

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