At some point kids may have to be home alone. Even if there is a non-working parent available to look after the children, things come up that may prevent it. Instilling basic home safety rules to children will serve them well with you in or out of the house. Constant reinforcement is necessary, even teenagers who know the rules may not follow the rules or know what to do in case of an emergency.
Note that three States currently have laws regarding a minimum age for leaving a child home alone. Illinois law requires children to be 14 years old before being left alone; in Maryland, the minimum age is 8, while in Oregon, children must be 10 before being left home alone – from the Child Welfare Fact Sheet.
Every home is filled with items you don’t want your kids to play with. You always supervise them when you do allow them to use a dangerous item, but you can’t always be there looking over their shoulder and curiosity is a strong motivator for children.
Many items such as power tools can be very dangerous when not used safely, These are very tempting to use. Remove blades for power saws and bits from drills, keep them in a separate location and locked. Take simple precautions to secure these items and limit access available to unsupervised children.
Guns and other weapons must always be secured even when you are home. Use an appropriate gun cabinet or gun safe to keep these out of reach.
Bright and colorful pills can be attractive to children. Keep them in their childproof containers and out of reach. As a precaution don’t only consider accidental use by small children. The most common drug among early teens and teenagers is prescription medication.
Don’t assume your child is too young to experiment. Keep it locked up.
Generally the kitchen can be an unsafe environment for children and we tackled it with in Family Food and Kitchen Safety Tips. The presence of Cleaning Products which can contain harsh chemicals can cause damage to skin and eyes. When trying to clean up a mess alone, a panicked child could even mix cleaning products that will produce poisonous gasses such as inhalants. There are over 1,000 common household items that could be accidentally used or even abused as inhalants. Learn about them and keep them secured whenever possible.
Note: When securing items from your children keep the key on you at all times. A curious child with a few hours to kill after school might go on a treasure hunt looking for the key that secures forbidden items.
Common Rules for Children Home Alone
• Check-in when you are not home – Call a parent at work or a neighbor. Check all alerts in your Kuna smartphone app. Kuna will alert you when your child is at your front door.
• Lock all doors and windows when children are home alone. Remote access to door locks will let you ensure the doors are secured at all times.
• Teach children to never let anyone into the home without a parent’s permission.
• Children should not answer the door unless you are expecting someone. The door should never be opened for a stranger, even if they are wearing a uniform. Utility workers should never need to enter the residence without setting up an appointment. They should be told to schedule a time to return. This is where your Kuna home security system comes really handy, you can see exactly who is at your door and take the appropriate action.
• Don’t tell anyone at the door or on the phone that you are home alone. Teach your children to reply, “Dad (or mom) can’t come to the door right now.”
• Spare keys should be carried by children. Never leave a spare key in a hiding spot outside. If your kid has a habit of loosing things, sew a look inside their backpack for a key chain. Remote monitored cameras and door locks will allow you to give access to children without a key.
• No matter how young, children should know how to contact emergency personnel. Besides teaching them to dial 9-1-1, they need to know their full address and phone number. Many cell phones do not allow the dispatcher to see an address. Practice reciting this information often. They need to be able to recall the information in a stressful situation.
• Show children where main water shut offs are.
Consider these points when deciding if your child is old enough to be home alone:
• Can you trust them to go straight home after school?
• Can they operate the locks, security system and major appliances? Even when not given permission children may play with appliances and so need to know how to turn them off.
• Do they follow instructions well and stick to rules?
• Will being along frighten them? (They will probably not admit to this)
• Consider their maturity level in addition to their chronological age.
Fire and disaster plans should be in place and practiced before letting children stay home alone. Do they know the best exit to use from anywhere in the house? Purchase a rechargeable fire extinguisher and allow your kids to discharge it outside so they are familiar with its use. Keep extinguishers in many accessible locations in the house. When in doubt teach children to get out and let the fire department deal with a fire.
If anything seems off when they get home or they feel uncomfortable for any reason have them call for assistance. Teach them to never go into a house if they see an open door, a broken window or a ripped screen.
Teach Emergency Numbers that children can call if they cannot reach you.
Kuna is a smart camera in an outdoor light that
lets you prevent break-ins instead of waiting for an alarm
We recommend you install Kuna at all major entry points to your home so you’re never caught off guard when someone comes to your door. You can add multiple cameras to the Kuna app and your recordings will show footage from each of these camera.
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