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June 2010 / Bronx/​Riverdale Family / Brooklyn Family / Long Island Family / Queens Family / Staten Island Family / Columnists / Family Health

Keeping them safe when home alone

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I am a single mother and I work full-time. My 13-year-old son will soon be off from school on summer vacation. What can I do to make sure that he is physically and emotionally protected during the hours that he is home alone?

There’s no doubt about it — a supervised home is preferable. However, work does not always allow it. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to help ensure the safety of your children when they are home alone.

The following advice typically applies to children ages 11 and up. Children who are younger than 11 require supervision at all times.

First, on the way home from summer activities, children should keep their house keys hidden. Do not permit your child to experiment with different routes between these activities and your home. Walking home with friends or a trusted adult is preferable. Once your child is home, he should check-in by telephone so that a responsible adult knows that he or she has arrived home safely.

Establishing a daily schedule to ensure that your child has something to do during his or her time at home is very important. Boredom often precipitates trouble. Provide some kind of entertainment such as a puzzle or art materials or even simple chores. You may also want to keep some healthy prepared snacks around.

Post your emergency contact numbers by the phone and make sure your child knows what to do and who to reach in case of an emergency. Do a few practice run-throughs.

Also, post house safety rules regarding the use of appliances and answering the door and telephone. Children should not answer the door for strangers and should not admit to being home alone over the telephone.

Although the tips above should help, keep looking for ways to provide your child with supervised care. Perhaps there is a local recreational organization or summer program you can tap into.

Some children may have fears about staying home alone and need an adult to answer their questions and concerns. Talk with your children about staying home alone and make sure they are comfortable with the situation.

Finally, it is important to spend some time together each day. Your love and attention cannot be replaced.

Updated 4:12 pm, July 13, 2010
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