Home Alone - A Parent's Guide

Your teen comes home at 3:00, but you don't come home until 5:00. They're at home alone for two hours every weekday. What do they do until you arrive home? Most likely they snack, talk on the phone, watch TV, but you worry since you're not there. You're anxious about child safety like the majority if American parents who work. You can help ease some of the worry by following the safeguards listed below, and take measures that will protect your kids when you're not around.


Can your children:

  • Be trusted to go straight home after school?
  • Easily use the phone, locks, and kitchen appliances?
  • Follow rules & instructions well?
  • Handle unexpected situations without panicking?
  • Stay alone without being afraid?

What you can do

  • Make sure you children are old & mature enough to care for themselves.
  • Teach them basic safety rules.
  • Know the three "W's". Where your kids are, What they're doing, Who they're with. Check on state law about the age at which children can be left home alone.
There are things that you don't want your kids to get into. Talk to them about the deadly consequences of guns, medicines, power tools, drugs, alcohol, cleaning products, & inhalants. Keep these items in a secure place out of sight, and locked up if possible.

Teach your "home alone" children

  • To check in with you or a neighbor immediately after arriving home.
  • How to call 911, the operator, Police & Fire Departments.
  • How to give directions to your home in an emergency.
  • Never accept gifts or rides from people they don't know well.
  • How to use the door & window locks, and alarm system if you have one.
  • To never let anyone into your home without asking your permission.
  • To never let a caller at the door or phone know that they're alone. Teach them to say their parents are busy & take a message.
  • To carry a house key with them. Never leave a key under a mat or ledge outside.
  • How to escape in a fire.
  • Not to go into an empty house or apartment if things don't look right, a broken window, ripped screen, or opened door.
  • To let you know about anything that frightens them or makes them feel uncomfortable.

Take a stand

  • Work with schools , religious institutions, libraries, recreational & community centers, and your local youth organizations to create programs that give your children a place to go & something to do after school with sports, crafts, classes & tutoring. Kids can also get involved in the community. Help them create & carry out an improvement project.
  • Ask your workplace to sponsor a Survival Skills class for employees' children. Kick it off with a breakfast or lunch.
  • Ask your community to develop a homework hotline that latchkey kids can call for help, or just talk.
  • Join or start a McGruff House or other block parent program in your community to offer children help in emergencies or frightening situations. A McGruff House is a reliable source of help for children in emergency or frightening situations. For more information call 1-801-486-8691.
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