Keeping kids safe is top priority. Not all parents have the luxury of adjusting their work schedules around their children’s school schedules, though. Latchkey kids are home alone after school until a parent or caregiver arrives home from work. With these tips, learn how to keep your kids safe until you get home.
Deciding if Your Child is Ready to Stay Home Alone
When deciding if a child is ready to be a latchkey kid, first determine what age limits are set by your state. Maine and New Hampshire don’t have any specific regulations. Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina and Oregon are the only states that set a minimum age by law, ranging from 8 to 14 years. Some states, such as Colorado, Delaware and Washington, suggest a minimum age limit but do not mandate the minimum by law.
Child development specialists recommend that no child under the age of 12 be left at home alone. The child’s maturity level, however, can be a factor in a family’s decision about age limits. Generally, children under the age of 7 should not be left home alone. Children 7 to 10 years old can stay home alone for short periods of time. Eleven and 12-year-olds may be able to stay at home unsupervised for longer periods of time but not overnight.
Following the Rules
Staying home alone isn’t a license to do anything a child wants just because a parent isn’t watching. Clear communication about what is and isn’t allowed is key to the latchkey child’s safety. Talk to your child on a level they can relate to about safety and behavior expectations. A simple, “If it isn’t allowed when I’m home, then it’s not allowed when I’m away,” may not be enough. Post a list of rules and important information in a common area like the kitchen or family room. Make sure that all family members can see, read and understand what’s posted. Some ideas for rules:
• Chores that can be done without help.
• Homework finished before video games.
• Don’t let anyone in the house without permission.
• No friends over without an adult at home.
Important information to have posted can include:
• Emergency numbers
• Contact information
• Allergies or medical information
• Emergency evacuation plans
Additional Safety Options
The next best thing to being at home is being able to make sure your kids are safe with an expertly installed home security system. Not only can a security system incorporate alarms for break-ins, they also allow you to monitor your child’s activity while you’re away.
With Internet and mobile solutions, a parent can use the system to monitor the temperature inside the house, when someone enters or exits and even watch what’s going on via installed cameras. A home security system provides safety monitoring and quick access to emergency services when you need them.
Seacoast Security has been providing Maine and New Hampshire home and business owners with cutting edge home and business security services since 1976 from our offices in Rockport, Freeport/Portland, Hermon/Bangor, Presque Isle, and Portsmouth. Learn more at http://www.seacoastsecurity.com/