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Home Alone Safety: Tips for Parents

While most parents would be happy to spend some extra time with their children after school, the realities of today's tough economy often don't allow for such luxuries. Instead, plenty of kids return to an empty house, where they are expected to do their homework before Mom and Dad get home. In the hope they'll behave, we lay down some home-alone ground rules for them to follow - but what are the best guidelines to ensure our kids are safe?

Ensuring children's well-being when they're home alone is vital for the safety of our families and communities. Here's some great pointers provided by the American Red Cross for parents to make that happen.

  • Emergency Phone List: Post an emergency phone list on the refrigerator. Include 911, poison control, the local police, and trusted family friends and neighbors.
  • Emergency Plan: Do some super-simple drills and "pop quizzes" to nail down a quick reaction plan in case of a fire or other emergencies.
  • First Aid: Have a first aid kit stocked and stored that's accessible to your children in case of an accident or injury.
  • Flashlights: Make sure your children know where the flashlights are in case of a power outage.
  • Dangerous Items: Lock up dangerous items like guns, knives, razor blades, sharp scissors, tools, and ammunition.
  • Medicines & Chemicals: Ensure that medicines and potential poisons like detergents, polishes, auto fluids, and pesticides are locked away.
  • Safety Covers: Unused electrical outlets should have safety covers installed on them.
  • Cooking: Limit what kind of cooking a child can do. Keep it simple, without the stove or oven. Make sure a smoke alarm is installed and working at each level of your home.
  • Limit TV: Set limits on the amount of time your children spend in front of the television or computer while home alone. Also make sure they don't disclose information about themselves and their location on websites or social networks.
  • Alarm System: If your home has an alarm system, your children should know how to use it when you're away and they're home alone.

Source: American Red Cross

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