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Tips for Latchkey Kids

With the number of single-parent households and two-income families increasing, many children come home after school to an empty house and spend time unsupervised in the summer. To make your child's time alone safe, communication between you and your child concerning safety is essential. Here are some ideas to discuss with your child when preparing them for their time alone.

  • They must memorize their own name, address and phone number, as well as those of their parent's work numbers, and name of company or address. Have them memorize these numbers so when they are away from home, they will be able to get in touch with their parents.
  • Find a trusted neighbor who is at home during the day who can be notified in case of an emergency. Leave a spare key with this neighbor in case keys are misplaced or lost. Do not hide an extra key some place. Always lock the door after entering the residence, including the storm door
  • Never open the door to a stranger. Do not let anyone unfamiliar to you know either on the phone or at the door that you are without adult supervision. You may even want to make a rule that your child does not answer the door or telephone when they are home alone. If you need to call them develop a code such as two rings, hang up, then call again.
  • Go over safety procedures in case of fire or injury. Know how and when to use 911. Teach them how to get out of every room in the house in case they were trapped by fire.
  • Teach them some basic first aid for minor and major injuries For major burns, immerse in cold water or wrap with wet towel, then dial 911 for help. For a deep cut, place a towel directly over the wound, press down hard, and dial 911 for help.
  • The best way to avoid trouble or injury to your child is to not allow them to have any friends in the house when you are not there.
  • If you will be delayed in coming home, call your child and tell them the exact time you will be home. If that changes, call again. Remember, you are going to want them to do the same to you some day.
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