Act like a child
Explore your home at the child’s level – by getting down on your hands and knees and moving around each room. Ask yourself what looks tempting and what’s within reach (between the floor and about 40 inches above). Remove or secure any items that could be dangerous.
Also, check carpets for buried dangers like pins, coins or other things a child could choke on.
Post emergency numbers by all telephones
Check your state law to find out the age you can allow your child to stay home alone. Then set your child up to have a safe experience while you are gone. Make sure your child has easy access to this information:
- 911 for emergencies
- 1-800-222-1222 for the Poison Control Center
- The number for a pediatrician, police, fire department, emergency medical services and a neighbor
- Your home address so that caregivers and children can easily tell emergency personnel how to locate the home
Create house rules
Establish house rules and make sure your child is comfortable with them. Some common guidelines:
- Don’t answer the door
- Let the phone go to voicemail
- Do not allow friends in the house unless a parent is at home
If your child stays home alone after school, agree on a daily check-in procedure. Set a time when you’ll call home or your child will call you. Tell your child how to contact you and what time you’ll return home at day’s end.
Walk around the house together
Take a tour of your house and point out potential hazards to your child, such as electrical appliances and heating equipment. Discuss which appliances and electronic devices can and can’t be used when you’re not home (e.g., the microwave is OK, but the oven is not).
Make sure your child knows the location of the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Also, make sure they know your family’s fire escape plan. Remind them to get out of the house immediately if an alarm goes off, and to call the fire department from a neighbor’s phone.
Prepare a snack or meal for your child in advance, preferably one that does not need to be heated. If your child must use the stove or oven, remind him or her never to leave a pot unattended while cooking and to check that the stove, oven or burner is turned off when they finish.