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Unfortunately, in many families, both parents must work; consequently, children are caring for themselves at least a few hours before and/or after school. How do you know when your child is ready to be left alone after school?

Parents must judge for themselves when their child is mature enough to be left alone at home after school. When making the decision, it is important to teach your child the necessary skills to be safe and responsible. How will your child deal with phone calls and visitors at the door? Does your child know how to prepare a simple snack or what to do if choking? Will he/she know what to do in an emergency?

Reviewing some important safety tips with your child will help protect them, and ease your worries.

  1. Discuss house rules, expectations, and the daily routine – rules for homework, chores, having friends over, use of appliances, etc.
  2. Make sure your child knows how to reach you – place of employment, work phone, cell phone, and what to do in the event he/she can’t.
  3. Ensure that your child knows his/her own phone number, address, and major cross roads. You would be amazed how many children are left alone and don’t know these things.
  4. Prepare communication cards. These cards contain phone numbers and addresses of relatives and friends, and emergency personnel to call in case of an emergency.
  5. Discuss potential emergencies, the best way to handle the situation, and when they should call 9-1-1.
  6. Practice a fire drill.
  7. Make sure your child checks the home for open doors or broken windows before entering.
  8. Remind your child to lock all doors after entering the house and to call you when he/she arrives.
  9. Remind your child to never tell anyone that he/she will be home alone, and don’t open the door for anyone they don’t know.
  10. Teach your child first aid.

Being home alone no matter how briefly, is a big responsibility for a child; make sure your child is well-prepared and emotionally ready. If your child is not confident about being left alone, seek alternative solutions.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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