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In the ‘perfect’ world of yesterday, we longed to live like the parents in ‘Leave it to Beaver’ or ‘Father Knows Best’ – Dad goes off to work, Mom gets the kids get to school; she would also be there when they returned home. Fast forward 50 years; in many families, both parents must work. Consequently, many children are caring for themselves, at least for a few hours before and/or after school. Most likely, they will watch television, play video games, chat online, eat a snack, or talk on the phone. It is natural for parents to be anxious about their children’s safety.

If your children are not already in school, they will be starting school this week. Reviewing some important safety tips with your kids, if they will be self-supervised, will help ease some of the worry and protect your kids when you are not around.

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, make sure they know the most important three numbers on the telephone, 9-1-1, and when they should or should not call 9-1-1.

6. Practice a fire drill.

7. Make sure your child knows how to check your 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 elementary first aid.

11. Monitor their computer and online activities

While teaching your child safety rules for staying home alone, it is important to not instill unnecessary fear. Being home alone no matter how briefly, is a big responsibility for a child and one which parents should make sure the child is prepared to handle. There are a host of additional considerations when the child is responsible for siblings, too. Lastly, it is important to make sure that your child is happy to be left alone. If they aren’t confident about being left alone, then seek alternative solutions. For information on after school programs in your state, visit the Afterschool Alliance website.

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 a plaintiff involved in a pending personal injury case. 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, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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