Don’t be a fool about after-school safety

“Back to school / back to school / to prove to dad I’m not a fool….”

You may recognize these lyrics from the movie Billy Madison, starring Adam Sandler, during the scene where he waits for his school bus to come. And while we don’t exactly recommend the PG-13 film for younger children, we still thought the song related to our blog post today: Don’t be a fool when it comes to after-school safety!

Around our region, kids are heading back to school – with Martin County’s first day today and the surrounding areas starting next week. And as children across the nation head back to the classroom, it also means many of them will be spending time home alone after school until their parents get home from work.

The decision to leave kids home alone can be a stressful one for parents and guardians. If you don’t feel comfortable having your child home alone, look into after-school child care, youth clubs or spots programs they can join instead.

The look we give to people when they tell us they haven’t talked about after school safety with their children. Don’t worry…the steps we have below will help get the conversation started!

But a child is old enough and mature enough to stay home alone, taking the time to develop a home safety plan can help bring a peace of mind and keep everyone prepared. Check out some of our recommendations for things to talk about with your children:

  • Have your child call to check in with you when they get home
  • Set ground rules: Can other children come over when parents are absent? Can older children cook? Can your children leave the house?
  • Post emergency phone numbers where everyone can see it, have 9-1-1 and numbers for trusted friends or neighbors children can call in case a parent can’t be reached
  • Talk to your children about which friends and neighbors they can go to in case of an emergency that requires the child to leave the home
  • Stock and store your first aid kit where your children can find it, but keep medicine in a locked storage place out of reach
  • Remove or safely store dangerous items – like guns, knives, hand and power tools, scissors and razor blades – in locked areas
  • Limit the time children spend in front of the TV or computer, use parental controls and programs that limit the sites children can visit, restrict chat sites and allow parents to monitor online activity
  • Remind your children to never open the door to strangers, always check before opening the door to anyone
  • Make sure children know to never tell someone on the telephone that the parents are not at home, say something like, “He/she is busy right now, can I take a message?”
  • Tell children to never talk about being home alone on public websites, chat rooms and social networks
For more tips on things to discuss with your children, check out this article on the Red Cross website.

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