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Occasionally, due to conflicting schedules, your children may be home alone. The following information will help to keep them safe and secure.
What is aContact Person?
A contact person is an adult who could be a neighbor or a friend that you trust to be a "go to" person for your child in case of an emergency. Your child should know how to quickly reach this person if needed. Most phones allow for one-touch programming of a number or speed dial - set this to the contact person and teach your child to use it.
Go over with your child what to do in case of a fire or other emergency. Usually, the contact person should be called first, then he or she can determine if 9-1-1 needs to be contacted. Practice with your child the safest path to your contact person in case he or she needs to leave the house.
Discuss with your child signs of trouble that he or she can look for when coming home. Is the door or a window broken? Is there a strange car in the driveway or parked out front? Can he or she see or smell smoke? If anything seems out of the ordinary, instruct your child to go directly to your contact person for help.
The phone can be a great source of comfort to a child who is home alone. Be sure your child knows where the phones are in the home and how to use them. Practice with your child the proper way to answer the telephone when you are away. Children should never tell a stranger that you are not home. Rather, have them say, "They are not able to come to the phone right now. Can you please call back later?" Answering machines can screen calls instead of having to answer directly.
Discuss with your child the procedure for dealing with someone at the door. If you are expecting visitors while you are away, let your child know who they are and when they are expected. Discuss what to do if someone unexpected knocks at the door. When in doubt, keep them out.
Stress to your child the need to keep his or her key safe and secret. No one but your contact person should know your child will be home alone. Go over what to do in case the key is lost. Consider leaving a spare key with your contact person.
Don't Be Afraid!
Children can easily become frightened without the presence of an adult. Lights, televisions and radios are all things that can be turned on to keep a child company. Agree to a time that your child can expect you home and CALL if you are going to be late getting home.
Nearly everything that plugs into the wall at home can be dangerous to your child if unsupervised. Stress the importance of HANDS OFF of anything that could cause serious injury or damage like stoves, microwaves or washer/dryers.
If you have safety tips you'd like included here, write:
Valley Yellow Pages
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Fresno, CA 93727-1600
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