School is out and summer has officially begun. Wondering what age you can leave your kids home alone? The Texas Department of Health and Protective Services states
“Texas law doesn’t say what age is old enough for a child to stay at home alone. However, adequate supervision is critical to keeping kids safe. An adult caregiver is accountable for the child’s care and inadequate supervision can be a type of neglect (neglectful supervision)”
This means many kids, typically starting around age 12 and up will be staying home alone. Many will be looking after younger siblings and will need to know what to do to keep themselves safe. Here are a few simple tips to make things safer and to give you some peace of mind.
- Make Sure Your Child Knows What to Do in Case of Emergency. Have all of your phone numbers, the neighbors, and emergency numbers posted and programmed in their cell phones and a safety checklist on refrigerator.
- Instruct them on what you want them to do if someone comes to the door. Don’t answer or look out window. Answer through the door only but never open. Decide what you are comfortable with and tell them not to let other people know they are alone.
- Do not let kids post their home alone status on social media. Be wary of where your kids are online, give them basic safety precautions and monitor their friend lists.
- Set rules about going outside. Are they allowed in back yard, front yard or on block? Make sure they know what you expect.
- Find a trusted friend or neighbor they can go to for help. If you live in an apartment complex make sure they know where the office is.
- Practice what information they would need if they had to call 911.
- Make sure they keep doors and windows locked at all times.
Depending on what level of safety you want – you could add video surveillance so you could look in on them during the day. Limit or put restrictions on internet use. Skype, Snap Chat or remote access during the day can also be used to check in on your kids and “see” what they are doing.
Leaving kids alone can help them learn responsibility and feel more grownup. Making sure they follow basic safety rules can make it a positive experience for all.