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Keeping Kids Safe When They’re Home Alone

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Author of How to Prep When You’re Broke and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

It was a terrible spring storm.

Lightning, thunder, high winds, and suddenly, the power went out, casting my office in darkness. I went to pick up the phone to call my then 10-year-old daughter, who was home by herself for an hour after school.

No dial tone. Nothing. Dead as a doornail.

The phone system at the office was so elaborate that it didn’t work without electricity.

This was back in the days before cell phones, so I had no way to reach my little girl. It was the year that her big sister had an afterschool activity and my youngest had balked against having a babysitter, saying she was “too old” for that. I reluctantly agreed, with some strict ground rules. She had to call me the moment she got home to let me know she’d arrived safely. She was not to go outside, use the stove, or answer the door. She was to do her homework until I got home an hour later. There was a “safe” neighbor next door if she needed help, a kindly older couple who treated her like their own grandchild.

I had felt like she was as prepared as I could make her for that hour when she was home alone.

But, what I didn’t know that day was that the wind had thrown a large branch through our kitchen window, shattering glass all over the place and letting in the howling gale and torrential downpour.

And she was scared to death.

She tried to call me but, of course, couldn’t get through because our phones were down. She went next door, and the neighbors were not at home.

So, in her ten-year-old mind, she did what she thought was the next best thing. I shudder to this day even to type this, but she decided to walk to my office, which wasn’t far on a good day, but on a day like this, it was rife with danger. She was soaked before she even got a block and stepped into the corner store, where we sometimes picked up milk and bread. (And, let’s be real, candy.)

The store owner recognized her and said, there’s no way you can be out walking in this, trying to convince her not to leave. Then, the school bus driver happened to stop in for something and recognized her. The store owner assured my daughter she’d continue calling me to try and get through. The bus driver gave the corner store owner her phone number and first and last name, then gave my kiddo a ride to the office and walked in with her, a little nervous because she was concerned I’d be upset that my daughter had taken a ride from a person who was a stranger to me.

Imagine my shock when my drenched little girl suddenly appeared and threw herself at me, sobbing.

We were SO lucky it all worked out. I think back about all the things that could have gone wrong, and still, I shudder to think of it.

We needed some ground rules.

I thought I had covered all the bases by giving my daughter safety instructions, but that branch through the kitchen window was a total wild card. It set off a dangerous chain of decisions that put her at far more risk than if she had stayed home and simply gone into another room.

That was when I first created a little book of home alone safety rules. I tried to think of every possible thing that might go wrong and write down instructions for what to do if it occurred. Of course, there’s no way to predict everything, but having some guidelines written down for your children can help them through most types of emergencies.

What do kids need to be prepared for?

Here are some of the ones that are important:

  • Basic rules of being home alone
  • What to do if there’s a fire
  • What to do if someone gets hurt
  • Information for babysitters
  • What to do if the electricity goes out
  • What to do if someone is at the door
  • Who you can safely turn to for help

I like to make these instructions extremely concise, something that a child can read over fast if they need some guidance. I created a printable bundle of the rules that my kids had which you can get here. I want it to be affordable, so you can name your price for it this week.

Prepare your children to be safe when they’re home alone.

It’s so important that you prep your kids, and also your teenage babysitters. They should be prepared for emergencies, too.

Having the information written down in one place helps them if they feel panicked. Who hasn’t forgotten some tidbit of information like a phone number or address when they’re scared? It’s a very common response to fear.

So grab my printables or make your own. And if you don’t have young children at home, these make a great gift for the working parents in your life.

Work with your kids to emergency-proof them. No, you can’t prepare them for everything, like a branch flying into your kitchen. But with some guidelines, you may be able to help them manage emergencies more safely.

Have your children ever had an emergency when they were home unsupervised? How did they handle it? Are there any incidents like mine that you look back on and shudder because the situation could’ve gone so badly?

Let’s talk about it in the comments section.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand You can find her on FacebookPinterestGabMeWeParlerInstagram, and Twitter.

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