Today marks the end of the school year for kids across British Columbia, and parents might be wondering how to keep them safe while they’re home from school for the summer.
There are seven integral rules to a safe summer vacation, starting with asking your child how they feel staying home alone. Make sure they are prepared, responsible, and knowledgable. Check what the age limit begins at for leaving your child at home, as it differs from region to region.
Have an emergency plan
Do all smoke detectors work? Does your child know what the smoke detectors sound like, and how to respond? Do you have a landline for your child to dial 911 in the case of an emergency, and an emergency cellphone in case the child must evacuate the home? A map designating all emergency exits as well as a list of contacts should be posted somewhere central in the home so the child may become acquainted with them.
Always Check In
This doesn’t have to be limited to seeing if your child is where they are supposed to be, but also to check in that household chores are being kept up on.
Make the Phone Off-Limits
If your landline has caller ID, remind your child to only answer recognizable phone numbers. It’s often a good indication that the child is home alone if he/she is answering the phone during the working hours. If there is no caller ID, let the calls go to voicemail.
Don’t Leave the House Without Communicating His/her Whereabouts
Have a list of your son/daughter’s friend’s phone numbers. Make sure he/she communicates to you where they are going, when they will be there, and when they will be home. A cellphone is a great addition to keeping your child safe for these trips.
Map out a Route to Get Home
If there are places you know your child will be visiting while you aren’t home, make sure you are knowledgeable of what route he/she will be taking, so that if there is a discretion between when he will be home and when he said, you can trace his/her steps to make finding him/her a bit easier.
Keep Them Busy
Summer vacation is all about downtime, relaxation and rest. However, if he/she spends their time occupied, getting into trouble can be more easily avoided.
Practice First Aid
There are many Babysitter’s Courses and First Aid courses available through local elementary schools and recreational facilities for an affordable price. Checking your child into one if he/she will be spending much of the summer alone isn’t a bad investment, especially if they will be looking after younger siblings. Make sure that there is a well-stocked first aid kit in an easily accessible place in the home, and that your child can distinguish an emergency from a small incident.