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Keeping Latchkey Kids Safe

Updated on February 8, 2013

Keeping Latchkey Kids Safe

The term latchkey kid refers to a child who returns home from school to an empty house because the parents are at work or away. Most parents would prefer not to leave their child home alone but sometimes this is unavoidable, especially in single parent homes. However, there are several measures you can take to reduce the fear and keep your child out of harms way.

What is a Latchkey Kid?

Latchkey kid refers to a child who returns from school to an empty home because his or her parent or parents are away at work. It also refers to a child who is often left at home with little or no parental supervision.

At what age can you legally leave a child home alone?

The legal age restrictions for children left at home alone varies from state to state. The National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left at home alone.

1. Make rules. Go over all the rules with your child and post of copy of them on the refrigerator.

2. Make an emergency plan and go over it with you child.

3. Make sure your child knows some of the basics, such as being able to lock and unlock the door, tell time, dial the phone, and ask for help if needed.

4. Rehearse with your child on what to do in various situations. Ask you child, "What would you do if...?".

5. Have your child check in with you as soon as they arrive home from school. If you are not available, have them check in with a family member or a trusted neighbor.

6. Post a list of emergency numbers near every phone in the house.

7. Teach your child how to address callers when you are not home. They should never say that their parents are not home.

8. Be sure you child knows your work phone number and address, and how to reach you at all times.

9. Call your child if you are not going to arrive home at your usual time or if you are running late.

10. Teach your child what to do in case of a fire. Have them memorize the Fire Department's phone number and be sure that your smoke alarms work at all times..

11. If you live in areas prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods or tornadoes, teach you child what to do in case of a disaster. Plan an escape route too.

12. Have your child use the buddy system when walking home from school or to and from the bus stop.

13. If possible, adopt a large dog that can provide a certain amount of protection.

14.Teach your child how to use basic first aid and keep a well stocked first aid kit in your home.

15. Teach your child how to use the home appliances, and let them know which ones are off limits while you are not home.

16. If your child wears the house key on a string around their neck, make sure it is out of site. If you hid your key in your yard, make sure it is hidden in a place where no one can see your child retrieve it.

17. Teach you child what to do in case of a home invasion.

Stop! Please Answer the Poll!

At what age do you think it's ok to leave kids home alone?

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    • purplelady profile image


      8 years ago

      Saw you update and wanted to comment on your lens. Before I retired I worked as a Volunteer Director at an Agency on Aging. Through the Foster Grandparent Program, we established a program to match an older person with a young child who was a latch-key kid. It worked quite well for both the seniors and the kids. This is a great resource and well-done lens for latch-key kids and families.

    • SafeCard LM profile image

      SafeCard LM 

      8 years ago

      Hello,Just want you to know that i think you sharied some very good ideas!!We need to be a lot more safe with our children. There are to many kids getting kiddnaped and killed. Thaks for sharing this with us!! I found it very useful!

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      8 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Good advice here! I trusted my daughter to stay home alone once she was 12, but we live in a pretty safe small village and know all our neighbors, so she could walk home with their kids and go to their houses if she wanted. Also she's pretty responsible. Under different conditions I would have been more concerned. And once we all got cell phones we could keep in touch much more easily!


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