Home > Blog > Home Safety Tips > Home Alone

Summer Safety: Is your child ready to stay home alone?

Posted: June 03, 2019

When school's out, a lot of children stay home alone while parents are at work. If this brings to mind any alarming images, perhaps a summer safety checklist can help provide some peace of mind.

In the iconic film Home Alone, 8-year-old Kevin McCallister is accidentally left at home when his family leaves for vacation. This adventure left several impressions in our cultural mind about what happens when a precocious kid gets the house to himself. However, a little bit of planning will change the plot at your home from nail biting to happy ending.


Discuss food and kitchen safety

Kevin thought it was pretty great having pizza all to himself, but pizza delivery every day isn’t a likely option for most kids. You still need to plan for snacks and meals, so it’s a good idea to go over safety rules for the kitchen if your child will be doing any cooking. It’s best to limit any cooking a younger child can do. Always make sure you have at least one smoke alarm installed and in good working order. Go over a plan for what to do if there’s a small fire in the kitchen or a smoke alarm goes off. Perhaps eliminate the need for heated food altogether with sandwiches or salad fixings.

Make a Schedule

Prepare a schedule

In Home Alone, Kevin had big fun jumping on his parents’ bed and making big messes. In your home, you can keep your child busy by giving chores and setting up a schedule. While children need downtime to rest and revive, they are less likely to get into trouble if they’re occupied and have a schedule they’re accountable to.

A sample schedule might look something like this:

3:30 – Check in with mom/dad
3:30 to 4:00 – Change clothes and have a snack
4:00 to 4:45 – Do homework (or in the summer, a chore)
4:45 to 5:30 – Free time
5:30 – Set table for dinner
5:45 – Mom/Dad home


Home Security

Perhaps most famously, Home Alone, Kevin comically outwitted would-be burglars with elaborate booby traps. While that makes for good storytelling, home security is no laughing matter. 

Kids who are home alone might truly worry that someone could break into the house. It’s a good idea to go over what to do when they are home alone – like keep the doors locked, don’t answer the door to strangers, and don’t answer the phone unless it’s a number you recognize.

In addition to general safety practices, you have many options now for helping make sure your children are safe and secure when they’re home alone.

Children tend to be forgetful, so if they come in they may forget to close the garage door or re-lock the front door after they come inside. One solution is to set up a smart home automation system that can lock doors, monitor smoke detectors, or send you a mobile notification through
the ADT Pulse App when something is amiss.

You can also install a doorbell camera. That way you and your child can check to see who is ringing the doorbell – and they’ll be able to privately see who is at the door without letting the visitor know anyone is even home.

Another option is to install home security cameras so you can see how they’re doing in real time. Cameras posted in the kitchen, garage, front and back doors, and even outside can help you see things at home for yourself. If connected to the web, make sure you get a video surveillance system from a company you trust.

The American Red Cross also recommends taking these general steps for helping keep those home alone hours safe and less stressful:

  1. Post an emergency phone list, including 911 and how to use it
  2. Go over an emergency plan so children know what to do in case of a fire, injury, or other emergency (like a toilet overflowing)
  3. Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries in an easily accessible place in case there’s a power outage
  4. Leave a precise dose of any medicine your child needs to take, and otherwise keep all medicine (and chemicals, sharp tools, weapons etc.) locked in storage or secured and out of reach
  5. Limit the time spent in front of a television or computer – and be cautious about sharing information to public web sites or on social media
  6. Do not have friends over to visit unless you have permission to do so
  7. Identify a friend or a neighbor they can call if they become frightened

Even when you’re confident about your child’s maturity, it’s a good idea to be prepared with a safety checklist and a home security plan. It gives you peace of mind by protecting what matters most: family.