Many kids stay home alone, but their experiences are not like the one in the "Home Alone" movies. Staying home alone can be exciting and fun, but it can also be lonely or scary.
Tips for Staying Home Alone
- If you do stay home alone or plan to in the future, make sure you go directly home from school or your after-school activities.
- When you arrive home, make yourself a snack if you're hungry, and start your homework as soon as possible.
- If necessary, do your chores.
- Ask your parents if you are allowed to answer the phone when you are home alone. If you are, be prepared to take messages for the rest of your family.
- There are laws in different states that make it illegal to leave children under a certain age home alone. Find out the age limit in your state.
Preparing to Stay Home Alone
Before you stay home alone, make sure you know the following things:
- How to call 911 in case of an emergency
- Your full name, address and phone number to tell emergency services
- Your parents’ phone numbers and the addresses of where they will be
- A backup person and their phone number in case you cannot reach your parents
- Where to find a flashlight
- Where to find the first aid kit
- How to exit your home if there is a fire
- Where to find the fire extinguisher
- Which appliances your parents will allow you to use (some parents may not want their kids to use the oven or toaster without adult supervision.)
- What TV shows are allowed
Remember: Never enter your house if you see an open door or a broken window. Do not answer the door. Follow the same rules that you have when your parents are home.
Checking in with Parents
It’s a good idea to check in with your parents once you are home. Many kids call or text their parents at a designated time to let them know they are home safe. Have a designated backup person in case you need an adult’s help and your parents are unreachable.
One tip is to keep all important phone numbers in a visible place – such as a bulletin board or a white board. Include parents’ and trusted adults’ numbers as well as the local police department.
Alternatives to Staying Home Alone
Before you are left alone, it can hel to make a schedule of how to spend your time. Being home alone doesn't have to be boring or scary; it can be a fun way to show your parents how mature and responsible you are.
If you stay home alone and don’t like it, there are other alternatives. You could join an after-school program such as a sports team or a club. Also, you might be able to go to a friend’s house one day after school to do homework until your parents can pick you up, and have that friend come to your house on a different day.
Reviewed by: Jen Hawkins, RN
Last reviewed: August 2019