Safety tips for leaving children home alone - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Safety tips for leaving children home alone

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

With the summer here, many parents must choose between leaving their children home alone during the day while they are at work or busy with other commitments, or finding alternative care.

Parents often worry when their children are home alone, but there are precautions you can take to ease worries and help protect your children when you are not around.

"Yeah it's just scary," said Elizabeth Kangeter. "So scary."

For parents like Elizabeth Kangeter that days of leaving your children home alone are more worrisome than ever.

"To just think you can't even run to the store, even as the kids are getting older, there's no safe window of time," said Kangeter.

Savannah Chatham Police are seeing an uptick in home burglaries, specifically during the hours most are at work.

"If they have not been inside the home prior, they would simply knock or ring the door bell ask for someone who obviously wouldn't live there once they were confronted with a resident would leave," said Corporal John Simmons. "However is no one responds or responds quick enough then they will move somewhere out of sight of most of the neighbors."

That is worrisome for parents like Kangeter who fears her children may be confronted with a potential thief, especially if they don't answer the door.

"If you don't answer the door, they're kicking it in anyway," said Kangeter. "So, you know, at one point we had told the kids that if a stranger comes to the door you don't answer, But now maybe that's not the best policy either. You know, maybe just tell I am in the back or I'm not able to come to the door, at least acknowledge that someone is in the house, because typically people aren't going to come if they know people are inside."

"If they are not confident enough ignore the door knock, just be aware the person may do something if they see the person moving to the side of the house, then they should call 911," said Corporal John Simmons

"You know, there's only so much you can do to prepare yourself, but we are trying to make sure we take all the steps," said Kangeter.

In many states, there are no laws regarding the specific age a child can be left unattended. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children are not ready to handle emergencies until around 11 or 12. The legal age for children to be left alone for most of georgia is 14, although it varies from county to county and in the state of South Carolina the youngest is 8.

What parents can do:

Stay in touch. Call children throughout the day to ask how they are and what they are doing. Ask children to check in before they leave the house and to call again when they return.
Keep kids connected. Post important numbers by the telephone, including parent's work and cell phone, the doctor's office, and a neighbor or a nearby relative who can help children quickly if they need it.

Practice what to do in an emergency. Teach children how to dial 911 or "0" and when to do it. Ask questions like "If someone is trying to get in the house, what should you do?" "If you get hurt, what should you do?" and "If you want to play at a friend's house, what should you do?"
Set firm rules. Make clear what children are allowed to do and what they aren't allowed to do. Can they use the Internet when home alone? Can they invite a friend over? Can they invite several friends over?

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