Jessi remembers that when she and Joey first started staying home alone, they weren't allowed to open the door for anyone or have any friends over. Now that they've proved that they're trustworthy, Jessi's allowed to invite over any friend that her mom knows well.
Every family has different rules, but here are some rule ideas to discuss with a parent:
- At school, keep your house keys hidden inside a pocket, purse or wallet.
- Don't wear your keys around your wrist or on a necklace.
- Don't loan out your key. You might consider leaving an extra key with a neighbor you trust in case you're locked out.
- Hiding a key under a rock or a flowerpot isn't a good idea...that's the first place burglars will look!
- When you get home, have your key ready to get in the home so you don't have to fumble with the lock.
"Closed Door" policy
- Don't open the door to anyone except a sibling or parent.
- Keep all doors locked, at all times.
Once you've made it home, call your parent or guardian to let them know that everything's cool.
- Screen your phone calls using "Caller ID" or an answering machine.
- Only pick up the phone if it's a parent or guardian, relative, or friends who your parents know.
- If you do answer the phone and a telemarketer asks for a parent, just say that he or she is busy and can't come to the phone. Never tell a stranger on the phone that you're home alone!
If you feel nervous about using appliances like the toaster, oven, or microwave, you may want to stock up on snacks you don't have to heat up.
Most people have a rule that no friends are allowed in the house when they're home alone. This may be no fun but in the end, is safer for everyone.
Your parents may want you to stay home and not go anywhere-- not even a friend's house, local park, or store.
Many parents, including Jessi's and Joey's mom, ask their kids to wait until a parent is home before going online.
These may sound pretty strict, but you'll be surprised how quickly they become part of your routine...and how they help you feel safe!
Routines are very important when you're home alone. Jessi and Joey shared their after-school drill:
- Get home and call Mom to check in
- Relax, get a snack
- Do homework
- Read a magazine or book, or watch TV until Mom comes home
Keeping a routine is more challenging when you have a brother or sister to watch. In the next section we look at what happens when you're Alone with Siblings.