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Home Alone: Emergencies Chances are that your time home alone will be safe and uneventful; however, it never hurts to be prepared! The more you know how to prevent and handle emergencies, the less anxious you'll be.
Topics on Home Alone:
Are You Ready?
Ideas for House Rules
Alone With Siblings
Have Fun Alone!
From the Mentors
Must-Have Info
To deal with anything that happens, make sure you:
  • Carry your name and address with you.
  • Have a parent or guardian's work number or cell phone number with you at all times.
  • Work with a parent to create a list of helpful numbers and post the list in one or two places in your home. Consider keeping a copy in your bookbag.

Print out an IML Helpful Numbers worksheet.
Here are some strategies for preventing and handling different emergency situations:

Stranger Danger


  • Ask permission before you go anywhere. Your parents can't protect you if they don't know where you are.
  • Don't open the door to ANYONE, no matter how friendly or well-dressed they are.
  • Set up a "family code word". If someone says they know your family, they'll need the code word to prove it! If they don't know the word, don't go anywhere with the person.

What do you do if...

  • Your door is open when you come home? Don't go into the house! Leave the area and then call your parent/guardian right away or call the police.
  • You hear an intruder in the house? Get out of the house if you can. If you can't get out, call 911 immediately, then hide in a closet or bathroom with the door locked until the police arrive.
  • An intruder forces his or her way into your home when you enter? Get out of the house as fast as you can, at any cost.

Evacuating the House

  • If your area is evacuated because of a natural disaster or violence, it's important to have a designated safe meeting place, especially because telephone and cellphone lines can stop working. Pick two places to meet:
    1. One right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
    2. One outside of your neighborhood in case you can't return home or are asked to leave your neighborhood. Everyone in the family should know the address and phone number of the meeting locations.

  • Ask an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family contact. After a disaster, it's often easier to make a long distance call than a local call. Family members should call the contact and tell him or her where they are. Everyone should know the contact's name, address, and phone number.

  • Get familiar with other ways to get out of your home besides the front door.

  • Plan how to take care of your pets.

Prank Phone Calls


  • When your family records an outgoing answering machine message, don't use first names or any of the kids' voices. This is how a stranger can get the names of people in the family, then call later and pretend to be a friend.
  • Screen incoming calls by checking caller ID or listening to an answering message before picking up.

What if...

  • You're getting a repeat prank call? Press any button and say, "Operator, this is the caller that's causing trouble." The prank caller will think you're reporting him or her and should stop calling. When you get an opportunity, tell your parent or guardian right away.



  • Hold regular fire drills and plan ways to get out of every room.
  • Make sure your kitchen has a working fire extinguisher in an easy-to-find place (but not right above the stove). Know how to use it!

What if...

  • You smell smoke or if the smoke alarm goes off? Leave the house immediately and call the fire department or 911 from a neighbor's house.

Accidents and Injuries


  • Don't use any swimming pool without an adult present.
  • Don't cook unless you know how to use appliances.
  • Stay inside.
  • Take a class for kids on how to handle emergency situations. The Red Cross offers a good one!

First Aid

Every home should have a first aid kit. Do you know where yours is located? Some items you may want to have in your first-aid kit include:

  • Bandages
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Cotton Balls
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Tape and dressings
  • Ice pack
  • Thermometer
  • Calamine lotion for insect bites
  • A small Tylenol dose
  • Benadryl

Before you stay home alone for the first time, you and a parent may want to do a special "first aid" shopping trip to make sure you're all stocked up! Also make sure you know the proper dosage of medicine (including Tylenol and Benadryl) for everyone in the household. If you don't know this, please consult your physician.

Again, most kids who are home alone never have to deal with any of these situations. It may feel scary to read about all these possible emergencies, but in the end, you'll feel much more confident about being home alone if you know you're prepared for anything.

Printable Print out a First Aid Tips poster for your home.
Here's what to do if...

  • Your brother/sister has a stomach ache or headache
    Ask him or her to lie down. If it's cold, cover him or her with a blanket. Call your parent or guardian to ask for advice. Never give or take medicines without getting an adult's permission.

  • Someone has a nosebleed
    Make sure the person is sitting up, not lying down. It's a good idea to go to the kitchen or bathroom so he or she is not dripping all over the house! Put an ice pack on his or her forehead and press the bleeding nostril to the center of the nose. Continue to apply this pressure for five minutes. If the bleeding hasn't stopped, press the nostrils together for another five minutes. If there's still bleeding after ten minutes, call a doctor or a parent immediately.

  • Your or a sibling has something stuck in the eye
    If dust or dirt gets in the eye, blink a few times to clear it. Don't rub! Hold the eye open for as long as possible. The eye will start to water and wash out the object. If a liquid chemical like cleaning stuff gets in the eye, flush the eye with cool or lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes. The easiest way to keep flushing out your eye is to draw a bath and actually sit in the water while flushing out your eye. An adult should bring you or your sibling immediately to the doctor or the emergency room for help.

  • Someone gets burned
    All burns should be chilled, so hold the burned area under cold running water. Afterwards, keep ice on it. Serious burns should be reported to an adult immediately because they can get infected.

  • Someone breaks a bone
    If you think your sister might have a broken bone, don't move her. Cover her with a blanket, and get adult assistance immediately. The only real way to tell if someone has a broken bone is with an X-ray.

  • Someone's choking
    Get a proper demonstration of the Heimlich Maneuver. Your school nurse or a first aid class can show you. To prevent choking you should:

    • Cut food into smaller pieces.
    • Try not to run with food in your mouth.
    • Don't eat or chew gum while you are lying down.
    • When using a Styrofoam cup, try not to bite off pieces of the cup.
    • Don't put pieces of jewelry into your mouth.
    • Watch those pen caps and other things that aren't meant to be eaten!

  • Someone eats or drinks poison
    First of all, make sure anything poisonous is totally out of your sibling's reach. If he or she does swallow something, call Poison Control immediately. Check for your local numbers or a national number is 1-800-222-1222. Print out a list of helpful numbers.

    You'll need to tell poison control exactly what was swallowed, and how much.

Are you still nervous? Don't be! Talk to your parent and ask him or her to run through some "what if" first-aid situations with you.

Next up: How To Have Fun Alone.


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You're home alone and one of your siblings gets hurt. You:
Call your
Get the first aid
        kit and try to fix
        the situation
Call a neighbor
        over for help.
-- From Tabby, 12

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