PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Home Alone: Are You Ready?

Did you know that in the U.S., almost half of all kids aged 6 to 13 are home alone for part of the day? The boys in the Home Alone movies certainly had fun, but the whole experience can be freaky sometimes. These days, even a lot of adults are scared to be alone in the house! It's TOTALLY understandable if you, or someone you know, are nervous about being home alone.

Take Jessi and her brother Joey. For over five years now, they've been taking care of themselves until their Mom comes home from work. Jessi says that the worst thing about it is when she or her brother is locked out. Then they have to wait on the porch until the other gets home! Sometimes, both of them get locked out! Fortunately, they each have a cell phone so they can call their mom when that happens.

Your parents think you're ready, but do YOU?
At first it sounds cool to be home alone, right? Think of the freedom you'd have around the house! There's nobody to stop you from playing video games or watching your favorite TV show!

Joey admits that he likes being able to watch or listen to TV shows and music he likes. It's more freedom, he says...but it's also more responsibility.

So there you are, listening to that CD your parents hate. Then: what's THAT? You hear a noise outside. It sounds like it could be a person on the front doorstep, and there's been a string of robberies in the area lately. Suddenly, your unsupervised freedom doesn't feel so safe anymore.

It's a normal feeling and it doesn't mean you're a "baby." There's always stuff going on in the world to shake our feelings of security. You might feel totally fine about being alone when you're 10. Then, two years later, something happens that makes you feel different about it. Every person and every home environment is unique.

If you have worries about being home alone, it's really important to speak up about them, even though it may cost money to get a sitter or your parent has to rearrange his or her schedule.

How do you know if you're ready? Ask yourself these questions.
If you answer "No" to any of these, talk to a parent about some solutions that will help you get prepared.

  • Do you know what to do if there's an Emergency Situation like: a fire, a bee sting, a sister who's choking, a knock at the door, an allergic reaction, a natural disaster (earthquake, tornado, flash flood)?
  • Can you respect the house rules (see Ideas for House Rules) set by your parent/guardian?
  • Can you take care of your basic needs, such as snacks, drinks, homework, etc. while still following the house rules?
  • Are you able to entertain yourself if you don't have homework? Check out our Home Alone Activities suggestions!

Maybe you're a home-alone pro and answered yes to all the questions. Good going! Now you can take it even farther and make sure you know how to be safe during your time alone.

Safe Home Checklist
Take a look at this list of things to have in your home to keep you safe. Is there anything missing at your place? If so, talk to a parent or guardian about filling in the gaps!

  • Flashlights
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Smoke alarms
  • Chain fire-escape ladder for second floor
  • Caller ID or telephone answering machine
  • Good outdoor lighting
  • Window made of break-resistant safety glass or peephole so visitors at front door can be identified
  • Security system, if possible
  • Secure locks on windows and doors

Think about setting aside time to check batteries on some of these safety items. Perhaps you do this on the days you practice fire drills. We talk about fire drills in Emergencies.

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