EARLY YEARS: Parents to decide if their children are mature enough to stay home alone during the summer

Community Risk Reduction Specialist Tiffany Bradbury says kids should know what to do in the event of an emergency.
Community Risk Reduction Specialist Tiffany Bradbury says kids should know what to do in the event of an emergency.(WDBJ)
Published: Jun. 25, 2019 at 6:57 AM EDT
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Kids are out of school, and some are spending time home alone.

Since Virginia law doesn't set a specific age for that, it's up to parents to determine if their child is ready.

"Parents really need to know their kids, and know what they're capable of," says Community Risk Reduction Specialist Tiffany Bradbury.

If parents think their child is okay with being left at home, make sure he or she knows their address, in case they need to call 911.

"Also, with cooking, I usually set parameters in my house that we do not use the stove if an adult is not around, because a cooking fire is the number one cause of fires nationwide and a lot of times kids wouldn't know what to do."

Bradbury says it's crucial that every home has a working smoke alarm, and parents should keep matches and lighters out of sight.

In case a fire does break out, or there's some other emergency, figure out a plan of action.

"What if an emergency situation arrives, maybe a weather situation. Letting your kids know what to do if there was a tornado warning that came through, letting them know they need to go to the basement or they need to go to an interior room with no windows if they don't have basement," says Bradbury.

Bradbury says kids also need to protect their personal safety.

That means not talking to strangers or posting on social media that their parents aren't home.

"I said if someone calls, you don't even had to answer the house phone if you don't want to. If someone comes to the door, do not come to the door. Even if it looks like someone legitimate is delivering a package. If you don't know them, I don't want you to open the door and again yes, please do not broadcast it to the world that you are home alone," she says.

As with all situations, communication is key, including telling your child how best to get in touch with you or another trusted adult.

"Sometimes these are tough subjects to talk about. But just making sure that your kids are armed with what to do if an emergency arises is going to make -- if we do, heaven forbid, have an emergency pop up, everyone's going to be reunified together and everyone's going to be safe."

For some helpful guidelines, click on the link to the right of this story.

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