Written by: John McLeish
Children must demonstrate adequate maturity and sense of responsibility before being left at home alone, regardless of their age. It also helps for parents to discuss basic safety measures and what to do in an emergency, before leaving youth unattended. Making a list of clear steps to follow in the event that an emergency is also helpful.
Here are a few important safety precautions to consider before leaving a child home alone:
- Write down a list of emergency phone numbers, including the numbers of neighbours and family members that live close by.
- Teach the child how to operate the locks on doors and windows, and make sure the house is secure before leaving.
- Do not let kids operate any appliances, including kitchen appliances, without supervision. Make the danger extremely clear and advise that there are consequences for breaking those rules.
- Call the child throughout the day to make sure he or she is safe in the house.
- If children must regularly be left alone, consider informing your neighbours of the dates and times so that they can monitor your home.
Currently, there is no law regarding the age at which children can be left alone. However, parents should consider the potential risk and the dangerous situations that children can encounter while they are unsupervised. Babies, toddlers and young children should never be left alone, even for a few minutes or if they are asleep.
Parents can use their own judgment with older children, but must be confident that their child is mature and responsible enough to act wisely and stay out of harm’s way while alone. As a personal injury lawyer in Toronto, I can’t stress this enough.