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Planning for your child’s safety this summer

The summer months sometimes mean that non-custodial parents have children in their home. This can be a challenge because they need to be sure that the children are safe and healthy for the duration of their visit. There are several things that you need to consider if your children are coming to spend their holiday time with you.

Parents who have children old enough to stay home alone have additional things to worry about in terms of safety. You have to make sure that you set rules and expectations for what is appropriate while your children are alone. You also need to do your part to keep them safe.

Prepare your home

You need to make sure that your home is ready for your child to stay home alone. This means that you should lock up weapons, medication and alcohol. You should leave food that the children can prepare or eat while they are home by themselves. Older teenagers might able to use the stove, but some parents prefer to forbid that in favor of allowing the child to use a microwave.

Double check the locks on your home to be sure that they are secure to prevent intrusions. It is also a good idea to prepare a list of emergency contacts that your child can call if something does happen. Try to think of people who are close and who will be able to come by if necessary.

Prepare your children

Discuss the rules ahead of time by phone, and again when your children actually arrives. You might want to write them out. While you are doing this, set clear expectations for consequences of not following them. You may want to keep the rules on the fridge or in a binder, and you can add the emergency contacts list and information to it so it’s easily accessible in case children need to call someone or 911.

When you are discussing the rules with your children, make it clear that they aren’t allowed to open the door for anyone. They shouldn’t even try to peek because it only takes a small space for an intruder to gain entry into the home. Some parents might even require their children to remain indoors while they are away.

Depending on how old your children are, you might need to have a discussion with your ex about leaving them home alone. Be willing to listen to his or her viewpoint as you both want your children to be safe and this is the bottom line.