(03/16/20) BATON ROUGE, La. — With Louisiana schools shuttered for the next few weeks in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, many children may find themselves at home alone.
“Parents should decide if their children are mature enough and are able to take on this responsibility,” said Renee Castro, 4-H coordinator for the LSU AgCenter Southeast Region. “If this is the only option, each family should have a ‘home alone plan’ in place to ensure the safety of their children.”
Taking time to make a plan that kids can follow when they’re home without adult supervision can help keep them safe and put parents’ minds at ease.
4-H agents with the LSU AgCenter offer these tips:
- Set rules and procedures for how children should behave while home alone. What activities are they allowed to do, and what is off limits?
- Plan for how kids will handle meals. Are they old enough to safely cook for themselves, or would it be better to leave prepared foods they can eat while they’re alone?
- Talk to kids about what to do if someone knocks on the door or calls the home phone. They should not let strangers come inside, give out their name, say that they are home alone or provide other information about their family. They should keep these principles in mind in interactions on social media, too.
- Make sure children understand the importance of keeping doors and windows locked. Consider leaving a spare key with a trusted neighbor in case of an emergency.
- Make a list of important contact information. Include phone numbers of parents, other relatives and neighbors who could help if needed.
- Explain how to call 911 for emergency assistance and provide information that will help first responders, such as a clear description of the situation and their name, street address and phone number. Also, help children understand what is and is not an emergency.
- Think of productive ways kids can use their time, such as completing educational activities.
The AgCenter will be sharing daily activities aimed at keeping kids’ minds and bodies active during school closures. Check the AgCenter Facebook and Instagram channels for this and more information.