Tag Archives: Home Alone

Who is watching your children?

9 Jun

My kids took the excellent American Red Cross Home Alone class last week. Following the course I received a phone call from a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. The reporter wanted to know why I had enrolled my kids in Home Alone and at what age I’d be leaving them alone. Given the current economic climate, parents are struggling to find care for their children over the long summer holidays. Camp, activities or babysitters that parents may ordinarily rely on can be economically infeasible in a down economy and the reporter was exploring what parents were doing with their kids. I think my children are too young to be left alone (6 and 8), but every parent has to make that decision based on their situation, their children’s personalities, and a whole list of other variables. I enrolled my children because I want them to learn, and re-learn every year, how to care for themselves so that even if they are in the care of a responsible adult they will react appropriately in an emergency or dangerous situation.

When it comes to water, having a responsible adult watch children constantly is a necessity, the experts all agree that it is critical in keeping kids from drowning, but it’s only one component of keeping kids safe. But what happens when the responsible adult loses track of the child, or isn’t paying attention? I read a blog which touched me deeply. http://ourdannyboy.blogspot.com
The mother had let her beloved 4-year old spend the weekend with his rarely-present father. The 4-year old slipped out the back door while everyone was busy and drowned in their pool. The mother was focused on doing the best for her child – emotionally, physically, mentally – by encouraging a relationship with his father. If you can’t trust a child in their parent’s care, who can you trust? As a single mother myself, her story tapped into my deepest fears – if I take my eyes of my children for even a minute – will they still be safe? We assume that parents always have their child’s best interest and safety at heart, but no one can keep track of a small child 100% of the time and we need to let others watch our children sometimes. Children are hard-wired to explore their environment, it’s our job to give them the space to explore safely. Don’t feel badly about running through water safety rules, over and over, with your spouse, your ex, your babysitter, your parents or any other adult who is caring for your child. Teach your children not to go near any water without an adult and other basic water safety rules, help them become responsible children and, eventually, responsible parents to their own child. All children are at risk for drowning, whether in the care of their parent or another responsible adult, so remember….

TEACH your child water safety and swimming from infancy.

WATCH your child whenever they are near water.

PROTECT your child – learn CPR, because accidents do happen.


Does your child know First Aid?

16 Apr

The Park District brochure arrived the other day and I immediately signed my 6- and 8-year olds up for the fantastic American Red Cross ‘Home Alone’ and ‘Basic First Aid for Children’ classes. They are single 1 1/2 hour classes and the kids enjoy them. I felt a wee twinge of guilt the first year when I dropped off my then 6-year old son, feeling like I should announce that I wasn’t actually going to leave him alone until he was older and spending even more time reassuring him that I had no intention of leaving him alone until he was older. BUT, I explained that the reason for taking the classes was that it would give him more confidence and the skills to deal with a crisis if it did happen. I explained that I’ve been certified in CPR and First Aid almost continuously since I was 16. Fortunately I’ve never had to do anything but address broken bones, minor head injuries and lots of hurt feelings, but even then I didn’t panic because I’d been trained over and over and over again, so reaction becomes automatic.

Why start kids at the age of 6 learning about being home alone and basic First Aid? First, as a single mom, what if something happens to me and the kids need to react? Even if they only remain calm enough to call 911, at least I know they will be found and cared for by emergency services. Same logic holds for any family situation. What if they are with a babysitter? Grandma? At a friend’s house? Do they know what to do? Second, learning basic First Aid helps them to understand that blood does not always equal death – they know to apply pressure and get help. Third, annual repetition of the class will teach the appropriate reaction to an accident and help them identify dangers from a respected authority figure (a welcome break from mom droning on).

Knowledge is power. Give your kids the right kind of power, the power to be safe and to recognize danger – contact your American Red Cross today and enroll your kids in Basic First Aid and Home Alone.

And parents – I’ve learned, if you don’t panic at the blood streaming down their face, your kids won’t panic either – think about signing yourself up as well.