Parents need to think through when to leave kids home alone, says Safe Kids Kansas

It is up to individual parents to decide when their child is ready to be home alone in the summertime.

“Generally speaking, developmentally, children are ready to be home alone around the age of 12 or 13,” said Cherie Sage with Safe Kids Kansas. “Children develop at different rates. You might have an 11-year-old who is really responsible or a 13-year-old that is a big risk-taker.”

If you are going to leave a child alone, prepare them ahead of time for emergencies.

“If your child’s home by themselves, what do they do if a tornado or some other severe weather event occurs?”, asked Sage. “Have you talked to them about that? Have you practiced that? What a child does and how they respond when a tornado siren goes off is very different than what happens when the smoke alarm goes off in the home. You have to run through all of those scenarios with them.”

It’s also important to be sure they have something to eat before you leave.

“We definitely recommend making snacks or preparing meals in advance, preferably ones that don’t have to be heated up,” said Sage. “If your child is old enough and will need to cook, just remind them to never leave an oven or a stove unattended while cooking. Make sure that they turn that off when they’re finished.”

Most states, including Kansas, don’t have regulations or laws about when a child is considered old enough to stay at home alone or babysit another child.