Safety tips for leaving kids home alone | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

RALEIGH, N.C. – The summer season is underway, bringing joy to children and a challenge for parents who need child care options during the break from school.

What You Need To Know

  • There’s no specific age requirement in North Carolina for leaving kids home alone, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
  • State fire code § 14-318 says children younger than 8 should not be left unsupervised
  • UNC Health pediatrician Dr. Heather Williams suggests families consider a child’s readiness, safety plans and gradual independence

There is no law in North Carolina that specifies an age that a child can be left home alone, but state fire code says children under the age of 8 should not be left unsupervised.

UNC Health general pediatrician Dr. Heather Williams says there are a lot of individual factors that go into the decision.

“There’s not really a universally agreed upon age,” Williams said. “It does vary state by state. In general, as pediatricians, [we say] typically around the age of 11 or 12 is when most kiddos are going to be ready to start talking about having this kind of responsibility.”

Williams emphasized the importance of evaluating a child’s maturity level, ability to follow rules and boundaries and decision-making skills before considering leaving them unsupervised.

“We want families to have a safety plan and have it be a good experience before they leave their kids at home,” Williams said.

She advises starting with short time increments. For the first time, she says to try 30 minutes or an hour at a time.

“Make sure the child can always contact you or, if you’re not going to be available, another responsible adult,” she said. “You can have those phone numbers posted somewhere that’s really visible and easy to find in the house.”

She also recommends having the contact information for emergency services, just in case. Beyond that, Williams says to think about and discuss specifics, to avoid any accidents or confusion.

“[Things like] is cooking allowed? Can you use a microwave?” Williams said. “Are there going to be siblings in the home or a pet that adds to their responsibilities? Can they invite a friend over? Should they open the door if someone comes by?”

“Having that talked about beforehand can help your child have just a really good plan to go forward with if that need arises.”



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