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Tips for Parents with Kids Home Alone

From the Santa Clara Police Department 2/17/19:

All parents eventually face the decision to leave their child home alone for the first time. Whether they are just running to the store for a few minutes, working during after-school hours or summer vacation, parents need to be sure their children have the skills and maturity to handle the situation safely. Being trusted to stay home alone can be a positive experience for a child who is mature and well prepared. It can boost the child’s confidence and promote independence and responsibility.

However, children face real risks when left unsupervised. Those risks, as well as a child’s comfort level and ability to deal with challenges, must be considered.

California, like most states, does not have a law that says, specifically, how old a child needs to be to stay home alone. That decision is left up to parents to evaluate as children mature at different rates and ages. Even after you decide your child is ready to stay home alone, it's natural to feel a little anxious when the time comes. These helpful steps can make the transition easier for you both:

Childproof Your Home 

Reduce the risk of health and safety hazards by locking up or removing the following items:
- alcohol 
- prescription medication and over the counter medicine 
- tobacco products
- car keys 
- lighters and matches 
- guns (if you do own one, make sure it’s locked up, unloaded and stored separately from ammunition)

Set Ground Rules 

Consider setting rules about: 
- having friends over 
- TV and computer rules (set parental controls) 
- kitchen and cooking guidelines (do you want them using the oven?) 
- not opening the door for strangers 
- answering the phone 
- not telling anyone he or she is home alone

Touch base 
Set up a schedule for calling. Make sure your child knows when you’re available and when you might be un able to answer a call. You might have your child call in as soon as they get home, especially if they are coming home to an empty house, or set up a time when you’ll call home to check-in. The goal is to figure out something that is convenient for the both of you. 

Have on Hand 
Make sure your kitchen is stocked with healthy snacks and emergency supplies. Post important phone numbers and leave flashlights in an accessible place in case of a power outage. It’s also a good idea to set out the precise dose of medication your child needs to take, but be mindful of leaving the bottle out if younger siblings are present as they may ingest.

Alternatives to Staying Home Alone
If your child is not ready to stay home alone, contact the Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Department for programming ideas, enroll in the on-site enrichment program at your school or organize a childcare co-op with other parents.

Health & Safety

Medications at school

Should your child need medication during school hours a medication permit form needs to be completed and signed by the doctor. The form and medication is to be brought to school in its original container. Medication will be stored and dispense from the health office.

CA Helmet Laws for persons under 18

A person under 18 years of age shall not operate a bicycle, a nonmotorized scooter, or a skateboard, nor wear in-line or roller skates, nor ride upon a bicycle, a nonmotorized scooter, or a skateboard as a passenger, upon a street, bikeway, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public bicycle path or trail unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards of either the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), or standards subsequently established by those entities. This requirement also applies to a person who rides upon a bicycle while in a restraining seat that is attached to the bicycle or in a trailer towed by the bicycle.

CA Mandatory Helmet Laws

GO TO Helmet Safety Flyer

School Safety from the Santa Clara Police Department

Budget extra travel time. School areas are congested. Allow more time than is needed to get where you are going.

Be aware of your speed in school zones. The posted speed limit in school zones is 25 mph. 

Yield to crossing guards. Crossing guards are an integral party to a school’s traffic plan. Be aware of their presence, listen to instructions and follow traffic safety laws.

Watch out for hot spots. Pay extra attention to "hot spots" like school zones, crosswalks, bike lanes, bus stops and school parking lots.
Don't text while driving. Don't talk on your phone or send text messages while you are driving.

Yield to school buses. Don't try to overtake a school bus – it is a moving violation. If a bus has a flashing red light, you are legally required to stop and wait for the light to turn off.

Expect the unexpected. Children are unpredictable. Kids are walking, riding a bicycle, crossing streets and “horsing around” a bit on their way to and from school. They have the potential to dart out unexpectedly, or may not be proficient in their bicycle skills. Be aware.
Talk with your kids about getting to and from school safely. 

Exercise crosswalk safety. Tell your kids to cross streets only at crosswalks or stoplights and to always look both ways before crossing.
Use the buddy system. Know their planned route, make sure you have the contact information of your child's walking buddy and b e sure to communicate on day(s) where your child won’t be joining the buddy. 

Avoid danger zones. Tell your children be aware of “hot spots” (e.g. crosswalks, school parking lots, intersections, bus zones) and explain how to handle dangerous blind spots.

Wear bike safety equipment. Children who bike to school should wear helmets, light-colored clothing and reflective devices.

Don’t text while walking or bicycling. Don't talk on your phone or send text messages while you are walking or riding a bicycle. It is distracting and doesn’t allow the child to pay attention to their surroundings

Wait, Can I Park Here?

Know Your Curb Colors from the Santa Clara Police Departmentparked car

Pay attention to colored curbs when parking, and be aware of the other parking laws. Always look for signs when you park your vehicle. If you see a "No Parking" sign, it is unlawful to park there - even for just a few minutes.

laws for parking at colored curbs
Healthy Kids Learn Better

GO TO Healthy Kids Learn Better information from SCUSD


GO TO SCUSD's Child Nutrition Services page

GO TO the Smart Snacks page from the SCUSD Nutrition Department

School Safety, Guidance and Resources

GO TO School Safety Guidance, and Resources from the Santa Clara County Office of Education

Water Safety

GO TO Ways to Make water Safety a Priority from the City of Santa Clara

words Health and Safety with a check mark
Online Safety TIps

(Published by the Santa Clara Police Department 8-22-18)

School supply lists include plenty of items that will help set students up for success.  Pencils, papers, notebooks, and calculators are important, but some of the most useful back to school information is in regards to access to the internet, at school, home and while on the move. Teachers, parents and other adults are encouraged to share the following online safety tips:

  • Do not share personal information. Keep personal information about yourself private. This includes information about your family members, your school, your telephone number, and your address.  
  • Be careful what you write or upload. Think twice before you post or say anything online. Once it is out in cyberspace, it is there forever. Do not post anything that you would not want your family, other students, teachers, or current and future employers to see!
  • Connect with care. Do not click on links or open emails from people you do not know. Cyber criminals use emails and links that look okay to lure people into clicking. If you think an offer is too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Use strong passwords. Try not to use the same password for multiple sites. Make passwords strong and change them often. 
  • Keep your belongings safe. Lock your computer, laptop and mobile phone.
  • Be a good online citizen. Understand that what you do online is the same as what you do in person. Be careful what you post or say about others.
  • Speak up! If you see something inappropriate online, are contacted by someone you do not know or do not want to talk to, or see cyber-bullying take place, do not try to retaliate or get involved. Talk to a trusted adult and work together on how to solve the problem.
INternet/DIgitial Safety Resources