The 10 to 14 year old who is home alone may be faced with the need to make decisions about many things.

For example:

  • What should I do if I am at school later than expected?
  • What should I consider when choosing a route between home and school?
  • What should I do when crossing the road? What should I NOT do?
  • What should I do when I get home?
  • What should I do if I lose my key?
  • What should I do if the power goes out?
  • What should I do if I am not feeling well?
  • Who can I call if I need help?

The “Am I Ready” questionnaire helped you to identify some of the things that you need to talk about. Make a list of some of the decisions that your 10 to 14 year old might have to make when home alone:

  1. About home safety
  2. About emergency situations
  3. About the rules
  4. About pedestrian safety

The “You Are Not A.L.O.N.E.” Worksheet is a checklist that families should talk about to make sure everyone is clear on what is expected.

When you have talked about the checklist, the 10 to 14 year old should write in all the answers. This is to make sure he or she knows how to act in different situations. Emphasize that in a situation they are not too sure about, the best policy is to call a parent/guardian or the emergency support person.

Download a copy of the You Are Not A.L.O.N.E. Worksheet

Everyone in the family needs to know what to do to stay safe from a fire in your home. Let’s focus on the three main areas to help you stay safe: Prevention, Detection and Escape!

Prevention:

Matches and lighters are NEVER toys – they are tools for adults only and need to be put away out of sight and reach of young children. When adults in your home cook, remind them to stay in the kitchen and “Look While You Cook!” Candles can easily tip and cause a home fire – battery-operated, flameless candles are a safer choice for home use. When doing laundry, clean the lint tray after every dryer load. If you need to plug in a few items in one location (e.g. computer, printer, lamp), use a power bar with an “auto off” feature.

Detection:

You need smoke alarms that are working on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas – it’s so important and it’s actually the law to have them!

Smoke alarms in every bedroom are also a great idea. With the adults in your home, you’ll need to test smoke alarms every month. You can test if the alarm is getting power by pushing the “test” button and an adult can test if the smoke chamber is working by using a wisp of smoke from a stick of incense. When you change your clocks, it’s time to change the batteries in your smoke alarms!

Carbon monoxide alarms are also required by law in Toronto because they will let you know if there is poisonous carbon monoxide leaking into your home.

Escape:

Practice your fire drill at home with your family. Plan your escape route by knowing two safe ways out of every room and make sure you all know where your family meeting place is.

Call “911” from outside or a neighbour’s home – you’ll need to give your address.

Smoke from a home fire is poisonous and you need to get outside quickly where the air is clean and fresh.

Get out and stay out – once you are outside, don’t go back inside until the Firefighters tell you it is safe.

If your smoke alarm rings while you are sleeping:

  • If you smell smoke or hear the alarm, get low and go under the smoke toward the door. Feel the door with the back of your hand. If the door is hot, don’t open it – use your second way out instead. If the way is clear, you can use your first exit to get outside.

High rise apartment fire safety:

  • If there IS a fire in your apartment suite
    • If your own smoke alarm rings because there is a fire in your own apartment suite, you need to get outside of your apartment right away!
    • The metal door closers on your suite and all stairwell doors ensure the doors close behind you as you exit. This keeps the smoke out of hallways and stairwells, so you can safely escape.
    • When you are heading towards the stairwell, pull the fire alarm on the wall by the stairs. Exit using the stairs and go down and out of the building – never take the elevator.
    • Call “911” or get someone else to call 911 when you are safely outside.
  • If there is NOT a fire in your apartment suite, but you hear the fire alarm bells ring in your apartment building
    • Smoke is the biggest hazard in a high rise building fire – you need to stay away from the poisonous smoke.
    • If the alarm bells are ringing in your building but there is NOT a fire in your own apartment, the responsible adults will decide if you should: immediately leave the apartment OR stay and protect yourself in place. If the decision is to immediately leave, feel the door and check the hallway for smoke.
    • If you see smoke when going down the stairs, get out of that stairwell and cross over to the other exit stairway OR return to your apartment. Smoke goes up, so if smoke gets into the stairwell, you need to get out – going up the stairs is not safe, because the smoke rises too.
    • If you are in your apartment and smoke starts to come in through vents:
      • Use duct tape to seal around cracks in the door. Seal vents and air ducts the same way.
      • Call “911” and tell them where you are then move to the balcony, if there is one.
      • Close the doors behind you.
    • Show the rescuers where you are by hanging a sheet from the window or balcony. Keep low to the floor where the air is cleaner. Listen for instructions.

General Fire Safety Tips:

If your clothes catch fire, STOP, DROP and ROLL.

  • STOP because flames get bigger when you run.
  • DROP to the ground, tuck in your elbows and cover your face with your hands.
  • ROLL back and forth, over and over to smother the flames.

For more information about fire safety, see Safety and fire prevention or call your local Fire Department’s non-emergency number.

Electricity

You use electrical energy every time you flip a switch or turn on the TV or computer. But electricity does many wonderful things, it is very powerful and can be dangerous when not used properly. Follow these tips to help protect yourself:

  • If you see a wire hanging from a pole, stay away from it. Warn others to do the same, and have someone call “911” or your local emergency number.
  • A green metal box or other equipment with a red hazard sign on it means there is high voltage equipment inside. It warns you that opening or poking anything into it could cause electrocution.
  • Never climb a hydro pole or a tree growing near power lines. If a branch comes into contact with an electrical cable, current will travel down the tree, making it dangerous.
  • Fly kites or model airplanes only in open areas, never near power lines.
  • Don’t pry toast from a plugged-in toaster. Pull the plug first.
  • Water and electricity don’t mix! Keep radios, hair dryers and other electrical devices away from sinks, bath tubs and swimming pools.
  • Never touch anyone who is in contact with electricity, as the current can pass to you. To help, use a wooden object to move the victim away from the electrical source and call “911”.
  • Keep a flash-light in a handy location in case there is a power failure. For more information about electrical safety, call your local Hydro agency.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is one of the safest, most dependable sources of energy used today. Many common household appliances use natural gas for their fuel, including furnaces, water heaters, dryers, ranges and even gas fireplaces. You may have one or more of these appliances in your home.

As with any fuel burning appliance, a natural gas appliance has to be installed and maintained properly. Proper installation and regular maintenance by a qualified service technician combined with proper use and care by the householder, will ensure the safest and most efficient operation of the appliance. However, neglecting these could lead to problems such as: a natural gas leak or spillage of carbon monoxide gas into the house.

The following procedures describe what children should do if they suspect either one of these problems:

What to do if you suspect a gas leak?

  • Natural gas has no odour. However, a harmless chemical is added to the gas to make it smell “stinky” like rotten eggs. That way, you can tell if there is a natural gas leak in your house or outside.
  • If you ever think that you smell natural gas, go to a neighbour’s house right away and have them call their local fuel distributor. What to do if you suspect a carbon monoxide problem?
  • Carbon monoxide is a gas which you cannot see, smell or taste – but it is very dangerous. Breathing carbon monoxide into your body can cause: headaches, hurting eyes, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, or sickness. In very severe cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause: unconsciousness, brain damage or even death.
  • If you or someone else in your home has any of the symptoms listed above: gather everyone together and go to a neighbour’s house right away. Have them call “911” (or if not in a 911 area, call your local emergency number). Follow these procedures even if you have a carbon monoxide detector that hasn’t yet alarmed. It is possible that the detector may not be detecting the problem properly.

10 to 14 years old should know:

  • Their name, age, telephone numbers, address, city and province.
  • How to call “911” or their local emergency number in the event of an emergency.
  • To call parent or guardian when they arrive home.
  • To tell their parents and guardians where they are at all times.
  • If they are allowed to answer the phone, and what they should say.
  • Not to open the doors for anyone unless a parent is aware of the visit.
  • Never approach or enter into anyone’s car, or go anywhere with anyone. This is even with someone they know, unless a parent or caregiver has given them permission.
  • If they are being followed, go to the nearest public place and yell for help.
  • To report to their parents or guardians, school authorities or a police officer if:
    • Anyone who acts suspiciously towards them, or
    • Makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • To carry a cell phone or enough money to make a phone call.
  • To should trust their feelings and say NO to an adult, especially if that adult wants them to do something wrong. This is even if they know the adult.
  • An alternate safe route home from school (with street lights, crossing guards and cross walks). Parents should help children decide on the safest way to school.
  • Parents need to practice crossing the road with their children.
  • Parents need to review the dangers of using cell phones and other hand held devices as well as eating/drinking or talking while walking.
  • When possible, cross the road at intersections with lights or cross with a crossing guard. Make sure the traffic has stopped before you cross the road.

For more information about street safety, see Toronto Police Service’s Guide to Keeping our Children Safe or call your local Police Department.

Important phone numbers
Download a copy of the Important Phone Numbers document

 

 

Home Safety

When planning to stay home alone, it is important to think about safety and injury prevention. Consider the possible dangers and talk about how they should be handled. This will increase families’ confidence and children’s safety, as will the emergency phone numbers and a well stocked first aid kit.

Physical Activities

For health benefits, 10-14 years old should accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily that is of moderate to vigorous intensity.

Encourage your child to take advantage of their travel to and from school as an opportunity to be physically active.
Brisk walking (active transportation) to and from school is an excellent way to include physical activity in your day.

Food Preparation

Kitchens are equipped with many tools that make food preparation quick and easy but injuries can happen. Follow these tips to protect yourself when making safe and healthy snacks.

  • If you use a microwave oven, use only microwave safe containers, lids and wraps. Do not use aluminum foil or any metal containers.
  • Keep a supply of foods you are able to prepare.
  • Use a knife that is the right size and blade for the food you need to cut.
  • Don’t pry toast from a plugged-in toaster. Pull the plug first.

Alcohol and Other Drugs

  • It is important that parents and/or caregivers talk to their youth about the rules about alcohol and other drugs. Parents and/or caregivers should keep alcohol and prescription drugs in a locked cabinet.