In just a few weeks... "school's out for the summer." Kids are excited, but some parents worry about leaving their child home alone. With a slow economy forcing some stay-at-home parents to go back to work or pick up an extra job, more kids may be spending time home alone this summer.
"It all comes down to Mom and Dad's rules. And following Mom and Dad's rules. One of the reasons that their home by themselves is that Mom and Dad have some faith and some trust in them," said Jon VanCore, Deputy, Eaton County Sheriff's Office.
Deputy VanCore says those rules are a family's most important tool. He teaches a class for kids who will be home alone and advises families to establish house rules before a child is ever home alone. And to make sure children are prepared to keep the home secure.
"One of the things that we do during the class is I try to put some pressure on the kids, and so what I'll do is I'll come up and knock on the table and tell them that I'm there and have an emergency. And I ask them what they're going to do and how they're going to handle it. And we talk them through how to respond to that by not opening the door and not letting someone else's emergency into their house," said VanCore.
But if there is an emergency in their house, a child must know how to quickly contact emergency personnel.
"Check, call, care is our procedure from any of our classes. You know, checking the scene for safety for themselves before entering, calling 911, knowing their address, knowing how to get people to help them, the emergency crews," said Rhena Brasier, Red Cross.
The internet can also be dangerous. Kids should never tell anyone they are home alone. And they should call parents to check- in every few hours.
Michigan, like most states, does not have a law specifying the age which a minor child can be left home alone. It's presumed the parent will take the child's maturity into consideration when deciding to leave their child home alone.
Age 12 seems to be the basic recommendation, but kids as young as 8 have been left home alone. Parents are advised to try and limit the times when kids are home, and of course infants and small children should never be left alone.