Your child’s maturity level is more important than his or her age. Some experts say 10-year-olds can be left alone; others say 12-year-olds, but you know your child best. The amount of alone time is another factor: Running an errand for 20 minutes is different than leaving your youngster unsupervised mid-afternoon through bedtime.
Prepare kids to handle any situation. Show them how to microwave a plate you’ve left for dinner. Tell them whether to answer the door, where to find flashlights during a power failure, how to escape quickly during a fire and how to tell whether a cut requires an adhesive bandage or a call to emergency services.
Leave emergency numbers posted near every phone, including your cell phone number and contact information for three trusted neighbors. And don’t make your child worry unnecessarily by showing up an hour later than you promised.