Commentary by Tim Johnston
2/21/2012 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Life in the military is full of social gatherings such as dining in.'s, air force balls, squadron and retirement parties, and for those parents with children who spend time at home alone, safety and security is a major concern. Here are some suggestions to help you prepare your children for being home alone.
· Make sure your home is secure. Check doors and windows to make sure all locks are in working order and that your child knows how to open the lock should it become necessary for him or her to get out of the house. Also, trim shrubs and bushes near doors and windows so no one can hide behind them.
· Check your home for fire hazards. Working smoke detectors should be installed on each level. They should be tested monthly and the battery should be charged annually. All appliances should be in good working order. Make sure matches, lighter, and any flammable liquids are stored out of the reach of children. Develop a home fire escape plan and practice it several times with your children. They should understand that if a fire starts they should leave the house and call the fire department from the neighbor's house.
· A first-aid kit should be stored where it can be found easily in case of minor cuts, burns, nose bleeds, etc.
· Compile a list of important phone numbers and post it near all phones. Include work, neighbor, relative, fire, police, ambulance and others that you feel are necessary. Your child should know his or her phone number and complete address, including apartment number, name of apartments and other information that could assist emergency vehicles if necessary.
· Spend time teaching your children personnel safety rules. Play lots of "What if" games. This will help them recognize and develop responses to certain situations.
· Establish some "house rules" with your children. They should be clearly stated, written and posted where visible. Your child should understand what the consequences would be should if he or she breaks a rule. Topics to be covered: TV time, snacks, using the phone or other appliances around the house, having visitors, etc.
· Check with the Services Squadron for any Children's programs that might be offered at night on base.
For your children, time home alone can be safe and secure with some planning. For more information contact the Vandenberg Fire department at 606-4680.