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IPFS News Link • Children

Keeping Kids Safe When They're Home Alone

•, by Daisy Luther

Lightning, thunder, high winds, and suddenly, the power went out, casting my office in darkness. I went to pick up the phone to call my then 10-year-old daughter, who was home by herself for an hour after school.

No dial tone. Nothing. Dead as a doornail.

The phone system at the office was so elaborate that it didn't work without electricity.

This was back in the days before cell phones, so I had no way to reach my little girl. It was the year that her big sister had an afterschool activity and my youngest had balked against having a babysitter, saying she was "too old" for that. I reluctantly agreed, with some strict ground rules. She had to call me the moment she got home to let me know she'd arrived safely. She was not to go outside, use the stove, or answer the door. She was to do her homework until I got home an hour later. There was a "safe" neighbor next door if she needed help, a kindly older couple who treated her like their own grandchild.

I had felt like she was as prepared as I could make her for that hour when she was home alone.

But, what I didn't know that day was that the wind had thrown a large branch through our kitchen window, shattering glass all over the place and letting in the howling gale and torrential downpour.

And she was scared to death.

She tried to call me but, of course, couldn't get through because our phones were down. She went next door, and the neighbors were not at home.

So, in her ten-year-old mind, she did what she thought was the next best thing. I shudder to this day even to type this, but she decided to walk to my office, which wasn't far on a good day, but on a day like this, it was rife with danger. She was soaked before she even got a block and stepped into the corner store, where we sometimes picked up milk and bread. (And, let's be real, candy.)

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