Avera Medical Minute: Class teaches kids how to stay safe while home alone

Sioux Falls, S.D. - What is the right age to start leaving your kids home?

When will they know how to stay safe?

These are the questions on many parents’ minds as their kids grow older.

As kids get older, many parents choose to give them more responsibility by letting them stay home alone, but it can be a scary time for many parents.

Avera is looking to help.

Their home alone class is given to kids age 10 to 13.

“Of course we all want our kids to be safe,” Sarah Kappel, whose son took the class, said. “So anything that we can do to help keep them safe and help keep them feeling comfortable when they stay home alone, is really important.”

“A lot of kids want to stay home alone because that’s an independence kind of thing that they want to do,” Family Life Educator Doniese Wilcox said. “But, it’s also important that they have some basic knowledge and basic skills before they do that.”

Some of those skills taught in the class are basic safety, like first aid, how to get home and get in the house safely, and how to answer the phone and lock the doors.

“There’s all kinds of just little scenarios that kids need to be aware of,” Wilcox said.

Kappel said kids don’t always listen to what their parents have to say and it never hurts to go over those safety tips.

“It’s a lot easier not coming from mom or dad,” Kappel said. “Running through those what ifs is always helpful so when those things come up, he can be prepared and remember, oh yeah we talked about this in class or I talked about this with mom or dad. So now I know what to do.”

Wilcox said the learning doesn’t stop after the class for the kids or the parents.

A packet with specific ideas for scenarios is sent home so parents can go over it with their kids.

“We can tell the kids, yeah if there is a fire you need to get out of your house, but we can’t tell them how to get out of their specific house,” Wilcox said. “This type of skill is ongoing. It’s not something they come to a class for 3 hours, they know everything and they're good. You have to keep teaching on an ongoing basis.”

This class will be offered again on June 1st and July 30th in Sioux Falls.

Similar classes are offered at Avera facilities across the region.