Home alone? Class helps kids

HAVING FUN LEARNING — Children laugh at something instructor Lor Hameister said prior to a “Home Alone” class Wednesday afternoon in Truman.

TRUMAN — Children in grades 2-6 learned some valuable lessons Wednesday at a “Home Alone” class in Truman.

The class, sponsored by Truman Community Education, was led by Lori Hameister, who has more than 20 years of experience working in the early childhood field.

About 15 children came to the class. Hameister asked how many had ever stayed home alone before or after school, or on the weekend. The vast majority raised their hands.

“Staying home alone can be fun and it gives you freedom and lets you watch TV and turn up the music, but along with that freedom comes responsibility,” said Hameister, adding, “You need to be prepared for whatever could happen.”

Hameister told the children that experts say they should be 12 years old before they stay home alone, but many children are younger because parents take a lot of different factors into consideration. These include a child’s maturity, the living environment, how long the parents will be gone and a child’s feelings about being alone.

“If you don’t feel comfortable being home alone, you should share that feeling with your parents,” Hameister told the kids.

The children were then told to picture their own households as Hameister asked if they know whether their doors and windows lock and unlock, and whether they know how to use the appliances, adjust the thermostat or know where the first-aid kit is.

She gave each of them a home safety checklist so they can go through their house with their parents. The checklist included knowing where the flashlight, fire extinguisher and smoke alarm are, whether there are lights for outside, or locks on all the doors and windows.

“If something is missing, make sure to talk to your parents or guardians, not only for when you’re home alone, but just to keep you safe all the time,” Hameister said.

Throughout the two-hour class, she went over many areas with the children, including ideas for getting along with siblings, such as making compromises, including them in decisions and accepting responsibility.

“Being the oldest kid is a big responsibility because the younger ones will look up to you,” Hameister reminded them.

She also went over fun ideas for what children can do while they are home alone but reminded them to do any homework or chores first.

Several short videos were shown, including a video called “Stranger Danger” that talked about abuse and inappropriate behavior sometimes displayed by adults. The video went over warning signs and provided abduction tips. Hameister reminded children that if they are ever concerned about something, they need to tell a parent or trusted adult.

“You need to keep yourself safe,” she said.

Emergency situations also were talked about, and Hameister told the children she knows it is sometimes difficult to tell when something is an emergency. She explained that some emergency situations are a fire; an intruder; severe weather; or if someone is having difficulty breathing, or has severe bleeding or severe pain.

She told the children they should sit down and create an emergency contact list with their family. She also told them that in an emergency they should calmly call 911 and remain calm while they talk to the dispatcher. The children were told never to call 911 as a joke.

Hameister said that while it’s scary or uncomfortable to talk about some of this, it’s best to “prepare for what could possibly happen.”