Tips to keep your child safe after school

The start of the school year can mean kids will be spending more time home alone since many students return home before their parents get out of work.

Donna Bryan of the Safety Council of Palm Beach County says parents need to set ground rules with their kids.

She says parents need to make sure their children know whether or not they can cook or swim in a pool.

It's a good idea to make sure children know how to use a first aid kit and fire extinguisher.

Bryan said look to your neighbors for help as well.

"Letting those people (neighbors) know that they have been designated, so if there is like a small emergency where they need an adult to check on something, often times that neighbor can get there more quickly than you can from your office," Bryan said.

She said in many cases kids who are 11 or 12 years old is the youngest that a child should stay home alone.

Parents should also make sure their kids know what to do if a stranger comes to the door.

"Who is coming to your door? Just because they have a clipboard and a uniform, is it OK to open the door to them? What's your policy? If somebody delivers something and says,’I need a signature.’ What do you want them to do?" Bryan said.

Bryan said parents should also set a time for kids to call daily when they get back from school.

"You want them to automatically check in with you," Bryan says.  "Make it so they are religiously checking in with you every day at a specified time, so you know to get that call."

There are several afterschool programs available through different organizations throughout the area:

Palm Beach County Schools

Children Services Council of St. Lucie County

Martin County after school programs

Boys and Girls Clubs of Indian River County

Okeechobee County School District

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