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Have a plan when leaving kids home alone

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ATLANTA -

How do you know when your kids are ready to be left home alone?

In the movie "Home Alone," cute little Macauley Culkin single-handedly defends his home turf against bungled burglars, but that was a movie and Macauley an actor.  In real life, experts say make sure your child is ready to be left alone.

Currently, there are no Georgia laws that dictate the age children can be left home alone. But Department of Family and Children Services officials recommend a child be at least 9-years-old.  DFACS official Susan Boatwright says maturity should be the main factor.

"Parents need to think about how the child when they're loosely supervised. Do they make decisions that keep them safe? When they're in another room, do they get in trouble? You want to think about those sort of things before you leave them alone," said Susan Boatwright.

Boatwright says if you choose to give your child a key, have a backup plan for getting in the house if they lose it.  That could include a hide-a-key or a garage door.

And because you don't want anything to go wrong in the kitchen, leave behind meals that don't require cooking.

"Maybe keep some cold cuts in the refrigerator for sandwiches and some things that can be microwaved, just avoid the stove at all times if possible," said Boatwright.

Have any emergency numbers nearby and practice that emergency plan. And what you were told as a child still holds true today: Never, ever open the door to a stranger. Boatwright says to tell whoever is at the door that their parents can't come to the door right now.

"That person can always come back if they have something they need to talk to your parents about and if it's a package it can be left or they can bring it back," said Boatwright.

DFACS officials say its also a great idea to have activities ready to help your kids deal with boredom when home alone. For more information visit http://dfcs.dhs.georgia.gov/portal/site/DHS-DFCS/

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