Unlike other provinces, in Quebec there’s no set “legal” age to leave a child at home unsupervised. Leaving a child home alone is a decision that depends on many factors, including the child’s age, maturity and ability to cope with different situations. However, it’s important to remember, that if you decide to leave your child at home alone, you remain responsible for their actions until they reach the age of majority.

How to Tell if your Child is Ready to be Left Alone?

If you are going to be away and wondering about leaving your child alone, here are a few questions to ask yourself before deciding:

  • Do they usually follow and respect instructions?
  • Do they experience anxiety or a lack of self-confidence?
  • Are there any ideas on how to occupy their time while you’re away?
  • Does your child tend to get into trouble when they’re on their own?
  • How do they usually react to unexpected events?
  • Can they contact you while you’re away?
  • Do you have someone you can trust who can get to them quickly if necessary?

If you decide that your child is ready to stay home alone for a certain period, here are some safety tips to consider:

Home Alone Safety Tips

Tip #1 Establish clear rules

Establish specific rules for your child, such as not sharing the fact that they are alone at home, not opening the door to strangers, not using kitchen appliances unsupervised, not giving out personal information over the phone or online, etc. Make sure your child understands these rules and respects them.

Tip #2 Establish schedules

Set specific times for your child to be home alone. Avoid leaving your child alone for long periods of time, and make sure they know exactly when you’ll be home.

Tip #3 Set emergency contacts

Make sure your child knows important emergency numbers, such as 911. You can also provide a phone number where they can reach you in case of an emergency.

Neighbours and community support: If possible, inform your neighbours of the situation and ask them to be attentive to your child’s well-being when they are home alone. It’s also a good idea for your child to know some trusted neighbours to whom and where they can turn to in times of need.

Tip #4 Secure household items

Explain to your child the dangers associated with certain household objects, such as kitchen knives, chemicals, appliances, etc. Show your children the proper way to handle them safely and ask them not to play with these products.

Tip #5 Protect your home

Ensure your child knows how to lock doors and windows when home alone. Discuss safety measures, such as not opening the door to strangers, checking the identity of visitors before letting them in, etc.

Tip #6 Communicate with your children

Establish a method of communication with your child when they are home alone, such as a cell phone, landline or connected smart device. Ask for a scheduled call to let you know how they are doing, and so you can check on them if they have any questions or problems.

Tip #7 Prepare your children for emergencies

Teach your child what to do in case of an emergency, such as fire or an intruder. Review evacuation procedures and safe areas to gather outside the house.

Remember, your child’s safety is the number one priority. You must first assess the situation and your child’s ability to stay at home alone, based on their age and maturity. If you have any doubts, it’s best to find an alternative solution, such as the care/supervision of a trusted adult or an after-school program. If your child doesn’t feel ready to be left alone, don’t blame them. Every child is different and evolves at a different pace.

In addition, you can suggest that your child take part in a Canadian Red Cross “Ready to Be Left Alone” course: lasting 5 to 6 hours, the Ready to Be Left Alone! course enables children to acquire basic first-aid techniques and the skills they need to ensure their safety when they’re alone at home or out and about. To be eligible for this course, children must be 9 years old or older (or have completed grade 3).