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Do you have an unanswered question about safety or preventing injuries?  Browse the questions and answers below to see if it has already been covered.  If you can't find the answer you are looking for then let us know by submitting your question to us at the bottom of this page.  The safety and injury prevention experts at Connecticut Children's Medical Center will do their best to provide you with an answer.

How old does my child have to be before I can leave them home alone?
It depends.  There is no Connecticut law that tells you when it’s okay.  It is a judgment call.  Generally, a child should be 12 years old before they are left alone.  You need to ask yourself, will my child know what to do in an emergency?  Is there someone such as a neighbor that can watch out for my child?  How long do I plan on leaving my child alone (30 minutes or 6 hours)?  If you do leave your child home alone, make sure they know who to call, 911, a neighbor, or your cellphone.  They also need to know what to do if the phone rings or someone comes to the door.  An older child should not be left in charge of a younger child until they are 15 years old.

How old does my child have to be before they can be a babysitter?
15 years old is really the minimum age for a babysitter.  It depends on the maturity of the child.  And some kids aren’t ready even at 17 to be babysitters.  Look in your area for a Safe Sitter class.  If your child does want to earn some money as a babysitter, this class can give them the knowledge and skills they need to take care of someone else’s child with confidence.

What can I do to prevent fires in my home?
First, make sure that you have a working smoke detector on every level, in your kitchen, and in every room where someone sleeps.  That means the batteries are in the detector and the batteries work.  Second, do not let anyone smoke in a bedroom.  It’s best if you don’t let anyone smoke in your house anywhere.  Third, do not leave lit candles unattended.  Fourth, don’t leave the kitchen unattended when you are cooking.  Make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy in or near the kitchen.  Finally, practice your escape plan, know at least two ways out of your house or apartment.

What age can a child sit in the front seat?
Kids can sit in the front seat when they are 13 years old.  This is for three reasons.  First, later-generation airbags come out at between 100 and 150 m.p.h.  and are designed to come out at the chest area of an adult.  A child is just not tall enough for the airbags to cushion him safely.  The airbag may come out at the child’s head and neck, which could be traumatic.  Second, the child’s anatomy is still growing and her body is not able to take the force of the crash with the airbag as an adult’s can.  Finally, behaviorally, the child is unlikely to stay “in position” in case of a crash, meaning sitting straight forward so that the seat belt contacts his collarbone and hip bones and the airbag would come out at his chest.  Instead, kids are more likely to be turn around talking to the other kids in the back seat or leaning over and playing with the radio or leaning against the window.  Your visor may have a warning also stating the kids 12 and under are safest in the back seat.

Does my child have to wear a bike helmet?
Yes.  In Connecticut, the law states that all kids under age 16 must wear a bike helmet when riding a bicycle.  Additionally, a properly fitted bike helmet can reduce the risk for head injury by up to 85%.  Make sure that parents and other adult riders set a good example by wearing a helmet too.  No one ever “graduates” from wearing a helmet!

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