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Home alone training for youth

Two Hay River firefighters – Capt. Kirsten Fischer, left, and Korin Carter, right – have again volunteered to instruct a Home Alone Course for children, including Carter's nine-year-old daughter Jaidyn Henderson. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Later this week, Jaidyn Henderson and a group of other children will learn how to safely stay home alone.

Nine-year-old Jaidyn said she is looking forward to the two-day course that will teach her those safety skills.

"So when my sister and my mommy go out I can stay home alone when I don't want to go with them," she said.

Jaidyn said, if she didn't take the course, she wouldn't know what to do if a stranger came to the door, when the fire alarm goes off and things like that.

The Home Alone Course will be offered for an expected 10 children this coming Friday and Saturday.

It is a co-operative project of the town's recreation department and fire department.

The course is being offered by two members of the fire department – Capt. Kirsten Fischer and Korin Carter, who have volunteered their time.

Based on a booklet from the Canadian Safety Council, the course is designed to provide children with the necessary skills and knowledge to be safe and responsible when home alone.

Along with teaching the children, who must be at least nine years of age, what to do if a stranger knocks on the door or in case of fire, the course also deals with many other eventualities, including how to call the police, fire department or ambulance.

"It's a good way to get your child to know what to do in these situations," said Carter, who is Jaidyn's mother. "It also helps the children go home to their parents and ask those questions. Because as a parent, you may have those numbers written down, but you don't always prepare and you don't always remember what to tell your child in those situations. So this is more of a guideline and it will help the student to bring it up with the parent to have those discussions further."

Fischer noted the course – held for the first time last spring in the meeting room at the Hay River Fire Hall – even teaches the children about how not to be scared in a house, perhaps by strange noises.

"We shut of all the lights and we made them be quiet for two minutes because you hear the fridge and you hear cars, and just let them listen to the different noises that you would hear when it's quiet," she said.

The course even teaches the children not to be scared in thunderstorms

Carter noted the children also practise making phone calls to the fire department, the police and the ambulance.

"They actually had to say their address and what the emergency was," she explained. "Because if they really do have to make those calls, they've got to know what to say and they need to know their address and they can't get panicked. And that's what we were trying to teach them."

Fischer noted that the children don't actually call any emergency service, but call Carter who plays the role of an emergency responder.

"So she was the police, and they'd call her cell phone," explained Fischer.

The instructors stress the course is not designed to help parents leave their children at home more often or for longer periods of time.

"That is one thing I want to make clear," said Carter. "It's a Home Alone Course, but we don't want to be saying, 'Yes parents, now that you have this course, you can leave them home alone for an extended period of time.' You should never leave your child home alone for a long period of time, because that's just not safe."

Instead, the course is designed to make children safer if they happen to be home alone for short periods of time.