(WGHP) — With the school year winding down, it leaves working parents to wrestle with the decision… are my kids old enough to stay home alone?

In North Carolina, the fire code dictates that a child under the age of eight can’t be left unsupervised.

But how to do you know if your ten-year-old or 12-year-old is ready to be left alone without supervision?

There are some questions to consider

  • Does your child want to be home alone?
  • Do they follow directions well? Do they exercise self-control?
  • Does your child know the difference between an emergency and non-emergency?
  • Do they know to ask for help? Can they tell when they need adult assistance?
  • Are they anxious or overly fearful in general?

If you ask yourself these questions and you feel like your child might be ready to be home alone, have a conversation with them about safety. Teach them how to lock the door and how to operate any security systems you might have. Remind them to check in with their parents.

Remind them to never tell someone on the phone that they’re by themselves and explain the procedure for what to do if someone comes by.

Try out being home alone on a trial basis for short periods of time before you give them the proverbial keys to the castle.