What to Watch For and What to Do
By Neil Ohlenkamp
Caring for children is one of the biggest responsibilities you’ll ever have. As a babysitter you must protect yourself as well as the children.
GETTING THE JOB DONE:
- Know your employer. Babysit only for people you or your parents know, or for whom you have a personal reference. Answering newspaper ads may not be safe.
- Be sure to find out from your employers what time they expect to be back. Be sure they know how much you charge and when you must be home.
- Leave the name, address and telephone number of where you’ll be babysitting with your parents, and tell them what time your employers expect to be home.
ON THE JOB:
- Before your employers leave, fill out the information requested below. Do this for every job you take. Keep the information and a pencil near the telephone.
- Make your employers do a safety check with you throughout their home. Find out if their home has emergency exits, burglar alarms, flashlights, smoke alarms and a fire extinguisher.
- Know how to work the door and window locks in the home, and use them. Leave at least one outside light on.
- If the telephone rings while you’re babysitting, don’t tell the caller that you’re alone. Say you’re visiting and the residents can’t come to the phone, but you’ll give them a message. If the caller persists or gets rude, just hang up.
- Don’t open the door to strangers, and don’t tell anyone who comes to the door that you’re there alone. Again, say you’re visiting and will deliver a message.
- During the day you might have the children out in the yard. If you’re in back, make sure the front is locked – and visa versa.
- If you take the children out to the park or anywhere else, make sure you have the house key with you when you leave. Double check to be certain all doors and windows are locked before leaving. Let your parents know where you are going and get clearance from your employer first before taking the children anywhere.
- Have the children go to the bathroom before you leave to avoid having to use public restrooms.
- When you are out with the children, don’t talk to strangers. If you suspect you’re being followed at any time, go to a nearby home, store or gas station and call the police.
- When you get back to the children’s home, if anything seems unusual – a broken window, an open door, a strange car parked outside – don’t go in. Go to a neighbor’s and call the police. For that matter, if, at any time while you’re babysitting, you’re uneasy or suspicious about anything, don’t hesitate to call for help.
IN AN EMERGENCY:
- If you suspect a fire, get the children and yourself out. Go to a neighbor’s and call 911. If you’ve been able to take the safety checklist with you, call the parents/employer and let them know where you and the children are.
- In any kind of emergency, stay calm. The most important thing to remember is that young children won’t panic if you don’t. You’re the leader.
- Prepare ahead of time by taking a class in CPR, basic first aid and emergency preparedness.
WHEN THE JOB IS OVER:
- When your employers return home, report on what happened, especially if you considered anything to be unusual.
- Call home to let someone know you’re on your way.
- Be sure you have an escort home, this should be one of the conditions under which you accept any babysitting job.
- If, for some reason, your employers won’t drive or walk you home – or seem intoxicated – ask someone at your home to come and get you.
BABYSITTING SAFETY CHECKLIST:
Always obtain the following information:
- Address and phone
- Where parents will be
- Emergency neighbor contact
- Child’s doctor
- Closest hospital
- Special instructions or routines to follow
- Emergency phone numbers (like Poison Control Center)