for Baby Sitters
Babysitting is fun and a good way to earn extra money, but it takes
hard work and preparation. Sitters need to be prepared for all type
of situations. The more you know, the better the baby sitter you'll
become. A good sitter must know the right thing to do at the right
time. We will be discussing some considerations that babysitters
need to be aware of as they take on this very important and exciting
Know what is expected of you as the sitter. There are certain
do's and don'ts that you should know and remember as a sitter.
- Before the parents leave, get the names and phone numbers you
will need. Have this information written down, along with the
address and telephone number of where you are sitting, and place
the information where you can quickly and easily get it. In an
emergency you might not remember this important information.
- Have the parent(s) show you around the house or apartment and
point out where the items you will need are located such as clothing,
Be familiar with the house. Learn all of the exits and know how
to unlock doors and windows. Know two ways out of each room, especially
- All families should have a meeting place outside where everyone
gathers after escaping from a fire. Have the parent(s) show you
the meeting place so as not to confuse children with a different
- Discuss the plan and meeting place with the children so that
everyone knows where to meet.
- Talk to the parent(s) to learn the location of a neighbor who
will be home. In case of a fire, you will need to call the fire
department from this house.
Some of the other topics we will be looking at include: keeping
a child safe indoors and outside, being prepared in case of a fire,
pool safety, basic first aid, and tips on sitting safety.
Getting the Information
When you are babysitting, get all of the information that you will
need before the parents leave. If possible, have the children present
during these instructions so that there won't be any confusion later,
and everyone will know what is expected.
- Learn of any special concerns that might startle you, such as
allergies or behaviors like temper tantrums.
- Know where the children are allowed to play. Some off-limit
areas might not be obvious to you.
- Have the parents explain the rules for watching television.
Find out any restrictions.
- Find out what can be eaten for snacks and when. Be sure to learn
about any allergies to food.
- Some parents allow the children to have friends visit. Discuss
their rules regarding friends.
- Talk about bedtime arrangements. Find out if there is anything
special you need to know about sending the children to bed. Determine
if the children have a special book that they like to have read
to them. If they don't, this might be an opportunity to develop
something special between the children and you.
- If the children need to receive any medications, get the instructions
in writing. These instructions should include the exact amount
to be given and the exact time that it should be given. Even if
a child asks for any medication, do not give it without first
checking with a parent.
- Check to see that the information listing where a parent can
be reached, a neighbor's telephone number, the fire department
(ambulance), and any other number or information that the parent
thinks is necessary is placed near the telephone.
- This is your chance to have your questions answered so that
you avoid any mix-ups or misunderstandings. Remember, you need
to know the right thing to do at the right time. If you aren't
certain about what is expected, ask.
Keeping a Child Safe
Parents should "childproof" their homes with safety latches
on cabinets, placing items out of reach and sight of the child,
etc. Just to be safe, you should go through the house with a parent
before you begin babysitting to make yourself aware of any dangers
to keep the child away from, as well as any dangers to keep away
from the child. Remember to look for hazards before there's a problem.
Keep the Child Away from Danger
- Plugs and outlets - It's easy for a curious child
to receive an electrical shock.
- Cords and Strings - Long cords from extension
cords or furniture can become tangled around the child's neck
and cut off breathing. This includes items such as toys, pacifiers,
ribbons, etc., tied to cribs or playpens. Try to have electrical
cords out of the child's reach so that they cannot pull any objects,
such as lamps, onto themselves.
- Stairs - Use gates, if possible, for any child
too young to climb up and down stairs safely. Check to make sure
that the child cannot place their heads through any openings in
the gate. Also check that the gate cannot collapse or become dislodged
if the child leans or pushes against it.
- Tablecloths - Children love to grab at objects
hanging down. Everything on the table can end up on the child's
- Windows - Be sure windows or screens are locked.
A fall from a window can result in a serious injury or death.
Do not place anything in front of the window that a child can
climb on to reach the window.
- Electrical appliances - All appliances within
the child's reach should be unplugged or inaccessible.
- Guns - Make certain that all guns are securely
locked up, with the key in a hidden place.
Keep Dangerous Things Away From the Child
- Knives - Should be stored out of reach.
- Plastic Bags and Films - These can quickly could
off a child's breathing. Be sure that they are kept where a child
cannot reach them.
- Buttons and Other Small Objects - Can easily choke
a child. Watch to see what the child is playing with.
- Toys - Some toy dangers include small parts, sharp
edges, and sharp points. Propelled objects, such as guided missiles
and similar flying toys, can be turned into weapons and injure
eyes in particular. Check to see that the toy is age appropriate
for the child.
- Aerosols (Sprays) and Detergents - These and other
household cleaners are often poisonous. Be sure that the child
cannot reach them. Remember that they are not only found under
the kitchen sink - check other places in the house. Should the
child take any of these items, be sure to call for an ambulance
and be prepared to tell the paramedics what and how much of the
material was ingested.
- Medicines - Should be locked up. If this is not
possible, be sure they are in a safe place, out of the reach of
the child. Remember this also applies to any medications that
you may need to give to the child.
Be extra careful with:
- Matches and lighters - Never smoke while babysitting. Carelessness
with these items is the single largest cause of fires in the home.
If you find matches, lighters, or other smoking materials, put
them up high where children can't see or reach them. Never let
children play with matches or lighters. These items should be
thought of as tools, not toys.
- Cooking - If a parent asks you to cook, use the stove carefully.
Clean up any spills as soon as they occur. Keep the pot handles
turned to the side or use the back burners so that the handles
cannot be grabbed. Never hold a child while cooking. Turn off
the stove or oven as soon as you are done. Never leave a burner
unattended. Set a timer to remind you to turn everything off.
Never put anything into a microwave unless you are absolutely
sure that it is safe. Paper, glass, and microwave-proof earthenware
are safe. Metals, including aluminum foil, are not. Keep children
away from the microwave. Be careful when removing covers from
microwave containers; escaping steam can cause burns. Cool all
foods sufficiently before serving them to children.
- Space heater, wood stove, or fireplace - Don't use these devices
unless a parent gives you permission and instructs you on its
use. Be sure that anything that can burn - clothes, furniture,
draperies, towels, newspapers, etc. - is at least three feet from
a heat source. Don't let a child play too near a heater, as it
is often hot enough to cause a serious burn.
Know exactly what to do in case a fire occurs.
- Locate the windows and doors so that you know at least two exits
from every room. Check to see that the exits aren't blocked and
that they open easily. Be certain that everyone knows the family's
special meeting place.
- Know where the smoke detectors are and what they sound like.
Have a parent test them while you're there.
- If you smell smoke, hear a smoke detector, or see flames, stay
calm. Get everybody out of the house immediately. Don't wait for
any reason. Crawl low under the smoke if necessary. Remember that
heat and smoke rise, so the cleaner, cooler air is near the floor.
Go first, making sure that the children follow you through the
exit. Follow the home fire escape plan, getting everyone quickly
outside. Go directly to the special meeting place and count heads
to make sure that everyone has escaped.
- Once the entire group is accounted for, go to a neighbor's house
and call the fire department from there. Give the fire department
your name, the complete address of the fire, and information about
where you're calling from. Stay on the phone until you're told
to hang up. Then call the children's parents.
- Watch the children carefully while you're waiting for the fire
department. Make certain that no one goes back into the house
for any reason. Once you are out, stay out. Keep everyone a safe
distance from the fire and out of the firefighter's way.
- If flames and smoke are blocking the way to the children's rooms,
go straight to the neighbor's and call the fire department. Tell
them that the children are trapped in the house and where they
- If your clothing catches fire, Stop, Drop, and Roll. Smother
the flames with a heavy blanket or coat or have the person roll
on the ground until the fire is extinguished. Babysitters may
have to help children do this. Pull the child to the ground, and
roll him or her over and over to smother the flames. When you
babysit, you are in charge. During an emergency, you must act
on your own and right away.
Also, in case of an emergency, be sure to check out the First
Aid Safety Tips section
If you have questions or are looking for other information, contact
the Winfield Fire Protection District (630) 653-5050.