Babysitting isn’t for the faint of heart. You temporarily assume parental responsibility, and those folks have the toughest job in the world.
In other words, you have to take precautions to keep the kids in your charge protected. Here are seven safety tips to remember when babysitting.
Survey the Premises
Hopefully, the family whose children you watch did a thorough job of childproofing their home. However, you can’t take such measures for granted. If you mind infants or toddlers, get down and take a look at each room from a kid’s eye point of view — those throw pillows you left on the floor look like a cozy TV-watching spot, but they could suffocate a sleeping baby.
Look for hazards for more mobile older children, too. Keep kids away from dangers like garage doors — over 7,500 people suffer finger injuries from getting caught every year. Watch out for heavy objects atop furniture that could tip. A television could severely harm a child climbing on dresser drawers to grab the remote.
Employ Alarm Systems
Remember how Kevin McAllister made it look like his house was occupied to deter the thieves in “Home Alone?” Take a tip from that clever youth and keep the indoor lights on and curtains closed after dark. Besides, it’s a strange house — you’ll feel more comfortable if you can clearly see everything.
Outside, motion detectors are best. You can also put the porch light on if the house is surrounded by neighbors. If the home is in a remote area where thieves need light to see and few neighbors may notice suspicious activity, leave it dark.
Keep the deadbolts and chain locked at all times — this keeps the wrong folks out while deterring curious tots from escaping. If the family has an alarm system, use it. If you mind multiple children, it can alert you if one tries to escape.
Talk to Strangers — the Right Way
What should you do if the phone rings or someone comes to the door? Please prepare yourself for these contingencies.
Ensure that the children in your care know not to open the door. If a delivery person says they have a package that requires a signature, let them know the person responsible isn’t available — don’t say they aren’t home. Request they come back later. If they put up a fuss, that’s a clue they weren’t legitimate.
If a stranger calls, avoid telling them that the parents aren’t at home. Instead, repeat that they are unavailable and ask to take a message.
Exercise Caution in the Kitchen
The kitchen is a dangerous place for tiny tots. If you have to cook while you babysit, ensure you turn the pot handles toward the back so that little fingers can’t grab them. Keep small appliances unplugged when not in use, and don’t leave the cords dangling. Check that sharp objects, like knives, are well out of reach of toddler’s hands.
If the family has one, keep the child gate closed to prevent infants and toddlers from entering. Even innocuous-seeming objects like refrigerator magnets can pose choking hazards.
Know the Bathroom Rules
Hopefully, you won’t have to give the kiddos you watch a bath. However, if you do, please don’t leave them unattended, even for a few seconds. It only takes a small amount of water to drown a child.
Review Your Checklist
Before the parents depart, please review the following checklist with them to ensure you have the information you need should an emergency occur.
Prepare Yourself for Emergencies
You might not think of yourself as a professional if you’re only 16 — but you are. Show your dedication to your role and prepare yourself for any contingency by getting certified in first aid and CPR. These credentials will help you attract more clients and feel more comfortable on the job, knowing that you can handle the worst.
If you want to go the extra mile, consider signing up for a babysitting course. Many organizations, such as the American Red Cross, offer such certifications, and they can further accelerate your earning capacity while teaching you how to handle on-the-job emergencies.
Follow These 7 Safety Tips While Babysitting
Watching another person’s children is the ultimate responsibility. Please follow these seven safety tips while babysitting.