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Babysitters' Guide

Caring for young children is one of the biggest responsibilities you'll ever have. You must be able to protect yourself as well as the children.

Getting the Job

  • 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./li>
  • 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 babysitter’s safety checklist at the end of this material. Do this for every job you take. Keep the form and a pencil and paper near the telephone.
  • Have your employers do a safety check with you throughout their home. Find out if their home has emergency exits, a smoke alarm, or 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 telephone, 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.
  • The same rules apply to daytime as well as night babysitting, with a few additions:
    • During the day you might have the children out in the yard. If you're in back, make sure the front door is locked - and vice 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.
    • Have the children go to the bathroom before you leave to help 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.
    • If at any time while you are babysitting, you are uneasy or suspicious about anything, don't hesitate to call the police.

In an Emergency

  • If you suspect a fire, get the children and yourself outside. Go to a neighbor's house and call the fire department.
  • If you've been able to take the safety checklist with you, call your 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.

When The Job Is Over

  • When your employers return home, report on what happened, especially if you considered anything 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

  • Address and Phone Number
  • Where the Parents Will Be
  • Cellphone Number
  • Emergency Neighbor Contact
  • Child(ren)'s Doctor(s) & Phone Number(s)
  • Allergies
  • Medications
  • Night Light?
  • Special Instructions or Routines to Follow
  • Police or Fire Emergency Phone Number: 911
  • Poison Control Center