Good babysitters are safety-conscious and take extra precautions to make sure the children are safe from accidents.
There is a lot of information here, but all of it is really important! Until you have spent time with babies and young children, it is impossible to know just how many potential dangers there are.
- Keep windows and outside doors locked.
- Be careful not to offer identifying information over the phone.
- Keep the radio or TV turned low so that you can hear a cry or call from the child when s/he is sleeping.
- Put things away and out of reach of children when preparing food. Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove and all cooking/food items away from the edge of the counter.
- Always know where the emergency exits are located.
- Look for potential hazards in the home such as open stairways, uncovered electrical outlets, or sharp objects that are within reach.
- Keep gates across stairways to prevent falls from occurring. Keep children from playing near glass doors and windows.
- Put away potentially dangerous items such as medicine, cleaning products, pesticides, paint, and plants so they are out of reach of young children.
- If you need to talk on the phone, make sure you always know where the children are. Make calls short and always be attentive to the children.
- Never leave a young child alone while s/he is awake. Check on the child occasionally while s/he is sleeping.
- Never leave a baby unattended on a changing table, in a high chair, bath, or walker. Use safety straps whenever they are available.
- Stay awake so you'll hear the children if they need you.
- Children will likely try you out to see how far you will let them go. Be firm in insisting that they play where they will be safe.
- Wardrobes, medicine chests, drawers, and storage locations are not proper places for children to play. Also keep them away from stairways and hot objects.
- Keep buttons, pins, cigarette stubs, money, small toy pieces, matches, and any other small particles off the floor and out of sight.
- If playing outside, know where a child’s parents allow him/her to play. Watch for traffic and fire hazards, garden sprays, tools, and unfriendly animals.
- Don't bathe the children unless specifically asked to do so. If you do bathe them, do so very carefully and never leave the child unattended. The water in the bathtub should be comfortable to touch, not too hot! Always run the cold water first and test the temperature.
- Cut food into small, bite size pieces for toddlers and preschoolers. Make sure that children remain seated while eating.
- Avoid foods that are likely to cause a young child to choke such as popcorn, hot dogs, hard candy, and grapes.
- Make sure that doors such as the bathroom, basement, and garage are closed.
- Remove plastic bags, beanbags, or pillows from sleeping areas as they could smother a child's face and cause suffocation.
- Remove any strings or straps that might pose a strangulation hazard.
- Don't let speed or carelessness cause you to have an accident.
- Always carry the baby or any parcel so that you can see where you are stepping.
- If you should suffer a cut or burn put the baby in his crib and take other children with you while you apply first aid.
- If you are annoyed, bothered, or in doubt about any unusual people or situations, call one of the people you are to contact in emergencies.
- If you get sick while babysitting, call the parents to determine what to do next.
- Put away toys with objects small enough to swallow when watching a child under age four.
- Check stuffed animals to make sure that button eyes are not loose enough to come off and be swallowed.
- Put away toys with sharp edges and points, as well as toys that shoot objects.
- Look for toys with long strings and cords that may strangle an infant or young child. Put these toys in a place where young children cannot reach them.
- Put away electronic toys that might burn or shock young children.
- Make sure that the toys the children are playing with are appropriate for their ages. Toys that are safe for older children can be quite dangerous when played with by younger children.
- Children are usually unaware of the risks that are present in playing outdoors. You can teach them to play safely when they are playing outside.
- Keep children from walking in front or back of a moving swing.
- Place young children in the center of a swing. Make sure that they are capable of hanging on or place them in a swing designed for infants and toddlers.
- Explain your outdoor rules to children. Your list might include: no pushing other children off a piece of playground equipment, no swinging empty swings, no climbing up the slide, no walking in front or back of a moving swing, and no rough playing on the equipment. Be extremely cautious of swimming pools and spas even when a pool has a cover and is fenced in. Keep your eyes on the children at all times. If a child is missing, immediately check the pool to make sure the child has not fallen in it.
- Make sure that gates are locked, and paddling pools are emptied after use. Learn CPR and first aid practices in case you might need it when watching children. Learn the phone number for emergency medical service in your location.