This post was originally published in March 2012.
When I was growing up, babysitting was one of the few ways I could earn income, especially out in the boonies where I lived. Babysitting as a first job is still pretty common today. Whether you have a “built-in” babysitter like me (my 15 year old son) or a neighbor’s daughter, chances are you’ll have a minor in your home taking care of your children at some point.
Emergency Phone Number Cards
Whether or not you use babysitters, it’s always important to have emergency phone numbers posted by your phone. A few years ago, I typed up and printed cards for both our phones and posted them. I listed 911 for emergencies at the top along with the poison control number in a big font at the top of the card. Underneath I put our full address. Below that, I listed my cell phone number, my husband’s cell phone number, along with phone numbers for several relatives. One number I need to add to the card is our pediatrician’s office in case my husband needs it.
Leave a card with the address and phone number of where you’ll be along with at least one other way of contacting you for the babysitter. Suggest the babysitter carries the card in a pocket while they’re at your home in case they need to leave the home in a hurry such as for a fire.
Baby proof your home
As your child grows, you’ll be staying on top of baby proofing your home as a matter of course. However, use the event of someone new coming into your home to make sure that all baby proofing is up to date. If your child is a new walker, are all pieces of large furniture like televisions secure? Are the gates working properly? Are all the outlets covered? Did you remember to lock up cleaning products after you wiped everything down?
Fire Escape Plan
Make sure you have an escape plan posted in case of fire and review this with your babysitter. Even if they’re a returning babysitter, make sure they’re up to date on your plan for your family. Go over the plan with your children on a regular basis to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible during an emergency.
Write up the household rules and make sure the babysitter has reviewed them. Also discuss situations that may not be covered by the rules such as using knives. If your babysitter is preparing a meal, are you comfortable with your child helping and using a knife?
Also make sure your babysitter knows where the supplies are for cleaning up messes. Let them know what to do if someone gets sick. Do you want them to bag the dirty clothes, etc. or toss them in the washing machine?
Red Cross Babysitting Course
It’s always a good idea to hire a babysitter who has taken a Red Cross babysitting course or has learned about first aid and emergencies through another source like a Girl Scout or Boy Scout troop. My oldest son was certified in First Aid last year thanks to his Venturing Crew.
Hillary of My Scraps has a great post on talking to kids about disasters.