By Ralph Winn
You and your spouse finally got theater tickets to see your favorite show. For dinner beforehand, you made reservations at a restaurant that is usually impossibly busy. You even purchased a new outfit to wear for your big night out on the town. The only thing left to do is find a suitable sitter. It seems like an easy task, but it is by far the most important part of your evening out. The results of choosing an inappropriate babysitter can range from mildly annoying to unthinkably tragic.
Before You Hire Babysitter:
• Use a friend or family member if possible. Try to get recommendations from friends who have kids. Always check the references of a new babysitter.
• Do not hire a sitter under age 12. Also, keep in mind that the younger the children or the greater the number of children, the older your babysitter should be.
• Make sure your babysitter knows CPR and first aid. Recommend that young sitters take the American Red Cross babysitter class.
• Meet the babysitter in advance. Let her spend time with you and your children in advance to observe how she interacts with your kids. In many cases, it’s a good idea to hire a potential candidate as a “mother’s or father’s helper” first. That way, she can get used to watching the kids while you are still home.
Babysitter Safety – What They Need to Know
When you leave the house, babysitter safety should be your primary concern. Arm your sitter with the information necessary to ensure your children’s wellbeing. Make sure your babysitter knows the following things:
• Parents’ full names and cell phone or pager numbers
• Children’s full names and ages
• Address of the house including the nearest intersections – in case it’s necessary to give directions to emergency workers
• Phone number of the house
• Name and phone of family doctor
• Emergency numbers including the National Poison Control Center hotline: 1-800-222-1222
• Location of first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and flashlights
• Contact information of neighbors or relatives
• Food and drug allergies
• Where you will be and when you will be home
Babysitter Safety – Common Sense
Babysitter safety also includes the precautions your sitter should take to protect the children from outside dangers. In addition to knowing medical information and contact information, your babysitter should also:
• Keep all doors and windows locked
• Turn on outside lights when it gets dark
• Check on sleeping children about every 15 minutes
• Never leave the house with your children unless you gave permission
• Refuse to let anyone in the house unless she personally knows the individual
• Call 911 if someone suspicious comes to the door, or if your sitter suspects a prowler
• Never identify herself as the babysitter on the phone
• Make sure she has safe escort home at the end of the evening
Consider babysitter safety to be the key ingredient to a relaxing night out with your spouse. After you pick a great babysitter, listen to what your children say about the sitter when you get home. Your kids will give you a good idea about the level of their safety while you were gone.