Pass or fail? Does your babysitter make the grade?
An IU Health La Porte Release An IU Health Starke Release
At this time of year, many activities may require you leave the house and your children in the trusted care of a babysitter. A babysitter, often a teenager, is faced with the enormous responsibility of keeping your children safe during your absence.
Indiana University Health La Porte and Starke hospitals along with the Indiana Poison Center remind us to look carefully at some of the safety issues with which your babysitter should be concerned. Review these important points with your babysitter, and then ponder this question: “Am I satisfied with my sitter’s expertise?” It’s a vital question we often don’t address.
Before you leave the house, give the phone number and address of where you will be to the sitter and the time you will return. Leave emergency phone numbers, including a neighbor/relative, police, fire, local hospital... and the phone number for the Indiana Poison Center. That’s 800.222.1222. The Poison Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Before you leave the house your sitter should:
- Know all of your children’s routines—bed time, bath time, appropriate snacks.
- Know where the first aid supplies (band aids, ice packs, gauze, first aid creams) are kept and the appropriate use of each.
- Lock the door and close the curtains. They should never answer the door unless parents are expecting someone whom you have previously identified.
- Stay awake the entire time you are away.
- Be aware of an escape route should there be an emergency.
- Never give out information over the telephone. The sitter should never tell anyone they are alone.
- Know if you have young children, the toys they play with can be the source of potential hazards.
Make sure your babysitter is aware of:
- Sharp edges like plastic toys that have sharp, broken edges that can cut a child’s skin.
- Small parts such as tiny toys and toys with small, removable parts that can be swallowed or become lodged in a child’s throat, windpipe, ears or nose. Pay particular attention to UFOs (unwanted foreign objects) that can invade a child’s play area.
- Sharp points of pens, pencils, pins and staples are always waiting to puncture an unsuspecting child.
- Toys with long strings or cords may be dangerous for infants and very young children. Cords may become wrapped around a child’s throat, causing strangulation.
- Never hang toys with long strings, cords, loops or ribbons in cribs or playpens where children can become entangled.
Is there a fire extinguisher in your house? Do you know how to use it? And, more importantly, does your babysitter know how to use it in case of a fire when you are away? Be sure to find out your sitter’s knowledge of fire extinguisher use.
Before you leave the house, make sure smoke (and carbon monoxide) detectors and their batteries are working properly. The key to all fires is containment. Your babysitter should be taught to contain, if possible, a fire that may occur in a wastebasket or a frying pan, using a fire extinguisher. But, if there’s any question about one’s ability to put out the fire, tell your sitter to get everyone out and call the fire department from a neighbor’s house.
One final and important reminder: Be sure the Poison Center number is within reach of all telephones in the house to avoid using valuable time looking for it. In the event your sitter must leave the home with the children, be sure he/she has the Poison Center phone number (and any other emergency contact numbers) programmed into his/her phone or is carrying a Poison Center wallet card.
To request a free magnet, phone sticker or wallet card and to learn more about poison safety, call the Indiana Poison Center at 800.222.1222 or visit iuhealth.org/poisoncontrol. For a poisoning emergency, call the Poison Center experts immediately at 800.222.1222.