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Teen Health

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Babysitter Safety: What You Need to Know

Must-have information for teens who babysit.

Screening Your Employers

When you interview with a family for a babysitting job, you're not just telling the parents about yourself. You're also learning about the family and whether you want to work for them.

"If they feel uncomfortable in any way they should consider not taking the job," O'Donnell says. Look for these red flags that this isn't the babysitting gig for you:

  • You're going to be babysitting for four, five, or even more kids (especially if they're babies)
  • The parents make you uncomfortable
  • The kids are badly behaved
  • The house is a total mess
  • The parents insist that you do things you don't want to do (like cleaning the house, opening the door to strangers, or cooking)

Before you accept the job, talk to your parents. Make sure they're also cool with the family that's hiring you.

Do a Trial Run

Once you accept the job, try it out. Watch the child (or children) while one or both of the parents is still at home.

A trial run will let you rehearse all the responsibilities you'll have when you sit for real. "It gives the babysitter some confidence of not only the routine and where things are, but also that they can do it," Hackman says.

Before the Parents Leave: What to Ask

When you arrive at your babysitting job, don't just say "bye" and let the parents walk right out the door. Show up at least 30 minutes early your first time there so you can get a tour of the house and find out everything you need to know about the family's routine.

Here is a checklist of questions to ask the parents before they leave:

Where is the safety equipment?

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Flashlight
  • Alarm system
  • First aid kit
  • Exits
  • Fire escape route

Where is the list of emergency contacts with phone numbers? This list should include:

  • Parents' cell phone numbers and the phone number of the restaurant, theater, or wherever else they'll be that night
  • Local police and fire station phone numbers
  • Emergency number (usually 911)
  • Grandparents' phone numbers
  • Phone numbers of neighbors and friends who live close by
  • Pediatrician's or family doctor's numbers
  • Poison control hotline
  • The home's phone number, address, and directions to the house

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