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Whether it is your first job, or you are a seasoned "veteran" caring for young children, babysitting is one of the biggest responsibilities you will ever have, and something that must always be taken seriously.

Getting the job

  • Know your employer. Baby-sit only for people you or your parents know, or for whom you have a personal reference. Answering newspaper ads may not be safe.
  • Be sure to find out from your employer what time they expect to be back. Be sure that they know how much you charge, and if you have a curfew, especially if it is your first time babysitting for them.
  • Consider taking a child/infant first aid training class.
  • Give your parents the name, phone number, and address of where you will be baby-sitting, and tell them what time your employer expects to return home.

On the job

  • Consider taking a short nap before going to work so you will be alert and wide awake on the job.
  • Have the parents do a safety check with you throughout the house or apartment. Find out where the emergency exits are, in case of fire, and find out if the house/apartment has a smoke alarm, fire extinguisher, or both.
  • Know how to work the door and window locks in the house or apartment, and lock them if/when you are in the house; leave at least one outside light on at night.
  • If the phone rings while you are babysitting, don't tell the caller that you are alone. Say you are visiting, and the child's parents can't come to the phone right now, but you will give them a message. If anyone persists or gets rude, hang up.
  • Limit your telephone usage. The distraction creates opportunities for children to find trouble.
  • Don't open the door to strangers, and don't tell anyone who comes to the door that you are alone. Again, say that you are visiting, and will deliver the message.
  • Do not invite friends over while you baby-sit. Parents expect top priority in the care of their children.
  • Be sure to keep the volume of the TV or stereo turned down, so you can hear any unusual noise, or hear a baby cry.

The same rules apply to daytime, as well as nighttime babysitting, with a few additions:

  • During the day you might have the children out in the yard. If you are in the backyard, make sure the front door is locked.
  • If you take the children to the park, or anywhere else, make sure you have the house key with you when you leave. Double check to make sure all doors are locked before you leave.
  • It is also a good idea to have all the children go to the bathroom before you leave, to avoid having to use the public restrooms.
  • When on walks with young children, always hold them by the hand. Keep the child between you and the houses, not between you and the street.
  • When you are out with the children, do not talk to strangers, and if you suspect you are being followed at any time, go to the nearest home, store, or gas station and call the police.
  • When you get back to the child(ren)'s home, if anything seems unusual--a broken window, a door ajar, a strange car parked in the driveway or outside--don't go in. Go to a neighbor and call the police. In fact, if at any time when you are babysitting, if you are uneasy or suspicious about something you see or hear, don't hesitate to call the police.

Safety tips from:

National Crime Prevention Council
1000 Connecticut Avenue, NW
13th Floor
Washington, DC 20036