How to create a safe situation for parents and babysitters

By Gretchen Teske, The JOURNAL


With summer on its way, kids are out of school and now parents are ready for a break. The first step in parents getting a night to themselves is finding someone responsible to watch the children.

According to literature provided by the Iowa State Extension office, before a sitter can be hired, parents need to do some home safety evaluations of their own.

1. Position tables, chairs, shelving and other furniture so that they cannot be toppled easily. By having a secure home, children are not only safe when the sitter is around but also when the parents are. Creating a stable, childproof home environment is key to safety.

2. Make sure that all doors to rooms and closets can be unlocked from both sides. If a child is able to get into a room, there needs to be a way for them to safely get out. Having a lock on both sides of the door can prevent an emergency situation from arising.

3. Store hazardous products in their original containers. Do not transfer them to used food or beverage containers or to a food storage area. A new visitor in the home might not realize that a seemingly harmless container could contain hazardous chemicals. The packet suggests keeping the containers up and out of reach, and in its original packaging to prevent a problem from arising.

4. Make sure that surface areas under play equipment has impact-absorbing. Uncompressed, this material should be a minimum of 12-inches for equipment up to eight feet high. It should extend at least six feet beyond the edge of stationary equipment. Creating a safe place for children to land is important for their safety. If children do not have a proper place to land, the impact on the hard ground can harm their fragile bones.

Babysitters also have a responsibility to make sure the kids are not only having fun, but are safe and well taken care of.

1. The material suggests babysitters be polite when answering phone calls and always write down messages. Keeping the call professional is also important because any time not spent watching the child could create a dangerous situation.

2. If an unknown person knocks on the door, the babysitter has no obligation to answer it. If the knocking persists, the material suggests calling an adult for help. In the meantime, keeping all doors locked is not only a great practice to keep strangers out, but for keeping children in.

3. If the lights go out, the material suggests finding one place to keep the children and keep them entertained. Knowing where a flashlight is when in trouble is vital for a sitation like this. If the lights are only out in the home but the rest of the street is unaffected, the book suggests staying inside and calling for help.

4. Ask about allergies. If a child has an allergy, the babysitter should know about it. Knowing which medication a child takes or how to use an epi-pen can also be helpful if a situation arises.

Keeping kids safe and out of harm?s way is not only the responsibility of the babysitter, but of the parent as well. By working together to create a safety plan, children, and parents, can enjoy their time knowing everyone is safe.