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If your young teen is considering babysitting, she/he needs to be prepared. Safety is the main priority. Your teen should know how to prevent unsafe situations and what to do when faced with an emergency.
Before your preteen/teen even begins babysitting, it’s wise to take a babysitting safety class, such as a Safe Sitter® class. You can also check with your local hospital, YMCA or Red Cross for classes. Training should include safety skills such as basic first aid, the Heimlich maneuver, and infant and child CPR. Sign up for a CPR or First Aid class.
Also, prior to the first time your preteen/teen will be alone babysitting, encourage her to shadow the parent or do a shift as a mother’s helper. This will give her a chance to get familiar with the family and the home where she’ll be sitting. This is also a good time to ask about allergies and where to find important phone numbers in case of an emergency.
When it’s time to babysit, remind your preteen/teen to keep her eyes on the children at all times. Even if a child is sleeping, check on them frequently. This is not the time to be distracted on the phone. Also, never open the door for strangers. Lastly, tell your preteen/teen to call you, and/or the child’s parents, with any concerns or questions.
Talk with your preteen/teen ahead of time about how to prevent dangerous situations and, if they occur, how to handle them:
Know when to call 911
Tell your preteen/teen it's OK to call 911 if she thinks it's a life-threatening situation (and even if she isn’t sure). She should know the full street address of the home where she’s sitting, and have easy access to emergency contacts and numbers.
Make sure your preteen/teen understands what constitutes an emergency and to call 911 immediately if she notices:
Jennifer McNulty, M.D., is a pediatric emergency medicine physician and medical director of pediatrics at Edward Hospital. Read her profile.
Learn more about pediatric emergency care at Edward-Elmhurst Health.
How to prepare your sitter for an emergency
Why your grade schooler should learn CPR
How to handle an emergency
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