Shared with us by Barbara Williams of Babysitting.org:
Now that you’ve found a good, reliable babysitter to look after your children and keep them safe, your next step is to ensure the same for her. There are some very effective steps you can take to make your home safer for both your sitter and your family while you’re away. Consider these 10 safety tips that will provide you and your babysitter some peace of mind:
- Notify Neighbor – Let one of your trusted neighbors know when you’re going out for the evening, preferably someone nearby whom the sitter can call for help if necessary. You might also ask them to check in on occasion to make sure everything’s OK.
- Emergency Numbers – Keep emergency contact information posted near the phone, preferably programmed into the phone on speed dial. Make sure your sitter knows how to access the numbers and which ones to call in the event of an emergency.
- Security Alarm – If you haven’t already installed one, consider doing so. A good home alarm can deter potential burglars from choosing your home as a target. Let the sitter know what the access code is and make sure the alarm is activated when you leave. You can set a specific code just for the babysitter, which can always be changed later.
- Dog – A family dog, particularly a large one, is a great deterrent to intruders. If he’s in the house, so much the better, but having one on the premises somewhere nearby will do the trick too.
- Police – Depending on the community in which you live, you may have the option of notifying the community policing program that you’ll be away with a sitter minding the house, and request a walk or drive by periodically.
- Your Contact Number – Make certain you can be reached. Have at least one cell phone charged and available and, if possible, provide the phone number of your location (restaurant, theater, etc.) where the sitter can have you paged.
- External Lighting – As with most of these steps, this one is a good idea for home security in general. A well-lit exterior is a highly effective crime deterrent and denies potential intruders any cover near the home.
- Keep Windows Shut and Locked – Admittedly, this is not always the most comfortable arrangement depending on the weather, but for safety’s sake it’s still your best option, at least on the ground level.
- Fire Hazards – Restrict the use of a fireplace or space heater during the winter months, make sure the sitter is familiar with the layout of the home and knows where all the exits are, and give the sitter instructions for what to do in case of fire. You might even want to limit kitchen use to microwaveable meals only.
- Power Outage – Have a non-electrical standard telephone plugged into the phone line. Consider installing a back-up generator, but at least have emergency lights that turn on when the power goes out. Plug-in emergency lights can be purchased inexpensively at any hardware or home improvement store.
It’s better to be prepared for an emergency than to be caught off guard. While you hope your sitter and children’s safety is never a concern, having a few safeguards in place will give everyone peace of mind.