Take the following steps to assure your child's safety and your sitter's safety as well.
- Take her through the entire house including the basement, and explain the security system, if you have one, in detail. Point out the location of anything she may need to know, such as the cabinet where you store extra lightbulbs.
- Write down your address and directions to your house. This is crucial if she has to give instructions to help locate your home in an emergency.
- Discuss your fire and other emergency evacuation plans. Be sure she understands that her first responsibility is the children, and that she should get them out immediately in the event of fire or to the safest place in the house during a storm. Go over the escape route, all exits from the house, and how the locks work, and point out potential hazards.
- Show her the location of key light switches and circuit breakers or fuse boxes in the event of a power outage. Keep a box with a flashlight, battery-operated radio, candles, matches, blankets, and bottled water in the house and tell the sitter where it is.
- Post emergency numbers, numbers where you and your spouse can be reached at all times, numbers of your child's doctor, numbers of trusted friends, neighbors, and relatives she can contact in an emergency.
Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the January 2001 issue of Parents magazine.