It's Not Just Setting the Home Alarm – A Babysitter's Guide to Home Security

Remaining calm under pressure comes naturally to some, but for others that are more panic-prone, requires a significant amount of effort, practice, and preparation. Emergency situations are stressful enough, but when you are out of your normal environment and caring for the children of others, it is easy to become disoriented and flustered when the unexpected occurs. Being familiar with basic emergency tactics is essential, as is becoming oriented with the home, the property, the neighborhood, and anything else that can lead to a higher level of home security while you are in the house.

Chances are that if you are hired as a babysitter, you enjoy children and have their best interests in mind. Hopefully, most babysitters have undergone at least a minimal amount of training and can cope with unprecedented situations should they arise. Basic common sense requires that babysitters should not allow anyone into the home that was not invited specifically by the parents. Do not give out information over the phone – good friends who are calling will likely know immediately that you are the babysitter and that the adults in the family are not available, and will not press for more details. Keep outdoor lights on at night and double-check that the front door's deadbolt is turned, just to be extra safe. Do not leave a child unattended in the bathtub or swimming pool, or near a lighted stove or hot plate. Prevention is key to discouraging potentially dangerous scenarios.

Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, accidents happen and the caregiver may be forced to make quick decisions. The best preparation for these types of situations is to be familiar with the setup of the home, such as the locations of all of the telephones in case you should need to dial an emergency number, as well as having fire extinguishers on hand in an obvious place – in the kitchen, for example. A first aid kit with basic, easy to use materials should be available, as well.

Orient yourself with the home security system, not all of which are created equal. Learn how to signal for police and emergency dispatch in case a one-touch alert pad is an option. Practice turning the home alarm on and off a few times, and, if available, keep the remote access button in your pocket or on your keychain as you move around the house.

Possibly most important thing is making sure to place the appropriate phone calls in case of an emergency. Your employer should create a list of numbers, including their own cell phone or the contact number of where they will be, as well as a secondary contact in case they can not be reached. Police dispatch numbers associated with the home security system are also good to know, in case you may need to cancel their trip to the house due to a false alarm. The child's doctor's contact information is also handy, though in an emergency, dial 911 first.

Childcare should be a rewarding experience for both the babysitter and the child. Being well prepared is an essential aspect to ensuring that both you, the caregiver, and the child have an enjoyable, safe time together.