Sometimes it’s the parents’ turn to go out—once they’ve found a loving and reliable babysitter. Whether a teenager or a senior citizen, the sitter you choose must be able to respond to any emergency calmly and effectively.

Before hiring sitters, check their references and consider past experience and any present health problems. Do you feel comfortable with the sitter? If not, your children probably won’t.

Write out rules, routines, and the child’s favorite foods, toys, and clothing. Explain any problems and medications (but try to give these yourself).

Leave the address, and phone number where you can be reached by the phone, along with emergency numbers and those of a few neighbors. Give your sitter the checklist.

Babysitter’s Checklist

Whether you’re an experienced nanny or a high school student, babysitting is a big responsibility. The following safety checklist can help you.

* Make sure you understand all instructions from parents. Ask questions as you need to.

* Before parents leave, be sure that you can correctly spell and pronounce their full names and address. Write these down, as well as the family phone number (if not posted on the telephone).

* Make sure you have the phone number, as well as name and address, of where the parents will be. Also make sure you have several neighbors’ phone numbers and that emergency numbers are taped to the telephone or kept beside it.

* Ask for a tour of the house. Watch for and ask about any hazards. Discuss any special fire escape routes.

* While alone with small children, watch them. Don’t leave a baby, even for a minute, where he or she could fall (such as on a changing table or sofa).

* Unless a parent asks you to, do not give babies and small children a bath. (If you do, stay with them every minute.) Don’t let the kids swim in a swimming pool.

* If the phone rings, ask to take a message without saying that the parents are out. Keep exterior doors locked. If the doorbell rings, do not open the door to a stranger.

* In the event of fire, take the children out of the house immediately and then call the fire department from a cell phone, neighbor’s house, or call box.

* If you suspect accidental poisoning of one of the kids, call the poison control center, hospital emergency room, or pediatrician immediately.

* Call the emergency room or pediatrician in case of a medical emergency, such as choking or a bad cut. Call the parents as soon as possible.

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