There are certain do's and don'ts. In addition to "sitting" with the children, these are a few of the things you should know and remember as a Safe Sitter.
- Before the parents leave, get the names and phone numbers suggested in the Super Sitter's Very Important Phone Numbers List.
- Have the parents show you through the house or apartment and point out where the items you will need are located, such as the children's clothing or playthings.
- Always know where the emergency exits are located. In case of fire don't stop to try to put it out by yourself! Get the children out of the house without stopping to phone. Take them to a neighbor. Call the fire department, and then call the parents to let them know where you and the children are.
- Keep the youngsters safe by preventing accidents. Know where the potential hazards are, such as electrical outlets, appliances, and exposed heating elements. Also ask the parents if all medicine, bleaches and household cleaners are securely locked up.
- Stairs can be dangerous for youngsters. Keep a curious toddler from playing on or around them. Running or horseplay on them can lead to falls, particularly if the youngsters are wearing socks or other "slippery" footwear. Remember, too, that stairs are not meant to be a storage area. Anything placed on the stairs can become an obstacle to fall over.
- If there is a gate across the stairway, make sure it is kept latched. Babies in carriages, walkers or strollers should never be left unattended, especially in an area around stairs or ramps -- whether indoors or out. A malfunction of the carriage's safety brake or a sudden movement by the child could put it right over the edge. If a gate is not provided, place a barrier of some kind in front of the stairway that a child cannot climb over. Accordion-style gates with large V-shaped or diamond-shaped openings should not be used since they can entrap a child's head, causing strangulation. A gate with a straight top or small V's and diamond-shaped openings is safer.