Above /  On behalf of Edward Hospital, Dr. Jennifer McNulty, a pediatric emergency medicine physician and medical director of pediatrics, offers tips for sitters in an emergency, a timely piece during Public Safety Month in Naperville.

Editor’s Note / It’s Public Safety Month in October when Naperville first responders partner for prevention. A special Public Safety Open House will be held from 10AM to 2PM Sat., Oct. 14, at the Naperville Public Safety Campus, 1380 Aurora Ave.


Dr. Jennifer McNulty

It’s every parent’s fear — your child getting hurt while in someone else’s care. Yet you can’t take your kids with you everywhere. There comes a time when a sitter is needed. How can you prepare your sitter for an emergency?

First, choose your sitter wisely. You want someone competent and mature enough to handle an emergency if it arises. Have the sitter meet with your child in advance. Some parents even schedule an initial brief (2-3 hours) babysitting session, and stay close by to see how it goes.

It’s important to provide your sitter with your cell phone number(s), the name of the place where you will be, and when you will return. Leave this information with your sitter in the same place every time he or she cares for your kids:

  • Home phone and address (with nearest cross streets or landmarks)
  • Name and number of a neighbor or nearby relative or close friend as backup
  • Name and number of your child’s primary care physician and local hospital
  • Numbers for the fire and police departments, and poison control center (800-222-1222)
  • Your kids’ weight, current medical history and allergies

Keep this information in a place that is easily accessible, such as in your kitchen near the telephone or hanging on the refrigerator.

Tips to keep children safe while in the care of a sitter

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following tips for parents to help keep your child safe while in your sitter’s care:

  • Meet the sitter and check references and training in advance.
  • Be certain the sitter has had first aid training and knows CPR.
  • Be sure the sitter is at least 13 years old and mature enough to handle common emergencies. If your child is close to age 12, your sitter should be quite a bit older.
  • Tell the sitter where you will be and when you will return.
  • Tell your sitter to always phone for help if there are any problems or questions. For any emergency or if in doubt, call 911.
  • Have the sitter spend time with you before babysitting to meet your child and learn his/her routines.
  • Show the sitter around the house. Make sure your sitter is clear on your “house rules” regarding television shows, visitors, telephone use, and taking your child outside.
  • Discuss feeding, bathing and sleeping arrangements for your child
  • Alert your sitter of any allergies, health issues, daily medicines or specific needs your child has. Remind your sitter to never give your child any medicine or food unless instructed to do so by you.
  • Have emergency supplies available, including a flashlight, first aid chart, and first aid supplies.
  • Remind your sitter to never leave your child alone in the house even for a minute, and never open the door to strangers.
  • Point out fire escape routes and potential problem areas. Instruct the sitter to leave the house right away in case of fire and to call the fire department from a neighbor’s house.
  • Be sure any guns are stored unloaded in a locked cabinet.

During extended travel away from home, take precautions ahead of time… 

If you are going on an extended trip, the Cleveland Clinic recommends leaving your sitter with a legalized, notarized emergency form or letter and insurance information to expedite matters in the event of an emergency.

You never want to think about something going wrong when your child is with the sitter. But with a little planning, you can feel better knowing that if an emergency happens, it will be handled properly.

One size fits all doesn’t work in emergency care, especially when it comes to kids. 

Learn more about our Pediatric Emergency Care at https://www.eehealth.org/services/emergency/pediatric.

Submitted by Janet Hosey, Content Specialist, for Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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