When you leave your little one with a babysitter, you probably leave a list of emergency numbers he or she can call if they need help while you’re away. In addition to having your cell phone number readily at hand, it’s smart to jot down the contact information of a neighbor, family member, or close friend in case they can’t reach you. After all, you want the person who is caring for your child to be prepared in case something unexpected happens.
One thing many parents fail to consider, however, is what they’re babysitter will do in the event of a natural disaster or home fire. These situations are not only dangerous, they require quick responses in order to ensure everyone remains safe. That’s why it’s so important to prepare a disaster plan for your family and familiarize your sitter — and any children who are old enough — with it.
Depending on where you live, some disasters are more likely than others. Just be sure your emergency preparedness plan addresses all the possible disasters, including:
- severe thunderstorms
- tropical storms
- home fires
Regardless of the situation, every emergency preparedness plan should cover how to communicate, and when and where to evacuate when disaster strikes. It should also list the location of your emergency kit, as well as its contents.
In the event of an emergency, your babysitter should know when, who, and how to communicate with emergency personnel, as well as the best way to let you know what is happening with your children.
Create and laminate a communications card that includes all of the contact information your babysitter may need in the event of an emergency, including your home address and phone number. The card should also list the location of your emergency kit, fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, and flashlights. Keep one of these cards in a prominent location, like on the refrigerator. You should also save this information in your babysitter’s mobile device, if they have one.
Train your babysitter who to contact and in what order. Typically, they should call emergency personnel first. Once they have followed the instructions offered by the proper authorities, they should contact you. If they cannot reach you, they can move on to others on the list.
Create a code word that you can text or speak in the event of a disaster or other emergency. This one word should be used to alert you without alarming the children.
In the event of a weather incident or home fire, your babysitter should always know where to take the children. Sometimes, like in the event of a tornado, this location is inside the home. Other times, your sitter will need to transport your children to another location, like the home of a friend or neighbor or a specified meeting place. Discussing and deciding upon these locations in advance will come in especially handy in the event that communication lines are down as a result of the disaster.
Create an emergency escape route that will allow your sitter to safely navigate children away from the home, if necessary. Show your sitter the safe spaces inside the home they can use in the event of a tornado. Practice using both with the sitter and your children.
Include all meeting locations and safe spaces on the communications cards you create.
Make arrangements for pets and other family members who may be in the home but are not the primary concern of the babysitter.
An emergency kit should be packed, ready, and easy for your babysitter to grab at a moment’s notice. In addition to three days’ worth of emergency supplies, the kit should also contain the following items:
Back-up medications for children and adults in the household
Baby food, formula, diapers, and other infant supplies, if needed
A comfort item, like a blanket or stuffed animal, and a change of clothes for each child
Current photos of each family member and pet living in the home
A small amount of cash for the babysitter to use in an emergency, since he or she may not have funds readily available
Copies of children’s IDs, if available
A copy of the emergency communications card
As a parent, one of the most difficult tasks is planning for disaster. While you hope nothing bad ever happens to your children, especially while they are in the care of someone else, it’s better safe than sorry. By providing your babysitter with the tools he or she needs to take care of your children in the event of an emergency, you can enjoy your time away with peace of mind.