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Baby-sitting is a great way to earn money, help neighbors and gain some job experience. But it's also a big responsibility to be in charge of someone else's children in an unfamiliar home, and it can be a bit scary. Here are some tips to help you be a first-rate baby-sitter.
Before you start:
Baby-sit only for people you know or who have been referred by a friend. Answering newspaper ads is not as safe as agreeing to sit for a friend of the family.
When someone asks you to baby-sit, find out what time the parents expect to be back and tell them how much you charge and what time you have to be home. Discuss how you'll get there and home safely.
Leave the name, address and phone number of where you'll be sitting with your parents or a trusted friend. Tell them what time your employer expects to be home.
Before the parents leave, have them write down the name, address and phone number of where they will be.
You should know emergency phone numbers like 911 and the poison control center.
Have the address of where you are baby-sitting next to the phone.
Make sure you have a neighbor or relative and the family doctor phone number in case of emergency where you can't get a hold of the parents.
Be sure you know the locations of all phones in the home in case you need one quickly.
If there is an alarm system, learn how to use it.
Know how to work the window and door locks in the house. Use them!
Make sure to turn on the outside light.
Ask about smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. If you are in an apartment, find out where the emergency exits are.
Ask about the children's bedtimes, favorite toys and stories and what they eat. Check on food allergies or medication.
Find out what you are allowed to eat and drink.
Get permission and instructions on using the VCR, stereo and other appliances.
On the Job:
Be sure to clean up after the children and yourself. Wash all dishes, cups and utensils that you use, and put all toys back where you found them.
Don't tie up the phone talking to your friends. Your employers may want to check in or call about a change in plans.
A friend should not come over to keep you company unless your employer agrees in advance that it's okay.
In an Emergency:
If you suspect a fire, get the children and yourself out of the house. Go to a neighbor's or a public phone and call the fire department. Then call your employer.
Stay calm. Children probably won't panic if you don't.
Special Tips for Daytime Baby-Sitters:
If you have children out in the back yard, make sure the front door is locked.
If you take the children for a walk or to the park, lock all doors and windows before you leave.
Be sure to take the keys and some change with you in case you need to use a pay phone. Also, make sure you take your employer's phone number with you.
Never take the children to a deserted park or out alone after dark. Be wary of strangers. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, take the children and leave.
If anything seems unusual when you return to the home -- like a broken window, a ripped screen or an open door -- don't go in the house. Go to a neighbor's home or a public phone and call the police. A call to 911 or the operator is free.
When the Job Is Done:
Tell your employer if anything unusual happened -- a strange phone call, noises, a stranger at the door.
Call your parents to let them know if your employer is going to be late coming home.
Be sure you are escorted home. If your employer cannot walk or drive you home, or if he or she seems to have been drinking, ask someone from your family to come for you. Never go home alone at night from a baby-sitting job.
If your employers are unreliable -- always late, often intoxicated, etc. -- don't baby sit for them anymore.
Find out when the parents will return.
Make sure you know where they will be and the phone number where you can call them.
Write down the street address and phone number of where you are baby-sitting and keep copies of it near every phone.
Have emergency phone numbers for police and fire near every phone.
Include the number of a neighbor on your phone list.
Ask parents about television, videos, video games, bedtime, play and food rules for the children.
When crime, drugs and violence spill over from the streets into the schools, it makes it harder to find a safe place to learn. More students carry guns or knives to protect themselves. Guns replace fists in schoolyard fights. To get to and from school, many students must go through areas where gangs and drug dealers hang out. More and more kids are using guns instead of using their heads.
When this happens, children cannot learn and teachers cannot teach.
It's up to everyone – kids, parents, teachers and the community -- to make sure schools are a place where kids can feel safe, not scared. Here are a few ways students can help:
Don't use gun, knives or your fists to settle fights. Use your head and try to talk it out. Sometimes it's best to walk away from a fight.
If you see a crime being committed or hear that someone has brought a weapon to school, tell your teacher, a parent or the police.
Find a safe way to get to school. Try to stay away from areas where gangs & drug dealers hang. Know where you can go for help if needed..
Stay away from drugs and alcohol. Don't use them and don't hang out with people who do.
If your school has anti-violence activities such as poster contests or anti-drug rallies, get involved. If there is no anti-violence program, get friends, parents and teachers to help you start one.
Face it: You're a kid without a car. This means you probably do a lot of walking to get where you need to go. This means you are a pedestrian. Walking may seem like the easiest, most natural thing in the world, but it can be dangerous. Did you know that each year, cars, trucks and buses kill almost 6,000 pedestrians? Sixteen people are hit and killed each day somewhere in the United States. By using common sense, pedestrians and drivers can help prevent death and injury. Below are some tips to help you walk smart and a few ways drivers can help keep you safe:
Getting off on the right foot
Cross at crosswalks. If there is no crosswalk, go to the corner to cross. Never cross in the middle of the block.
Give drivers enough time to stop before you step into the crosswalk. Just because the crosswalk gives you the OK, that does not mean the driver has seen you enter the crosswalk.
When walking at night, wear light-colored or reflective clothes that will make it easier for drivers to see you.
Carry a small flashlight with you when walking at night.
Before stepping off the curb, look left-right-left, and listen for oncoming traffic. Do not simply depend on traffic signals to tell you when it's clear to walk. Look before you step into the street.
Do not cross from between parked vehicles.
If there is a sidewalk, use it. Do not walk in the street. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far out of the street as you can get.
Keep an eye on the traffic at all times. Do not block your view with backpacks, books, hats or other items.
For those in the driver's seat
Always come to a full stop behind the white limit line at crosswalk, signals and stop signs. In an unmarked intersection or crosswalk, stop at the corner. Do not go until you have made sure there is no one in the crosswalk.
Do not pass a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk.
Wait for the person crossing to reach the other side of the crosswalk before you go.
Make sure to keep all car windows clean, inside and out, so you can clearly see what is in front, to the side and behind your car.
Keep your car's headlights clean so people can see you coming.
Never wear sunglasses once it starts to get dark.
Never speed, especially in areas where people live and near schools during normal school hours.
Be aware of other drivers when using your high beams at night.
At night, adjust the rearview mirror to the "night" setting to avoid glare from the headlights of cars behind you.
Watch for people who may dart out from behind parked vehicles, especially children.
By law, drivers must stop for anyone using a guide dog or a white cane whether in or out of a crosswalk. Only blind, or nearly blind, people are allowed to use guide dogs or white canes.