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Babysitting Safety

When my children were young, my wife and I hired a babysitter when we planned a night out. As parents, we took precautions – the same precautions taken by parents today. Parents tell the babysitter where they are going, when they will return, and leave a number where they can be reached. They lock the windows and doors and place the snacks on the kitchen counter. Parents remind the babysitter to call them if there are any problems and to call the police if there is an emergency.

Calgary has always been a safe city, but as parents, we still take the necessary steps to ensure our children’s safety. When you’re cautious, you’re also more likely to enjoy a more relaxed, and less worrisome, night away from the children.

As parents, we know the basic safety tips and crime prevention strategies, but we can always use a refresher. St. John Ambulance, the Red Cross, the Calgary Jewish Centre and the YMCA provide babysitting-training courses that also offer valuable information to parents. The courses advise babysitters to get a list of the following information from parents, including:

    • the address and telephone number where you can be reached,
    • the time you plan to return,

    • emergency phone numbers (police, fire, ambulance, Poison Centre and neighbour or family friend),

    • your home address and telephone number, and

    • the cross street or description of your house location.

The courses also advise parents to take the babysitter on a house tour to discuss things such as:

    • how to lock the doors and windows

    • how the burglar alarms work and what could set them off,

    • the fire plan,

    • the location of and how to use the fire extinguisher and first aid kit, and

    • the location of the smoke detectors and flash light.

You may also wish to make a checklist of your own and have the babysitter tick off each task as it is completed. The checklist could include tasks such as:


  • locking the windows and doors,

  • turning the outside lights on after dark,

  • placing the emergency contact information by the telephone, and

  • closing the blinds and drawing the shades.


It’s also important to discuss or role-play specific situations to ensure that your babysitter knows what do and is confident dealing with situations that may arise. Ask your babysitter what they would do in the following situations. Then discuss what the Calgary Police Service and St. John Ambulance advise babysitters to do:

If someone is at the door: Use the peephole, or talk through the door, to see who is there. Never open the door and never tell anyone you are babysitting. Yell through the door, “My mom (or dad) is busy, come back later!” You can also offer to take a message. If the person will not leave, call 9-1-1.

If someone calls: Say, “My mom (or dad) is busy, please call back later.” Take a message and tell the caller that the person will call them back. Hang up if the caller becomes a nuisance and call the police if you feel threatened.

If they hear suspicious noises or activity:  Call the police.

If there is an emergency: Call 9-1-1.

If there is a fire: Never attempt to put out the fire. Remain calm and leave the house immediately. Call 9-1-1 from a neighbour’s house.

The most difficult task for many parents may be finding someone to care for your children. In addition to experience caring for children, parents may want to find someone who has completed a babysitting-training program. These courses teach skills such as how to play with children and how to care for infants. Courses also teach basic first aid, how to keep children safe and how to react in an emergency.


For more safety tips on babysitting and staying home alone visit the Calgary Police Service Web site at

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