Staying safe with a babysitter (all ages): When choosing a trustworthy babysitter you must keep in mind what is best for your children. The person you choose must know how to keep your child out of harm’s way, and how to handle an emergency if one arises. Keep a list next to the phone of all your contact information, phone numbers for where you will be, your cellular number, phone numbers for relatives close by or trusted neighbours, and phone numbers for police/ambulance/fire department.

Show the babysitter where to find the fire extinguisher and how it works. Also show them where the first aid kit is, and make sure they know how to use it. Make sure the sitter knows CPR. Also point out where flashlights and smoke detectors are. Explain to them bath time rules, as well as instruct them on safety tips for cooking, warming baby bottles, preparing baby food, etc. Make sure they are informed of any allergies or diet restrictions your children may have. If your child needs medicine while you are out, show the sitter how much to give the child, and the directions for giving it. Explain all house rules regarding bed time, phone privileges, length of time allowed for watching TV, chores done, etc. Always be clear on when you will be coming home, your rules for them having friends over, and rules for them for talking on the phone. Make sure they keep the volume low on the TV or radio so they can still hear if the children are up after bedtime, and check on them often while they are sleeping.

Safety tips for in the car: Your baby’s infant-only car seat must always be placed in the backseat facing the back until he or she is one year old and weighs at least 20 pounds. Babies who reach that age and weight can be placed in car seats that face the front of the car (these are called forward-facing car seats). Use a booster seat once the child weighs more than 40 pounds. If using a forward-facing car seat, always secure the strap that is located at the back of the car seat to a bolt fastened in your car. It is very important to read all of the seat instructions carefully.

Front seats are a very dangerous place for baby car seats because of the possibility or air bags opening or traffic accidents; always use the back seat. All children under the age of twelve must ride in the backseat wearing seatbelts at all times. Children must never be allowed to sit on the floor of the car as they could be seriously injured if there is an accident. Also, a child under age 12 should never sit in the front seat as air bags can seriously harm him or her if the air bags open on impact. It is also very important to never hold a child in your lap while in a moving car.

Safety tips for playgrounds: Before going to the playground, make sure to check your child for any strings or cords on their clothes that can possibly tangle or cause choking while on playground equipment. Never let children take jump ropes onto playground equipment. In colder weather have your child wear a neck warmer instead of a scarf to avoid accidents.

Always check the safety of the equipment before your children play on them. Look for rust, exposed bolts, splinters, sharp edges or other harmful things that can cause injuries. Check the sturdiness of handrails, barriers and other railings. Be on the lookout for any narrow area that a child’s head and neck but not body can fit through, such as steps on ladders and spaces between railings; these can cause your child to strangle. Safe spaces are smaller than 3 1/2 inches and larger than 9 inches.

Check the area for broken glass, nails, cigarette butts, and other garbage before letting your children play. Never let your child go on equipment that is higher than 5 feet, and always stand close by while they are on any type of equipment that is off the ground. If they fall you should be close enough to grab them. Keep your younger children off equipment that is meant for older children. Always teach your children playground rules: wait your turn, slide down feet first only, hold onto railings, sit down on swings and slides and keep away from moving swings and bottoms of slides.

Special thanks go out to Safe Kids Canada. Visit them on the web at

Article series information compiled by Séri Jacobs