Babysitting can be a great way to earn money.
But, with the job comes a responsibility to know how to prevent injuries and keep those you watch safe.
You can protect yourself and the children for whom you are responsible from fire and burns if you become familiar with important household details and know what to do if you encounter a fire or burn situation.
Familiarize yourself with the babysitting location, learning all the exit and smoke alarm locations.
Make sure you know how to lock/unlock and/or open all doors and windows.
Be sure to have a listing of all emergency numbers and a number where the parents can be reached.
Also, make sure you know the location of a neighbor who will be home while you are there.
Make sure you know where the family's meeting place is in the event of an evacuation.
If you smell smoke, hear a smoke alarm, or see flames, get out of the house immediately.
Go directly to a previously agreed upon meeting place. Never go back inside for any reason.
If you encounter smoke while escaping a fire, use another exit route.
If you must pass through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees, keeping your head near the floor (12 to 24 inches above the floor) where the air is cleaner.
Lead the way and make sure the children follow.
Take the children to a neighbor's home and call 911. Don't hang up until the 911 operator tells you it's OK to hang up.
If clothing catches fire, extinguish it by stopping, dropping to the ground and rolling.
Running is often a child's first reaction to fire, so babysitters might have to assist children with the stop-drop-and roll process.
Preventing accidents in the kitchen can help prevent many burns.
Never leave the kitchen area while cooking until you have turned everything off.
Keep pot handles turned inward so they are less likely to be bumped or grabbed while on the stove.
Never put anything in the microwave unless you are absolutely sure it is safe.
Read and follow all food package directions before microwaving.
Be careful when removing covers from microwaved food. Escaping steam can cause severe burns.
Make sure food is sufficiently cooled before serving it to children.
The best first aid for burns is to run cool water over the burned area for 10 to 15 minutes.
If a burn blisters or appears charred, get medical help immediately.
Babysitting requires constant attention.
Avoid phone conversations and other activities that distract you.
It takes only a few seconds for a child to strike a match or grab a hot pot handle.
Washington Township Fire Department Fire Marshal Alan Perkins submitted the Smoke Signal column.