Methods A questionnaire was administered to a convenience sample of children aged 11-13 years attending school in central Pennsylvania. The questionnaire focused on previous safety training (American Red Cross Safe Sitter program, First aid, Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation), knowledge of emergency contacts and location of emergency equipment, and personal experience with emergencies requiring 911 activation while babysitting.
Results The data represent 737 respondents who have cared for a younger infant or child as a babysitter. Safety training of pre-teen babysitters includes an American Red Cross Safe Sitter or other babysitting safety class (19%), First aid (51%), and Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (47%). The majority of pre-teen babysitters were familiar with who to contact in the event of an intruder (98%), a fire (98%), or a sick or injured child (96%), and 85% of respondents were familiar with who to contact in the event of a poisoning. 92% of pre-teen babysitters were familiar with the location of first aid supplies and 64% with the location of a fire extinguisher. Several safety concerns were evident: 40% of pre-teen babysitters have left younger children unattended while babysitting and 20% have opened the door to strangers. 10% of pre-teen babysitters have had a personal experience with an emergency requiring 911 activation. The most common emergency requiring activation included a significant fall (10 respondents), a house fire (8 respondents), profuse bleeding from a laceration (6 respondents), and significant head trauma (6 respondents).
Conclusion Although emergencies requiring 911 activation occur infrequently during babysitting, a small percentage of pre-teen babysitters in our study have received safety training, creating an unsafe environment for the babysitter and the children they are responsible for. Education should focus on preparing pre-teen babysitters to safely respond to common emergency situations.