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Emergency Contact Lists: What Information Do Babysitters and Nannies Need to Have?

As a babysitter or nanny, your ultimate priority is the children's safety. Here's what to ask families to include on their emergency lists.

Emergency Contact Lists: What Information Do Babysitters Need to Have?

Emergency lists are needed for just that — an emergency. As a babysitter or nanny, it’s your responsibility to be prepared for emergency situations, so if a family doesn’t provide an emergency list, request one. If you’re a professional nanny, emergency information should be with you at all times. If you’re a babysitter, ask the family you work for to show you where you can find their emergency information.

Here’s what should be included in an emergency list:

  1. The Parents’ Preferred Phone Numbers: Include both parents’ work and cell phone numbers. Some companies may not allow calls during the day, so parents may want you to text them on their cell phone. If a parent works in an office and there is a main number, request that as well. You can always call the main number and ask the receptionist to deliver a message.

  2. The Parents’ Email Addresses: Most people have a cell phone data plan that includes access to email. This might be the fastest way to reach a parent. It’s also good to have their email addresses so that you can discuss any changes in the kids’ routines, such as updates on cancelled soccer practices or if the parents need you to stay later than expected. 

  3. The Children’s Doctors’ Information: It’s important to have the number of the children’s health care provider, as well as other health professionals. List each doctor’s name (include specialists, therapists, etc.), location, and phone number. This information should be kept at the family’s home on their fridge, as well as on the list of emergency contacts that you carry with you.

  4. Allergy Information: Does the child have any allergies? It’s one of the first questions EMTs and emergency room nurses will ask. Your emergency list should include each child’s medical and food allergies, as well as any others they may have.

  5. Children’s Medications: List any medication that the children may be taking. Include the name of each medicine, the dosage, how many times a day, and what time (morning, noon, or night) they take it. In the case of emergency care, doctors — or anyone administering medication — will need to know what other medications the children have in their systems.

  6. Another Contact: Ask the parent for the name of a trusted neighbor, relative, or friend in the area who can help out in an emergency. If the parents can’t be reached, the next phone call should be to this adult. The same information (e.g., phone numbers, email address, etc.), along with the relationship to the child, should be included for this contact. You should also ensure that this person has your phone number in their contact list so they know to answer your calls.

  7. Emergency Phone Numbers: Along with 911, list the town’s fire department, police department, Poison Control helpline, among others.

If you’re a full-time nanny, or if you take the children to different places while you babysit them, it’s also important to have:

  1. Medical Authorization Form: There are a number of resources for this, from formal templates to handwritten notes. Make sure the form includes the name of the children, your name, and the name of the parents, along with their contact information. Also make sure that the parents list what sort of decisions you can make, including ER care and medications, until they can make it to your location.

  2. Insurance Information: The parents should have an extra insurance card or proof of insurance for you to access. This will help in case of a major emergency when EMTs must be called, or if you must rush to the ER with a child. In some cases, a family may even add you as an authorized person who can make insurance requests.

  3. Car Insurance Coverage: If you have permission, you might need to drive the children in the family car or in your own car. Either way, you need to have coverage as a driver, along with written proof that you are the caregiver in charge of the kids. This should be kept with the car registration. In case of an accident, this ensures that EMTs understand the situation and react accordingly.

  4. Emergency Plans: Ask the family if they have a meet-up location in case of a fire, earthquake, or other emergency. Some families choose a mailbox at the end of the driveway if it’s a good distance from the house. Other families may choose a neighbor’s house or other nearby safe spot (e.g., a park, post office, library, etc.) Make sure older children understand the plan and know how to carry it out if anything happens.

    The American Red Cross has this wallet card for you to use as a starter for your emergency plan.

If you’re a nanny who frequently goes places with the children, keep this information in your wallet or bag so that you have it with you at all times. For babysitters, some families will have a small notebook or folder with the information that you should take with you if you leave the house with the children. You can also print this Child Care Emergency Checklist to use as well.

It’s also important that a babysitter or nanny provides the family they work for with emergency information, too. List your phone numbers, your address, your parents’ phone numbers, and a possible backup babysitter the family can contact in case you are unexpectedly unavailable. If you have any allergies or medical conditions, you should disclose that to the family in case of a medical event.