Red Lake Kids Get Red Cross Trained

Red Lake, MN, fifth-graders learn skills to save a choking victim during an American Red Cross Babysitter's Training class on June 20, 2013.
Red Lake, MN,fifth-graders learn skills to save a choking victim during an American Red Cross Babysitter’s Training class on June 20, 2013.

On a sunny, warm morning in Red Lake, Minnesota, 29 fifth-graders from Red Lake Elementary School were not out enjoying weather.  Instead, they were inside a classroom learning how to care for others as part of an American Red Cross Babysitter’s Training class.

Wearing gloves while cradling baby dolls, the children stood in two-person teams practicing skills and repeating Red Cross instructor Debbie Foster’s directions for how to respond to a choking emergency.

“Keep coughing!  Are you okay?  Call 911!” were some of the verbal directions given by Foster and her co-instructor Lois Holman. With laughing and learning, the children loudly repeated the directions as they worked with the dolls, child-sized manikins, and each other.

Red Cross instructor Debbie Foster helps a student during a babysitter's training class at Red Lake Elementary school in Red Lake, MN, on June 20, 2013.
Red Cross instructor Debbie Foster helps a student during babysitter’s training at Red Lake Elementary school in Minnesota on June 20, 2013.

During babysitter’s training, students learn how to respond to emergency situations, protecting children during common local disasters, such as house fires, tornadoes and lightening strikes. They learn first aid for choking victims, how to hold an infant and how to keep an injured person safe when responding. They also get tips on how to entertain youngsters, deal with tantrums and to care for scraped knees.

Arleen Swenson, their regular school teacher, has worked at Red Lake Elementary for 15 years. She says that her students are right for this training.

“Our kids need to be able to take care of themselves, their siblings and children in their extended families,” says Swenson.  “Many of our 10 and 11 year-olds are already active babysitters. We’re glad the Red Cross is here to teach them how to be safe.”

Red Cross Babysitter Training teaches vital skills to youth entrusted with the care of children. From now until July 31, 2013, the Red Cross is offering 20% off all Babysitter Training classes, including our online course Babysitting Basics. For more information, click here. Use coupon code INDY200913 when registering.

Story and photos by Judy Hanne-Gonzalez/American Red Cross. The Red Lake training was made possible with grant funding from the Otto Bremer Foundation.

Home Alone Safety Steps

Children are returning to school during the coming weeks. Some will be spending time home alone until parents return home from work. Now’s the time for both parents and children to take and learn safety steps that will make after-school hours at home alone safer and less stressful for everyone.

Top ten steps parents + guardians can take:

  1. Develop a home safety plan and discuss and practice it with the whole family.
  2. If a child is going home after school, have him or her call to check in after arriving home.
  3. For an older child, set ground rules about whether other kids can come over, whether cooking is okay, and whether the child can leave home.
  4. Post an emergency phone list where the child can see it.
  5. Make sure the first aid kit is stocked and stored where your children can find it, but keep our of reach of young children.
  6. Identify neighbors whose home your child can go to in case of an emergency.
  7. Remove or safely store in locked areas dangerous items like guns, ammunition, knives, hand tools, power tools, razor blades, scissors, and other objects that can cause injury.
  8. Make sure potential poisons like detergents, polishes, pesticides, care-care fluids, lighter fluid and lamp oils are stored in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children.
  9. Make sure medicine is kept in a locked storage place or out of the reach of children.
  10. Make sure at least one approved smoke alarm is installed and operating on each level of the home.

Top ten steps kids can take:

  1. Lock the door and make sure all the windows are closed and locked.
  2. Never open the door to strangers.
  3. Never open the door to delivery people or service representatives.
  4. Never tell someone on the telephone that mom or dad are not at home. Say something like “My mom is busy right now. Can I take a message?”
  5. Do not talk about being home alone on public websites.
  6. Never leave the house without permission.
  7. Do not go outside to check out an unusual noise. If the noise worries you, call mom, dad, or the police.
  8. Do not have friends over to visit when mom or dad aren’t at home without permission.
  9. Do not let anyone inside who is using drugs or alcohol, even if you know them.
  10. If you smell smoke or hears a fire or smoke alarm, get outside and ask a neighbor to call the fire department.

Perhaps you have more steps + tips that you’d like to share. Also, visit to learn more about being Red Cross ready before, during, and after emergencies.

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