I started babysitting at age 14, occasionally, for our closest neighbors, who were a weekend family. By the time I was almost 15, I was taking care of babies and children all over my small town, and when I got to 16, I was turning down jobs and passing the annoying or difficult kids off to my friends because I had so much business. I loved babysitting and was great at it. But before I was ever alone and taking care of kids, my grandmother had insisted I take a First Aid course and a Babysitting Basics course through the American Red Cross.

Why did my grandma insist? Because as an EMT, she had shown up in the ambulance to find too many child deaths and injuries that could have been easily prevented if only the adults who were caring for the children knew the basics in an emergency. Let me repeat: She had seen children die or suffer permanent injury because the people around them didn't have the first clue as to how to do rescue breathing or slow down a catastrophic bleed. This information is not complicated, or hard to learn. 

She insisted that no adults who regularly care for children (including their parents) should be without basic lifesaving information and skills. Sadly, very few parents or babysitters I have met since have bothered with the simple, low-cost, four-hour classes that could save their own child's life, or that of another. 

So here's a reminder: If you spend any time around kids, as a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or helpful neighbor, that taking a basic first aid class is something to put on your 'to do' list. And you should insist that any child-care provider you hire have one too (paying them to do so, especially if they are more than occasional sitters, would be the right thing to do as an employer). Anything less is just plain irresponsible. 

There are many, many things that parents and caregivers stress over to keep their kids safe, from plastic containers to organic food to car seats and more; but First Aid classes are often ignored—and it could be deadly to do so.  

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Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

Everyone should take First Aid classes—especially those who care for kids
Basic First Aid and CPR include lifesaving skills that literally everyone should know.