No mother wants to think about their child having to call 911, because that means something serious has happened. The truth is, young children should know how to call 911 in an emergency and know basic information about your home so that paramedics and fire authorities can come to your aid when you need it.
Teaching your children how to use 911 is crucial and could save their lives or yours.
Here are some simple procedures we can teach our children to ensure they can respond during a time of need:
Knowing when to call for help
Children are often taught in school to dial 9-1-1 in case of an emergency. However, where we fall short is teaching our children exactly what emergencies are. This doesn’t mean you should attempt to drill hundreds of scenarios into their heads. This can be as simple as “mom or dad can’t wake up,” or “someone is hurt really bad.” They need to understand when the situation is serious enough to call for help.
Knowing how to call for help
Have you ever practiced the act of dialing 9-1-1? It has been proven that fine motor function can be suppressed during high levels of stress UNLESS you train for it. While it may seem ridiculous now, dialing three specific numbers can be classified as a fine motor function. There have been several documented cases of people including trained police officers who struggled to dial numbers on a phone while under stress.
How do you think your children are going to respond? Can they figure out how to unlock your phone or use the emergency dial function? Try practicing this with them. You can even take it a step further to teach them how to use the emergency dial function on other people’s phones in case they find themselves in an emergency while at a relative’s house, school, friend’s house, etc. Don’t let an emergency be the first time they attempt this.
Knowing where to send help
Many dispatch centers have the ability to trace cell phone locations, but as many of us in EMS know, this isn’t always timely or accurate. Do your children know your home address? Are you sure that they will remember it should they ever find themselves needing to tell a dispatcher?
It’s always a good idea to have a “go-to” location in your house in the event of an emergency. Try placing a box, book, bottle, etc., with all the information your child and the responders will need. Write your address down so your child can read it to the dispatchers in case they forget. You can also teach them to look for pieces of mail in the event that they are at someone else’s house. This becomes more challenging when your children are too young to read an address. In this situation, it could be beneficial to teach your child how to call 9-1-1 and find an adult (neighbor, bystander, etc.) to take over the phone call.
Knowing who to notify
Calling 9-1-1 is always going to be No. 1, but your child and the responders are going to need to know who to call who can care for the child and handle your affairs. This information can be stored in your “go-to” place. It also wouldn’t hurt to have your children memorize the names of the people who you have chosen to be contacted. A trick I learned growing up was to memorize a code word in the event that an adult that I didn’t know needed to pick me up. You can share this word with your close friends and acquaintances so that your children know that they are safe in their care.
Practice, practice, practice
It’s not enough to just talk about this sort of thing. Practice it with your children. This doesn’t have to be something you do daily, but it needs to be done with some regularity. Your children might roll their eyes and act annoyed when it comes time to do this, but make it concise and stress the importance. This is the only way that you can be sure that your children will act appropriately should they ever be called to act.
Educating your children about how and when to call 9-1-1 will pay off should you ever find yourself in a position of needing help!