Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Teaching Your Child About 9-1-1
Teaching your child how and when to call 9-1-1 can be one of the easiest and most important lessons that they will ever learn. Because time is important during an emergency, your child should be prepared beforehand so that they will know what to do.
Children need to know exactly what an emergency is. Ask your child what they think an emergency is and what should be done if there is one. Questions like, “What would you do if someone tried to break into the house?” or “What would you do if there was a fire?” will give you a chance to talk about different emergencies and what needs to be done if one happens. If you have special circumstances in your house, such as a person with a heart condition, epilepsy, diabetes, or an elderly grandparent, make sure that your child is prepared to spot specific emergencies for which they will need to call 9-1-1.
Role-playing is a good way to practice what to do if an urgent situation arises. Acting out different emergency situations will show your child the steps that he or she will need to take and help them remember what to do if something does happen.
Talking about emergency workers, such as police officers, firefighters, and paramedics will also help children get an idea of what kinds of emergencies can happen and who can help them in those situations.
Teach your child the difference between an emergency and a non-emergency. For example, if there is a fire, an intruder in the house, or an unconscious family member they will need to call 9-1-1, but if they skin their knee or their bicycle is stolen, they should not call.
Tell your child that calling 9-1-1 as a joke is not acceptable and often considered a crime. Make it clear that an unnecessary call to 9-1-1 can delay a response to someone that really needs help and that in most areas a call to 9-1-1 can be traced. This means that emergency workers may be sent to the location from which the prank came, while there is someone across town in a real emergency situation.
Your child should know your street address and phone number to give to the 9-1-1 operator. However, make sure he or she knows that a 9-1-1 operator is the only stranger they should give this information. Tell your child that the operator will probably ask where they live, what type of emergency is happening, who needs help and if the person is awake and breathing.
Let them know that it is alright to be afraid in an emergency, but that they need to stay calm, speak slowly and clearly to the 9-1-1 operator. If your child is old enough to understand, explain that the operator may give him or her first-aid instructions before emergency workers arrive. Also, keep a first-aid kit on hand and make sure that your child knows where it is and how to use it when they are old enough.
Keep a list near the phone of emergency phone numbers, as well as a number where you or other family members can be reached. Also, write important medical information about each family member, such as medical conditions, allergies to medications, and insurance information on the phone list. If your child is too young to understand the list, tell them to give it to the emergency workers when they arrive.