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Teach Your Child How to Dial 911

There has been more then one case where young children, between the ages of 3-5, have saved the lives of their parents or grandparents by calling 911. You may even have heard a few of these cases yourself, where the parent is unconscious or will not wake up and the child picks up the phone and makes that crucial 911 call.

Just this one little skill can save another person’s life, and that is worth the time to sit down with your child and go over the basics of calling 911.

You may have to go over the keypad a few times for children to memorize the 9-1-1 numbers. If they don’t already know their numbers by sight make sure they know what a 9 and a 1 look like. Be sure to emphasize the importance of using those numbers on an emergency basis, as preschoolers sometimes think having the police or fire fighters show up at their home would be really cool.

Explain to them that if an emergency happens where mommy, daddy or other caregivers are not responsive, they must stay on the phone with the operator until the ambulance or help arrives. The operators will usually attempt to keep the child on the phone anyway, but confirm that it is important to do so.

You can emphasize this with a song:

 There’s a fire, there’s a fire call 9-1-1, 9-1-1
 Someone’s hurt, someone’s hurt call 9-1-1, 9-1-1
 You’ll save a life, save a life through 9-1-1, 9-1-1
 Then everything will be better, thanks to 9-1-1, 9-1-1

Main points to address:

  • Sing a song to help young children remember what numbers to call and why.
  • Go over the keypad with them until they are completely familiar with the 911 numbers.
  • Make sure they know their name and ask them to try to speak loud and clear when on the phone with emergency workers.

Grades K-3rd
By the time children are in kindergarten they will probably be familiar with the concept of calling 911 in case of an emergency, but emphasizing the key factors of talking to emergency personnel on the phone is important.

Main points to address:

  • Have them speak clearly and loudly, even if they are really scared about the situation.
  • Tell the emergency operator what is happening (the reason they are calling).
  • Explain to your child that it is okay if they do not know the answer to a question the emergency personnel ask, or it is okay for them to ask the 911 operator to repeat a question if they did not hear first time.
  • Children should know that the operator will be asking a lot of questions, tell them to take a deep breath and relax if they start to feel stressed from all the questions. Tell them to just take their time and answer the ones they know and tell the operator they are unsure of the others.
  • If there are health conditions of a family member your child is alone with, this should be written down on a piece of paper (e.g. Grandpa has Sugar Diabetes Type 1).

Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Health.

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