By Katie Saltz
Teaching your child to recognize an emergency and call for help doesn’t have to be a scary process. Tammy Cole, a communications training officer for Jessamine County 911, shares tips on when and how to teach your child about calling 911. Around age 4 tends to be the best time to teach a child about 911.
Talk About What Is a True Emergency.
An emergency is something when you feel you or someone else is in danger. Be very specific in your examples.
“If you see a house on fire.” “If you see a person lying on the ground not moving.”
Help Your Child Memorize Key Information.
Your address, phone number, name and age are important. Knowing phone numbers for Mom and Dad is a plus.
Practice With Your Children So They Are Aware and Knowledgeable About 911.
Pretend to be the 911 dispatcher and ask your child:
Where is your emergency?
What is your name and phone number?
What is wrong, or why did you call 911?
You can also call the 911 center on the non-emergency line and ask whether the
child can call 911 and talk to a dispatcher.
Have Your Child Practice the 5 W’s
Teach Cell Phone Competence:
If you don’t have a landline phone, make sure your child knows how to operate a cell phone to dial 911. Some cell phones have a medical emergency button, and others will pull up an emergency screen if you hit the on/off button five times.
If there are no cell phones in the house, make a plan to go to a neighbor’s house or somewhere with a phone.
Sign up for SMART911 at www.smart911.com. This free program has you create an online profile with information about your family (medications, health conditions, pets, etc;) You link the profile to your phone numbers and when you call 911, everything from the profile pulls up on the dispatcher screen.
Other Useful Info:
Cell phones that no longer have service will still call 911.
If you accidentally call 911, stay on the line and let the dispatcher know it was a mistake.
Teach your child that after dialing 911 on a cell phone, they need to hit “send”
Here are some scenarios to practice with your child:
“You are outside with your dad. He is on a ladder on the house, and he falls off and hits the ground. No one else is home. Dad doesn’t talk to you when you ask him a question. Do you call 911? What do you tell the dispatcher?”
“You are outside skating with your brother and he falls down. He says his arm and knee hurt a little but he is ok. Do you call 911?”