Emergencies present a scary situation for children. At times they may not know what to do. Below you will find some tips on how to teach your child how to use and when to use the 9-1-1 system.
Although most 9-1-1 calls are now traced, it's still important for your child to have your street address and phone number memorized. Your child will need to give that information to the dispatcher as a confirmation so time isn't lost sending emergency workers to the wrong address.
What Does 9-1-1 Mean to Your Child?
Some children may have heard about 9-1-1 from school, television, or friends, but may not understand its purpose. Children may not be sure what a real emergency is. Remind children to dial 9-1-1 when they need help to save a life, stop a crime, or report a fire. Inform your child that if they are ever lost and feel that they are not safe, to pick up a phone and dial 9-1-1 and they will be helped.
What Can We Do As Parents?
Always refer to the emergency number as "nine-one-one" and not "nine-eleven." In an emergency, your child may not know how to dial the number correctly because of trying to find the "eleven" button on the phone.
The most important thing you can do is to talk with your child about 9-1-1 and when they should call. Tell your child that if they ever have to call 9-1-1 there will be person on the other end who is going to help them. Please teach children not to dial 9-1-1 (or play with the phone) when it is not an EMERGENCY. Children often dial 9-1-1 by accident or on purpose as a joke. If the line is unavailable for a real emergency, someone could easily come to harm.
What About The Babysitter?
When there are no adults at home every child or babysitter should have the following information posted by the phone:
- A list of emergency numbers
- Your home phone number and the address
- Any other contact information (pager numbers, cell phone numbers, relative's numbers)
KidsHealth.org has prepared an Emergency Contact List for you to put by each phone in your house to help children know phone numbers to call in case of emergency.
The best time to prepare for an emergency is now!! Don't wait until one happens!