Teaching your child to dial 911

by Kevin Heath

It is very important to teach your child when to call  9-1-1 and when not to. In a true emergency it could be a life saver. However, it is also very important to let your child know when not to dial 9-1-1. Some examples when not to dial 911 include:

1) If there is a power outage, or when their computer or toy is broke.

2) They should not call about the weather or if there are school closings.

3) When your child needs information that is not an emergency.

4) Directions

5) When your child gets mad at a sibling.

So, when should you teach your child to call 9-1-1? It is important to teach them what a true emergency is; when someone is seriously hurt or in danger. Examples include if there is a fire, to stop a crime, or if someone was in an accident. Other examples include if a child is locked in a car, an animal attack or bite, or a vehicle accident. If the child feels unsafe, or in danger, they should be told t call 9-1-1 and the person who answers the phone is there to help them. These are just a few of many examples, any perceived or actual emergency should be reported.

It should be emphasized to NEVER EVER call 9-1-1 for fun, for a game, or as a prank. Tell them that 9-1-1 is for true emergencies and if the operator is talking to them and it is not a real emergency, someone who is hurt and needs help might not be able to get the help that they need.

When your child does call 9-1-1 tell them to give the following information, in fact, if they are old enough to read write down the information by the phone:

  • Hers or his first and last name
  • Thier address, or if calling from a neighbors house the neighbors full name.
  • A short description of the emergency.

It is good to practice with your child, the parent can pretend they are the operator. Be serious when your practice so as not to give them the idea it is fun and games. Practive with an unplugged phone. The parent should ask the child for their name and what the emergency is. Explain to your child to try and stay calm, and to keep the answers short. If there is a fire, tell your child to leave the house right away and let the operator know where they are going so they can be safe.

When you practice with your child, use an unplugged telephone. Tell them you will pretend you are the person answering. You can then ask them for their name and what is the emergency. Be sure to tell them that the answers should not be long and they should try to stay calm and not be upset. Tell them if the emergency is a house fire, they should leave the house so help can come and they will be safe.

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