Teaching our kids to call 911 can be as important to their health and the health of others as teaching them the importance of good nutrition and how to stop-drop-and-roll. And just like stop-drop-and-roll, we must teach them not just the ‘when’, but the ‘how’ of it, until it becomes second nature.
Consider teaching a 911 mini-class to your kids at least once a day for three days, then quizzing every other day, then quizzing about once a week. By that time, the routine should be stuck in their heads.
Here’s some suggested text for your lesson plan:
If there is an emergency, dial 9-1-1 from a telephone. An emergency is when a person is badly hurt or in danger ‘right now.’ An emergency is if you see a crime happening, like a person hurting another person or someone breaking into someone’s house, or a fire somewhere a fire shouldn’t be. An emergency is if someone is suddenly very sick, having a hard time speaking or breathing.
An emergency isn’t something like forgetting your homework or arguing with a brother or sister.
Go to a safe place to call. If there’s a fire, leave the building first. Get away from the person hurting you or someone else, then call 911.
It’s normal to feel afraid or nervous about it, grownups often feel the same way. Call anyway. The people answering the phone will understand.
It’s OK to make a mistake. If you call 911, stay on the line and tell them why you called. It’s OK to tell them you think it might not be an emergency after all. If you start the call, but hang up before someone has a chance to answer, the 911 operators might think you are still in danger.
Help them prepare. Teach them their address and phone number and explain what to expect when the operator picks up the phone, and that they should stay on the phone until the operator tells them it’s time to hang up.
Role-play the scenario with them so that the first time they call 911 won’t necessarily feel like the first time. The 911 dispatcher will ask these questions:
- What is the emergency?
- What happened?
- Where are you?
- Who needs help?
- Are you safe where you are?
When you role-play, give your children a turn both as the caller and the 911 operator. Practicing these skills with your children will help them be more confident, feel safer and be safer.