911, I wondered. Recently I passed our local fire department and saw their notification board with the question “Does your child know how to call 911?” I wondered if my grandkids knew how to use 911 in an emergency? So, just to be sure I put together a post to help parents have the information easily accessible to them. Knowing what to teach your child about 911 is essential to ensure they use it properly and do not call 911 unnecessarily. Teaching children how to use 911 is crucial and could save lives.
When to Call 911
Teach kids that a 911 emergency is when someone needs help right away because of an injury or an immediate danger. Help your child understand that major things like fires, seriously injured people and intruders in your home are real emergencies and things like a missing toy or a flat bike tire are not.
They should call 911 if:
- there’s a fire
- someone is unconscious after an accident, drinking too much, or an overdose of pills or drugs
- someone has trouble breathing, like during an asthma flare-up or seizure
- someone is choking
- they see a crime happening, like a break-in, mugging, etc.
- there’s a serious car accident
How to Call 911
- Call 9-1-1 if you think you have an emergency and explain the situation to the dispatcher.
- Make sure your kids know that the emergency operator that answers the phone will ask them questions about the emergency and it’s OK to share information.
- Stress that they should call 9-1-1 AFTER they are in a safe place.
- Explain to your child that it is important to stay as calm as possible so they can give information to the 911 dispatcher and follow the dispatcher’s instructions. So the operator can understand all their important information.
Helpful Tips to Teach Your Child 911:
- Never say “nine eleven.” There is no eleven on a telephone keypad or dial. Always say “nine-one-one.”
- Calling 9-1-1- is very important. Never call it unless it is necessary. Calling 9-1-1 as a joke, might slow down the emergency help from getting to someone who really needs it. They should also know that people who call as a joke can also get into trouble. But if they call 9-1-1 by mistake, don’t hang up. When the dispatcher answers, tell him/her that they made a mistake and that there is no emergency.
- Post your address near the phone or in a place everyone has access (i.e. memo board, refrigerator, etc.) and be sure the kids know where it is and how to read it. If you live in an apartment building, make sure your child knows the apartment number and floor you live on.
- Once your child knows how to use 9-1-1, practice different scenarios to make them more familiar with the concept without frightening them.