An essential preparedness skill.
Editor: Welcome back, Tyra! We’re excited to have you as a monthly contributor for the “Prepping With Kids” series.
First off, I have to say how excited I am to be back at PreparednessMama! Oh, how I’ve missed y’all! Thank you for being such supportive and fantastic readers! We are so blessed by you!
I’m also excited to be jumping back in on my favorite preparedness topic- preparing our kids. Since my last post I’ve had one more kid (now totaling a proud family of 6 littles) and spent some time practicing preparedness and coping in a variety of stresses. Practice makes perfect, even if the practice is messy. I’d like to share some of what I know and what I’ve learned over the last two years to help your family be better prepared. Please shoot us an email if you have any areas you’d like us to address. Our main goal is to help your family and we do that best when you let us know what you’ll need.
To start off our new series, Prepping With Kids, I’d like to ask you a few questions. Do your kids know how to use a telephone, landline, and cell? Have you taken the time to teach your kids how to call 911 or discussed when to call? Teaching children how to call 911 could make a huge difference in the life of your family members. Make the Call
I realized while working on a Scout requirement with my son that he didn’t even know how to call a friend. This is a good place to start. I realized that he needs to feel confident in his phone communication skills in order to call for help in an emergency. After that, we started encouraging him to call and ask his friends if they could play so he could develop phone communication skills. This is also an important skill to develop for adulthood.
As my kids have gotten older we’ve had to show them how to use the text and phone functions on our cell phones. Funny how they can figure out your password, every game, and how to buy an app yet making a phone call is difficult. Show them how to navigate your contacts list, especially your “favorites” and identify emergency contacts.
Who Ya Gonna Call?!
It’s great that your kids can call their BFF. We have to be sure that’s not who they go to if there is an emergency. As a family, decide who you will call in an emergency and what emergencies constitute a call to 911. When should they call mom or dad, grandma, the neighbor, or a trusted family friend? Identify your chosen emergency contacts as a family, it’s important that everyone is comfortable with that person and calling them.
Be sure that your contacts are easy for kids to identify. My husband was listed under “Honeybun” and the first time I told them to call dad they were really confused! I have the names dad and grandma under two contacts, one under what I’m used to calling them and one with their full name and ICE (stands for “In Case of Emergency”). Now my kids can find them. Have your kids help decide how those important contacts should be labeled so they can find them in an emergency.
Once the basic skills of calling your best bud for a play date are down, then teaching them how to call 911 is the next step. Sesame Streets has a printable emergency preparedness booklet with a wonderful practice script and phone for teaching and practicing calling 911. This is an important step in ensuring that help arrives efficiently and quickly.
Kids need to know that the dispatcher is going to require certain information, and are not interested in the normal “how are you doings?” they would usually offer. It’s also important to have that required information posted in a readily accessible spot where the kids can easily find it and read it. The fridge or right next to the phone are great places to plaster this information. Mine is right next to the freezer handle and every sitter should be directed to it. You can print off our little graphic to fill in and put it on your fridge.
It should include:
- Your Home Address
- Home/Cell Phone Numbers
- Non-Emergency Numbers for the fire department and police department
- Poison control
- 911 (I would hope my babysitter knows this already but its pre-printed)
- Doctors names and numbers
- The hospitals name and number
- Emergency Contacts
Remember this information isn’t just for the babysitter to get a hold of you, but it may be that your children may need it if you’re the one who’s injured or in crisis.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
Remember, if your kids have to make the call they’re going to be scared, nervous, and more likely to forget what they’re supposed to say. By practicing this important phone call, you can create a reflex for them in an emergency. They know who to call, where to find the information, and what to say.
Go further to let them know that the dispatcher will then give them instructions, and probably want them to stay on the line. It’s important that kids know they don’t just hang up when they’re done reciting the information on the fridge. Help them to understand what the dispatcher does, how the system works and what they can expect. Most importantly they need to know that the dispatcher is a friend, and a trusted adult, just like policemen and fireman.
These are all basic skills that we take for granted. But it’s these skills that are the source of every saved life. Teaching your kids how to use a phone, know who to call in an emergency, and how to talk to a 911 dispatcher can make a huge difference.
Tell us how your practice sessions went with your kiddos. And share what you’ve learned in the comments section below.