Those 3 little numbers save lives every day. Teaching your child to call 911 might save your life someday. Teaching your child to call 911 also might make you look like an idiot when your son actually does call them. I decided last night that I wanted my 4 year old to know how to call for help. I’m a nurse and I know that emergencies are rare, but a reality. We don’t have a landline so I wanted to show him on my cellphone how to dial 911. My phone was a little too complicated so I added a 911 app on my droid phone. It was a free app, and unfortunely it works too. I say unfortunely because I didn’t actually want to call them since there was no emergency. I spoke with the nice dispatcher lady and ensured her there was no real emergency.
Important tips when teaching 911:
1) Make sure they don’t actually push send on a cellphone
2) Don’t hang-up if you accidentally call them because they will call you back and that ties up the phone lines for real emergencies.
3) Review what real emergencies are: fire, car accidents, caregiver is unresponsive (doesn’t count if it is early morning because night owl’s aren’t responsive in the AM)
4) Make sure your child knows to ask you before calling 911 (with the exception of you are the lone caregiver and are unresponsive)
5) Teach your children their address and phone number. Post this information in a central location so they can go look if they forget.
6) Teach them to stay on the line with the person and don’t hang-up.
7) Teach them to unlock doors to let emergency workers in.
What I learned with my accidental communication with the 911 dispatch is that for really young kids that don’t know their address or truly understand what an emergency is, then teach them to call: mom, dad, or grandparents. My phone has frequent call people on the front of the screen when you turn it on so I showed my son how to press the picture of his dad to call him.
This week is the start of National Public Safety Telecommunications Week (April 14-20). So make sure and thank the dispatchers by not calling them on accident this week! Maybe send a thank you card instead.