Tag: 911

Do your kids know how to call 911?

Sure, she can talk on the phone. But could she call 911?

Where you live has a lot to do with the threats you and your family members face. But there is one situation that we can all assume will happen. And one skill that we all need to master.

We all need to know how to call 911!

Right now, think of the kids in your life – neighbor kids, nieces and nephews, pupils, grandchildren. Can they all answer all these questions?

Turn this into a game and test children before school starts!

Set up an imaginary emergency.

With the help of your child, set up an imaginary emergency right in your living room. For example, a family member has fallen, broken an arm, there’s blood, etc. (Obviously, make the “emergency” something appropriate and not too complicated.)

Play act the 911 phone call.

The child calls 911 (pretend only). You take the part of the 911 Operator.

A real 911 Operator may have a slightly different set of questions, but they are likely to include ones similar to what you’re reading here.

Start by asking . . .

  1. What do we do if there is an emergency? (“Call for help.”)
  2. What telephone number do we call if we need help? (“911”)
  3. Who do you think answers that number? (“The 911 operator, the police”)

Now, conduct the call. As operator, you pose the questions and the child answers.

  • “What is your emergency?” (This is the exact question our operators ask. I’ve called more than once.)
  • “What has happened? What help do you need?” (Child describes the emergency you came up with.)
  • “What is your name?” (Be sure your child gives a FULL name – first and last.)
  • “What is your address?” ( Note: Cell phones aren’t necessarily accurate for pinpointing location. )
  • “What is your phone number?” (The connection could be lost, so the operator needs this info.)  
  • “What is the name of the person who needs help?” (First and last name)
  • “What does the person who needs help look like?” (Age, hair, clothing, etc.)

End the call this way.

  • “OK, help is on the way. Here’s what I need you to do. STAY ON THE LINE WITH ME. DO NOT HANG UP. I will tell you when to hang up.”

Now, I know you may think this is just too simple.  

But what you don’t know is that I am a school crossing guard! I interact with hundreds of children throughout the year. And I learn every kid’s name.

At the beginning of the year many children do not know their full names. Most children do not know their home address. Hardly any children know a single phone number by heart! (Frankly, their parents don’t know numbers, either . . . but that’s a different Advisory.)

In an emergency, these children are at a big disadvantage.

There is no reason for YOUR children not to be able to Call 911, answer questions like those above, and get help.

Please give them this important skill as soon as you can.

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. If you accidentally call 911, do not hang up. Stay on the line and explain there is no emergency. If you don’t do that, the dispatcher will call back to check, and even send a police car to check. You certainly don’t need for that to happen!

Day 29 of Summer Vacation: A time for some shorter and lighter Advisories as a welcome change-of-pace!

School Preparedness Questions for Kids


Kid at school

How well will your kid do in answering these school preparedness questions?

Last time we listed some school preparedness questions to take with you to a Back to School meeting.

(I trust you realize that some of them will make your teachers or administrators uncomfortable.)

Today we’re turning the spotlight around, and shining it right on your kids – and thus on you as a parent.

Some of these school preparedness questions for kids are bound to make YOU uncomfortable!

The reason?

You will not be there when something happens at school! If you haven’t worked through these questions, you may not be able to count on  your kids when it really matters.

These school preparedness questions are meant to instill confidence, not fear.

If you live in the country or spend time camping or even scouting, your kids may “score” well on the following questions. If your kids don’t have access to those experiences, you’ll want to start building some of them into your everyday lifestyle. Over-protective parents don’t do their kids any favors.

Obviously, the “correct” answer to any of these school preparedness questions for kids depends on the age of the child, where you live, etc.

On the way to school – preparedness questions for kids 

  • Does your child know his or her full name? In an emergency, just a first name alone won’t do! Get your kids in the habit of always answering “What’s your name?” with their full name, so it will become automatic.
  • Has your child memorized key phone numbers and addresses – at least one or two? (Have you?) Yes, all names may be in your phone’s database, or your kid’s phone’s database, but you have to assume that in an emergency (earthquake, flood, tornado) phones will be lost. Even if emergency personnel are there, trying to help, if your child can’t give them key information . . .!
  • What are realistic threats that your child could face on the way to (or from) school? Depending on the age of your child and where you live, going-to-school threats might include:
    • Dangerous traffic
    • A car or bus accident
    • Being approached by a stranger
    • Having to ride with an unfamiliar person (neighbor, etc.)
    • Falling ill or getting a scrape or cut
    • Witnessing a fight or other violence
    • Being harassed or bullied by other children
    • Being threatened by a dog or other animal
    • An unexpected weather event
    • Fill in the blank, here, with a threat that might appear in YOUR neighborhood.
  • Is your child aware of these threats? Does he or she know how to respond?You’ll probably want to discuss likely threats one at a time and be ready with some good suggestions for your child on how to handle them. (Reading books or watching TV together may give you a way to start a conversation.)

Caution: If your child walks to school, or you are eager for him to begin, be sure he’s old enough! There’s no set age when that makes sense, but most experts seem to agree that kids aren’t really able to make judgments about moving traffic until they are 9 or 10.

Why, just last year I watched a newly-9-year-old come dashing down the hill from school and tear right across two lanes of traffic without even looking. His mother and I, standing together across the street, were horrified. She shook him, and I asked, “What were you thinking?!” His simple answer shows clearly what he was thinking, and ALL he was thinking: “I saw my mom!”

Selected resources for kids walking to school

Some of our Emergency Plan Guide Advisories may be perfectly good “training courses” for kids. And here are a couple of other resources specifically for children.

Blood is always upsetting, but it needn’t create an emergency. Make sure your kids know some of the basics: https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/teaching-first-aid-kids/

And if your kids walk or bike, check out this article. It has tips for different ages. https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/blog/pedestrian-safety-tips-teach-kids

Preparedness questions for kids facing an emergency at school

  • Have you confirmed that your child understands the what and why of school safety drills? Have you shown you think these drills are important by practicing some responses together at home?
  • Does your child understand that in an emergency kids might have to stay at school for a long time? Or leave the school and go somewhere else? If they know this could happen, it won’t be such an upset.
  • How well would your child take emergency direction from someone else? (Teacher, crossing guard, police officer, etc.)
  • Would your child be willing to come home with a neighbor if you were not available? (You may have to adjust your teaching about “Don’t ever get into the car of a stranger.”)
  • In an emergency, could your child walk home alone from school? Does she know when that would be allowed?
  • Does your child know more than one route home?
  • Can your child get home by taking the bus?

Emergency supplies for children at school

  • Does your child have an emergency kit for school, one that he carries in his backpack all the time?
  • Does your child understand that the kit is ONLY for emergencies? (How often do you replace and replenish the kit?)
  • In addition to a list of contact numbers, snacks and water, does the school kit contain items like wipes, first aid supplies, a blanket for warmth, a flashlight, and a good whistle? What about an emergency phone?
  • Are all the items in the school kit allowed by the school?

Emergencies at home

If preparedness is important to you, then your children will pick up on that and just naturally become more aware and more able to take care of themselves. You may already have trained them in important survival skills. Many EmergencyPlanGuide.org Advisories are written for the whole family, and we assume you share them as appropriate.

But don’t overlook this one important skill that every young child needs to know:

How to call 911.

It seems simple for grown-ups, but isn’t.

First, the kid has to have a phone. A landline is easiest to find and more reliable; a cellphone has to have battery power and the child has to be able to unlock it to get to the keypad.

(On my iPhone 6, for example, I have to press the round Home button to get to the Lock screen. Then, without unlocking, I look for the word “emergency” at the bottom of the page. When I press it, another key pad comes up so I can dial 911 and then press SEND and then I have to wait to be connected.  Lots of steps.)

This article has good hints about dialing 911 and practicing the dialog.

We’ve all heard the stories of toddlers dialing 911 and saving a parent. Those parents weren’t lucky – their kids were trained!

One final note. Older children may be more effective and training younger children than you are, so give them the chance!

Until next time*,

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

*Next time I’ll be addressing some of the best student emergency items I’ve found. Don’t miss that Advisory because the new school year is just around the corner!

And once again, if you didn’t get the questions to ask school administrators, get them now.