When Should You Teach Your Child To Call 9-1-1?


When Should You Teach Your Child To Call 9-1-1?

June 25, 2013

Guest Post:


A good friend of mine asked me a great question the other day. She asked me when she should teach her five-year-old daughter to call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency.

It was something I had never been asked before. I really didn’t know how to answer her, and I didn’t want to give her wrong information, so I got in touch with Heather MacKenzie, the Centre Director for Edleun’s McKenzie Towne Learning Centre.

She had some great advice on when and how to teach your child about calling 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. Heather’s thoughts were that there really isn’t a specific age when you teach your child how to make the call. She suggested that each child is different and it really depends on the communication skills and understanding of each child. If your child can communicate clearly and has a good understanding of what’s happening around them, then maybe it’s the right time to teach them about the 9-1-1 service.

When teaching your child to call 9-1-1, one of the most important things to teach them is the situation in which to make the call. Here is a list of situations that you may find helpful when talking to your child.

  • Mom or dad tell you to call
  • Grandparents tell you to call
  • Babysitter tells you to call
  • Someone is asleep and you can’t wake them up
  • If there is a fire and there is no adult around
  • If there is an accident and adults are hurt and can’t call
  • If you’re lost and can’t find mom, dad, babysitter etc.

When talking about these situations to your child, it’s best not to sugar coat the situations, but also not to scare them. It’s best to be realistic and let them know that 9-1-1 is only to be dialed in an emergency, and the people on the other end of the phone are there to help you.

In Edleun’s Learning Centres, one of the themes taught is a Community Helpers Theme. The Centre will bring in Firemen, Paramedics and Police Officers to talk to the kids and let them know that they will be there to help in an emergency situation. It’s also great for the children to get to see these people in uniform so they are able to recognize them in the future if needed. It also helps the children to build trust with our first responders.

We think this is a very important topic and something that should be taught to children as soon as they’re ready. We’ve all heard of situations in the news where a young child has called 9-1-1 in an emergency situation, and that call has saved the life of a family member or friend.

Remember when teaching your children about 9-1-1, that this number is only to be called in an emergency. Really stress this to them so they understand this concept.

We would love to hear your thoughts and comments on if/how you’ve taught your child about 9-1-1, or if your child has ever had to call.

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