I think one of the scariest things for me about having young children is imagining them in an emergency situation and how they would be able to handle it if one of us wasn’t able to help. What if something happened to me while I was alone with the girls? Would they be able to call for help? What if they were separated from me at a store? Would they be able to tell someone their name and my name? Would they be able to tell someone where they lived?
I started pretty early with Samantha. As soon as she could recognize her numbers, I taught her 9-1-1. It relaxed me a little to know she at least had that and her little sisters had another person to help in an emergency. A lot to put on a three year old, but I didn’t exactly explain it that way to her.
I started working on her full name, and our address, too. She had some difficulty remembering them. Finally, last year, she was able to remember them, pretty much anyway. Then we went to her five year check up and the doctor asked her about 9-1-1, her name, her address, and her phone number.
Phone number? She had enough problems with the short numbers in our address, how was she supposed to remember 10 digits? And which one do I teach her? Our home number? Fine for if we’re home, but what if we’re not. My cell number? A good choice, but I’m notorious for leaving it at home. Sean’s phone? He always has it with him, but he’s not good about answering it, especially when he’s at work. Actually, I don’t think I ever did teach her one.
I’ve been more relaxed since I know Samantha knows the information. I realized Friday that Ella is plenty old enough to learn about 9-1-1. So I told her about it. I told her the number, had her repeat it, told her it was for emergencies only like if Mommy or Daddy were hurt, and I showed her how to dial it on our home phone. You have to push the talk button before dialing, which is a little tricky. I had her repeat it again. I asked her if she understood what an emergency was. She told me “like if someone runs into the street after a ball and gets hit by a car.” Exactly, perfect. Now there were two people to help in an emergency.
Ella is a perfectionist. She likes to make sure she understands things. She likes to explain them out loud repeatedly. So Saturday morning, she repeatedly told me the number and listed emergencies (she also has a good imagination). I thought nothing of it.
Until I was trying to get out the door with the three of them and putting my shoes on. Samantha yelled something at me. I yelled back to wait. She yelled something again. I limped, one shoe on, towards the kitchen. Ella was holding the phone. I took it from her to hear, 9-1-1 operator, do you need help? Is someone hurt?
I apologized and explained my child had apparently been practicing. No emergency personnel were dispatched.
At least I know she can work the phone.
What age did you teach your children about 9-1-1? Any of them ever do a practice call?