| March 10, 2020
It’s sometimes difficult to know what to do in an emergency, and it can be hard to talk about and imagine something like that happening. But having conversations and preparing for accidents or crisis situations can help children feel more at ease and better equipped to handle an emergency if one does occur. In these situations, children will first look for an adult (this is what they should do!). But if an adult isn’t there or isn’t able to help, we need to help children understand how to call 911 and what to expect when they call.
- Work with children to memorize their full name, the full names of their family members, their home address and at least one emergency contact number that isn’t 911.
- Talk about different emergency situations where they might have to call 911, such as a car accident or medical emergency.
- Go through the steps for calling 911 with them, including going over the numbers on the keypad -- but don’t actually call unless it’s an emergency!
- Explain to children what to expect during the call. They will speak to an operator who will ask for their name and location and about what’s happening. Discuss how they should stay on the phone with the operator until an ambulance, police or firefighters come and that they should then follow directions that these grown-ups give them.
Sesame Street offers some helpful emergency preparation toolkits and worksheets for families, educators and communities. In these, adults can work with children to practice writing their name/address and dialing 911.
As an adult, there are other important steps you can take to ensure that you and those you care about are prepared for emergencies. Some of these steps include making an emergency plan, preparing an emergency kit for home or a community center and educating yourself on the best ways to be prepared.
For information on free Emergency and Education Trainings from UPMC, visit their Minutes Matter website. Additionally, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website or check out this article from the Parents Network for more information on preparing and talking to children about emergency preparedness.
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