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Oregon Family Magazine

Teaching Children About 9-1-1

08/12/2010 10:53 ● By Anonymous
In January, 3-year-old Jaden Bolli, of Maple Shade, N.J. dialed 9-1-1 when his grandmother collapsed at home. The toddler had learned how to call emergency services just days before from his mother. The boy told the dispatcher that it was his grandmother's blood sugar. However, she really had suffered a stroke. Paramedics arrived in time and were able to help the woman. Bolli saved his grandma's life.

A parent never knows when an emergency will strike. His or her only hope may be the fast-thinking action of a young child who has called for help.

Many parents wonder when the right time is for teaching youngsters about 9-1-1 or calling for emergency services. It doesn't have to be based on age but rather maturity level. A mature 3-year-old may be able to grasp the concept and learn how to use the phone. However, parents may have to wait a little longer for a less mature child.

Some adults are apprehensive about teaching the 9-1-1 lesson because they fear a child may dial the number by accident or even on purpose when there is no emergency. Many a police officer has responded to a call only to find that a child has made the call. Some areas will give individuals a warning. Others may issue a fine if 9-1-1 is dialed too many times without an emergency. This can be a deterrent to teaching about calling the police. However, when done the right way, many children can grasp the difference between using 9-1-1 in the wrong and right way.

1. Explain the purpose of 9-1-1. It is a method of contacting the police, fire department or ambulance when there is an emergency only. An emergency is when Mom, Dad or someone else in the house is hurt and can't get up; there is a fire; or the police are needed, like if there is a burglar or a bad fight.

2. Indicate that the adults in the house will dial the phone whenever possible if there is an emergency. The child is learning only in case Mom or Dad can't get to the phone.

3. Discuss the buttons on the phone. Show the child how to push them in the right order.

4. Now may be the time to also teach the child his or her full name and address. This is something many kindergartners are urged to know.

5. Roll-play with the child. Go over instances that are emergencies and non-emergencies so he or she will understand the differences between both and when 9-1-1 may be needed.

Again, stress the importance that 9-1-1 should not be dialed just for fun. Mommy is not sick if she simply has a headache! With time, children can grasp the concept of 9-1-1 and be a lifesaver at a time when an adult cannot reach the phone.