Kids Calling 911?

When should young kids be taught how to dial ‘911’ for an emergency?

Dear Ms. Smartphone: The two earthquakes in Southern California got me thinking about Emergency Responders. I have three young children at home under age five. Should I show them how to dial the ‘911’ emergency number on my cell phone? I’m afraid they will make an accidental call. Beatrice, Corte Madera.

Dear Beatrice: This is something to get shaking about! Many parents probably share your concern. You didn’t mention how old your children are, but VeryWell Family, suggests that most kids over three can complete a 911 call. A well circulated story on social media shows a four year old in the UK that saved his Mom’s life by calling 999.

You will find a number of useful ideas in the link from Colorado, underneath the picture. As you get started:

Remember, some smartphones do not have an over-ride to reach 911. In that case, you will need to show your children the unlock code. Next, coach them on the protocol: they need to state the nature of the emergency to the 911 operator, and provide their own name, home address or location. You can role play these steps, perhaps by borrowing a second phone.

However, the most challenging part of the 911 lesson may be teaching what is/what is not an emergency. While it’s cute to watch on YouTube, you don’t want your children calling 911 because their Dad drove through a red light or they can’t solve their math homework.

You don’t want to scare children and make them believe they live in a crazy, unpredictable world. Emphasize that ‘911’ is to be used for really rare situations: a fire, car accidents, medical emergency, or stranger-danger. Nothing more, nothing less. Hopefully your kids will never need to use it.

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