BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) is reminding parents and caregivers that teaching children when and how to call 9-1-1 is one of the most important things they can do to help keep loved ones safe.
“It’s more than teaching children how to dial a phone. It’s about helping children understand what an emergency is and what happens when a dispatcher answers their call,” says Paramedic Unit Chief Marilyn Oberg. “Teaching children about calling 9-1-1 is simple and it can save lives.”
Follow the three Ts to teach your children to call 9-1-1:
Talk to your children about emergencies. Speak calmly, in a reassuring manner about different kinds of emergency situations in your home, in the park or with friends. Ask questions such as:
What would you do if someone faints?
What would you do if someone has a bug bite?
Tell children that 9-1-1 is a number to call for help when someone is in danger or not safe and that children can trust the person who answers a 9-1-1 call.
Try role-playing to build their confidence; ask them when they should call 9-1-1 or to point out emergency workers in your community.
“Start with the basics when your child is three or four,” suggests Oberg. “Role-play some simple scenarios with your child — ‘mom can’t get up from the floor and there’s no one else around’ — and then pretend to dial 9-1-1 on a play phone,” says Oberg.
“Revisit the lesson every year as your child becomes more mature and aware of his or her surroundings and abilities.”