One of the most important things you can do, no matter their age, is to teach children what to do in case of an emergency. Of course, we hope our children will never have to use this knowledge. But if a caregiver falls ill, if they get lost, or if a stranger approaches them - it’s best they know how to deal with it.
When preparing your child for an emergency, it is essential to use age-appropriate language, and engage in various scenarios to educate them for all eventualities. If this is new territory for you, here are some simple ways to prepare your child for an emergency:
How to call 999
Teaching your child to dial 999 is relatively simple for most, especially if you have a home phone. However, some households only have mobile phones. If you have a pattern or code, it can be a little more challenging. Show them how to bypass these extra securities and how to call the emergency services. Talk to them about the information they’ll need to provide. This includes where they are, who they are with, and what is happening.
What to do if they get lost
It’s a heart-pounding scary moment for parents. So you can only imagine how terrifying it is for them when they get lost in a crowd. Make sure your child memorizes your full name, phone number, and home address. If your child is too young to remember or has additional needs, leave a note in their coat with your information. Teach your child to ask for help safely by approaching a woman with a child, a store assistant, or a security guard.
In our house, we like to use the “no, go, yell, tell” technique. While we have thankfully never had to use it, four of my five children fully understand it and have done since they were three years of age. Teach your child never to go anywhere with someone they don’t know. And if they are approached by a stranger, to seek help immediately.
Create a code word
In the event of an emergency at home, on the way home from school, or anywhere for that matter, you should have a code word that only you and your child know. For example, if you get held up in work, and a friend is picking up your child, they need to say the code word, and your child knows it is safe to go with them.
This one can be frightening for parents, let alone kids. However, it is crucial you do a fire drill and rehearse what to do in your home. Acting out emergency scenarios will help prepare them if the worst were to happen. Teach them how to check if it’s safe to leave their bedroom, how to evacuate the house, and most importantly the stop, drop and roll. Practice a fire drill at least twice a year.