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Feb 13, 2017

Prepare Children for Emergency Situations

An elderly woman falls and cannot move; a child chokes on a grape and can't breathe; a fire breaks out in the kitchen while cooking dinner...

These situations require immediate action. And that is how you can explain what an emergency is to children? a situation that requires immediate action.

Oftentimes an adult is not available in an emergency situation, therefore, it's important to prepare children for different types of emergencies and explain how each emergency might require a different course of action.

Calling 9-1-1
The most important tool to teach your children is how to call 9-1-1. It's critical to call for help even if a child knows how to respond in an emergency.

Heimlich Heroes™, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit that trains children how to properly perform the Heimlich Maneuver®, spoke with a retired 9-1-1 dispatcher to find out what kids need to know when calling 9-1-1.

Review this information to help your kids feel more confident when calling 9-1-1 in an emergency. To read the full interview, click here:

Q: What information would someone need to know when calling 9-1-1?

A: When calling 9-1-1, you need to be prepared to tell the operator:

  • Your name
  • Where you are
  • What happened
  • Who needs help

A dispatcher may ask several more questions, including: Are there grown-ups around to help? Where are you in the house or building? And, who else is in the house or location of the emergency?

Q: Are there ways for children to practice calling 9-1-1 without actually doing so?

A: Yes, you can disconnect your phone and then do some role-playing. Have kids dial the numbers and always say, "nine-one-one" when dialing. Play out different scenarios and ask questions the dispatcher might ask. Explain to children that they need to listen to what the operator tells them to do. Let them know it's ok to be scared, but that they also need to pay attention. Teach them to stay on the phone, no matter what, and to not hang up.

After teaching your children how to call 9-1-1 and discussing what information they need to know when calling for help, you can prepare them to act in an emergency.

Teaching Children Basic First-Aid
First-aid is treatment given to an ill or injured person before medical staff arrives. You can prepare children for an emergency by teaching them common first-aid training topics.

  • Bleeding: Teach children how to apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding. Don't remove used cloth, but add more cloth if the wound continues to bleed. When the cut is deep or continues to bleed after several minutes of direct pressure, get to the doctor fast.
  • Burns: Common first-degree kitchen burns can be treated by running cool water over the affected area for 10-20 minutes. Read more about how to treat burns here. Or watch a short video for kids.
  • CPR: When your child is old enough to take a CPR training course, sign them up so they can receive proper instruction.
  • Choking: The Heimlich Maneuver is used to dislodge an obstruction from a choking victim. It is best to register online for the training program. But you also can teach children the basics, including proper hand placement when using the maneuver. Use this Heimlich Heroes video to help train your children.

Planning for Disasters
Your child's school should have plans in place for things like tornadoes/hurricanes, fires, and lockdowns. Talk to your child's teacher about their safety plans for each event and review the information with your child. You can also make a plan to follow if similar emergencies happen at home, on the road, or outside.

  • Fires: Test the fire alarm so your kids know what it sounds like. Create an escape route from each room in the house and make sure it is always accessible for children. Get out of the house as quickly as possible and pick a meeting place away from the house. Stay low to the ground to avoid the smoke and review "stop, drop and roll."
  • Tornado: Teach kids to get to the lowest level of your home with no windows. Shut doors and protect your head with your arms. Check out more safety tips here.
  • Hurricane: Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Store nonperishable food items and extra water bottles in case your power goes out. Have a suitcase ready and evacuate your home when it is recommended. You can find more tips here.

There are dozens of emergencies that can happen, and a parent or adult might not always be around. Preparing children for emergencies helps them stay safe in potentially unsafe situations and equips them to save a life!

Kids are able and capable of learning life-saving techniques. Help your children be prepared. One day, they may be a hero!

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