Emergencies, what should we teach our children?

When the news story that a three-year-old boy had been praised by police for calling 999 when his mother fell down the stairs broke, it brought to parents attention a very important issue.

What should we tell our children in order to prepare them for an emergency?

Brave Taylor was unable to wake his mum and dialled for help after finding her mobile phone. In a recording of the 999 call, Taylor can be heard telling a police call handler, “my mummy has hurt herself”. He then found the front door keys and opened the door for paramedics, who turned up to help.

Should we teach our children their address and phone number?

Should we teach children to use a phone – for 999 or a family member?

Should we tell our children NEVER talk to strangers?

Should we tell our children not to pet dogs?

The world can be a scary place and we need to prepare our children for it. We should tell our children to be cautious of strangers, however how many times have we said don’t talk to strangers and then 5 minutes later reprimanded them for not saying thank you to a perfect stranger in a restaurant or shop! There really are mixed messages that we tell our children and I don’t know if there is an exact science to getting it right. Depending on their age depends on how much they understand, but just telling them about strangers and bad people from an early age can help to prepare them.

Try and teach children their address and a home number from an early age, however chances are if they are lost they need your mobile number and many adults can’t remember their own mobile number so what chance would a child have! There is a trick to this though, you can teach it to them in a song format take a nursery rhyme and change the lyrics to be your mobile phone number, let them learn it and then tell them if they ever get lost to go to a grown up (yes a stranger!) and tell them the song.

Teaching a child to dial 999 to get a policeman is a great basic to teach children – I am sure there have a been a few hoax calls from small children dialling 999 as part of a game but I am sure even the emergency services would agree that it is better than not teaching them and them not knowing what to do in an emergency. Using Fireman Sam or other characters can help to explain why you may need to call these numbers but not terrify them.

Household fire – you should have smoke alarm in your house and test it regularly, when you do this you can explain to your child that if they hear this in the night they should stay in their room or come to your room or whatever your plan is. This can prepare them should the worst happen and again using Fireman Sam or Miss Rabbit can help to explain what can happen without scaring them.

Road safety – gone are the days of Tufty (only those of a certain age will now be chuckling to themselves about a squirrel!) But practising what we preach is important here, how many times have we explained about the little green man and then taking a child’s hand and led them across a road without waiting for it? Show them how to cross the road safely, what to look out for and remember in these times of phones and MP3 players and headphones – that when crossing roads it is so important to listen and be really vigilant!

First aid kit – keep the basics close to hand I’m sure we all have a cupboard at home full of medicines, pills, plasters, creams and boxes of “medical things” that we probably don’t even know what they are! But when do most children fall over or need a plaster or a cream or a wipe, when you are out and about. Try and keep anti bacterial gel and wipes/tissues in their bag or your handbag. Also why not keep a mini first aid kit in your car, you never know if and when you may need it.

It is every parents worse nightmare to not be there when their child needs them but there is only so much we can do to prepare them for every eventually that might happen. Common sense, a bit of planning and a lot of hoping that they never need to practise what we’ve been preaching!

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