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Teaching Your Kids About 9-1-1

By Eugene Bruno on April 17, 2021

Emergencies can happen. It is recommended that your child know how and why to call 911 from about age 4. Use these tips to teach your child about 911.

Define an Emergency

Talk to your child about what an emergency is — a fire, a person who is passed out, an unwanted stranger in the house. Do not scare them, but explain that these are things that happen rarely but they should know what to do in case it does happen.

Define What an Emergency is Not

Your child may have trouble differentiating between what is, and what is not, an emergency. Talk about different scenarios that are not emergencies, such as a lost pet. Instead of calling 911, tell your child to ask for help from a grown up if there is one around. Explain that calling 911 is for emergencies only and should never be done as a joke.

Explain What 9-1-1 Is

Talk to your child about those people in your community whose job it is to help people in emergencies, such as police officers and firefighters. Explain the role of the 911 dispatcher and how they make sure people who need emergency help get it.

Practice a Call

Play out some scenarios with your child and ask questions they are likely to hear in the event of a true emergency. Explain the importance of following the 911 operator instructions and paying attention while on the call. Tell them not to hang up until the operator tells them to. Teach them to always use a landline if available.

Typical 911 Questions

  • What happened (or what is your emergency)?
  • Who needs help?
  • Why do they need help?
  • Are they breathing, bleeding, hurt?
  • Where are you now?
  • Is there a grown-up around to help you?

9-1-1 Education Month in April is an effort to provide resources to support public education about the optimal use of 9-1-1 services nationwide. Join the Know 911 and Eugene Bruno & Associates to help spread awareness of appropriate uses of 9-1-1.