It may be tempting to shield your younger children from the unexpected harsh realities we sometimes encounter in life. However, teaching even elementary school-aged kids about the concept of emergencies can prove to be beneficial and even life-saving in some circumstances. Especially as we enter the warm weather season, when people of all ages are more mobile and active, it’s a good time to explain what to do when something dangerous happens. Here are some lessons worth teaching.
Explain emergencies. Help children understand that when someone is hurt or sick, or if something like a fire or bad storm is taking place that it is important to ask for help, especially if there isn’t a grown-up nearby to do so.
Teach 911. Teach your young children when it is appropriate to dial 911, and what information to share when they do so. Name, address and describing the emergency are the essentials. You might also consider creating a “family folder” that children can access in emergencies, that will help them provide contact information for other family members to first responders. Include pictures of family members and phone numbers. Teach children how to associate the names with the numbers.
Escape harm. Families should have — and practice — home escape plans. In the event of fire or severe weather where escape is the preferred option, teach children at least 2 ways to safely leave the house, and also practice an outside meeting place where families will safely convene. Similarly, talk with children about safe places to stay inside the home, in case the risk is greater outside.
Avoid fire & water. Young children should understand the importance of staying away from things like candles, stoves and fires that can burn them, and to avoid water unless there is a grown-up nearby to watch them.
As with many life lessons, look for opportunities to teach your children essentials about emergencies and come up with fun, creative, memorable activities that will make it easier for kids to perform effectively if the need arises.