In an emergency, would your child know how to call 911?

Boy in phone booth holding landline corded phone and cell phone to compare

A few years ago, we got rid of our landline phone. The only people calling us were telemarketers – even the baby boomer grandparents had moved on to texting us!

Our kids were babies at the time and to be honest, I didn’t think about them needing to use a phone. Who were they going to call anyways??

Wait… Even little three and four year-olds have called 911 and saved a caregiver’s life.

If you DO have a landline phone, don’t stop reading. Knowing how to call 911 from a cell phone is an important skill for kids to have. Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere.

We’ve entered a new era, haven’t we? Calling 911 isn’t so simple anymore. Do your kids know their address? Do they know your cell phone number off by heart? And now, do they know how to call 911 from your locked cell phone?

Think of the steps involved to call 911 from a cell!

  • Unlock the phone
  • Open the phone app
  • Touch the numbers 9 – 1 – 1
  • Touch “Send”

WOW – that’s a lot of steps for a little kid!

How to teach your kids to call 911

  1. Make your cell phone number and address into a song (ensuring, of course, that they actually understand this is their phone number and address!)
  2. Show your child how to make an emergency call with your locked cell phone. Have your child practice! My current cell phone has an “emergency” button on the locked screen, and that will bring up the cell phone without needing to unlock it. However, with every software update, check to make sure it’s the same steps.
  3. Talk about HOW to dial 9-1-1, and the need to press send.
  4. Explain what will happen when they call 911. A person will answer, asking “Police, Fire or Ambulance?” – tell your child to stay calm, tell the operator why they are calling, their name, how old they are and and to give their home/cell number plus their address.
  5. Don’t forget to discuss WHEN to call 911 – what’s an emergency? What’s NOT an emergency? Tell your child that if they ever call 911 by mistake, stay on the line and tell the operator it was an accident. Otherwise, concerned police will be knocking on your door!
  6. Give your child a “plan b” – if they can’t call 911, who can they ask for help? Maybe they could run to a neighbour’s house or flag down a passing car.

Going out without the kids?

If you don’t have a landline, will you leave your cell phone behind with a babysitter? Do your children know how to use someone else’s cell phone? Do your kids know your partner’s cell phone number? I don’t really have the answers myself. I don’t know if it’s worth getting a landline or VoIP phone or just keeping an old cell phone charged and available for 911 calls. For me, it helped to understand how 911 works and how to access it according to the CRTC.

Obviously, we can’t plan for every worst-case scenario. But if there’s an emergency, I want my kids to be able to respond – my life could depend on it.

Person laying on ground with police officer looking over and young boy standing

How does your family handle this? Do your kids know how to call 911 from a cell phone? Do you have a landline phone? If not, what’s your plan for providing access to 911 for your children? We’d love to hear from you:

For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

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Who’s the boss? You or your phone?

The dinner is on the table, the milk has been poured, and everyone dives in. Well, everyone except one. There is one person at the table checking their phone.

No. No. Not my daughters.

Like many households, we have a no-device-at-the-table rule. Apart from the occasional reminder my kids have done well to remember and even respect this guideline. It has long been established that the dinner table is a great time to regroup and connect as a family. I am embarrassed to say, however, that there is a rising star in this rule-breaking – my husband. Having recently started a next chapter in his career he is more in demand than ever. Add this to our societal shift of “all things must be answered now” philosophy and you have a dinner-time-device debacle.

Check out this hilarious video below from Commonsense Media:

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Posted in Babies, Mental Health, Parenting, preschoolers, School-aged Children, stress, Teens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We went on a family vacation… Without any screens

Mother and daughter happily making snow angels in the snow

2017 was an insane year for our family of four, so my husband and I decided to start the New Year off by taking the kids for a local getaway. I’m talking a small hotel room with a kitchenette for five nights and six days. And no screens.

When I told friends about our plan, the first question was a befuddled “WHY?!” Continue reading

Posted in Mental Health, Parenting, Physical Health, Preschool, preschoolers, School-aged Children, Toddlers, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

4 ways to inspire your teen to give back

Teenagers outside cleaning up a park with quote: “If you give kids the inspiration and tools to change the world, it will change their own lives in the process” -Craig Kielburger of “Me to We”

When our sons were about 14 and 16, their lives revolved around friends, food, sports and girls. Pretty typical, right? They were kind, compassionate kids who had done some mandatory volunteering, but as their parents we wanted them to see the benefits of giving back. Continue reading

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Me… Tandem breastfeed?!

Tandem breastfeeding wasn’t something I set out to do, it just sort of evolved. Here is my story:

I was breastfeeding my first child when I became pregnant with my second. Although I wasn’t totally ready to wean, the idea of breastfeeding a newborn plus a two year old was daunting. I pictured myself sitting on a spit-up soaked sofa, tandem breastfeeding a baby and toddler with play dough stuck in my matted hair, surrounded by piles of dirty laundry and stacks of unwashed dishes. Not a pretty picture. I also thought my son would be less jealous of the new baby if he was weaned, and so we stopped.  A couple months after weaning, the baby’s arrival ROCKED my first child’s world. He was angry that the new baby disrupted his life and he saw the new baby as a challenger for my attention.

Newborn baby held by parent, toddler sibling looking worried

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How to help your teen make big decisions

“I need to decide what to do after high school!”

This is the big topic of conversation in my house these days. It seems to be a cruel joke of nature that as teenagers approach one of the first big decisions of their lives, their decision making tool (the brain) is still under construction.

What will it be? Post-secondary education? Entering the workforce? Travel?

So many options and so many decisions to be made. Some kids have known what they want to be and how to achieve this since preschool. Others, like my daughter, well, it isn’t so straight forward and it can be exhausting following her circling train of thought.

Making decisions concept. Sneakers on the asphalt road with drawn arrows pointing to two directions.

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How to build a secure attachment with your baby

I remember being struck by how my son, David, looked at me – really looked at me. He took in my facial expressions, my words, the tunes I sang, and responded with his own changes in facial expression, babbling and body movements. Wow! Wasn’t he just the brightest, most wonderful baby ever! Of course that’s how every parent feels!

Having a good relationship with your child by responding to his cues and meeting his needs in a warm, caring way creates a close emotional bond referred to as “secure attachment”. By “cues”, I mean signals such as little frowns, wrinkled forehead, turning his face away, crying, smiling, imitating our expressions, rubbing his eyes, rooting, arching his back, cooing and laughing.

Why is this important?

When a child feels safe and secure, he’s more likely to explore his surroundings.  Knowing his parents are close by if he needs them, he may try new things, be more likely to interact with other children and adults, and develop confidence. Continue reading

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