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
- Make your cell phone number and address into a song (ensuring, of course, that they actually understand this is their phone number and address!)
- 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.
- Talk about HOW to dial 9-1-1, and the need to press send.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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:
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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.